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August 31, 2006

African Sunrise

BY PAMELA BOWMAN LUSAKA ZAMBIA AFRICA - We were told not to miss the African sunrise, but most of us found our beds too warm and our pillows too deep. It was curiosity that got me out of bed. I couldn’t wait to take an open air shower! I am weird, I know, but it was cool, because there was warm water and pressure and a tree to hang my towel and I could look outside while I shampooed my hair! I walked outside our hut and down the path to my personal chair overlooking the gorge. It was so quiet and peaceful even with the sound of the rushing rapids.

I walked down to our open aired dining room and found the crew and other guests visiting. The conversation sounded loud and inappropriate. I wanted to shout “Be quiet! Listen to the silence!” I wanted to take a moment and sit and reflect and think and just be in the moment. I was not able to do that. We might be in a beautiful place, but we were there to work. I promised myself to get up early the next day and take the time to ponder and think and reflect.

Off to Victoria Falls. We hiked as far as we could. It felt so good to feel the mist on our faces and the clean air in our lungs. Then off to lunch. Food! Yea! Back to the lodge to enjoy the evening at the top of the world. There is nothing quite so odd as blogging on a laptop under mosquito nets. Sleep came quickly. I love it here!

_MG_7002.jpgI managed to wake up for the sunrise. I sat at the edge of the gorge and watched the day begin. I thought how much I wished my family were here to share this amazing experience. I even shed tears and watched them dry in the red dusty dirt. I whispered words on the wind and felt them float away. This place is sacred.

I climbed aboard the helicopter and didn’t even have the chance to think about what I was doing and where I was going. We flew over the falls, over the river, over the elephants, over the villages and soon we touched down and the other crew members climbed on board. Was I just in a helicopter? Yep!

On the way home we toured the animal park. Tons of elephants (Really!) Zebras, monkeys, wildebeests, water buffalo, impalas, and hippos. Now for the long ride back to Lusaka! Back to the cast and our last days of shooting. Will we get it done? Of Course we will. We are the most stubborn bunch of filmmakers I know. Actually, we are the only filmmakers I know!

There have been so many memorable experiences, but for me the lodge and the gorge and my morning of solitude have been the most meaningful. No matter where I go I will always remember the rising African sun.


Soul Break

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BY PAMELA BOWMAN

Lazy horizon swallows the African light
Dust and dusk silhouette sauntering baskets upon chitenge.
Faithful followers of ancient paths.
Deepen the trail of their children’s graves.

Dark child straddles what once was, is and will be.
Eating the dust that has long been stale.
Wondering wandering waterless way
Back to where nomads wouldn’t linger, couldn’t stay.

Small fires signal the presence of life and home
Boiling the nshima to fill their hungry souls.
Bloody moon half rises to silent sobering eyes
The cries have died without ears to hear and mouths to lie.

Wind carries the morning without a hint of dew.
Young withered hands are hunting food.
Babies wake with stomach empty ache.
Another African morning, more souls to break.

Everything Is Cool

BY ROBBY BROWN LUSAKA ZAMBIA-When I first arrived in Zambia I thought every little thing was cool. EVERYTHING! I loved it when people would look at us in our matching shirts and talk and point at us. When people waved, I eagerly waved back. When I whipped my camera out to take a picture everybody and their mother wanted their picture taken. That was cool. I’d say, “I’d love to take your picture!”

Now even though we have less then a week left, I’m finally starting to get settled in and used to things. Every little thing that was cool is now not as fun. If I’m walking through the plaza and everybody is staring I catch myself mumbling, “stop looking at me…” or when they ask, “Mister, take a picture of me.” I want to shout back,“No…”

mtendereSweets.jpgEven though I get a little irritated at these things it’s the little things that give this country it’s charm. It’s the 5 o’clock wake up sounds. The huge front gate being dragged open to let in the lodge crew. The laughing cooks in my kitchen preparing food for our entire crew (who happen to be sleeping still!). The fact that you can’t open any door completely because it hits the uneven floor and they all need WD40. We think WD40 should be sprayed over the entire city by dust croppers. Everything squeaks! Then there is the shower situation. When the shower has water you have to incorporate the hokey pokey to achieve rinsing off because it’s cold and the pressure is sporadic. Should we talk about time? We call it "Zambian Time." We add 2 hour cushion to any planned event to adjust to Zambian time.” We love how everybody speaks English but nobody understands each other. However, they are always willing to greet you with a smile and a wave.

If we don’t stop to notice and appreciate the little things that make up the big picture then really what are we looking at? Every minute detail is what makes Zambia so wonderful. So I guess it’s not so much that I’m annoyed by this place. In fact I love it so much and thank my lucky stars I’m here. It’s just that my comfort zone has been challenged and sometimes I miss the small details that make up the big picture. I’m in Africa for heavens sake. We are shooting films and having a blast. I’m maturing so much in many ways because of this country and the experience it’s providing. That is and always will be very cool!

August 30, 2006

Staying Grounded

BY M.K. RACINE LIVINGSTONE, ZAMBIA AFRICA - It’s easy to be consumed with the day to day operations of filmmaking; add the elements of cultural diversity, “language barriers,” and a vast disparity in the concept of time, one cannot help but allow a little stress to affect ones physical and mental stamina. Further, such factors enable one to lose sight of established objectives, loosening ones grasp on what needs to be done in order to adapt to the environment; adapt to a degree that offers some semblance of accomplishment. It can be challenging to stay focused and grounded in ones work with so much “static” and unforeseen obstacles, diminishing energy and little to no sleep. To me, being grounded means developing a foundation from which to exist; where going back to the basics takes you along the right path, no matter where it meanders, or why. To be placed in a quasi-polar work environment and culture has challenged my abilities to stay true to myself. To act as I have always chosen to act, to speak and think in a manner that I thought was second nature. It’s easy to be grounded when your foundation has settled on familiar territory. To uproot it and replant it, on foreign soil, does not ensure the same solid ground from which to exist. This experience and opportunity have, overall, been satisfying, but by no means has this been easy.
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This weekend, however, marked a pivotal moment in this trip and the project, at least for me. The crew journeyed up to Victoria Falls late Sunday afternoon, arriving at 1:00 am on Monday morning. Though the terrain was rough and our destination uncertain, the trip, the time, and the “anxiety” were all worth it. We stayed at the Taipa Falcon Lodge, overlooking rapids 16 and 17 on the Zambezi River. The view, the air, and the aura provided me with calming, majestic and overwhelming beauty. For the first time in this trip I felt I was being swallowed by the vastness of Zambia, and inspired by its natural and antiquated beauty.

To this point, Lusaka offered me adequate insight into city life here in Zambia, but Livingstone, Victoria Falls, showed me Africa.

Sharing this enlightening experience with other crewmembers really brought me back to who I am, why I came, and how I choose to leave this country. Perhaps it was also the separation from our hectic work schedules, but Victoria Falls allowed me to revisit the aspects of what make me feel grounded and realize that those elements are within myself and cannot necessarily be pulled from the physical environment in which I find myself at any given time. Sitting over a massive gorge illustrates the fact that, at times, there is no place, no land on which to build your foundation, so it just needs to be carried and accessed from within. How I lost sight of that, I don’t know….
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This experience never ceases to amaze me, however, and continuously I’m presented with an opportunity for growth. A major goal for the feature and documentary was to obtain aerial footage of Victoria Falls. In a day, we made the decision and finalized the plans to charter a helicopter to take the crew over the falls and surrounding area. Initially, the cinematographers and still cameramen were to be the only crewmembers to take flight. However, we were able arrange three flights within our allotted time, enough for each member of the crew to get an aerial peak of Victoria Falls.

Personally, I am a little scared of heights and would have been fine with staying grounded. Yet, at the last minute, while Mike and Carlos were being given instructions for an “open door” flight, Cyndi hollered, “Go!” and gently lead me towards the helipad. I really did not have a chance to process her choice and its impact on me, but jumped into the back next to Shawn. Carlos and Mike were seated next to the open door, being given the opportunity to get the best shot. As soon as I jumped in I was secured in my seat and given my headset. Shawn was next and before I could get my camera out of my bag, we were in flight waving goodbye to the documentary crew below.
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Though the footage was amazing and will take the feature to a new level what affected me most was watching Carlos, Mike, and Shawn behind their respective cameras. They’ve all worked so hard thus far, and though the purpose of the flight was to enhance our work, I could see the excitement they each had in this opportunity to improve the film and enhance their filmmaking experience. I think we all have those once in a lifetime opportunities to take advantage of something spectacular in our lives. Some jump at the chance, others let them pass, while another group is somehow dragged in with uncertainty, yet leaves unable to imagine how life could have unfolded any differently.

“Staying grounded” wasn’t an option for me yesterday, and with this flight behind me, the likelihood that I will be dragged in with uncertainty the next time is minimal, by all means I will choose to take flight.

August 28, 2006

A Promise Of Good Things

BY PAMELA BOWMAN LIVINGSTONE ZAMBIA - We left Lusaka at 4 in the afternoon. We were told it was a 5 hour trip to Livingstone. Alec was the first to suggest before we even got out of town that we should stop to eat. So technically we left at 5. We arrived in Livingstone at midnight. Once again, Zambians have a different concept of time.

We managed to find the turn off to our hotel, The Taito Falcon lodge. We called the owners, who were waiting dinner, to inform them that we were almost there. At the turnoff the pavement ended and the ruts began. Individually we began to look out into the night and see the bush we were driving in. Our silence became nervous giggles as our bus load of film makers could see the possibilities of the Blair Witch Hunt African style. The road became narrower and steeper. We passed huts and African tents and tall tree houses. We kept driving and occasionally found a small sign indicating that we were on the right road. Cyndi said, “They said that there was only one fork that was unmarked.” Great we silently thought. We didn’t know how close we were or how far we had to go. We just knew we were lost in the African bush. Are there still cannibals in the world? Would we drive off and into the Zambezi River? Would we fly off the Victoria Falls? We started to write a story line for lost or survivor. We all knew who would be voted off and given to those cannibals!

lodge_bed.pngAfter a moment of forever, 40 minutes, we arrived. We exited the bus and were greeted by a voice that could rattle your bones in fear and did! Raspy, deep, brawny South African accent accompanied by a demonic laugh. We clung to each other as we walked single file to where this man led. It was dark, It was quiet. It was after midnight. We followed the narrow path to our outside dining area. Waiting for us beside a campfire was an elegant table surrounded by real luminarias. The buffet serving table was built from small stones. The surrounding walls were constructed of hatch. We had finally arrived in Africa. Even though we were exhausted we wanted to explore, to capture, to feel the very essence of this place.

After an appetizing meal we were led to our rooms. I don’t think any of us could have been prepared for what we found. We slid the bamboo doors open to an open aired room. Inside were our beds covered with mosquito nets. Bamboo walls reached as high as my head. A rock wall divided the bathing area from the bed area. Our rock shower had a tree growing in the middle with hooks for towels! It was so cool! The best part was the soft comfortable beds. We were in Africa! Tomorrow we would discover more, but for now it was just enough of a promise of good things.

August 27, 2006

Capacity Building with Ms. Kapwepwe

BY CYNDI GREENING, LUSAKA, ZAMBIA – Mulenga.jpgWe've found a real jewel in Zambia. Mulenga Kapwepwe, the Chairman of the National Arts Council Board has been a real Godsend. She helped us find fantastic storytellers and a terrific student audience. She's also deeply committed to capacity-building in the area of fine art and performing arts in Zambia.

Weekly Review Two

August 21 2006 Monday:
Great Day- We were shooting at our lodge.
We got 11.5 pages done
Amazing experience – Looks like a great week ahead.

August 22 2006
We spoke too soon!
Ying yang for sure
By the afternoon we were back in the swing.
Amazing footage of bridal shower with drummers and dancing.
It can’t get much worse…can it?

August 23 2006 – Wednesday
Shot exterior shots around town
Went to Mtendere – a high density area.= scary!
Interviewed many of the people = SAD!
Let’s hurry out of here!

August 24th 2006 – Thursday
Lost the bus- Acquired a new bus. Great Bus driver named Benny.
Shot wedding scene at church.
Actress deliberately came five hours late to insult Cyndi. Lovely.
8 crew members left behind in dark to wait for ride- Looked for big dipper- received lesson on constellations in the southern hemisphere from oh brilliant one!

Danny_at_the_dolpins.jpgAugust 25th 2006 – Friday
Shot at ZNBC –violence on the set – oh boy the drama!
Something about the rules applying to everyone.
Shoot at restaurant with Dany.
Dinner at restaurant – Dancing again! Interesting evening.

August 26th 2006 – Saturday
Researched options concerning Pamela’s baggage.
After receiving laundry bill, crew spends morning doing their own.
Boys used latex gloves. They have such sensitive skin!
Went to Lusaka Playhouse for 50th Jubilee.
Was rude and left to go eat dinner and relax and do more laundry.
Cyndi calls her father to wish him a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

August 27th 2006 – Sunday
Some go to church. Others slept.
Visit internet café. Blog. Shop for souvenirs.
Plan trip to Livingstone. Get bus arranged. Get hotel arranged. Should be fun.
Crew needs a break. Off we go!

No Problem

BY PAMELA BOWMAN, LUSAKA, ZAMBIA – Zambia’s mantra is “no problem”. After two weeks we have learned that if anyone says “no problem” it means there is a big problem. Example? Well, we were told all of our set locations were arranged. Now in our world that means that if you are shooting at a bank the bank has been contacted and has agreed that a film crew will have access to the location for x amount of hours for x amount of days. In Zambia that means that someone has thought about what bank would be nice to use and when the film crew arrives the bank manager is approached and asked if the crew and cast could shoot for a little while.

OurGangOnSet.jpgOne day we verified with our location scout about the shoot the next day. He asked what time we would be arriving. We told him 8 am sharp. He said “No problem.” Our location scout is also our transportation coordinator. We were waiting by our gate at 7:30 then 8:00 then 9:00. The cast was waiting for their pickups as well. Finally our bus arrived and took us to a different location. We finally arrived to a surprised business owner who quickly tried to accommodate our cast and crew. We could tell he was uncomfortable with us being there, but we had no choice. We tried to get the set ready. As we lit the set our lights blew as did the owners transformer. The room filled with smoke and a smell that was well unbearable. Our location scout said, “No problem.”

Last one

carlos_mk_jeniece_pam.jpgBY CARLOS ESPINOSA, LUSAKA, ZAMBIA, AFRICA - This is our last week, time has gone by so quickly; I can’t believe this is our last week in Zambia. Part of me is ready to go home but at the same time I do wish to stay longer in this country. Since I don’t use a computer on a regular basis, or cellphone, I don’t have any sense of time; I am frequently corrected by somebody letting me know that it is not the day I think it is. I feel a little disconnected.

This last week was a little tough on me. I started my week a little tired from the previous week. Shooting the film has been very challenging and demanding. I had a difficult day this last week where things were just not falling into place; I was getting frustrated and I felt like just going back to the room and calling it a day. However, we had a small meeting where we regrouped and went back to work. At the end of the day, I felt better about the work we accomplished. I have learned that once you begin shooting a film, there is NO stopping it. Everybody depends on each other to keep pushing the shooting.

This Friday and Saturday, we blew some steam out. On Friday we went out for dinner and karaoke. Then we went out dancing at a Zambian club. We had a lot of fun, the group has bonded really well and I know I am going to miss everybody. Saturday we got to play Soccer with a team from Zambia, it was fun to go out there to break some sweat, but of course we got creamed.

So, I am going into this last week with mixed emotions, this has been an amazing experience and in a sense I don’t want it to end. However, I will return home with a sense of accomplishment and pride in the work we have done here in Zambia - it's been worth it all.

August 26, 2006

Fun, Zambian Style

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BY MICHAEL MONTESA, LUSAKA, ZAMBIA - I have never had so much time in my life. I just realized that I work too much and I need to enjoy the moment. That is what I did last night along with the rest of the crew. We went to "The Club" and had a fun night dancing with some of the cast. The past two weeks have been so busy, we just couldn't wait for the weekend. We have a week left and we are almost done filming. Being on the closed set is fun and, during our downtime, we would goof around and get silly. I am really enjoying my time here and getting to know the cast and the crew. At the end of the day, my roommates, Shawn and Carlos, and I would talk about everything and laugh our heads off about everything we'd been through that day. By next week, when we get back in the the States, I'm pretty sure I'm going to miss the crew and the fun times we are having here.

August 23, 2006

Getting Things Done

MotherAndChildren.jpgJOHNPHAN MVULA LUSAKA ZAMBIA AFRICA - My experience in front of the camera is not what I thought it would be. I think it is easy to do and say what someone else has told you to do or say. I think since I am not a professional actor it was easier for me to follow the direction I was given. I also think it was easier for me to act because my character was based on me. The difficult part was acting in front of my Uncle Jabbes. I tried to pretend he wasn’t there.

At the end of the day if someone had asked me if I ever wanted to act again I would say YES!

Acting for this project is NOT my only responsibility. I am also the director’s right hand man. I work directly with the crew, too, in particular, the producers. At first, I found it challenging to understand the crew. After two days I began to understand them and I began to feel like a crew member. After making and receiving all of phone calls (some days up to 50 a day) , talking to the Zambian actors, organizing locations and calling business associates, I started to really feel like I was contributing something to the film.

After one week, I have learned so much. One of the most important things I have learned is that it is not about getting things done, but having the right and correct things done. I pray that BAD TIMING, Zambia’s first feature film, gets the recognition that it deserves.

I'd like the world to see the real Zambia.

Déjà Vu

tweakedJeniece.jpgBY JENIECE TORANZO, LUSAKA, ZAMBIA- Lately, I have been having major déjà vous and I don't know why. It's not like I have ever been to Africa before. I mentioned it to Heath one day and he said "It means that you are on the right path." Those words made me feel even better about my decision about coming. What I have seen and learned so far has changed me and opened up my eyes even more. I don't think any of us will be the same person we were in the beginning.

We are more than half way through our trip and it has been amazing and challenging. I can see that this experience has changed us all in many different ways. I think that we have grown not just individually but as a group. We are learning what our strengths and weaknesses are and also what our pet peeves are with each other. We all have them. It's natural, but the tricky thing is learning to deal with them and adapting. There lies the challenge. I think that our crew has been doing very well considering that we hardly new each other before with got here. Brownie points for us!

Ok, so yesterday was a difficult day for me. I 'll admit it. I did have a mini breakdown. Sometimes being the makeup artist can be difficult because you have actors or actresses who don't want to listen to you or they tell you what to do. Sometimes they try to do other things while you are trying to do your job and end up making your job more difficult than it really needs to be. Now don't get me wrong. There are actors and actresses who are very helpful and understanding, but of course, everything has to have it's pros and cons. It's just that you have to learn that lesson along the way.

August 22, 2006

You Know You're In Zambia When ...

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BY ALEC HART, LUSAKA, ZAMBIA – We've been in Zambia long enough that we are very aware of the big differences between Zambia and the U.S. Last week, we started a new game on the bus. We're trying to (humorously) capture the things that were distinctly Zambian. Some are funnier than others. For some, I think you just have to be there to get it. Maybe things seem funnier because we're always riding around town on a purple and white bus. People always turn and point at us.

So, you know you're in Zambia when...

... ads for LAUNDRY detergent say, "Tough on dirt, easy on HANDS."

... everyone speaks English but no one understands you.

... you can't get into an office because the only key for that room goes home with the person.

... it costs more to get your laundry done than to buy new clothes.

Food Fayre Inspiration

cameraEdgar.jpgBY EDGAR RIDER – LUSAKA, ZAMBIA AFRICA – Saturday, our student and faculty crew conducted a training session at the Arts Council. Following the training, we invited students, storytellers and other attendees to lunch with us at the Food Fayre. Our guests kept calling me over asking me to sit with them. “You’re the script supervisor; you’re the one I’ve been waiting for…how do you do this?” My immediate reaction is to say, “I don’t know how to do anything.” Even with the limited knowledge I have, they seemed somewhat impressed by it.

“So name some of the famous films you have worked on,” they would ask. I answered, “This is my first film.” I expected them to leap out of their chairs and demand, “what is this; who is this guy?” Instead, between bites of barbecue chicken pizza, they kept right on asking questions.

Their continued interest in my role made me feel proud to be a contributor in this project and reinforced my satisfaction in making the trip to Zambia.

Home Sweet “Home”

lodgeCrew.jpgBY M.K. RACINE – LUSAKA, ZAMBIA AFRICA – Today we shot at Kwazulu Kraal Resort, the lodge at which we’ve made our “home” the past two weeks; where we will reside until our departure from Zambia. Shooting at Kwazulu Kraal means reliable power, quick set changes and no stair climbing. Our rooms were used as sets, and our personal belongings as props.

Though we’ve been provided great locations to film thus far, working from “ home” has been extremely efficient, contributing to a less hectic work day and more streamlined operations. Daudi, the lodge chef, has also benefited from such a work location. There was no need for him to box our lunches or arrange lunch pick-up and drop-off. On site craft services allowed him to step from the kitchen, into the courtyard and place lunch on our table, as he would for a family dinner. 

Another significant benefit of shooting from “home” was that our cast knew the location of our lodge, which eased their travel and work day as well. For a couple of scenes we were able to go into the community and invite local villagers to join the cast as extras. Jeniece made up more people today than any other day, so far, and in a very short period of time. It’s great to move production along quickly and be happy with the work, the cast and the venues. We look forward to continuous success with this project, up until our departure from our second “home” to our own home sweet homes.

The (Sometimes Boring) Rhythm of Filmmaking

heathDrums.jpgBY HEATH MCKINNEY, LUSAKA, ZAMBIA – Our Producer, Cyndi Greening, let us all in on a little secret not too long ago. She said, “Filmmaking is a lot like being a Fireman, there is lots of waiting before a brief moment of action.” This is my first film so I’m not too sure of how it all works but everyone tells me there’s a lot of waiting around. To fill up my time, I had Jared Moschcau teach me a little bit about photography. I got it pretty quickly; his trick was that the subject should be two-thirds of the frame and the other third is the background.

I started with simple stuff, I took a couple pictures that really didn’t turn out at all. I quickly erased them, thank you digital photography. My love, as many do not know is nature. So I found myself some flowers I could practice on. There was a small hanging flower with a little dew that I found, and I got to work. For me any angle I looked at it was beautiful, but I had to find a way to make it look great for everyone. I learned to wait for the perfect shot.

It really is just the nature of all things. If you want something great, you need to learn to wait for it. Without any effort we can’t gain any accomplishment. We do wait a lot, Zambian time frame considered. But it’s worth it if that’s what it takes to make a truly great feature film and a documentary. I am more that impressed with what I’ve learned coming here to Zambia.

Shooting B-Roll

LusakaSunset.jpgBY JARED MOSCHCAU LUSAKA ZAMBIA AFRICA – Yesterday we were shooting at our lodge. This was cool because we didn’t have to haul equipment anywhere. It is everyone’s responsibility to get the equipment set up. So after we had set up the different sets in different rooms we were able to go out and about. I took the opportunity to explore the area by myself. After being with the crew for 14 days, 24 hours a day I felt I needed some alone time. It felt good to be myself. Then when I was by myself I had time to think about what I miss back home. That isn’t always a good thing.

Today we have a change of assignments. The document crew is going out to get B-shots. I am going to run the Panasonic. I am pretty excited about this opportunity. It is always fun to work as a team to get footage.

Tomorrow is another shoot at another set. We will see how it goes then.

August 21, 2006

Motivating Child Actors in Zambia

AlisamPiriToo.jpgBY CYNDI GREENING, PRODUCER, LUSAKA, ZAMBIA – On Friday, we had a wonderful shooting experience. The folks a ZNBC, ZNIS and ZAMNET allowed us to use a soundproof stage to shoot the classroom scenes in the film. With all of the children there, the teacher and the policeman, we really needed the space. It also allowed us to build a lot more motion into the shots. We were able to use the dolly and the glidecam. We could have used a few more area lights. Of course all of the equipment means nothing if you don't have good actors. We had some wonderful child actors. The children are so natural on camera; they aren't self-conscious at all. In fact, they barely seem self-aware. One of my favorites was little Alisam Piri. I learned how a Zambian child indicates he doesn't know what to do. I asked him to write his name on a piece of paper. He quickly complied. When I asked him to write his numbers, he turned his hand palm up and waved it from side to side. Monica, his teacher, said, "He doesn't know his numbers yet." He was a great little actor. We even made him cry on cue.


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When they were acting, Jabbes promised them each a very special present. He gave them each a brand new MCC pencil of their very own. They were very excited with that gift. I can't imagine American actors being satisfied with a pencil. Jabbes has been doing a good job with the actors. I'm surprised how well they take direction. He tells them what he's trying to achieve and they respond so well. Even the more seasoned actors have been really great about giving him what he wants.

Spiders

BY PAMELA BOWMAN, LUSAKA, ZAMBIA, AFRICA - It was like the first night we were there. We could hear the screams in all of our rooms. A spider had been found. The screams sent the insect into hiding, but our crew of ladies searched until the ghastly arachnid was found. The shoes and other accesible weapons surronded the enemy until Ginger protested the killing of the creature. With mouths agape, Ginger approached the enemy. She captured the offender and placed it in its POW portable camp. She slowly carried it out of the compound and ceremoniously placed him outside and watched him scurry away. It should not have been a surprise to learn that she was the one to get the kiss of gratitude from her leggy friend! I guess that could mean the creature is back and stalking us all. Yep, there is Jeniece and MK screaming. The search is on but, with the pacifist gone, the weapons are loaded! We are taking no prisoners and there will be no humanitarian releases.

Our Vegetarian Eats Bugs

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BY GINGHER LEYENDECKER, LUSAKA, ZAMBIA – There was no way I could go all the way to Africa, see giant black caterpillars for sale as food, and not try them. Yes I am a vegetarian, and have been for 17 years. No meat of any kind, no dairy. But this was Zambia, Fear Factor style. So I bought the caterpillars and asked our chef Dowdi to prepare them.

The faculty had been at Victoria Falls that day and we were about three hours late for dinner. I walked in to see a giant platter of cold greasy fried caterpillars with my name on it! I had been bragging about how I was going to eat them for two days, and there was no backing out now. So I grabbed four or five and shoved them all in my mouth—probably not the greatest idea. The taste—I can only describe as—a cold greasy pork chop with dirt in it. Yes the caterpillars are full of dirt and it was a big part of the texture. Once I ground them up in my mouth so I couldn’t tell what was a head or leg or whatever, I had to deal with the next big problem, how to swallow this black mass of bugs! It was rough going, and I thought about trying to sneak out of sight so I could spit them out—but that wouldn’t be in the spirit of trying them in the first place so I finally got them down.

I would like to say that I loved them, but alas I cannot… I think perhaps if I had gotten there while they were still hot, and was able to slather them in hot sauce, they would have been pretty good. As it was, it was more for the bragging rights than anything else!

I heard they serve fried termites like popcorn in the rural areas….

Blowing Off Steam

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BY CYNDI GREENING, LUSAKA, ZAMBIA – After an incredibly long, hard week, the crew got some good downtime this weekend. In addition to going to a fun restaurant and Congolese dance club, they got to go shopping on Sunday at a street market. They bought gifts for themselves and others. With a film crew, there is just no way to escape cameras. So, it was no surprise that our bus ride was spent getting fisheye photographs of everyone. It was silly. I think it was the most relaxed I've seen the crew since we left Phoenix Sky Harbor. They were tense when we left and anxious to do a good job all week so the stress level was high. It was good to see them laughing and playing around.

Weekly Review

BY PAMELA BOWMAN, LUSAKA, ZAMBIA, AFRICA - The other night we filmed each other and talked about our first week. Sort of a debriefing. Some had to stop and think, "what did we do this week?" Lack of sleep seems to create a blur of time. So we decided to recap the week in brief summary form just to help us recall what we did and that we were productive.

Thursday August 10th - Arrived in Zambia - Received VIP treatment. We have arrived.
Dropped off luggage at lodge - became acquainted with resort and its staff.
Went to Lusaka Playhouse - Met the cast

Friday - August 11th - Educational exchange meeting at Evelon Hagn College
Copy scripts for cast
Met with cast for script distribution and contract signing
Script read through

Saturday-August 12 - Continue script read through
Internet cafe
Visited high densitiy area. Interviewed locals for Doc - Village Mandevo
CREW LOVED THIS EXPERIENCE

Sunday-August 13 - Some went to church while others slept
Prepared shoot of N'goni warriors at village
Shot N'goni warriors at village and at resort
COOL DAY

Monday August 14 - Rehearsal at Lusaka playhouse
Set up set at Persian warehouse
Lights blow - power issues
Set break down/return to lodge
research light problem at ZNBC
Shop for lights
PROBLEM SOLVING DAY

Tuesday - August 15 - Pick up new lights
Begin shoot at ZNBC - Late night
LATE NIGHT but we worked!

Wednesday - August 16 - Shoot at Tweekatoni school
Mosquito and rent issues
Rebuild glide cam
Shop for dolly supplies (CYNDI CREATIVE!)
Build dolly
Cyndi and Pamela get lost in search of food for set
Crew returns tired and blood sucked from mosquitos
EXHAUSTION AND FRUSTRATION

Thursday - August 17 - Shoot back at ZNBC
Set improvisions/issues
ARGHHH!

Friday - August 18- Shoot at ZIS
Sound studio
Shoot at ZNBC
GETTING IT DONE!

Saturday- August 19 - Meet with Zambian screen writers- pitched their ideas- feedback
Film country storytellers
Teach local Zambian film students (lights, sound, makeup)
Pizza with all students. Visit with students
Eat out at kareoke restaurant
Dancing at Rumba club
RELAXING AND FUN!

Sunday -August 20 - Church for some
Sleep for others
Shopping for family
Internet cafe
Evening at lodge- relax
Discuss next day shoot-verify with actors on Pick up time.
RESTFUL

Monday - August 21 - Shoot at lodge

Night on the Town

BY CYNDI GREENING, LUSAKA, ZAMBIA _ We've been in Zambia for two weeks now. For those back in the U.S., it may seem like we've been gone a long time but time has raced for us. Trying to get a film shot in a foreign country in less than a month gobbles time.

In spite of our strenuous schedule, we are getting to see a bit of Lusaka. Our filming locations move us about the city quite a bit. When I was reading about Zambia before I left Arizona, I read that there were 800,000 people in the city. Phoenix has about a population of about a million and is the national capital so I thought Lusaka would have a similar feel and rhythm to Phoenix but it doesn't.

My childhood hometown of Chippewa Falls has a population of only 12,500. The college that I teach at has more than twice as many students as my hometown. Currently, there are more than 28,000 students as Mesa Community College. I was surprised to discover that Lusaka feels more like Chippewa than Phoenix. Much more. It's a bit more spread out than Chippewa.

There are very few "robots" in the city. In Zambia, a "robot" is a traffic light. I've only seen five or six so far. They use turnabouts and stop signs for what little traffic control there is. Traffic can get quite congested on the main roads at certain times of day. It reminds me of when the Northern Wisconsin State Fair comes to Chippewa. Clogged roads and lots of excitable people.

Another way that Lusaka has a small town feel is our lack of anonymity. Everyone seems to know what we're doing. Every time we make a request or leave the compound, there are a whole bunch of phone calls made to ensure that we will be happy and safe. Then, when we get out into the community, people come up to us to tell us that they've heard about our project or they've seen us on television. No doubt, their ability to recognize us is enhanced by the size of our group and that we're all Americans.

Last night, we went to a restaurant and a dance club for fun. I thought the crew needed to have some time to chill out and be silly together. The restaurant had karaoke. Jared, Heath and Edgar were the only ones brave enough to sing in front of the group. Watching Edgar perform Michael Jackson's BILLIE JEAN in a wig, hat and shades was priceless. Then, we went to a Congolese dance club. Nearly everyone danced. At the end of the night, everyone was laughing. It was great for us.

Zambian Tales

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BY CYNDI GREENING, LUSAKA, ZAMBIA – On Saturday, we spent the morning recording Zambian storytellers in the woods behind the National Arts Center. It was a very surreal morning. Impalas wander the grounds freely and motorists are advised that the animals have the right of way on the roads. We saw large birds that resembled ravens except that they had white chests. The flock looked as though it were going to a formal event in their best tuxedos.

Then, we met with several aspiring Zambian filmmakers. The students and I presented how to light a set, use a boom mic, use wireless mics, apply make-up and make a stronger story. Several students were very brave and pitched their film ideas to us. Then we demonstrated how to build and use a steadicam and budget dolly. We also demonstrated the glidecam. Afterwards, we all went to the ARCADES (a strip mall) to have pizza together and talk some more. We did a radio interview to offer advice to beginning filmmakers in Zambia. The question here is the same as it is in the U.S. How do you find the money??

August 20, 2006

A New Week

PAMELA BOWMAN LUSAKA ZAMBIA AFRICA - Tomorrow begins a new week. We are spending time recuperating from last week. Yesterday, after spending the afternoon blogging and writing to our families, we went back to the resort. We showered and got dressed. For everyone else that meant clothes unrelated to the film. For me, it meant wearing my whites instead of my jeans. Yes, my luggage is still in luggage twilight zone. Then we went to a restaurant. It had a karaoke system. Only three of us were brave enough to sing. It was fun to be silly or watch others be silly! My family has banned me from singing in public or private or in this lifetime. After dinner we went to a Zambian rumba club. There were moments when most of the crew danced in a circle with wild abandon. Even the old ladies were be bopping to some kind of music we had never heard before. By midnight the majority had had enough of crouds and music and the day. We returned to the resort. Instead of going to bed like mature adults we sat around and talked again until 4 in the morning! What is wrong with us?

Tonight it is back to business. We have a planning meeting for next week. Cyndi is really good about de-briefing the crew and analyzing what has happened and what needs to happen. So I am confident this week we will make great strides in getting more scenes wrapped up.

In the meantime dinner awaits at the resort.

August 19, 2006

Home...

BY GINGER LEYENDECKER, MESA, ARIZONA
Well we got home after 36 hours, after the security scare, two seven hour layovers, and a run-in with a possible terrorist! A middle eastern woman sat in between Kai and I at Johannasburg. She was nervous, and kept receiving cell phone calls. Right as the plane was to take off, police got on the plane and came and told her to get her bags, and took her away. We wondered whether it was racial profiling, or if we had narrowly missed disaster. Either way, it opened up the seat between us and we had more room for those 11 hours on the plane!

The spider bite I got early in the trip became infected, due to a combination of not having water all the time and my tendency not to take showers very often! By the time we were on the last leg of the flight it was the size of a half golf ball on my shoulder and really hurt, sending pain down my arm and up my neck. I went from the airport to the ER, got through triage and then waited to be seen until after 2am. A helicopter had brought in an emergency and I would have to be seen the next morning. I went to my doctor and he said "It's a good thing you're here this morning, I wouldn't want to see this thing tomorrow!" I was given an antibiotic IV drip; I had a bad reaction to the drugs that had me out for the entire day. So now I'm on a different antibiotic and will go in Monday morning for another IV and a lancing of the infected boil!! Oh man where is that documentary crew when you need them???

I just want to go on the record and express how very proud I am of the students in the film crew. They have become true professionals and stepped up their skills and talents in a collaborative effort to make this film the best it can be. They are doing a marvelous job working together, taking care of what needs to be done, finding creative solutions to problems, and being the mature and dedicated crew we all thought they could be. I think both the feature and the documentary will be a huge success, and that working on this project will open up so many possibiities for these students in the future. Way to go film crew! I really admire all that you guys have done, and can't wait to see the outcome of your hard work. Cyndi has taught you well, and you are living up to her vision. She is doing a great job producing and troubleshooting. The synergy is really paying off.

I was very sad to have to leave this wonderful group, the crew and the beautiful Zambian people, but it looks like I got home in the nick of time with the bite. Now I'm trying to get ready for classes on Monday ... after the lancing of course...

It's All About the Food

zambian_breakfast.jpgBY PAMELA BOWMAN LUSAKA ZAMBIA AFRICA They have pizza here. They have bread. They have bottled water. You may notice we talk about food a lot. That is because we are working so hard that we are always hungry. We decided that we needed to have food on the set for everyone to nibble on between sets. So Cyndi and I left one night to go to the grocery store....alone! Cyndi was driving. She said I couldn't because I am a student. What is up with that? So she is driving. In Zambia you drive on the left hand side of the road. She kept repeating to herself "Do what feels wrong. Do what feels wrong." I guess that includes driving down the middle of the road because you can't really judge how close you are to the wrong/right side. Are you following all of this? Hitting the curb is the other alternative. She managed to do that a few times too. They have round abouts. We thought we were just circling around and around. I couldn't help but have a Depends moment! It was too funny. We did manage to find the grocery store, but then we had to figure out how to get back to our resort. The only thing I am allowed to say is that getting lost in Zambia was an experience and one we have managed to repeat again and again as we forage out for set food! I am not allowed to discuss details because some things that happen is Zambia must stay in Zambia. As a result Cyndi has hired a private car and driver to take me to the store in the evenings for the set food.

We are also making a move or two here. Last night we all were on the local T.V. show as they highlighted our crew and project. Being on someone elses set felt odd. I thought Cyndi was going to start telling the host how to fix the lights or check the sound, but she refrained and then made the whole crew march onto the set and introduce ourselves. March we did!

We are having fun getting to know and work with the cast of BAD TIMING. They seem as dedicated to this project as we are. They are also as hungry as we are! It's all about the food!

Another week starts in 36 hours. Thank goodness for Sundays. We all need a day of rest and some more good food! Just don't let Cyndi drive.

A New View of My Role

jeniece_make_up.jpgBY JENIECE TORANZO, LUSAKA, ZAMBIA -- Ok so I had NO idea on how to do make-up on people other than myself. My first and frightening challenge was to learn how to apply the make-up on African people. I was afraid that I would do it wrong and make them look bad and so I made sure that as soon as I knew that my role was the make-up artist, that I would check out books and online information in order to get a better understanding on how it works. Having to do the hair and make-up has been a new experience for me. I found out that you have to be much more personal and a little more intimate with the actors and actresses. For me, that is a lot more scarier than what people would think. I am not a "touchy feely" kind of person to begin with, expecially when it's with people that I don't know or know very well. It was a huge obstacle for me and I learned that I just had to suck it up and overcome that fear because the crew needed me to do my job. I must admit, at first I was embarrassed, intimidated, and unfomfortable but now I am more relaxed. I was slow at first and now since I got the hang of it, I am learning to be much more efficient. I like having to look for little details and things that would make the complete product better. Now, when I think of putting make-up on someone, I think of a blank canvas and I am getting ready to paint. I think it would be interesting and fun to be able to learn how to do the special effects for fantasy characters and such. You can do so much with make-up. It's a challenge, but a challenge worth overcoming. Even though, at first I doubted myself and the value of my role, now I understand that my role is just as important than any other role because we are all connected and have to work together in order to make the movie a great finished product.

One Down

CARLOS ESPINOSA - LUSAKA, ZAMBIA, AFRICA - Well the first week is over; all I can say is that I am very exhausted. We finally got our lighting issues resolved and we are moving along. This week was very tough, we have been working very hard to keep up with our schedule and complete the shoot. I think I am not the only one to say this, while changing to a different scene, I can see everybody trying to catch a breather and even caught some sleeping.

bad_timing_crew.jpgI can’t say enough of how hard the crew has worked, I think everybody knows our roles and as soon as we hear “set up”, you see everybody doing their own thing to begin shooting. I have learned so much this week, mainly to adapt to different situations, this being a tight room to shoot, light, power source, but we have overcome every single obstacle so far. The last two days, we got to shoot with the glidecam, dolly and the steadicam, even though it is a little more complicated, I am enjoying every minute of it, we are capturing some great shots.

This week, we got to shoot in ZNBC and yesterday we got to see Cyndi get interviewed live on the ZNBC “Better TV” show. It was fun seeing the camera people work and see the different techniques they use to shoot live TV, as well as the live editing. We also got to come out and introduce ourselves on live TV.
I am looking forward for week two to continue with the shooting; hopefully we won’t have a lot of surprises like we did the first week.

Adapting

BY NICK MARSHALL, LUSAKA, ZAMBIA -- It's odd. Only a little after a week and it feels like I've grown accustomed to this place, this pace. At first I took picture after picture, snapping away, afraid I'll lose a moment, afraid I wouldn't capture it all. Everything was new, everything was exciting, it felt like we would stop down and take off again after a weekend. But now, I don't take as many pictures, not that I'm bored with this place or it's not interesting, but it feels like I understand it better now. I don't feel like I'm going to run out of time.

street_life.jpgLocations and props have been giving us a problem -- well many things have been putting a rut in our path but I think the most exciting thing about this project, from the crew perspective, is how everyone does stuff on the fly. We change things that need to be changed, every day we make split second decisions and adjustments. We do anything to capture a scene and people just talk to each other. There are no egos and no one speaks down or up to anyone else, we respect each other and listen. We're slotted into our roles better now and everyone is on a Zambian rhythm now.

People are very open here and will talk and talk. And you'll listen with a keen ear, eager to hear their life or a project they are working on. We talk and laugh and it helps with the stress and the waiting. There are so many things happening, so fast it's hard to recall it all, hard to get it all down, but I take notes, jot down little things when I can and remember. There is drama everywhere, even when we leave the set, at our compound there are things to talk about, things to laugh about and everyone is meshing together, getting accustomed and helping each other out like a family. There is a high level of community here, everyone helping, sharing; they are eager to help, eager to say hi and talk. We are adapting to that community, that sense of helping and altruism, and in our little compound we just share very passively and are calm and we laugh. There is a lot of laughter.

The Zambian Colors

zambian_colors.jpgBY MICHAEL MONTESA, LUSAKA, ZAMBIA - The people here are so hospitable, friendly, and they always smile at you! I have never met so many people who are always waveing and greeting me or saying hello. As a photographer, I try to capture the true essence and colors of Zambia. Last week, we went to a nearby neighhborhood and mingled with the local folks. it was fun and exciting. The kids were excited to get their photos taken and to see their photos on the LCD screen. It felt nice to see them smile at their own photos.

This week has been a busy week for us. We had to wake up so early in the morning to shower. Actually, we don't call it showering. We call it dripping. Sometimes cold dripping or trickling. The people in the resort can hear our screams when we hit the cold trickle.

Our filming began last week and it's exciting. I can't believe we are now working on a professional film. Our crew is awesome and everybody helps each other out. One of the fun moments is at night when we sit around and talk and laugh and share stories or play pool or games. We hear outside our resort the sounds of Zambia. We can hear the neighbors laughing and we can smell their dinners being prepared. The colors and sounds of Zambia are beautiful and moments I will cherish the rest of my life.
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Our Life at Kwazulu Kraal

BY SHAWN DOWNS, LUSAKA, ZAMBIA - I'm positive that everyone will inform you of the progress of the film, but I want to breifly bring you into our lives apart from the film. At the time I first joined this project, I had imagined that we would be staying in a hut somewhere and sleeping completely wrapped in mosquito nets. Upon arrival I was very surprised to see how fortunate we were to be staying in such a fine place. The Kwazulu Kraal Resort it is called. Each room has two beds, a kitchen, bathroom, shower, and anything you would find back at the States. It is excellent in that it contains everything anyone would need and boasts its Zambian culture.

water_heater.jpgThe first few days my roommates (Carlos Espinosa, Mike Montesa) woke up to take freezing showers. So cold was the water that we had difficulty in breathing while showering. Screams were heard every morning as we dashed in and out from under the water. On the third morning I felt rather stupid when I discovered a switch near the ceiling in the hallway; directly under it were the words "Hot Water".

The mosquitos are seen from time to time at the resort but in my room we have DOOM. Carlos and I discovered this at the supermarket. It is a device that when it is plugged into the wall it releases fumes that repel mosquitos. I am fairly positive it doesn't work, but Carlos and I still believe. And justifiably, we have not been bit. Mike isn't a believer. He has been bit.

Lately a few have been saying their own versions of "You know you are in Zambia when...". The other night I learned that "you know you are in Zambia when you think you are about to eat mashed potatoes but you are actually in for quite a surprise". The other night I became really excited when I thought I was piling mashed potatoes onto my plate. With no warning I found with the first bite that it was NSHIMA -- a boiled corn meal that Zambians eat twice a day. It is an acquired taste.

Despite the little negatives of every day life, the country of Zambia has shown to be a very beautiful place with very generous people. You will not find many Zambians without a smile on their face. I am so grateful for everything Zambia has done for our crew to make our stay as comfortable as possible. We are so excited to be shooting this film so people can see the beauty of Zambia and all it has to offer.

August 18, 2006

MCC Film Team at Kwazulu Kraal

BY CYNDI GREENING, LUSAKA, ZAMBIA – I'm always getting after the crew to blog more and I realize that I haven't blogged hardly at all. I'm actually due on the set in ten minutes so this won't be long either. I wanted to take a quick minute to let everyone know that the MCC film crews are doing fantastic work in Zambia. We've now formed into a theatrical crew, a documentary crew and a logistics/special features crew. They are working with determination, fervor and creativity. They are capturing fantastic footages and superb performances. Our patron, Dr. Ng'oma has provided a wonderful base of operations for us at Kwazulu Kraal. We're all becoming very Zambian. We are a community who gathers in the courtyard to talk, tell stories of the day and draw strength. It's ironic that we've come to a land were the community is very important and have adopted that aspect of their culture. I must get to the set. I'll try to blog more this weekend.


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August 17, 2006

Proud, Back in the USA

BY KATIE GREISIGER, GILBERT, USA - I am currently interning back in the US on an independent feature and cannot even start to imagine having to face the same difficulties that the Zambian crew is facing without the resources here. I am really proud of everyone! We all knew what a great team the crew makes and it is not suprising that you all will be able to work out any problems that come your way. The photographs from Zambia are breath taking and I am very excited to see the finished product. Good luck, crew! Everyone back in Arizona...and the US...is keeping your efforts in our thoughts.

August 16, 2006

It's All Good!

GINA PUMA, ASSOCIATE PRODUCER, GILBERT, ARIZONA, USA- In my quest for funding, I spend hours writing and talking about this project to anyone who will listen. As I watch the project progress, I reflect upon the numerous unique opportunities lurking within. I originally got involved because I liked the way Jabbes wanted to empower the Zambian people to stimulate their own economic growth. There is a line in BAD TIMING where Jabbes writes, “Instead of waiting for donor handouts, we want to show them that Zambia can do it on our own….it can be Zambia for Africa!” Creating a film industry in Zambia will increased economic freedom and would open up opportunities for many. The prospect for advancement doesn’t stop there. The Mesa Community College students are part of a distinctive international college experience. Other colleges take you to foreign countries to learn about new cultures. While that is a remarkable experience, you are only there as a passive observer. The MCC film students have been given the chance to live and work with the people of Zambia. What an exceptional opportunity for cultural exchange! There is no substitute for that. We embraced Jabbes and showed him the charitable hospitality of the American people and in turn, he took us to his home and he and the people of Zambia welcomed us with open arms. The project is already a success on many levels. It’s all good!

Let There Be Light!

JACOB FELIX, LUSAKA, ZAMBIA – We have had a very interesting time getting the lights to work. All the problems were due to power issues, we have blown light bulbs as well as transformers. The outlets here are 240V and cannot handle our 1000W bulbs, it also is not very helpful that the wiring is extremely old.

The cast and crew were on set ready to go, the lights lasted for maybe two minutes: The first one started flickering then Poof, the bulb had blown. The second one turned bright orange, then faded away as the bulb slowly died out. Then a with smell from the third one, and cloud of smoke shooting out of the transformer, and just like that we were done shooting for the day. The cool thing about this is that even thought we couldn’t shoot until the nest day the cast and crew all kept a very high morale.

The hunt was on. From one store to another, they just kept sending us to some other store. After about 5 or 6 stores we figured out that no on in the whole country carries the bulbs we need. If we ordered them the fastest it would get to us would be 3 weeks to 3 months, we leave in 3 weeks so that wouldn’t be of any help at all whatsoever. We found alternative lights that ended up working out the next day but were not nearly as advanced as the light set that we had brought with us. Ultimately, we are now using the $200.00 lights that we purchased in Zambia even though we hauled 4 large light sets that are worth $6,000.

Getting the Shot

JARED MOSCHCAU LUSAKA, ZAMBIA AFRICA – Today has been a very exciting day! We were able to film several scenes for the feature. It is was great that we didn’t have any issues or problems throughout the day with the equipment.

Last night I approached Cyndi about my role on the film. After a discussion, I have been moved from the feature film as a boom operator to the position of unit photographer for the documentary. I love it! It is exciting, busier and more rewarding. Cyndi and the crew give me feedback. Sometimes they tell me how I can improve the shot, sometimes they tell me how bad a shot is and then a magical moment happens. A picture that I took comes up and everyone says “WOW, what a great picture.” I can’t help smile because I took that picture! I cannot tell you how great that makes me feel.

Another thing I have been enjoying is watching the other crew members do their work. Ginger has made some amazing portraits of the actors. We all want one! It doesn’t help that she feels bad she isn’t able to make one of everyone. Gingher and Kai are both leaving tomorrow. We are just getting used to working all together and now some are leaving. It makes me realize how fast the time is going.

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Sounds Good to Me

BY HEATH McKINNEY, LUSAKA, ZAMBIA – I am listening. One of the many roles that I have been given, as part of the crew, is a sound technician for the documentary. It is all very new to me and I am loving it ever so much. It is really amazing how many sounds the human ear can pick up. When I am plugged into the camera it is amplified a hundred fold, the rustling of jeans, the clicking of a pen and the scratching sound of paper are distinct and clear. Amazing!

As a sound tech, I have found myself exploring the natural sounds of Zambia. I was taught just the other night by a member of the cast, Johnphan Mvula how to play the Zambian drum. I am also learning from the people here to speak one of their many native languages. There are about 73 different tribes and seven major languages. I’m learning Nyanja.

I have only just started here and I have heard a beautiful melody of sounds and I can’t wait to hear more.

Doc Crew Captures Zambian Artists

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BY ROBBY BROWN, LUSAKA, ZAMBIA – Yesterday, a small chunk of the crew and I went to the art village where they make crafts for sale. We did a few interviews and shot some B-roll. We watched them make drums, bowls and brightly colored batik cloth. Seeing how they make what they sell was inspiring. We are artists, too. So I appreciate the skills that the people have and are preserving.

One man lured me into his hut where he shared space with a couple of other artists. He showed me different things. After explaining that I didn’t have any money he mentioned that he liked my hat. I told him, “So, have you ever heard of Greenday?” I showed him my souvenir watch and pointed at a stone carving of a family he had made. We traded. It was a great experience and I can’t wait to do it again.

Unfortunately the rest of the crew wasn’t having such a good day. Different problems with lights and power set the shoot back a day. Today, thank goodness, things are going great and both films are making excellent progress. I am thankful for this crew, this country and this opportunity. I am learning more than I ever expected and I have only been here five days! I often imagine how different my life will be when all of this is said and done. It’s part of what drives me to do my best. We are one well-oiled machine and I am fully confident that all of our talents combined will produce two amazing films.

Kabwata Cultural Village

kabwataVillage.jpgBY GINGHER LEYENDECKER, LUSAKA, ZAMBIA – Today we went to the Kawata Cultural Center to interview craftsmen. A woodcarver, a basket weaver, a batik and fabric artist, and a drum maker spoke to us, explaining their craft and how they learned it. The people who live in this craft village are very proud to be able to work for themselves and support their families from their art. They were very open to speaking with us, especially because we bought lots of their crafts!

Afterwards I got to take paper and pencils outside our compound and draw with the neighborhood kids. At first they were shy, not wanting to draw or speak. So I started asking them what animals they liked, and gave each kid the sketch. Soon the kids were drawing pictures for me. Before long I was surrounded, not only surrounded but enveloped in dozens and dozens of beautiful faces, yelling out “lion!” “elephant!” “zebra!” I stayed out for close to an hour, and we had a great time with the kids.

I am struck by the Zambian people in that they are so positive and proud and happy. Not just the ones who are well off, but also those in “high density” areas. People walk around everywhere, with pride in their appearance and dress, smiles for each other and a general sense of friendship among all. Even in opposing political parties who are demonstrating in the streets (this is election month) there is no violence. One of our guides Alan explained that “they might buy us a beer one day, or we might sit and buy them one, we are not against each other because we are for opposing candidates. We are all Zambians.”

Community of Beauty and Dignity

BY KAI KIM, LUSAKA, ZAMBIA –Yesterday we went to Livingstone which was the capitol city before Lusaka. We saw Victoria Falls and it was spectacular. The falls and the cliffs were massive, much larger than Niagara Falls. Afterwards, we went on a wildlife tour to see the animals in the wilds of Africa. We saw monkeys, water buffalo, rhinos, warthogs and two sleeping rhinos. As we were leaving, we were stalled for a long time by a herd of elephants on the roadway. It was a pretty amazing.

kabwataBatik.jpgToday we visited the Kawata craft village. It is a village of artisans who live and work in the village. As Fine Art Faculty at Mesa Community College, we were very interested in our Zambian counterparts. We interviewed basket weavers, wood sculptors, textile artists and jewelers. They talked about how they learned their art from family members or friends. The art in this village is passed on from generation to generation and also from artist to fellow artisan. It was incredible to see a community of artists who live and work together with their families. These artists earn a modest living making their art. They are able to support their family and do what they truly love to do. This gives them a great sense of pride and sense of identity. It really was wonderful to see this village adorned with art. Behind the thatched huts, men and women were working diligently on their pieces. As you go through, it is apparent that they have built a strong sense of community. They are supportive and appreciative of one another. It really was beautiful in a unique way.

We also drove through the high-density area of Lusaka, which is the urban sprawl of the city where we got to see the real side of Lusaka. Shanti towns of urban living with street vendors and people going on with their daily lives, exhaust and dust mixed with rust and bright colors. To some foreigners, this could appear as poverty but I really didn’t see it that way. It resembled any other city where the hard life of urban high-density living situation, like the ghettos of Detroit. But the difference was that the Zambian people looked proud and in a strange way there still exists a sense of order and dignity.

We have been here in Zambia for five days now and our experiences have been unbelievable. Since our arrival, we have been welcomed and accepted into their lives with much warmth and kindness. We are staying at the Kwazulu Resort, courtesy of Dr. Ng’oma. The resort is a modest enclave of rooms with a common courtyard in the center. This living space seemed to have been made for us. It has created an intimate community for all of us to bond and share our experiences. This whole experience has been enhanced by an incredible chef who has made us the most delicious meals. Food is a great way to bring people together and eating the incredible meals together has brought all of us closer. Working and eating, building a community of our own in Zambia.

Magical Moments

JEANETTE ROE, LUSAKA—More than a decade ago, I lived and traveled in South America for four years following college. Being in Zambia has brought back the feeling of hyper-consciousness I used to experience frequently in Paraguay. I called it the “it” moment having read Kerouak at the time of my Peace Corps service. The quality of light, the perpetual smell of smoke, sweat and dust, local music blasting from vehicles and houses, the river of buses, cars and humans overflowing the streets, and the wonderful food and hospitality. I’ve experienced several of these moments in Zambia.

After resting up, meeting the actors, and getting things set for the Monday shoot, Cyndi encouraged Kai, Gingher and me to take a quick trip to Livingston and Victoria Falls. We will be leaving the crew to return to the U.S. at the end of this week to start our fall semester.

The tourist sites were incredible, the falls, the animals, but my favorite moments tend to be the personal interactions and incidents that occur and are difficult to express.

On the way to Livingston I had a strong sense of being in Africa when on the last leg of our journey in the dead of the night, listening to Jimmy Reeves, the tank on empty, the road narrowing and enclosed on either side by a wall of grass, our car dropped into a couple hellacious potholes. As the potholes got worse and Alan our driver did not seem to want to slow down, I asked him if we had a spare. In his wonderful African English he said softly “Nooooo … we travel by the grace of God.” We all burst out laughing. I have to admit I had a real moment of fear of getting stranded.

zuluBaby.jpgOn our way back from the park we stopped for lunch. I thought we had mistakenly entered someone’s home there was only one table and a living room with couches and a napping cat. We were led through the house out the back door and across a patio to the kitchen, a small outbuilding, a chunk of fish was frying in a pan on the ground. A young woman poked here head out the door she did not look very happy to see us. We ordered one of everything. The food was authentic and delicious. We ate with our fingers and cleaned our plates. Lydia, our chef smiled hugely when we expressed how much we enjoyed the food.

When stopping to get pictures with a life-sized, half finished, concrete sculpture of an elephant, we were scolded by a matronly woman in traditional dress. She said we were lucky they had just locked up the dogs who would have attacked us. To Alan she said “…and you are not a proper African, you should know the proper way!”. We apologized profusely, we had not realized it was private property. We enjoyed teasing Alan about not being a proper African the next couple kilometers.

Arriving back at the lodge the students were wound up and excited about their weekend adventures. They had gone to a high density area to film and interview people for the documentary and had an incredible experience and lots of stories to share. They also filmed the Ngoni warriors dancing at sunset in a traditional African village. We saw the footage, it was awesome! As a teacher it is wonderful seeing the students pull together as a team and really doing the job. They look like professionals already, I can’t wait to see how seasoned they become in the next two weeks. Along the way I am sure they will experience many “it” moments of their own to remember for a lifetime.

Victoria Falls

BY GINGHER LEYENDECKER, LIVINGSTONE, ZAMBIA – (Sunday, August 13, 2006) The faculty members, Kai Kim, Jeanette Roe and I had a day that was the experience of a lifetime. First we went to the amazing Victoria Falls. It was simply incredible the volume of water that flows through, and the power you can hear in the roaring sound. We were soaked in mist that refracted rainbows all around. Some people were bungee jumping off the bridge that crossed the gorge, and others white water rafted at the bottom. I would like to be able to come back and do both someday!

rhinos.jpgNext we went to a national wildlife refuge. First we saw giraffes and impalas. Then monkeys and elephants (in the distance). We then hired a ranger who knew the migration of the animals, who took us in further. We came up on water buffalo, and he said we should keep our distance even in the car because they are the most dangerous animals in the park! Then we went to an abandoned training compound where baboons had taken over the area. Then, an experience that is hard to describe in its fullness. We came upon Zambia’s last two wide rhinos, an odd couple who were relaxing under a tree. The ranger told us to walk with him, and we got within a few feet of them! They were undisturbed and we stayed there in awe for a very long time. They were huge and beautiful. Finally we had to take the ranger back to his post. But first he took us to see zebra. As we were leaving I felt a little sad that we didn’t get to see elephants close up. Then, as we were about to leave the park, there they were—a herd of about twelve on the road and to the side! We actually had to wait there, they were blocking our exit—“trapping” us as Alan our driver said.

We got to eat at a traditional Zambian family restaurant on the way home. On the drive I was amazed to see people walking at all hours of the day and night, from town to town.

When we got to our resort, I finally got to eat the caterpillars, made by our chef Dowdi. They had been reconstituted and deep fried. They looked horrid all big and black, but I have to say—not bad!!

August 14, 2006

Anxiously waiting to edit

filmblog.gifBY LINDSEY BLACK, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, USA - I decided to take a much needed break from life before I get buried in my computer. I am going to be here in L.A. helping out with the needy to get my mind off of me and onto people who really don't know their place in life. It has been great these last three days. I feel like L.A. is home to me, maybe because growing up those were my initials (Lindsey Anderson), or maybe it is the atmosphere. Most people don't get this giddy around a picture of a slate outside a Burbank movie theatre. Everywhere you go, you can find at least one person who is connected to the film industry one way or another. But is L.A./Hollywood really where I want to be? It is so corporate. The great thing about the an Indie film and its crew is you become family. It is easier to get to know each other and I respect the films more because you have to work so hard to come up with the finances.

I, of course, have been keeping an eye on the blog a lot. I can't wait to see what they have to write. I am so excited to see the footage. I am bumming a bit, especially when I see the pictures on the blog, but this getaway is helping me out a bit. I can certainly be thankful that I am not in Africa with one set of clothes on my back and some foriegn bug bites. There is not much I can blog about until I begin the edit, which I am anxiously waiting to get started on. I will definitely let you know the progress. Let's all hope we have no big issues (like dropping a laptop, like I already did) and get through this for the Sundance deadline. Stay strong crew!

Finally!

carlosVillage.jpgBY CARLOS ESPINOSA, LUSAKA, ZAMBIA, AFRICA | It’s hard to believe that we are finally in Zambia. The flight was an adventure of its own; it was not real fun. I think I only got a total of three hours of sleep in our long two days of international travel. However once we got here, those hardships seemed well worth it. Dr. Angoma has been very kind, providing every accommodation for the crew; he is very nice and giving person.

We had an opportunity to go to a village yesterday to watch the N’goni warriors dance. I cannot adequately describe this experience with words; it left me virtually speechless. I was a little shocked when we got there since it was almost sunset and we needed to shoot the dance. I was able to get in the mix with the warriors and get some close-ups. It was not hard to feel the energy from the warriors; at times I was almost dancing with them while shooting. It was not until we got back to the resort and went over the footage that I realized the number of people that were there to greet us and be part of the event -- it was amazing.

Today was the first day to shoot the feature film, but we had some technical difficulties with the electricity. On location, we blew light bulbs and a transformer. It was a bummer since we were primed to begin shooting. We think we have the technical problems ironed out now (keep your fingers crossed!) and are looking forward to Day 2 when we can really begin shooting BAD T!IMING.

Solving Problems

NgoniVillage.jpg

BY PAMELA BOWMAN, LUSAKA, ZAMBIA -- I thought the first day of shooting would be today. I was wrong. No news there! We actually had an unexpected opportunity yesterday. Our bus driver is a dancer for the Ngoni warriors. He actually organizes his troup to dance at parties and such. So we thought it would be cool to see his group dance. Our host graciously located a village about 5 miles from where we are staying. So Cyndi had this bright idea to shoot it. She is brilliant like that. It took FOREVER to get there. Lovely roads! Anyways, the dancers were all in authentic dance attire and we landed at the village just in time for a sunset shoot. AWESOME! Our whole crew pulled together and captured amazing footage of these native dancers among these real African huts. Most of the village people were so sweet and curious and cooperative. We loved it. After, we came back to our resort and watched the footage. The colors of Africa are amazing. We are so proud of ourselves!

Then today happened. We started our shoot. We had to wait a couple of hours for our bus. ARGHH! Finally we were off to the theater house and had a small rehersal. Then we went to the location. We got everything set up and the actors were ready, the cameras were ready and we were ready. Lights, camera....wait lights, pop. Big problem. The electricity couldn't handle the lights. But being the seasoned crew that we are. I mean we did shoot the night before! We remained calm. Figured out we had a problem we couldn't solve, broke down the set, fed the crew, loaded up the crew and began figuring out how to solve the electicity issue. Cyndi, Jabbes and Jacob, Mike, John and Susan went to ZNBC and received the information they needed for tomorrow's shoot. Problem solved.

The rest of the crew went back to our resort to do laundry by hand. That is easy for me because I only have one change of clothing. Homeless in Africa, Need of clothing. Please help the airlines find my luggage. I am borrowing one piece of clothing from each crew member! It's all good. I don't care because I am in Africa shooting a film! I am also still queen of all card games. The crew has been humilited by the old lady!

Tomorrow is another day. It will be a good one. Hopefully we will be able to blog more often soon. Another problem we are working out. We are great problem solvers. In the mean time we are learning about Africa, each others families and about each other! Scary stuff!

My Eagles Have Landed

Bald%20Eagle%20in%20Flight,%20Alaska[2].jpg GINA PUMA, ASSOCIATE PRODUCER, GILBERT, ARIZONA, USA-- I am so happy and relieved to hear that all is well and the crew has arrived in Lusaka, Africa safely. I went to the airport to see them all off and I felt like a Mama bird pushing my babies out of the nest. One little birdie almost didn't fly but he recovered (his passport, that is) and learned a very valuable lesson before taking that long journey on his own. As I said goodbye to everyone and watched them spend those last few minutes with their families, I saw their commitment and determination as they left behind the ones they cared for the most. There was some sadness, a little fear of the unknown, but mostly there was enthusiasm and a desire to allow this project to transform them. The last few weeks before the crew departed for Africa, we all spent a great deal of time working together to make these films a successful reality. First, there was finding the funding to take the crew to Africa for a month. We spent countless hours writing proposals to help others understand why this is such a great opportunity for Africa, the United States and the World. Next, we needed to buy more equipment and supplies, gather passports, acquire immunizations, purchase tickets, obtain visas - the list seemed endless and some days... insurmountable. Then there were weeks of preparing the script breakdown and the storyboards- this was no simple task. Jabbes accused me of being so detail oriented that I just about counted every hair on his head. Now the crew has journeyed to the other side of the Earth...without me. I know that I must let it be someone else's task to make sure all your hairs are in place, Jabbes. Whoever has that task, keep me informed! Our months of preparation built strong working relationships and friendships. There is still much work to be done here in the States while production begins in Zambia. I am so grateful to all those who contributed but I continue to search for more funding for the many production and post-production expenses that lie ahead. It is now Monday morning in Lusaka and all of our hard work is indicative of this moment. There is only one more word that needs to be said and I believe it is the embodiment of this project..."ACTION"!

August 12, 2006

Shooting a Documentary

airportscene.jpgBY ROBBY BROWN, LUSAKA, ZAMBIA -- Shooting a documentary really isn't as easy as some may think. The country is beautiful and the people are wonderful but it's tough capturing that experience. You want to shoot everything but you need to save tape and battery. At the same time, you don't want to miss a key part in a conversation so you don't want to turn the cameras off. If I had "spidey sense" I would definitely use it. You need to keep an eye on everybody and make sure that if something goes down, you're right there getting it on tape. Another issue I found that I need to work on is lighting. Zambians are naturally very dark skinned, so when we are in ... say the Lusaka Playhouse. It's dark in there so I need to change some settings on the camera; if I follow somebody outside, I have to change it back to shoot outside so everything isn't washed out. Of course everybody has stuff to practice and over time we will get better. For now things are a little rough. But nothing worthwhile comes easy.

I absolutely love Zambia and am thrilled to be here. Thank you to the locals who are so inviting, and the family back home who are so encouraging!

Putting All The Pieces Together

nick_kids.jpgBY NICK MARSHALL, ZAMBIA, AFRICA -- In an internet cafe and typing by the dollar. Well more like cents. The money is odd to get used to -- they deal with thousands instead of singles. Bought a sub, cost 10200 kwacha. So far the experience here has been nerve-wracking, wonderful, stressful, beautiful, sad, tiring and a million other things. The flights were exhausting and seemed all to melt into the same day. We are staying at a housing compound provided by Dr. N'goma. He is very nice and very excited to have us; he welcomes us enthusiastically, as do all members of his staff. Everyone there is very friendly. When we first got access to an internet cafe I e-mailed my parents and we learned of the bomb scare at the Heathrow airport. We learned from an e-mail from Shawn's parents that it happened right after we took off from London. This whole trip has been close calls and things falling out of place only to be put back together at the last second so that we can move forward.

StoneFace

stoneface2.jpgPAMELA BOWMAN ZAMBIA AFRICA-Hello! This is "Stoneface." Yes, the crew has nicknamed me! What is up with that? I can't imagine why? I was the one who couldn't sit still and was smiling ear to ear as we approached Heathrow. I was in Europe for like 4 hours! I was so close to Italy and Spain and Greece! That was painful! Then when we were actually landing in South Africa everyone was telling me to look out the window. There was a problem because on a 747 middle aisle you can't see out any window! But they told me how beautiful the sunrise was. Wasn't that nice of them? OK I was a little sleep deprived. I found out that I can't sleep sitting up! stoneface.jpgThe first night I sat between Cyndi and Alec. I was an oreo between two people who love to TALK! The second night I was between two people who thought the chair arm rests were only for them. I was squished! MEN! So finally we arrived in Zambia. We walked off the plane and it was so COLD! I had the privilege of being the only crew member to have lost luggage. Still lost after three days. But being stonefaced - nothing fazes me.

I loved meeting the cast. I loved listening to them talk. Their speech is musical. I am beginning to actually understand them. It is also uplifting to feel the excitement they have over the project. So on Monday we start filming. Is that possible? Yes it is! I can't wait to see the dailies. There is not a word to describe this experience. So I won't even try.

So from Stoneface to those who care - I won't say good-bye. I will say see you later.

Zambia so far

mandevogirl.jpgBY GINGHER LEYENDECKER, SATURDAY AFTERNOON IN LUSAKA -- I am struck by so many things in Zambia so far. The kindness of the people, their happy positive demeanor and willingness to help. The city is beautiful. Our host, Dr. N'agoma, is so gracious, putting us up in his resort and feeding us. We really appreciate all he has done for us. To him I say a huge "Zikomo", or thank you.

We had a readthrough with the cast of BAD TIMING yesterday and they really made the script come alive. I think the project will be a huge success.

Also, the faculty met with the President of the Evelyn Hone College of Applied Arts and Commerce, Sam Kangwa, yesterday. It is the premiere art school of Zambia. We met many of the faculty members and were given a tour of the school. They were very excited about the idea of an educational exchange, and our meeting was very successful. It looks like they will be a perfect fit for Mesa Community College, and we will be able to exchange faculty and students in the art department and other areas.

I also bought some dried salted caterpillars last night and the chef has agreed to cook them for us soon. More on that later! They also sell roasted termites, so of course we'll have to try those too.

Elections are going on this year and we have seen demonstrations and marches. My favorite part of this trip has been interacting with the wonderful people, listening to their points of view and comparing them to my own. It seems as though people everywhere have many of the same hopes and concerns.

Many people here have to face adversities that are not part of our daily lives -- challenging living conditions, HIV-AIDS, lack of certain resources, etc., but they have an admirable and strong spirit. They are proud and beautiful and positive. They are an inspiration and so far this trip has been worth it for this understanding alone.

Zambia is "ndimwa babwino"--very good!

The Quick Scoop

jenieceKidmob.jpgBY JENIECE TORANZO LUSAKA, ZAMBIA- Well we made it here alive! That is good news. We have had some drama and interesting situations that we had to overcome but thankfully we made it through in one piece. I think there were some families that were worried about us because of the terrorist threat that just happened in London, but thankfully it happened right after we left Heathrow Airport. The plane ride was very long and tiresome. It was hard to get any sleep, especially when I was surrounded by two big guys who didn't give me much leg or arm room. Long travel itineraries can also lead to some personal hygiene issues too (read BO) -- not my favorite part of the flight. So I just watched a bunch of movies that I hadn't seen and watched the different shots and lighting and also, of course, the hair and makeup which is very important.

The people here are so kind and beautiful. I was a little disappointed to see the clothing most of them wear because not many wear the colorful clothing that I was expecting. They tend to wear regular western clothes like you and me, but they sure really dress up nice. The few people that I did see wearing traditional dress looked absolutely stunning in it. Very unique. I was excited to hear that we are going to have some clothes made for us. I am surprised to see that there are quite a few caucasian people here which was comforting. I love it here. The resort that we are staying at, the Kwazulu Kraal Resort, is beautiful and very colorful. The staff have been very nice and helpful. The money here is very interesting; it's a little difficult to figure out the exchange rate, but hopefully I will catch on soon.

Where am I?

BY HEATH McKINNEY, LUSAKA, ZAMBIA - We made it -- the promised land. The land that promises to help this film become a reality. I must admit we are all a little out of it from the the exhausting 22 hours of flying, but it was definitely worth every minute to come here. The actors have all been selected and Thursday we had the opportunity to meet them. They are very bright and talented individuals who can truly contribute to the success of this film. The public rhythm is about four times slower than that of the states, but we're proudly moving along as fast as the rest of Zambia will let us. Being in the background or rather a minority is really different. But the people here really don't seem to mind us and have been very generous towards us. I'm looking forward to a great time here, and you should all look forward to a great movie from the Zambian nation!

August 11, 2006

What Time Is It In Zambia?

Lusaka

(Six hours ahead of NY, seven hours ahead of WI, nine hours ahead of CA and AZ)

(Provided by World Time Server)

We're Here

jacobZambia.jpgBY JACOB FELIX, LUSAKA, ZAMBIA - After 20 plus hours on a plane and running through airports we have arrived. Of course I had to be the only one to get sick on the way over here, but as soon as we arrived, I immediately began feeling better. This country is amazing; it's one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. The people are friendly, the food has been excellent.

Last night we all gathered at the Lusaka Play House and got a chance to meet with the cast. They are a great group of people. They resemble the characters I imagined as I read the script. We begin shooting on Monday, and after getting some much needed rest yesterday we are all eager to get to working on the film.

August 08, 2006

Why Film in Zambia?

whyZambia.jpgBY CYNDI GREENING, PRODUCER — When you think about how complicated it is to take 14 students and 4 faculty members to another continent to shoot a film, you might wonder why we made that choice. Here's a short piece on why we think it's important to shoot BAD T!MING and VOICE OF AN AFRICAN NATION in Zambia.

Film in Zambia (lg)

Film in Zambia (sm)

How Jabbes Came to Mesa Community College

JMatMCC.jpgBY CYNDI GREENING, PRODUCER — Sometimes, it's amazing to realize how serendipitously this all came together. How did Jabbes come to Mesa Community College? Why did MCC sponsor such a project in Zambia? This piece might clear it up.

Jabbes at MCC (lg)

Jabbes at MCC (sm)

The Inspiration for the FilmZambia Projects

inspiration.jpgBY CYNDI GREENING, PRODUCER — We leave for Zambia tomorrow. Principal photography begins on BAD T!MING on Monday, August 14. The following video will help you to understand what inspired these projects.

The Inspiration (lg)

The Inspiration (sm)

August 06, 2006

Godspeed and Take Care of My Big Sis

BY SANDY BOWE, CHIPPEWA FALLS, WISCONSIN — On behalf of myself and my family, we want to wish you the very best as as you embark on your African Adventure. What a marvelous opportunity you will have to showcase the many talents you all possess. I ask all of you to keep an eye on and take care of my slightly older sister. Unfortunately because I live so far away from my very talented, yet very admired sister, I have to rely on others to be her support system as I am unable to provide that directly to her. I look forward to seeing your completed project. Good luck to all of you - I will keep all of you in my prayers. Be safe and Godspeed.

Changing My Heart

BY PAMELA BOWMAN MESA, AZ USA - A friend told me the other day that after all of his world travels it was Africa that was the most difficult place to visit. He said it was emotionally exhausting. Another lady I heard about came back and after a week found herself on the side of the highway crying. The impact of Africa had caught up with her. An acquaintance told me that his daughter chose nursing after participating in an African humanitarian opportunity. He told me the experience changed her life. I believe this experience will change all of our lives because I believe it will change our hearts.

We will be boarding the plane in 48 hours. I better start packing! Before Cyndi left for the Sundance Producers Conference she counseled us to pack early. OOOPS! Not the most obedient am I.

Just to justify my behavior… I have been busy! My son Ben flew in from Chile on Thursday. I had to teach him how to make enchiladas! I spent time listening to his adventures. I am a good listener. I looked right into his green eyes and down to his soul. kids.jpgI also spent time with Isaac and Audrey. Newlyweds are fun to be around. They argue so lovingly! Too cute. Then I spent time with my girls. We went to a movie, we went swimming, we talked. Did I mention shopping? I woke them up in the morning with a back scratch. I want them to miss me! Do you think they will miss me? Then Chris and I spent time with each other. I am pretty sure he is going to miss me, but you never know with those strong silent types.

I also spent time on myself. I have been waking up with the sunrise. I go in my backyard and lay in my hammock and enjoy the peace and promise of the dawn. And I think. I think of this life I live in the United States. It is so full of potential. It is so full of everything. I realize that next week I will be waking up in Zambia. I imagine that life in Zambia is not so full of everything. I will find out soon.

I told my friends and family that I expect to be different when I return. I expect this experience to change me, to change my heart. I expect that the things that I might find important and vital now may seem trivial and inconsequential. Jabbes told me that in Africa people take time to celebrate life with each other. He says there is a lot of socializing. There is a lot of dancing. There is a lot of laughter. They take time.

I believe this experience will change my life. I think it will change my heart. I think it already has.

August 03, 2006

Oh, the places we will go

BY ROBBY BROWN, TEMPE AZ - In less than a week, the crew will be in Zambia, and production for the feature, BAD T!MING, will begin. VOICE OF AN AFRICAN NATION is already underway and will continue. But it will be different. Obviously. We have been filming our meetings and various moments here in Mesa and it's been going good. I was filming our great meeting we had on Monday and had fun doing it. I already love filming and editing and when I think about how in a week I won't be filming the students listening intensely while Cyndi and Jabbes prepare us, I'll be filming a featured film being made and a very tight American crew adjusting to very different cultures and life styles.

It's amazing! What an opportunity! Zambia is such a beautiful place and I am absolutely thrilled about capturing that beauty and letting the rest of the world see. As one of the cinematographers for the documentary it will be my job to capture significant/interesting moments. I have to help capture the full drama of the experience, moments that are happy, sad, scare, mad, and, no doubt, stressed. I need to be right up in there getting it. What I've noticed is that the crew, along with myself, will have to get used to having a camera follow them around. Especially in their moments of weakness, everyone resists being recorded then. I believe everyone will be so busy in Zambia, they won't even notice the cameras are there.

Every night I take a moment to prepare, to relax and reflect on everything in my life. What I do is I grab a lemonade and take my long board (It's a skate board, but longer ... and easier) for a spin around the neighborhood. I usually wait til late at night when the streets are dead. I'm off work and it's not 100 degrees outside. I picture what it will be like in Zambia, all the different things I'm going to see and experience. We won't have the luxuries we're used to having here in America. I think that will be a nice change of pace. By the time I'm rolling back into my driveway I am overwhelmed with excitment.

CrewAtMCC.jpgJobs, commitments, relationships, my "old" LIFE will be put on hold for 4 weeks+ to make room for the "new life" that will allow me to make these films. For Cyndi and Jabbes this started a long time ago. And there is no doubt in my mind that these films will be succesful each in their own way. I think, so what if they don't win best film at SUNDANCE, so what if we don't get distribution. Of course that would be absolutely wonderful but what we're doing is so much bigger than just that, it's so much bigger than all of us. Our goal is that this is making a difference in a country and helping improve the lives of the the people we meet and giving the crew an amazing experience and unbelievable "resume." Fame and money that may come with the making of the films will only be temporary. This experience, on the other hand, will stick with us and effect us for the REST OF OUR LIVES. Such a great learning experience.

Don't call them student films. We are professional filmmakers with a passion for film. We also happen to have attended and been blessed with the tremendous support of a truly AMAZING community and college -- we're lucky to found each other at Mesa Community College.

August 02, 2006

Our Motto: Be Prepared

pjthinking1.jpgPAMELA BOWMAN MESA, ARIZONA USA - We are as ready as we are going to get. The script is done, the storyboards are done, the day of days is done. The equipment is packed. The supplies are ordered. The shots are injected. The tickets are in hand. The actors are preparing for their parts. The sets are ready. Everyone’s roles and responsibilities have been outlined and explained. When we land in Zambia we will be ready to start shooting BAD T!MING and we will be continuing with VOICE OF AN AFRICAN NATION.

So maybe the question is not are we ready, but is Zambia ready for us? Our small and determined crew will be landing next Thursday morning. We know they know we are coming. They have been generous with their support and encouragement. Jabbes and Cyndi are in daily contact with friends, business associates, press people, educators and family. I would imagine they are just as curious about us and our culture as we are about them and theirs.

We have not had the luxury of sending over crew members to scout out sights, sets, actors and costumes. Jabbes has delegated many things to those he trusts in Zambia to manage many details. When we arrive we are confident that those he trusted will be ready for us and our goal of shooting these films. We know that the Zambian crew understands and appreciates that we only have 4 weeks to shoot these films before returning back to the USA. We do not have the luxury of waiting for sets to get done or for actors to learn their lines. Everything must be ready. Jabbes assures us it will be. He trusts his friends explicitly. This gives us confidence because we know and trust Jabbes. He has been a man of his word.

Cyndi is not only preoccupied with shooting these films. She has other things on all of our plates. She is a teacher after all. So every waking, and no doubt, sleeping moment is spent either teaching or figuring out how to teach a concept, program, ideal or specific student. Those in education from Zambia have contacted her and arrangements are being made to teach those interested in pursuing a career in the film industry. This is scheduled to occur within the first 24 hours of our arrival. As a teacher, she knows she is also always learning. She has contacted educators who will assist her in documenting Zambian story tellers and artists. She is as excited about this aspect of the project as she is the feature film and the documentary.

As you can tell this project is multi-dimensional. That is because Cyndi is the queen of multi- tasking and has taught us to be the same. We are all learning and doing so much. We have to. She has done all she can to help us take advantage of this once in a life time opportunity. So maybe the question should be is Zambia ready for Cyndi Greening and her FilmZambia Crew! Zambia, brace yourself, a cyclone is landing on Thursday morning. So be prepared, anything can happen and usually does.

Hotsi Tsotsi

206.jpgBY LINDSEY BLACK, CHANDLER, AZ, USA - I thought I would blog about my experience watching the Academy Award Winning TSOTSI. This was filmed in South Africa and gave us a clear idea of what it will be like in Zambia. I must say, I will add this to my DVD collection. I really enjoyed this film. People who know me, know that I am not into reading … especially subtitles. But I must say, I would not even begin to complain about reading TSOTSI. The movie pulled me in quick. I was very disappointed when the film had hardly started and the lights came on. We heard, “Come outside and get your tacos.” (A lot of the crew had been working on storyboards and other tasks all day so they needed to be fed.) I was like NO! I want to see this. I didn’t even leave my chair but rather sat anxiously waiting for the movie to start up again while getting to know another crew member. I was pleased when the movie started back up; thank goodness it was a hungry crew and didn’t take them long to eat.

The color in this film is amazing! The people in this film are beautiful! The cinematograpy and lighting in this film is gorgeous! Everything about it was great — the actors were wonderful, the editing and timing was perfect and the story was well thought out. I want to get the DVD so that I can see the extras and deleted scenes. Oh, and the music … I loved the beat. I am going to look into seeing if there is a soundtrack, you bet I will buy it.

You are probably wondering why I am not describing the story much…well…I have been known to give away too much so instead I just want to HIGHLY recommend seeing this beautiful film.

August 01, 2006

Make-up

BY JENIECE TORANZO, MESA, AZ, USA- We are only days away from departure. I feel like it's the countdown to the blast off of a rocket that we have been waiting to board! I just reviewed the storyboards and the movie is becoming more and more real to me. I never thought this day would come. Especially when it kept getting pushed back. I think there were some people who were skeptical about this whole thing actually happening. But it actually is! Whoo hoo!

It's cool to see the different styles of drawings on the storyboards and what technique they used. It goes to show that not every storyboarder has to be the same or will be the same. In the end, the storyboards come together and we understand the director's ideas and vision.

It also helped to get an idea of how the actors will look and how I can get a better idea of how to do hair and makeup. I have been reading up on how to do hair and makeup and let me tell you, it's not as easy as it looks. You have to worry about the lighting and what the wardrobe will look like because it all affects how the hair and makeup will be. And my job, like everyone elses, is to make them look like their characters. We all want to make sure they look authentic because let's face it, we don't want it to look crappy or low budget. The two books that I have received some good tips and highly suggest are "Film and Television Make-Up" by Herman Buchman and "The Technique of the Professional Make-Up Artist for Film, Television, and Stage" by Vincent J.R. Kehoe.

I Edit Film, Not My English

BY LINDSEY BLACK, CHANDLER, AZ, USA - We are about a week away from the crew taking off to Zambia to begin the shoot. I was pretty bummed that I am being “left” behind here in the states. Then I realized, staying here to be the editor is a film credit I would much rather have than going to Zambia to be a gofer (cinematography is not my thing). I have worked with Cyndi for 3 or 4 years now, and I enjoy doing that, but the editing job I have been given is more important with the Sundance deadline being so close.

Don’t get me wrong, I would love to go to Africa; it has been my dream since I was a child, but I guess now is not the time to fulfill that dream. I am getting anxious to get started on the edit. As soon as that first DVD of footage is in my mailbox I'll probably be swallowed up by my computer. We have to have a final cut by the end of September which means I should be ready with the editing of the rough cut when they return. It is going to be so stressful, but I work well under stress. Believe me, no one wants to be around me while I am stressing out, but when I get the job accomplished, it is the best feeling in the world. So much weight is lifted of my shoulders and I can breathe deep. I love it and I can’t wait for that moment.

Believe it or not, I am getting EXTREMELY excited about Sundance ’07. Not just because we may have our films in there but because Sundance ’06 was the best time of my life. Without a doubt I will be there the whole ten days this time. The atmosphere is so much fun. I met a lot of people, I ventured out with cinematographer Mike Montesa to do some street interviews and it was just awesome. I even made a long term friendship with actor Adam Scarimbolo who is the most humble person I have met. Without Cyndi, I don't think I would have ever experienced Sundance. I could not thank her enough for her generosity.

Needless to say, even though I miss the opportunity to go to Zambia, there is still SO MUCH MORE to look forward to. These four weeks of shooting are nothing compared to what is still ahead. But of course, it is the most important. Good luck crew and make us proud!

Film Zambia Crew

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