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June 29, 2006

Like Family

carloschillin.jpgBY CARLOS ESPINOSA, MESA, ARIZONA, USA - This last weekend, we met with Jabbes to give emotional support for the loss of his son. We also had the opportunity to meet some of Jabbes' friends and learn more about their culture and food. Going into this project, I had little knowledge about the people from Zambia. Based on my experience with Jabbes, the one thing I came to belief is the people from Zambia try to make the most out of a situation.

I think the group felt welcomed by the people of Zambia and they were very happy to learn all of the crew was heading back to their home, to Zambia. While going around and speaking with Jabbes’ friends, there were a few comments that stuck in my head.

Currently the World Cup is taking place in Germany and the people from Zambia love soccer; it was easy to make conversation since I enjoy soccer as well. Brazil is projected to win the world cup, Ghana played against Brazil in the best of 16. When I asked them who they thought was going to win, one of the responses that I got was: “I know Brazil is going to win since they are a superior team, but I know the team of Ghana feels privileged to play against one of the best teams in the world. I know the team of Ghana will be going back home very happy."

I was also told by one of Jabbes’ friends that they were very happy to have their country of Zambia chosen as the location to shoot the movie. I am very excited and happy to be heading to Zambia everybody told me I will like their country and from what I saw on Saturday, I think we will be treated like family once we arrive.

The Color of a Voice

refugies.jpgBY JONATHAN GILBERT, QUEEN CREEK, AZ, USA - Life has a funny way of unfolding for me. I’m a ponderer, a thinker, a contemplator, a dreamer. Ever since I was little I’ve been out learning about the world I live in. Most of the things I’ve done, places I’ve been, people I’ve met, have all been fascinating moments in my life. I’ve been blessed with the good fortune of being surrounded by ordinary, yet remarkable people.

Inside of me, there is always this burning “something” that continually surfaces whenever my mind is brought to ponder on issues that happen “outside” my world. Events like Afghanistan, or Iraq. But never has the yearning for me to do “something” that would contribute to my outside world ever been as strong as the continuing feelings I have for Africa.

Lately, two movies have stirred my senses again – THE INTERPRETER and HOTEL RWANDA. Call it a coincidence, (I think not) but my wife and I recently rented these two movies without knowing anything about them beforehand. I won’t go into The Interpreter, other than to say it was an interesting movie that portrayed the African government as the way we Americans continue to see it – negative and corrupt. (I realize that some of this is true). Hotel Rwanda, however, still has me stunned even after a week from having watched it.

In 1994, nearly one million Africans were slaughtered. Where were you in 1994? I know where I was. I was serving a mission in Montana. During that time in my life we never really paid attention to the news. If we got any news, it would come from the people we’d speak with every day. But why was there never any talk of Rwanda? What happened there? I don’t wish to dishonor any of those who died in the recent 911 attacks, but I continually ask myself why so much attention was brought to a brutal attack that left close to 2800 dead in our country, yet in Africa, they lost almost one million, and to this day, it almost goes unspoken of? What was the difference? I have an opinion, but I won’t share it at this time.

I’m a white boy. Born and bred in the Great Lakes State of Michigan. I was five when I noticed some of the kids I was playing with didn’t have the same color of skin as me. I immediately went home and inquired of my mother about the differences. She explained to me in a child’s version that there are people in the world that have different colors of skin and that aside from color, the rest about us are the same. By the time I was in high school, five of my greatest friends were Black Americans. We hung out together every day.

What is my point in all of this? Zambia. What do I know about Zambia? I know nothing about Zambia. I care nothing about Zambia because I know nothing about Zambia. Rwanda? Nope. Don’t care. These Countries are “outside” my world. Why should I care about them? They are of no value to me. Or, are they?

In 1994, in Rwanda, the only way a person was guaranteed to stay alive was if they could prove with their paperwork that they were Hutu, or, if they had white skin. The rest, were brutally murdered. The killing went on for about 100 days. During which, governments in the rest of the world pulled out of the Country, stood by, and watched it happen. Why should I care about all of this? I’m an American. Those Countries mean nothing to me.

I’ll tell you why I care. My mother raised me better than that. My faith tells me other than that. I believe other than that. We are all of this same family on earth. Some of us are good brothers and sisters. Some of us, not so good. I believe I was born into this country, not by accident, but by Divine design. America is a choice land. We are so blessed with many resources and abundances of everything. What is required of us then? Should we sit and watch our brothers and sisters in another nation die just because they don’t have what we have? After all, they aren’t living in our home, so why should we care? I believe we should care because with the abundance we’ve received by the mere fact of being born into a land that has so much to offer, it is our duty to help and support others in distant lands who are in need.

Yes, I believe in God. And maybe you do too, or maybe you don’t. If you don’t, have you any faith in the good of mankind then? Nearly 1 million people murdered. Where are their voices now?

It occurred to me the other day that most of my correspondence in my business is on the internet. I converse with different people over forums here and there. What color skin to they have? Sometimes, I have no clue. But one thing I do know is that deep down inside of everyone of us there is a light. A light when turned on, brings out the inspiring beauty of the color we each so differently possess. It is this light that shines within those of whom I correspond with on the internet. The same light that helps us all to see the beauty of color in a world that would not be worth living in, if we could not see the contrast.

A small group of people are going to Zambia in July. Their goal is to help shine a little more light on a people with much color and beauty. What they may or may not be aware of at this time, is that they are not going to Zambia alone. There are over one million voices that will be joining them in this project, yearning to be heard. As a result of the filming that will come from this special group, our world will have the opportunity to learn that even though some of us think we have to power to hide, or rid ourselves from certain people, there is at least one thing that can never be destroyed – the color of a voice.

June 27, 2006

Missed Opportunities

BY NICK MARSHALL, GILBERT, AZ, USA - Three days later and I'm still mad at myself for missing the opportunities of tasting Zambian food, talking with Jabbes' friends and praying as a group. I would like to say to everyone and especially Jabbes, that I am truly sorry I missed the gathering.

Friday, my brother's new engine for his Civic came and since the truck didn't have a lift we had to lift (four people), a 550 pound engine out of a moving truck. I had a feeling someone was going to get hurt and that it wasn't safe. Good thing it only fell down on my legs. I twisted or sprained my ankle, I don't know (I'm still a gimp) and I have several large bruises on my thighs.

Saturday, I called off of work due to my new gimpy attributes, money gone and awaited anxiously to go to Jabbes'. I got some late lunch and ate Chinese food only to gather I had aquired food poisioning when I saw it come back up.

There is a short film on Ifilm.com called I PROMISE AFRICA that I watched recently. It is short but very touching and effective.

I recently bought a new digital camera. I'm practicing now, using all the features, trying to be versed enough so I'm not taking bad pictures in Zambia. I've never really been a photographer, I've dabbled, but because of my interest in film I've mostly been a cinematographer. I think photography has helped me to focus on one single frame and to concentrate on framing that one picture and telling a story with that one photo. Learning and practicing photography has made me more aware of capturing the best story in any scene I am photographing. If I'm anywhere taking a photo, how is the best way to represent that place , and what emotions do I want to capture to tell the best story. I want to come back from Zambia with the best stories I can, and hoping have many people hear and see those stories and decide to help. I think that alone would be rewarding enough.

June 26, 2006

The Zambian Way

BY MICHAEL MONTESA, MESA, ARIZONA, USA
PHOTOGRAPHY BY SHAWN DOWNS

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This Saturday was an emotional event for the film crew. Jabbes' son Kondwani, passed away last week. The film crew and the Zambian community came to offer their sympathy and support Jabbes. This is also the day of opportunity for the crew to witness and participate in the Zambian culture. For the first time, the crew got their first taste of Zambian food and I could see from their reaction that they liked it very much. Our new friends also shared us some stories about their beautiful homeland and just by listening from their stories, it makes us excited to be there right away. We can't wait to get there.

Here are some of the photos from the gathering this weekend.

OUR NEW ZAMBIAN FRIENDS
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FILMZAMBIA PRODUCTION FAMILY
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FilmZambia_photos.jpgTo see all the photos, click the Camera icon.

The Power That Moves People

hotelrwanda.jpg BY LORRA GILBERT, QUEEN CREEK, AZ, USA - Just recently, my husband and I sat down to watch the film HOTEL RWANDA. There were many things that touched me as I watched this film. First was that the whole thing was based on the true and very real story of the horrifying genocide and injustice that took place in Rwanda, Africa in 1994. The extreme hatred between two groups (Hutus and Tutsis) was astonishing. Yet, even more astonishing - the similarities between the two. The only way to determine who belonged to which group was to look past the person to their identification papers...if your papers said you were Tutsi, you were considered “trash” and were killed. The Hutu extremists thought that they could completely exterminate all Tutsis which, in the end (after about 100 days), brought about the death of nearly 1 million people. As disturbing as this scene was, the filmmakers were very successful in their goal to reach a wide audience by focusing on the story rather than the overwhelming horror of the genocide itself.

The second thing that disturbed me was the lack of help that the Tutsis received from other countries. These were completely inhumane atrocities and no one felt that they should step in to help stop it. Not Belgium, not France, not the United States... no one came to their aid. I was also ashamed to realize that this happened just 12 years ago (which was the year I graduated from High School) and, despite the news coverage, I knew nothing about it prior to watching this film. It speaks to just how ignorant and spoiled many Americans are and the importance of films like this one and the upcoming film, BAD T!MING, to reach people and bring more awareness to the world.

The third thing that moved me was the good that just one person can do. As the assistant manager of the Hotel Milles Collines, Paul Rusesabagina was able to save 1268 people from being killed several times through countless efforts. He had an amazing ability to reach people on a deeper level.

One person can make a difference. Jabbes Mvula will make a difference and will bring hope to Africa through his countless efforts and his ability to reach out to people. Films can be very powerful and have a great effect on all those who view them. I am grateful for motivated people that strive to educate and change people's lives through film – the power that moves people.

June 25, 2006

It Is Simple

PamFriends.jpgBY PAMELA BOWMAN, MESA, ARIZONA, USA - This last week-end the MCC film crew had the opportunity to participate in some Zambian culture. As a result of Jabbes’ sons death, the Zambian community got together to show emotional support to our friend Jabbes. We visited together, We broke bread together. We prayed together. We offered words of condolences and even financial support for the cost of the funeral expenses. It was apparent to me the joy the Zambian community found in each other’s company. It was also comforting to feel their acceptance of us in their home and hearts. They extended their hands of friendship to us and I hope they felt our hands and hearts reaching out as well. It was simple. It was pure.

I think that is one of the greatest benefits of working together, building friendships. You get to know each other and you find out how easy it is to like other people once you understand why they are the way they are. As the crew becomes more familiar with each other, well there is a lot of yanking of each other’s chains. It is fun. I keep reminding Shawn not to take my picture, that the story is not about me. So of course I find his lens in my face all the time. Jabbes tells me that my daughter is “very pretty” and that she must get it from her father! I tease Cyndi about, well... everything! She is constantly telling me that I am a worry wart! Me? Carlos told me he ran over my camera on Saturday, both ways! I think laughter cements the bonds of friendship. It is simple.

A song in the play “Wicked” goes, “I’ve heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason, bringing something we must learn. We are led to those who will help us grow- if we let them and we help them in return.” I think that is true. I have had good friends my entire life. Life long friends. Friends who through time have shown loyalty and honesty and understanding. I cherish those friends and always will. I have also had acquaintances that proved to be less then I need in a friend, but I still have learned from them. Some life lessons have been taught to me by people who I don’t want to even remember meeting or knowing. So I choose to forget the person, but remember the lesson. It is simple.

This life experience is teaching us all so much about the art of film. But the real lessons are the human relations that are being acted out at every meeting, at every training, at every event. Cyndi and Jabbes have come into our lives for a reason. They bring to us something we must learn. We have been led to those who will help us grow and maybe we can help them in return. That really is what life should be about, helping one another, loving one another. I think that is called charity. It really is that simple.

June 24, 2006

Who We Are

BY THE AFRICAN VOICE DOCUMENTARY FILM CREW, MESA, AZ, USA - The last week, we worked on a short video to give people a sense of who we are and why we're doing what we're doing. Three of the editors put together versions of varying length.

WhoWeAreSm.jpg SHAWN DOWNS put together the Who We Are in Two Minutes movie. Shawn recently graduated from Arcadia High School and will be going to the LA Film School upon his return from Zambia. Shawn is an excellent cinematographer, gaffer and all-round crew member. Shawn had a short film in the PHOENIX FILM FESTIVAL 2006. I'd count on seeing great things from him in the future.

WhoWeAreMed.jpg LINDSEY BLACK crafted the Who We Are in Five Minutes. Lindsey graduated from Mesa Community College. She has made numerous short films and is looking to build a career in the independent film industry. Lindsey enjoys acting, editing and producing. Already a Sundance veteran, Lindsey is looking forward the 2007 festival. She learned a great deal about networking at the last festival from actor, Adam Scarimbolo.

WhoWeAreLong.jpg MICHAEL MONTESA completed the Who We Are in 17 Minutes. Another Sundance veteran with a commitment to work in the independent film world, Mike is a respiratory therapist by vocation and photographer/cinematographer by avocation. Mike has won several awards at the annual Mesa Community College Art Show. In addition to being a great on-set photographer, Mike loves designing movie poster and DVD case covers. His designs are terrific.

Getting Anxious

zambiavisa.jpgBY LINDSEY BLACK, CHANDLER, ARIZONA, USA - I am getting so excited to go to Zambia. I have already had two nightmares that I forgot my passport. I live 45 minutes away from the airport so it wouldn't be so easy to run home and get it. So, I am going to put my passport in my bag that is already packed with my clothes.

Editing the promo really has me pumped. I enjoyed it so much. I find that working on my computer is my vice. Some people need certain things to keep them going, I need time on my computer editing to make me happy. I have been working on editing wedding videos and slideshows, but they don't excite me like this project does.

Not to mention, I was blessed with a new Mac laptop for doing some work for someone. I was so excited to hear about that. Not to mention, it is one more editing machine we will have in Zambia. It pays to do goodwill for people because with out any expectation, they may return the favor.

He needed me more...

BY JENIECE TORANZO, MESA, ARIZONA, USA - Last weekend, I must say, was a rough time for me. I was going through some personal issues with my sister. Saturday night was the hardest night for me. I decided to spend some time with my parents at their house before they left again to go do a job up in Las Vegas for 10 days. That night was hard on my mom and I knew that this wasn't going to be just a normal visit. When I arrived, she had been crying and I knew not why. I then found out that that night was going to be the night that we would have to put our dog of 15 years, down. He was throwing up blood and decaying inside. The way we had to put him down, I will not speak about. He was more than just a dog, "man's best friend" is how the saying goes and I believe to be true. My mom had a hard time and I just stayed with her and comforted her.

The next day was Father's Day. My eyes were still puffy from the night before and feeling crummy, I still decided to go to church anyway. After church, I went and picked up Jabbes to take him out for Father's Day. After all he is still father and I knew that today would be hard for him. Although I must admit, I came close to canceling on him do to my own problems but changed my mind because I knew that that day was not about me at all. So I picked him up and we went to Olive Garden.

I normally don't go out on Sundays, but this day was special for Jabbes and I made plans with him prior. He told me that he was looking forward to this day and that he was glad that I came. I did not know how important it was to him until he told me his sad news. I will not mention what it was because I believe that it is not my place to say. I then knew that he needed me more. I felt that my situation, although I was still hurting, was insignificant compared to his. I knew he needed a friend there for him and am lucky that I could be there for him. Through our conversation, he made me realize that there will be a lot of heartaches and pain that we all will go through, but we must continue on and live our life to the fullest. We can't stop the inevitable ...

Today I will be there for Jabbes as he copes with his heartache and pain.

My boss is jealous...

hut.jpgBY JENIECE TORANZO, MESA, ARIZONA, USA - At first I wasn't sure how my boss and his wife would take the news when I told them about Zambia. I work for a small family owned law firm. There are only two secretaries including me. So finding time to go on vacation can be a little hard sometime because I only have one person to cover for me and she is the boss' daughter. She just had a baby and now only works part time, so it's even harder for me to get time off.

I decided to just go for it and tell them. What's the worst that could happen? I guess there's that possibility that I could lose my job if they didn't agree with me going. So one day, when my boss' wife came into the office and she was in the same room as my boss, I decided to tell them both right then and there. I must admit, I was very nervous. The first thing that my boss said when I told them was "you can't go." My mouth dropped and I had a shocked look on my face. He then said "you can't go until I go. I have to go first." After that, they both laughed and said that I could go. They then started asking even more questions about the trip. They told me to go ahead and go and that they would figure something out to cover my position for the time that I will be gone. The wife said that she would even step in and cover for me, which made me feel good about my decision. I then knew that it was going to be ok. I thought that I might have a little hope because I knew that they love to travel. Twice a year, they travel all over Europe. So they are big travel bugs. Their daughter (who is the other secretary that I work with) also loves to travel since she grew up traveling. So she was also happy to hear about my news. Especially, since she has told me in the past, that I should travel as much as possible before I get married and have kids. Which that won't be happening any time soon.

Since that day that I told them about Africa, my boss would out of the blue, come talk to me about it. I didn't realize it, but one of the times that we were talking about it, he confessed to me that he has always wanted to go to Africa and that it has always been a dream of his to go. He then took me to his office and showed me his pictures and objects that he had displayed, which was an African safari like theme. I didn't realize it until I actually looked even closer to everything in his office. He is a big time Land Rover fan and knows that they are driven in Africa. In fact, he even owns five of them! And a few weeks ago I left work early to go with him and his daughter and go test drive the new Land Rover / Range Rovers at the dealership. It was exciting and nerve-wracking to go through the test drive course. Overall, it was amazing even though everyone else was laughing at me on how scared I was.

I asked my boss why he never went to Africa since he and his wife often travel to Europe and once to Mexico. "Because my wife won't go. She won't go anywhere where they don't speak English." A few times he has joked around and mentioned that he wanted to go with me, but that he couldn't be out of the office for the amount of time that we will be there. I think he knows, I least I hope so, that it won't exactly be a vacation trip and that I will be working night and day on this project. It's funny and relieving to see how excited he is for me. It makes me laugh every time he talks about it because he reminds me of a little kid in a candy shop. The excitement is my reassurance and I know that I am blessed to be able to have this opportunity. I am lucky to have a boss that is so understanding. I will just have to bring a little Arican souvenir back for him. Although I know it won't be the same, I guess it will be as close as it's gonna get for him. At least for now, until he can convince his wife to go.

June 22, 2006

Greater Than We Imagined

BY KATIE GREISIGER, GILBERT, USA - During one of our last meetings we spoke into the camera about why we wanted to help on this project and what impact it will have on the future, not only for our careers and aspirations locally, but for Zambia. I had not realized the impact on Zambia until the words left my mouth, "We are going to help a COUNTRY." This is a realization that is greater than I could have ever imagined and I am even more honored to be a part of this revolutionary experience.

It is so hard to completely rationalize the impact until we actually travel to Zambia. I feel sometimes that Africa, Europe and other "far away lands" are almost imaginary because of my lack of experience with travel. I know limited information about these places and cultures and realize that is why it is hard for others to understand the problems that some cultures face on a daily bases: genocide, starvation, epidemics. We watch these familiar news stories on television and come to accept them as ordinary and other people's problems; these social issues are not felt as our own because we are not affected in the same ways. For example, as Americans we cannot fully understand the struggle of youth illnesses and deaths in some countries, it is assumed that children will grow up to be adults with little worry about living past age one or three.

The lack of understanding of these world-wide issues is what motivates me the most to help with BAD TIMING and VOICE OF AN AFRICAN NATION. I know that these projects will motivate others to take action and help other nations. And, in what better way than through indpendent film can we bring other cultures and the issues they face to the world? We are going to make a difference.

June 20, 2006

One Big Happy Family

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BY ROBBY BROWN, TEMPE, AZ, USA - We have a little more than a month left until we go and I still feel like I have a ton of things to do before I will be ready. On the top of the list is spending as much time with my family here in Arizona and the ones in New Mexico. Since I work mostly at nights when everybody else is off, it's a little hard to find time. Unfortunately, I've had to miss the last two meetings and I feel bummed that I've been missing out on so much important info. And also the group picture.As you can see I stuck myself in using Photoshop. I'm starting to get restless. I'm glad that there's still time to prepare and improve our skills and knowledge of film, however I am really anxious to do this.

I have such a strong feeling that my life will change with this trip and it feels like it's going to be such a big step in my life. I feel like I'm waiting for a giant tidal wave to hit. When I get back from Africa, my second oldest brother, Ryan, and his family (wife - Socilt, and beautiful daughter - Bella) will be relocated within the company to a very exotic place. It's one thing to be so far away from my family, some of whom I won't see again for a year or two, but it's another thing knowing that I will come out of this with such a strong bond between the crew and the Zambian people. Hopefully my newly aquired film family will help fill that void. Here we go!

EDITOR'S NOTE: The night the crew photo was taken, Robby had to work. Fortunately, he took computer digital editing classes so he was able to "join" the crew electronically.

June 18, 2006

PODCAST - Colin Boyd, The Big Picture FM101.5

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THE BIG PICTURE with COLIN BOYD on FREE FM101.5

Podcast on Sunday, June 18, 2006
Recorded in Phoenix, Arizona, USA

Show Details


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indieWIRE blog
AZCentral blog
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By Cyndi Greening. Phoenix, Arizona USA (indieWIRE) -- Film critic Colin Boyd interviews Jabbes Mvula and Cynthia Greening about filmmaking in Zambia. Greening will produce and Mvula will direct BAD TIMING, the first dramatic narrative feature film to be shot in Zambia. Simultaneously, they will produce VOICE OF AN AFRICAN NATION, a documentary about the making of that feature and the establishment of the film industry in Zambia.

June 17, 2006

Sarah McLachlan's Music Video Budget

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BY CYNDI GREENING, PHOENIX, ARIZONA, USA - Anyone who knows me knows that I love, love, love the music of Sarah McLachlan. The founder of Lilith Fair, McLachlan is a powerful activist and artist. Today, Gina sent me a link to her music video for her song World on Fire. The music video is very simple because McLachlan simply sits and sings while title cards, graphics and photographs go by explaining how she *really* used her music video budget. She cites the price for things like hair and makeup ($5000) or the production company ($11000) and how that money was used in places like South Africa, Kenya, Afghanistan and Calcutta. It's an awesome piece.

I told Alec about it tonight and he said it's been running for quite a while on MTV and VH1. Dang it! I feel so behind the times! Press this World on Fire Link to view the video.

June 15, 2006

Words of Wm. Jefferson Clinton

"I will get things done for America ... Faced with apathy, I will take action. Faced with conflict, I will seek common ground ... Faced with adversity, I will persevere. I will carry this commitment with me this year."
Bill Clinton (b. 1946), U.S. president in the New York Times.

Getting to Know the Real Africa

jared.jpgBY JARED MOSCHCAU, MESA, ARIZONA, USA - I am very excited about working with everyone on this film. I haven't been able to make it to the last couple of meetings because of work priorities. I feel very fustrated about not being able to put 100% toward this project because of the time consumption of travel time and work. But once in Zambia I will be able to put out 110% to what needs to be done.

This is such a new experience for me because I have never left the country before and now I'm going to Zambia. I feel that I should be worried or nervous about what might happen while we are there, but I'm not. Especially since I recently have watched SAHARA and LORD OF WAR with corrupt governments, but Cyndi has explained that a lot of the African countries are civil countries.

At the next few meetings we will be having classes about what we are wanting to accomplish and how to fix what needs to be fixed. I always look foward to these types of classes, because I always learn something that makes me better. Also I'm looking foward to learning about what we need to wear when we are in the villages, how we should act and what we can say around certain people.

I'm very thankful I am part of the team and am looking forward to helping obtain the goals of the project. I'm looking forward to getting to know the "real" Africa. Not just the Africa on the news or in the movies.

June 14, 2006

Endurance

BY LINDSEY BLACK, CHANDLER, ARIZONA, USA - Last night's meeting was great. We are all getting closer like a family and are learning to work together like a good film crew. We were getting serial numbers, passports, and paperwork all ready and organized. Jeniece is in charge of hair and make-up and is bringing me along with her. We were looking online for books, but it was far and few between. Not only do we have to learn to do make-up for film but also hair and make-up for Africans.

We also chit chatted about certain customs and what not. My eyebrows lifted quite high on a few topics. Ironically, that same morning, I went to a bible study and the topic was on Endurance. This is something we are all going to need during this time of being out of our element. We may want to give up at least once or wonder why we got involved…but as a team we need to endure through the conditions and stay strong for Cyndi, Jabbes, and most importantly, for the people of Zambia. I think the endurance part will be needed the most when we return to the states. Some might be tired and want to rest from the project, but in reality, we have to endure until it is completely finished all the way through to the credits. We have got to get these films edited down and not slow down until we are done. So let's all encourage each other and endure until the end.

June 13, 2006

Production Crew

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June 12, 2006

Not Enough Books

BY JENIECE TORANZO, MESA, ARIZONA, USA - I am so excited to learn more information on cinematography, lighting, and editing. I checked out about seven different kinds of books on the subject and I can't wait to start reading them. I'm not sure which ones will be of help so I won't mention what books I found just yet. Although, judging from the cover and the contents of the books, they look pretty good. I think the books may be of help to not only me but to the group, so I intend on sharing them with the group. There were a ton more on the subjects, but this should be good for now. I am a little disappointed though that I could not find any books on Zambia even though the library has several titles listed online. I just could not find any at all. That was frustrating. Hopefully there will be other locations that will carry them. It would be a shame if they didn't because I am eager to learn more about the country and sometimes online sites are just not enough.

June 11, 2006

Diet Pepsi anyone?

BY PAMELA BOWMAN, MESA ARIZONA USA - Who is Cyndi Greening and when did she lose her mind? At first, she teaches her classes with what can be described as the mother of Sammy the Squirrel in overdrive. (Over the Hedge!) She goes through computer programs with speed and agility and somehow it works because we all get it! Then she tells our class that we can, if we want, be part of a team that produces, films and edits “spotlights” for potentially 90 departments at Mesa Community College. This would mean we could get on-the-sight experience with making a short movie, working on a real crew and then seeing our work produced through the college website. Excuse me, but what film student wouldn’t want that experience?

Then things get interesting. What about a spotlight in Spanish and Cantonese? Oh and by the way, “would any of you be interested in going to Africa this summer and working on a feature film and a documentary? Email me a letter why I should choose you to come…. Now you can see when you have a shaky clip or a crappy cinematographer, how “Shake” can make your clip solid as a rock…Who's tapping? Knock it off! Bring up Motion. I want to show you..Anyone want to go get me a diet Pepsi?” Diet Pepsi.jpg

Over the river and through the woods to Africa we go… It is more like over the rapids and through the trenches but what the heck! What housebound new mother hasn’t ventured out with her newborn baby to a restaurant or a movie and been totally embarrassed that her child, the apple of her eye, hasn’t learned how to behave in public. The good mother returns home and begins teaching her child how to be a productive citizen in society. First lesson? No whining! As a crew representing MCC, Cyndi is teaching us how to be productive contributors in the world of film. She is taking not one child, but 16! She is insane, but like all good children we will not have her committed. At least not until after Africa! We will behave. We will learn. We will not embarrass our Mum. Yea right! She has to sleep sometime!

Hopefully, after careful training and lots and lots and lots of practicing, she can sit in the audience with a smile on her lips and moisture fogging her glasses as she watches the finished piece performed perfectly at our movie screen at Sundance! Until then, any one have a diet Pepsi?

June 10, 2006

CONSIDER ME LIT

BY LINDSEY BLACK, CHANDLER, ARIZONA, USA - As I was driving down Power Rd. today, I saw the set for MIAMI VICE. It was so awesome to see. Then I started dwelling on how awesome it is going to be on the BAD TIMING set. Granted, we don’t have half buildings that look like a town, but a set is a set and it is as real as any other Hollywood movie.

Today was a well-informed meeting on lighting. The equipment we have is incredible! We are set up as professional as they come. The demo made it very clear on how important lighting is and how much better the scene looks. The biggest challenge was getting it back in the box the way it came out of the box. So I also learned that if it doesn’t zip easily, it is not in right. Hmmmm…all these years I just sat on top of my stuff until it zipped.

We also talked about the culture and etiquette. Pam's friend, Darrin, came to speak to us about the experience he had for the four months he was in South Africa. It was great to hear some advice from an informed American who had already been there. He showed us how close people stand in line, how long they will continue to shake your hand while you talk and how to properly greet someone. I learned that we all definitely need to pop our personal space bubble and be prepared to get close. I am just so excited to see this culture. To me, I think we are going to experience a culture that continues to be based on a lot of moral values that America has abandoned.

jett.jpgThe last week has been rough for me because I wasn’t sure I was going to go due to my son's birthday being right in the middle of when the shoot was planned. Now we are leaving the day before his birthday and I am convinced that it is okay to have his party the weekend before and celebrate it then. I will miss my kids and husband so much. We have been spending a lot of time together and it is going to be hard on all of us. Jett has a hard time of me leaving for only a couple hours…what is it going to be like for three weeks? I think we will all appreciate each other more.

June 08, 2006

Taking A Stand Against The Storm

BY HEATH McKINNEY, MESA, AZ, USA - In a meeting we had on Tuesday. We discussed much of the importance that we will need to assume in order for this project to become what we all want it to. We were taught some of the camera operating procedures necessary for a big film shot on location in an area with limited power, as well as a few lighting techniques; which I'm more than happy to learn.

Before, the meeting began, we were bombarded with a larger than life dust storm. Before it hit there was little or no breeze (the calm before the storm), and it seemed like a huge mountain moving forward to swallow everything in its path. I envisioned that this movie is very much the same. A lot of us are speechless and don't really have much to say, or we just don't know what to say before we get out there and swallow it all up. But once we get there, we'll be running down anything that stands in our way to get the Zambian Voice into the world. It's a very necessary step.

I was cleaning my room this morning and found a Maglight that I had to use for two months while I lived in Venezuela. Being in a perpetual blackout we had no power or water for six weeks. Forced to bathe with the water we had purifed for drinking, out of a bucket with a spoon. I'm not going to say I thought a lot durning that time but it did make me appreciate so much more what I have here. I think there is a secret to life and that secret is, humility. In countries like Venezuela, and Zambia, humility is a life lesson many know well. This is the chance we all have to gain a humble understanding of this African nation. And I'm exhilirated to be able to be with humble and loving people once again, soon.

June 06, 2006

Separation Anxiety?

mkkota.jpg

BY M.K. RACINE, CHANDLER, USA (soon to be EUROPE)
I am leaving the country tomorrow, though not for Zambia.
I will spend the next several weeks traveling Europe. I eagerly anticipate all the new experiences I will have, yet already long for the two things I will miss most while gone. My puppy, Kota, will stay with family for the duration of my travels. I really don't know how I can turn in for the evening without a big wet kiss from my little guy (103 pounds little), or how I will swim laps without my little "puppa" Kota. The other difficult separation will be my "hiatus" from the Zambian film project. I have briefly left Mesa Community College, Cyndi, Jabbes and the rest of the crew. Although I am thrilled to spend this time abroad, I leave behind, with some sadness, my "film family" and an active role in the project.

My current travels have been planned for over a year. Well before I met Cyndi, long before I met Jabbes. I was disappointed to learn my trip would coincide with the one to Zambia. At first, I committed myself to working solely from Mesa, the hub if you will, of information exchange about the project, upon my return. I had planned to update the electronic press kits and other resources, as progress was made in and communicated from Zambia.

After a brief conversation with Cyndi a few weeks ago, I opened myself to the idea that I would travel to Zambia upon the completion of my personal trip, in time for fliming in the bush, and the training of local Zambians in the area of film. Every oppportunity available to me, to contribute to the project and the people of Zambia, is an opportunity for which I am truly thankful and eager to make possible. Whether I stay or go, my plans are to be involved in the Zambian flim project through its completion and I anticipate, well after its end, the lingering feeling of accomplishment and gratitude as a result.

I spoke to Jabbes the day before I left. We conversed on the phone for about an hour. I did not want to get off the phone. I knew it would be the last conversation for several weeks, and thus the beginning of my "absence" from the project, in a functional capacity. I have watched the blogs and biographies, each day, since my first away. I want to stay in the loop, to remain visible, supportive, and encouraging. I have already received and replied to an e-mail from Cyndi, read about the "good fortune" of Lindsey and the puzzle pieces Jeniece identified. The puzzle pieces we are collaboratively working to put in place. I miss the involvement, the planning and the excitement. I miss the faces, the friendships, and the focus we have as one, a single group, with a common goal - well, many common goals.

I know my role is small, but it's so meaningful to me, on a multitude of levels. To step away, for even the briefest period of time, leaves me feeling a little empty. This shift in my role, coupled with the distance between me and my film family, has further developed my appreciation for this project and the work and dedication involved. I am leaving a little less whole, but all the more committed, all the more determined to see this project succeed, to witness growth for Jabbes, the students and faculty of MCC, and the country of Zambia. I leave, only to come back a couple weeks deep into filming, a couple weeks further from the beginning, and a couple weeks closer to our dream.

These Words...

victoria6.jpg BY NICK MARSHALL, GILBERT, AZ, USA — Over the past days I have been reading/researching on-line about Zambia. I've been reading out their customs and what not to eat, what not to drink; mostly precautions. I have read traveler's experiences and advice on Zambia and Africa in general. But after staring at the screen for hours my eyes started to get tired and blur the words, blend them altogether. Each word became indistinguishable from the next and it was as though I forgot the language, couldn't comprehend the words and they seemed all to fall into the same melting pot. But as I sat rubbing my eyes, clearing my head, I thought: words can only do so much. Words can only do so much to make you experience something. Words let you imagine, but a photograph shows you what something really looks like. To describe something, an experience you had, something you saw, it takes time to write and read, so many words. Plus the language barriers, but a picture, a photo transcends all language barriers. So many words can be expressed instantly in your mind with one look at a fabulous photo. In an instance where you are lost for words or don't know the right words to express yourself, show a photo of what you mean, and confusion is erased, the air clears and instantly people understand what you were saying. Even better than a photo, which captures a single moment, video, which captures a stream of moments. A photo can give an impression of how something is, but a video of something shows you exactly what went on at that time and place.

My point is: These words I've been reading and pictures I've seen of Zambia and Africa they only let me experience so much. But to go there, and not imagine how it will be, but to be in it, in the thick of it right there, to breath in the exotic aromas of Africa and Zambia, that is the only true way to experience. I can prepare all I want for the experience, but until the time when we land and step on Zambian soil, I can not really know what it is like in Africa. I feel that the first zephyr to pass over me in Africa will take my preparations to the wind and I'll be left with only a faint reminder of what I was going to do. I'll have to take a deep breath and suck in the experience the most I can and savor it, try to document it, for when it is just a memory, a wonderful memory of Africa, I can use these records to help me recall the time I stood on African soil and breathed the African air.

more on words: To say something is your word, but what holds even truer than your words is your actions. People can say all they want, but until the action is preformed of what you said they'd do, it doesn't amount to much. There was something Robby Brown said on one of his blogs that stuck out for me.

"I'm not as good with words as some of the crew. I'm a doer, not a talker. And I will do whatever she tells me to do and I will do it to the best of my ability."

He's a doer. And when the time comes to show the product of sweat and determination the doers will be standing higher than the sayers. He might of typed this on a whim, but I highly respect him for it. He will do what ever it takes, not say he'll do it, and waste time, but go and do it and get it done well. I like drawing inspiration from people I work with and talk to and see, it makes it more valuable and concrete. Getting inspiration from a dead poet or artist can be affective, but I think if you can talk with this person, hear more of what they have to say, or see what they do, it just seems a bit more real.

There's a passage in a book called Suicide Blond by Darcey Steinke that has always stayed with me.

"He used to tell me that a person who reads all day, then watches the sunset is just as valuable as a person who interacts with the world, but he didn't believe it and God knows this world doesn't either."

June 05, 2006

Determined Souls

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go. — T.S. Eliot

BY PAMELA BOWMAN, MESA, ARIZONA, USA -I can only speak for myself. I never thought I could go this far, but I was willing to risk going too far! The time is getting shorter and our group is getting tighter. Our goals are becoming more focused. We are a small group of determined souls. We are committed to telling the story and telling it beautifully. I believe we each understand the significance of this film about Africa and for Africa. This film will give a voice to Africa. Not the war torn political driven drowning shout of small and greedy men. This will be a small quiet respectful voice. It will demand the world’s attention because it will speak the truth. It will speak from the souls of Zambians who believe in family and unity and love. It will touch the hearts of the world as they discover the Africa that has not been portrayed in our nightly news.

We have just a few short weeks before production starts on the feature film. The documentary began weeks ago. We are learning every day from those who have gone before. We are wise like that. We are also smart. We are learning from our own experiences. We are also naïve. All growth is a leap in the dark, a spontaneous unpremeditated act without the benefit of experience. Henry Miller

We have the leadership to guide us. We have the vision to direct us. We have the desire to motivate us. We have each other to lean on, yell at, learn from and depend on. We are a small group of determined souls. We will succeed.

Fortune Cookie=High Hopes

fortune.jpgBY LINDSEY BLACK, CHANDLER, ARIZONA, USA - The craziest thing happened tonight. After eating my orange chicken from Panda Express (I will miss my fast food), I opened my fortune cookie. Reading the words "You could prosper in the field of entertainment" could not have sunk in my mind even more how important this is to all of us. I dedicate it to the whole team. I know something big will come out of this project. Not that I am a lucky rabbit foot kind of person, but on top of that, my TV changed ALL by itself the other day to the Sundance channel! I don't pay for it on DirecTV, but I though it was crazy it would just change to an unused channel all by itself.

June 30th is sneaking up quick and I believe we all are feeling a whirlwind of emotions right now. I am so excited! I already started packing today. I fear forgetting something important so I thought I would get a jumpstart. I have been spending more time with my husband and kids which will just make it that much harder for the separation, but that much better for when I return.

My job will be editing and I have been paying very close attention to editing styles in any movie or TV show. The Zambia Nation has a different rhythm than here in the U.S. I am hoping to hear some music from their country so I can feel their rhythm of life. I believe this will help me find a good editing style that fits the Zambian people. I am not the only editor, so it will be fun to collaborate with the others and see what we come up with. Sometimes it is hard to fit different styles in together, but our group is pretty open minded and I believe we will come together without too much of a battle.

The Clock is Ticking

jabbesSuave.jpgBY CYNDI GREENING, LOS ANGELES, CA, USA - Jabbes and I leave for Lusaka three weeks from today. I feel the pressure of the clock now. We've been breaking down the script, prepping the equipment, trying to anticipate anything and everything we're going to run into over there.

I stopped in Los Angeles over the weekend to visit with another friend who is working on a documentary using the Panasonic P2. His footage was awesome! He's been working diligently on his documentary and he's an amazing one-man crew. He showed us how he loads up his camera with Sennheiser boom and wireless microphones and puts spare digital storage in the pack. He's been in quite a few risky situations but he keeps on shooting.

We're a small crew on the two Zambian films but clearly great footage and diligence can create a great product. I realize that one of the big assets we have is Jabbes. He knows the best actors in Zambia, the best playwrights and crew from Zambian National Broadcaster. We have a number of assets in country that will really support getting great projects done. He's been a producer for 16 years; he's got connections and awareness of how to make this happen when we get there. I'm anxious to get going now.

June 02, 2006

working to complete a puzzle

jeniece2.jpgBY JENIECE TORANZO, MESA, ARIZONA, USA - The other night, I could not sleep. Perhaps I was too nervous or anxious with everything going on. Earlier that evening we had a Zambia meeting. The meeting went well and Cyndi had me laughing like she always does. Even when she is serious or mad, I can't help it but smile because she has those happy eyes that seem to be smiling back at you and you can't help but to smile back at them. As silly as that sounds. I tried to tape most of the meeting, for those who weren't able to make it, but unfortunately my battery died midway through it. I was a little bummed becuase I wasn't able to capture everything. Taking notes just isn't the same as capturing the moment. Every moment comes and goes and we have only our memories to rely on to capture it all. Honestly, my memory could use some backing up sometimes and what better way to back it up with than to have it on tape or in photos!

After I had left the Zambia meeting and took Heath home, I came back to my apartment in a hurry beause my sister was in trouble and needed my help. After dealing with that situation, it was after 11:00 p.m. I couldn't sleep so I decided to go work out at the gym for a while to clear my mind. Unfortunately, that didn't happen.

Later after 1:30 in the morning, I had a nice long talk with Jabbes. We talked about how he would take care of us when we arrive in Zambia and how much pressure he was on. Toward the end of our conversation, he explained how I still treat him as a regular person and not just as a director. He explained that although there are a few others who still treat him the same, his hopes are that everyone will treat him as any other regular person. At times, we can get caught up in seeing people as the importance of the title of their role and not the importance of the person. In the end, we are all regular people with the same feelings and emothions with a common goal.

I guess you could say that we are like a puzzle. If we have missing pieces, then we cannot complete the puzzle and no one will be able to see the finished piece. So each piece to the puzzle plays an important role. In order to make the picture complete, we need all the pieces. With this in mind, the directors, producers, actors, cinematographers, lighting crew, press crew, editors, the location, the equipment, and so much more are all pieces to the puzzle. A puzzle that we are all working together to complete. I can only imagine it will be a beautiful piece.

GOD WILL GIVE YOU A FAMILY - MUM

Thoko.jpgBY JABBES MVULA - Two SUV's and a van were parked outside the gate waiting to take me and my family to the airport where I was to board the aircraft that would take me to the United States of America. The time was about 14:00 hours Zambian time on 02 January 2005 and my flight was at about 16:00 hours. There was one SUV belonging to Dr. Edgar Ngoma that I was to ride in together with my brothers. Then there was another SUV belonging to another very very dear friend of mine Paradious Sakala that was to carry my sisters, and then there was a courtesy bus belonging to The Kraal Resort owned by Dr. Ngoma, that was to carry my Mother and all her grandchildren. We call our mum the QUEEN. My friends, Dr. Ngoma and Paradious gave me a VIP escort to the airport.

We all gathered in the house as a family so that I could say my farewell words to my family and for Mum to give me her blessings. Gladys our last born led the family into singing some gospel songs. She and Monica, both my sisters are members in a choir. Judith my daughter is a Director of a children's choir. After the singing, Mum and my younger brother David led the family into prayers. They both prayed for my blessings, then after the prayers, Mum and David gave me their blessings on behalf of the family. This is what they said; "You leave your family behind, but remember to pray, and God will give you a family whereever you go. Respect everyone and live like a coward coz a coward runs away from trouble and lives a long life. Be careful with girls because Samson in the Bible was betrayed by a woman he loved - Delilah." And we took off for the airport in a convoy.

Since I came to the United States, I have had friends who have treated me like their own brother. I will mention my country folks like Samuel Sakala, Peter Mubanga, Mzenje Banda, Frackson Sakala who took good care of me when I just arrived. Let me also mention American people like Capt Lynn Bray who treated me like his own son when I worked under his department at MCC College Safety. I will always be grateful to this man. I worked with very good guys, and a great boss, Steve Corich, he stood by me when one Instructor called me a "jacka*s" for citing his car when he had parked on a fire lane. Steve Corich wrote a very strong letter in support of me until the instructor came to apologize. Among the juniors, I will single out Tyrone Rollins and LeeAnn Tinney, they greatly encouraged me when I was still burning with my dream to make a movie. Everytime we talked about my film ideas, and they always encouraged me. My pockets were always stuffed with pieces of paper where I used to write my ideas as I went along with my daily duties. I would never forget Veronica Padilla who gave me her camcoder to use on one of my school productions. Everyone supported me.

Later on I came to meet friends like Richard Watson who have been following this film project each and every step, going out of their way to support me in any way. Richard even got me a couple of the Mesa Triburne Newspaper for me to send back home to my family.

Saturday 27th May, Cyndi held a party at her home. Before the party, I had three calls, from Cyndi, Mike and Jeniece, all of them just making sure that I had transport to and from the party. Wednesday 31st June was one of those terrible days when I received bad news and I was devastated. When I called Cyndi, she was in a meeting, but just from the tone of my voice, she immediately came over home to talk to me. We talked and went out for a drive. A problem shared is a problem halved. She has never been a Mum to me like she was this time. By the time I talked to my Mum on the phone today, my heart was already at peace. I remembered the words Queen gave me, "God will give you a family." Today I was reading a letter from Margaret in Chippewa Falls, I felt so humbled with the love she just extended to me.

After talking to my Mum all the way from Zambia, I started re-collecting all these, and I realized that God has given me a family bigger and stronger than the family I left at home. THANK YOU THANK YOU AND THANK YOU GUYS.

June 01, 2006

Buy the ticket, take the ride

Zambian sunsetBY ROBBY BROWN, TEMPE, ARIZONA, USA -In a little more than one month from now the adventure begins. I was in DC this week for a few days and I think being away from home for that short amount of time really let things finally sink in. It has finally become real to me that this is happening. Here we go. I have no doubt that the outcome of these films will be great, and give me such great experience. But I can't help but be a little nervous. Like when the roller coaster is climbing to the top of the peak. Every click more excitement builds. There's that nervous sweat, the clammy hands. The ride for us, the crew, has already started, and even though everything we have done to prepare for this has been tough and thrilling, it will be nothing compared to what we are all about to embark on. For the people in Zambia and for the ones back here in the states.

I used this trip as an opportunity to tell as many people as I could about the film and what we are doing. I told my taxi drivers, I went to the African art exhibit at the Smithsonian. And even if we weren't looking at Zambian art, I still took the opportunity to say ya know, I'm going to Africa next month. And the Zambian embassy! I didn't get to see it but I talked about how the Ambassador here in DC might be able to come to Mesa to talk to Jabbes and everyone at MCC.

I told everybody around me at the airport and on the plane. If the conversation wasn't going anywhere, I MADE it go in a direction that I could bring up the films. The more people I told and the more I wrote down the web addresses the more it sank in. On the plane I pictured flying to Africa. So so exciting. I thought the five hour plane ride home was long, How am I going to handle multiple flights to another side of the world?? But it will be worth it.

These films are such a big deal, and I feel everybody in the world needs to hear about them. Not only hear about them but I want them to see it and grasp a better understanding of Zambia. Away from the stereotypes. All we can do is keep working hard and keep preparing for the Ride to begin. And thank God for Mesa Community College and a man called Jabbes.