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November 27, 2006

Doer's Did

BY PAMELA BOWMAN, MESA, AZ, USA -- "A non-doer is very often a critic -- that is, someone who sits back and watches doers, and then waxes philosophically about how the doers are doing. It's easy to be a critic, but being a doer requires effort, risk, and change."  Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

I am sure that many who heard about the film Zambia project were skeptical. Many of the people I talked to seemed leery and even confused as to why I would want to go to Zambia to shoot a film. Certainly it seemed exciting and adventurous, but many expressed concern, fear and even criticism for our naïve enthusiasm and high goals and ideals. Many tried to discourage us by pointing out the obvious concerns that we tried to bury in our minds before we left. I was fearful of the unknown. But I really thought 14 students led by 4 faculty could accomplish our goals. I suppose that was arrogant, but it also was brave. We were willing to go and do what no one had gone and done before.

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In reflection we wanted to support a fellow classmate with a dream to remember and honor not only his son, but all children who die prematurely. For me, that could best be accomplished through education and economic change. I was intrigued by the possibility of establishing a new industry in a third world country. We would often discuss the potential for future employment for Zambians and also to develop an art form in Africa. As digital artists we truly appreciate art and it’s contribution to the world society. I believe art in any form promotes thinking and problem solving and self- expression.

So three months after returning from Africa we are in the editing process. Our lofty goals have all been forgotten as we return to our daily activities of work and family and friends. We have discussions on what it was like before and during and after. We remember and feel badly that we didn’t have the impact for change except with in ourselves. Then we received the news that Mulenga Kapwepwe, our contact from the Zambian National Arts Council, has been running a cultural support program (including film, art and music) that was recognized by the European Union. Because of how well the program was run, Zambia is one of the top five countries chosen for ACP funding! They will have access to over EIGHT MILLION DOLLARS for continuing development of film. We have been asked to write a proposal to access funding and support future filmmaking!

Who would have thought our efforts would be recognized so quickly? Who would have thought the risks taken by MCC faculty and students to shoot a film in Zambia could have produced such results? Who would have thought the change in us as we became more of who we each were could have affected such change in a country? Non-doers doubted and critized and even at times became detrimental in the process. But doers would have thought. And doers did.

November 26, 2006

Day of Rest

BY CYNDI GREENING, PHOENIX, AZ, USA - Sunday is my day to blog. At our "campfire" meeting, Pamela assigned everyone a day to write to keep information flowing on the project. Some crew members have been quite diligent about doing their duty. Others, well, there always has to be the flip side of the coin. Since I've been posting podcasts all week, it seemed foolish for me to post again. But, I decided to write this entry instead of speaking it, so perhaps it won't seem redundant.

CyndiAlecSP.jpgLife has been a little rugged of late. I think I'm experiencing the general malaise of the entire U.S. with the spectre of civil war in Iraq, the flat U.S. economy, the declining housing market and the holiday season bearing down on us like a Mack truck. It's just a poo-poo time. So, yesterday, I was totally shocked, surprised and happy to get a my own South Park character in my email. Alec also included himself as a South Park character. Using Adobe Illustrator, he's been rendering us as South Parkies. Of course, I love the irreverent series (probably in part because it made its debut as an animated short at the Sundance Film Festival). There's a film festival episode that is to die for! And, Mr. Garrison, the art teacher is simply fabulous (since I am an art teacher and one of my fellow art faculty is named Mr. Garrison ... and, anyone who know my Mr. Garrison is shocked at the eerie similarity with South Park's Mr. Garrison). Anyway, it gave me a laugh and a half.

I've been inspired to write a great deal of late. I'm ready, eager and willing to take on new projects. I've started a new script and a new novel. The novel is coming along better than the script at this point. Frustrating because I really want to shoot another project. Ah, well, the muse does as the muse does.

yesterday.jpgLast week, a friend recommended that I watch the South African film YESTERDAY. I must say it is one of the most beautiful films I've ever seen. The cinematography is amazing and I would grab this cinematographer, Michael Brierly, as fast as possible. His credit list on IMDB is just long enough to let you know he's going to break out soon. Regarding the story, it's about a woman named Yesterday who is taken ill (yes, you know where this is going) and struggles to survive long enough to make sure her daughter, Beauty, gets into school. One of the best parts of the film is that it shows how difficult it is because of the ignorance and fear of the other members of the community. The film was phenomenally depressing and moved a bit slow ... but it was beautiful. It is the film I wish we had shot in Zambia. It was gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. It has been nominated for the best foreign language film. Someone said it was the first film in Zulu but I haven't been able to confirm that.

As for South African films, I have mentioned previously that I really liked TSOTSI. It won best foreign language film last year. So, you might want to check both of these films out.

November 24, 2006

FilmZambia Production Podcast - Part Five

BY CYNDI GREENING & PAMELA BOWMAN, ARIZONA, USA -- Producers Pamela Bowman and Cyndi Greening reveal the post-production challenges faced by the FilmZambia upon their return to the U.S. following 28 days in Africa. With the Sundance deadline on 21 days away and nearly 200 hours of footage, the process of shaping a story is examined. Distribution and the festival circuit are discussed. Part Five of Five.

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Podcast on Friday, November 24, 2006
FilmZambia Production Podcast, Part Five
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November 23, 2006

FilmZambia Production Podcast - Part Four

BY CYNDI GREENING & PAMELA BOWMAN, ARIZONA, USA -- Producers Pamela Bowman and Cyndi Greening continue talking about the production experience in Zambia. The perils and problems of production in an extremely remote location are explored to help independent filmmakers better prepare for their production experiences. Part Four of Five.

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Podcast on Thursday, November 23, 2006
FilmZambia Production Podcast, Part Four
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Happy Thanksgiving

BY JENIECE TORANZO, MESA, ARIZONA, USA - Well today is Thanksgiving and I am blogging. Yep, you heard me or I should say, read me, I am blogging on Thanksgiving. I just want to first say how grateful I am that I had the opportunity to go to Zambia and build lasting friendships with the Zambia crew. I want to thank them for being such good friends to me and that we had the opportunity to work together. So thank you all very much for your hard work and kindness.

This year, for Thanksgiving, my sister and I went to our parents house in Apache Junction. We had some family from Tucson come up, which I must say is a big shocker because practically every holiday, we usually have to drive down to Tucson to meet up with the family. They normally never come up here to visit us, but because our parents just remodeled their house, I think that was more motivation to come north.

After we visited and did the dinner thing, My mom suggested that I show the family the footage I had of Africa. First of all, my grandma had no idea that I went there. I didn't tell her because literally, she worries about every little thing and sometimes she can be a little racist. jenieceReel.jpgNot to mention, she is pushing 72. So I was a little worried on how she would react to my news. To my surprise and eveyone else's, she was very interested and cool about the whole thing. I played the feature and documentary video first. It was going great at first because everyone was in the room watching and amazed at all the footage and impressed as to what we went through. Then after about two minutes into it, all the kids were getting distracted by each other and decided to leave the room. So then, of course, the parents had to check up on them and left the room too. By then, the only one was left was my grandma. My mom and aunt were in and out of the room, but my grandma stuck it all the way through. Even more surprising is that she was asking all kinds of questions and very excited to see me whenever I would come on. It made me feel good. She was very impressed with it all. It was funny when the end credits came on and my name showed up. My grandma and aunt got all excited. That was cute. I love my grandma and will miss her dearly when she goes. Everyone gives her a hard time about being such a worry wart, but I know she means well. She is an awesome humble person and very down to Earth.

I would have to say the funny part of the evening would have to be when she was trying to work her cell phone. And, she had received a text from an unknown person and didn't know how to work it. The person must not have realized that the phone number now belonged to a 72-year-old woman because the text was not exactly appropriate for her age. And of course, you know me, well those of you who do, I did bust out my video camera and filmed the fam. And of course they just LOVED it ... NOT. But hey, if I want to hack it in the film industry, I need all the practice I can get! Happy Thanksgiving everyone and remember how lucky we are to be in the UNITED STATES. Special thanks to my two brothers who are currently serving in the marines and fighting for our country; Jason who is currently in Iraq. Love you both! God bless and may He be with you!

November 22, 2006

FilmZambia Production Podcast - Part Three

BY CYNDI GREENING & PAMELA BOWMAN, ARIZONA, USA -- Producers Pamela Bowman and Cyndi Greening describe some of the more memorable moments encountered by the FilmZambia crew filming in the Ngoni warriors at sunset, shooting in Mandevu and Mtendere and at the breathtaking Victoria Falls. The challenges of moving such a large cast and crew is discussed. The challenges of shooting in a country where little or no film has been produced is also covered. Part Three of Five.

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Podcast on Wednesday, November 22, 2006
FilmZambia Production Podcast, Part Three
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November 21, 2006

New Perspectives

Cblog.jpgBY CARLOS ESPINOSA, MESA, ARIZONA, USA - This last week, I went to an electronic store (no names) and came across a few nice cameras. I was looking at a Canon XL2 and a few Sonys that I cannot recall the models. It was weird since I was viewing the cameras differently this time, since my trip to Africa. At first, I did not notice but it became clear what I was doing. I was like, "Hmmm, no I don't like this button here, or why is this here, they should have placed this here....” and so on. As I held each camera, some models felt more natural to hold than others. It was funny because, in the past, I always read reviews about different camera models. I guess this time I was doing my own reviews, contemplating which camera I would donate my kidney to purchase over another.

Lately, I have been able to watch more films, since I have a little more free time on hand, and I see them differently. The way they are shot, the way they are edited, it seems like I used to have on foggy glasses and now, everything looks more clear as to why films are shot and edited as they are...or at least I think so. This takes me to the next thought and that is, what is next? I want to start working on something now but it is harder when you are going solo. So, umm, hello? I am eager to start a new project, or even continue to provide support on editing the documentary and the feature film.

About two weekends ago I was able to participate in a 24hr film festival by Apple. I worked with some of the crew members again. Even though the film was not completed how we wanted, we had a blast. It felt so good to go out and work on something you have a passion for and love doing. Even if this meant getting up at 4:30 a.m. with almost no sleep at all. While shooting, I felt more comfortable than before, setting the camera up quickly and getting good shots; especially since it was dark and a little tricky to focus (because of a fence that was in front of the action). I was able to shoot through it, however. Maybe the pressure was not as high, or I like to think that what I experienced in Africa has helped me to be more confident in my work. I only wish I could be part of more projects, but then I realized that between the real world, my job and my obligations, at times this is harder to do. Maybe soon I will have a job that revolves around film, where I will be able to focus all of my energy towards and do great things.

It is an odd feeling that next month it will be three months since that great adventure in Africa. I was home sick this weekend, so I went back and read every single blog from day one. It is interesting to read our thoughts and our expectations before going to Africa, while being there and after coming back. Reading these blogs took me back there. I could not help to laugh many times, having these images play back in my head while reading some of the blogs. I wonder if we will ever have an opportunity to do something like this again. For some reason, one day is sticking out in my head and this was when we went to shoot the exterior shots of the town. Even though we still had a strict schedule to follow, the day was rather quiet, calm and very fun. I could tell that the skeleton crew was having a great time shooting and going around Lusaka. It was not fun, however, when Mike was slacking in alerting me of oncoming traffic...good times.

FilmZambia Production Podcast - Part Two

BY CYNDI GREENING & PAMELA BOWMAN, ARIZONA, USA -- Producers Pamela Bowman and Cyndi Greening explain the preproduction processes encountered in taking the FilmZambia crew to Africa in the summer of 2006. Carnets, cross-training, visas, customs forms and story development are discussed. Part Two of Five.

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Podcast on Tuesday, November 21, 2006
FilmZambia Production Podcast, Part Two
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November 20, 2006

FilmZambia Production Podcast - Part One

BY CYNDI GREENING & PAMELA BOWMAN, ARIZONA, USA -- Producers Pamela Bowman and Cyndi Greening discuss how 14 students and four (4) faculty members came to shoot the first dramatic narrative feature film and companion documentary in Zambia, Africa. Mesa Community College student Jabbes Mvula's tragic loss of his son inspired the crew to journey across the world to help establish the film industry in his son's name. Part One of Five.

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Podcast on Monday, November 20, 2006
FilmZambia Campfire Podcast, Part One
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November 19, 2006

You Better Believe It

By ROBBIE BROWN, MESA, ARIZONA, USA - In my hunt for a job in "the business," I use websites like GOOGLE, but the key player in my search has been CRAIGSLIST and MANDY. It's the first thing I do when I wake up, after I check my e-mail. It's the last thing I do before I go to bed. I don't want to miss a beat.

gondrysleep.jpgAfter numerous attempts, I finally got a real bite and have something lined up for a week or so from now. Shooting a pilot reality show about a psychic ... For Free ... Okay, so it's not exactly what I had in mind. This opportunity and any in the near future I think will be because of my DEMO REEL and my cinematography and editing contributions to VOICE OF AN AFRICAN NATION. That gets you noticed. I knew this would be an amazing and outstanding addition for my resume and I was right. It feels great and is such a confidence booster being able to be a part of filmmaking. I don't own any equipment of my own to use, so when I found out I got this gig I sent an email out to my film family asking for help and as I expected I got numerous emails of support and willingness to help. I LOVE my film family dearly and am so very grateful for them.

I have nightly rituals which include checking out YOUTUBE and watching videos of my favorite music groups, movies and directors. One of my favorites is Michel Gondry. I highly suggest everyone who is interested in film check him out. This man's creativity is unreal. I know that I'm not that kind of artist ... yet, but watching his work inspires me and motivates me to try new techniques. His work opens my mind to try new things or just think about creative ways to shoot and edit film. It's reassuring to know that I'm only 19 and that I have the rest of my life to improve. I know I have a ton of momentum because of this whoooooole African experience. The only thing I need is more time. You better believe it.

November 17, 2006

Taste of Cherry

BY NICK MARSHALL, GILBERT, USA - Saw TASTE OF CHERRY. An Iranian film, winner of the Palme d'Or in '98. Picked it up on a whim for $4; VHS cover with a Pacino look-a-like, those haunting eyes and somber mouth. Numerous words of congratulatory accomplishments along side four (4) stars and "A Masterpiece" made me think, "How bad can it possibly be?"

A dialogue driven movie, driven being kind of a pun, since almost the whole of the movie takes place in a car. Mr. Badii drives around looking for something or someone. He comes across a man, alone, and asks him to take a ride with him. He'll pay him lots of money to come with him and do something for him. The guy isn't having any of it and threatens Mr. Badii. Mr. Badii searches on. He comes across a young solider, just a boy really, and offers him a ride. Mr. Badii says he's going to take the kid somewhere. The kid becomes nervous. Finally when they reach a top of a mesa, Mr. Badii gets out of the car and tells the boy to get out and look at a hole in the ground. The kid won't get out. Mr. Badii says all the kid has to do is come to this spot tomorrow morning at six and call out "Mr. Badii, Mr. Badii." If there's an answer, help the man out of the hole. If there isn't, fill in the hole with dirt. The kid is nervous and says he won't do it and fed up with the boy's refusal, Mr. Badii gets back in the car. As he gets in the kid bolts, racing down the hill and out of sight.

Skip some and he picks up a Afghani seminarian. The seminarian tries to convince the man not to commit suicide, that it's a sin and against God's will. cherries.jpgMr. Badii says if he wanted a sermon he would have picked someone older. The seminarian also is dropped off eventually and Mr. Badii drives off with no one to aid him. He picks up an older man who is a taxidermist and talks about how he too wanted to kill himself once. He told Mr. Badii that he had gone to a mulberry tree one late night to hang himself. He threw the rope over a branch and it didn't get catch. Several attempts to no avail, he climbed the tree and tied the rope tight. While up there he decided to eat one of the mulberries. It was delicious. He ate another. And another. Kids came by and told him to shake the tree so they could eat the berries. He took pocketfuls and returned home to find his wife still asleep and when she woke up they ate mulberries together. Mr. Badii said, "So you ate mulberries and suddenly your life of okay." The taxidermist said no. But it changed his perspective. Something as simple as the taste of a mulberry or a cherry can just change your perspective on things and how things can get better. He finally asks the taxidermist to do his deed the next morning. The taxidermist says he will.

The man goes home, takes a bottle of pills and goes to the grave he dug. He takes the pills and lays down in the grave as a nimbus cloud moves overhead, blocking the moon and hiding as rain casts down and thunder cracks and lightning alighting his calm face. Blackness.

All rather existential. But very interesting. It almost seemed like a life cycle of philosophy in one day. At least the characters and their conversations. The solider, timid about death, unsure of what he believes, curious but afraid of the unknown. The seminarian a little older but still a student. He believes in an afterlife and is purposeful, confident. And the taxidermist, an older man, accepting death as a physical thing. Even dealing with it in his profession.

So, "A masterpiece?” Maybe a little slow for that, but I did keep coming back to it and thinking about it. Waxing philosophical in my head about death and the "big questions." The movie involves more than I've written but that's the general idea of the movie.

So which character am I? At times all of them. They each reside in my brain somewhere, taking turns tearing the megaphone out of each other's hands and yelling their views into my tired head. I just try to absorb all the information I can and try and figure it all out as I go.

It doesn't take too long to figure out that life isn't a bowl of cherries, as the cliche goes. I wish I had some cherries right now.

November 16, 2006

In the Blink of an Eye

murchblink.jpgBY JENIECE TORANZO, MESA, ARIZONA, USA - So I started reading the book IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE by Walter Murch. So far, so good, although, to be honest, I am only at the beginning of the book. The book refers to digital video editing with Avid which is a high end editing program that the film pros like to use. Maybe I should check into this program and see what it is all about. The book also refers to the movie APOCALYPSE NOW. But of course, I have not seen this movie yet. Of course it's only been out since, what 1980 something? I think when I was just kid still. Yeah those were the good ol' days. Young and innocent. 1979! It was made in 1979. Ok, so I cheated and Googled it. So with that in mind, I wasn't even born yet so therefore have an excuse to justify why I haven't seen it, yet. After all, I don't think little girls should be watching those kinds of movies at that age. The rating standards were more stringent then, when the world wasn't desensitized yet.

Funny thing happened this week. At least I thought it was pretty funny and weird. I was speaking to Alec on the phone on Sunday. We got on the topic of computers and he asked me if I had one. I told him "No." He asked, "Has it always been like that or just recently?." I told him that when I used to live with my parents I had a computer, but now I live with my sister so now I don't. He said that he would go crazy if he didn't have his computer. I told him that it didn't really bother me that I didn't have a computer any more because I wasn't all that dependent on the computer when I did have one. I just occupied my time (and mind) with friends and other things to do. He then started using an example from a movie to share his thoughts with me. The movie was called THE GODS MUST BE CRAZY. crazygods.jpgIt's a story about how the African people in a remote village were happy and content with what they had (which was very little). Then, when a Coca Cola bottle is thrown from an airplane, they found many uses for it and fought over it. So, until they had it, they didn't know how much they wanted it.

Ironically, at work yesterday, my boss and co-worker were discussing that movie and telling me all these funny parts of the movie. Then my co-worker started telling me the exact same thing that Alec had told me. I thought it was weird yet funny. So with that, apparently I must rent this movie and I watch it. How could I not, now? At lunch, I was walking in the parking lot and out of no where, a black cat crosses my path ... that can't be too good huh?

November 15, 2006

Untitled

MK_Untitled_Pic.jpgBY M.K. RACINE, CHANDLER, ARIZONA, USA - Listening to the pod casts I am excited about taking our crew experiences to another level. Or at the very least, venture down another avenue we have yet to explore as a group. Again, I have to thank Cyndi for another cool and eye opening experience!! I must admit, it's been challenging to be back in the states and not have the focus of production or even post-production now. There is definitely a void that needs to be filled, and I believe one of the only things that could fill it, for me, is another film venture with the crew.

Jacobo and I are the only two crewmembers with no film classes on our transcripts. Yet, that has far from prevented us in seeking some sort of fulfillment and further experiences in the field. I know he is up in NYC, pursuing an editing career. Under the tutelage of Alec, as well as Jacobo's own determination, he has learned a great deal about Final Cut Pro and After Effects. Although I am true to my desktop publishing studies and am working in Graphic Design, I really enjoyed working on my demo reel and would love the opportunity, many opportunities, to incorporate that into what I can offer our film crew as we seek to begin another film project. Producing, marketing, editing, a number of interests, a number of goals...

This is my life right now, deciding on my primary career goal and a direction for my life. When I think of life, the pieces of a novel come to mind; a beginning, middle, end; chapters, climaxes, characters and the like. Going to Zambia was an interesting chapter in my life. This post Zambian chapter seems anticlimactic. It's decision time now, time to pursue the rest of my life. But so much has changed since the time I left for Zambia to today. The rest of my life was planned before I left Zambia. Some of those parts of my life do not exist any more, however, and other parts have recently materialized. Call it plot, call it new character development, call it a twist; things have changed and it's now time to finish this chapter, or at least find its purpose.

The change I have experienced both in and since my return from Zambia is change I never predicted, change that has me questioning the purpose of planning, and for a planner, that's quite a change. I fully understand change is ubiquitous. One must seek to accept it and find the most productive and positive way how, because change will happen with or without your consent. What I have tried to identify is why the changes in my life are impacting me as they are. There is a fear of the unknown, a feeling that things are out of my hands, a desperation for what I want, and a sense that time is running out. The upside is the unlimited opportunity, the people in my life with which to share my goals, and the fulfillment that will come once all is said and done, and I'm still standing!

It seems I have written this chapter of my life before, one where I choose a path, only to be exposed to something else and become attracted to yet another interest, another opportunity. It's a reminder of what all life has to offer, and what all one can deliver.

What's different this time around is that I have truly and deeply been affected by a group of people with similar interests and goals. We are, in many ways, in sync in our desire to move forward and towards another project. Yet the realities of our lives have somewhat stepped between that which we desire, and that which we are obligated to.

Many people before us have been placed here and many will find themselves here long after we are gone. I know I have decisions to make and need to accept the changes that have surfaced. It’s a challenge to move forward, without an established direction. I want the certainty, the stability of knowing, and cannot ignore the questions that have settled themselves alongside the changes in my life.

It’s interesting, I can reflect upon the years of my life thus far and determine a title for each completed chapter, each year that has passed. I would prefer to start the year with a title in mind, and have all the pieces fall into place, to bring truth to my words. Even today, I wish I could see how this chapter ends. I would love to be able to turn to the last page to see how this time in my life unfolds. The reality is...that is not an option...hence, I am left with the thought that this time next year, I will be able to reflect on today and appropriately label this point in my life.

Until then, with so many interests, decisions, opportunities and changes to be sorted through, this chapter in my life is to be left untitled.

November 12, 2006

Keeping the Fire Burning (Part Two)

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By Cyndi Greening. Phoenix, Arizona USA -- More from the Film Zambia crew members as they discuss their experiences shooting the first dramatic narrative feature film in Lusaka and Livingstone. Recorded around a campfire in Mesa, Arizona, the informal conversation offers insight into the thoughts of the crew now that they've returned to the U.S. In Part Two, publicist and line producer M.K. Racine talks about the growth she experienced. Associate Producer Pamela Bowman discusses the difficulties with locations, coordinating the actors, communication, craft services and keeping Cyndi on the set. Each crew member is asked if he/she would go to Zambia again and what advice they'd offer to others. An entertaining and informative podcast.

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Podcast recorded in Phoenix, Arizona, USA on Tuesday, November 7, 2006
FilmZambia Campfire Podcast, Part Two
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Keeping the Fire Burning (Part One)

By Cyndi Greening. Phoenix, Arizona USA -- Film Zambia crew members discuss their experiences shooting the first dramatic narrative feature film in Lusaka and Livingstone. In Part One, Unit Photographer Mike Montesa talks about preparing for the shoot, how many images he captured each day and how he logged them each evening. Make-Up Artist Jeniece Toranzo talks about how she originally thought she would be an editor and ended up taking on new positions to serve the film. Documentary Cinematographer and Editor Robby Brown talks about his memories of Zambian children and the special challenges he faced. Feature Cinematographer Carlos Espinosa reveals the difficulty he had shooting in a nation were someone else was accountable for locations and props. 1st Assistant Director Nick Marshall talks about how he communicated with and coordinated all of the members of the team and the challenge he faced keeping production moving.

Show Details

Podcast recorded in Phoenix, Arizona, USA on Tuesday, November 7, 2006
FilmZambia Campfire Podcast, Part One
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November 10, 2006

Inspired?

BY NICK MARSHALL, GILBERT, USA- I remember when we were just about to leave, we went to the cafe one more time & I sat on those metal stools & I wrote my last blog in Zambia. I wrote about our hardships, the friendships & experience gained & how even with all the difficulties we experienced, individually and as a whole, at that moment, I wanted to stay there. I wanted to stay & write a book. I mentioned it sparingly but it was constantly in my head, staying afloat. It geared itself up in my brain, all the things I saw, felt & did while in Zambia, the people of Zambia & the people I went with. My excitement might ocassionally be tripped up by; How do I structure this thing? and What if I write something about someone & they're offended by it?, or What do I really want to say? and Can I even write this?, but I would try to keep focused & think of writing & read through my notes again.

nickMarshall.jpgWhen we got back I tried to start, but we started into the editing immediately. Even though I was happy to help, I wanted to help, but I wanted to write while the flame still burned. Wanted to get the ideas down while they were still fresh. I found it easy to get into that place again & I knew that if too much time passed, it would be harder to see it as it was instead of how I remember it. Almost everyday, clockwork, I'd show up at the hotel, the "Kraalette" & we'd work. And laugh & talk & eat & some of us; sleep. Robby would bring his tooth brush and enthusiasm. I'd bring the wake up call for Alec & Hacobo. A flick of a light switch can be a loud wake up call sometimes, sometimes not. MK would bring her smile & peppy self & usually the arrival of a break & lunch. Carlos would bring the sinking sun, blinding through shades & an ajar door. Sometimes I'd wait for a long segment to render & we'd talk. About movies, politics, just the world. Jeniece would bring the street lights & neon & the idea for dinner. Mike would show up either in the morning or afternoon & stay depending on if he had to go to work or not. Mike would bring his laugh & laptop & jump in the editing seat when one of us got tired. Cyndi lived there, sometimes rising to a knock and falling to the hum of the computers or Jeniece's breathing in the other bed. Pam sometimes there in the morning as I pushed open the door; talking with Cyndi , always the conversation between them. They'd argue like sisters; their threats and disagreements always only on the end of their sleeves & then there'd be laughter & the conversation would start up again. I would sit & listen.

We spent more time in that hotel room than in Zambia. It's funny, but in Zambia I got to meet these people, but in that tiny hotel room I got to know these people. In Zambia we were colleagues. In the "Kraalette" we were friends.

I had mentioned to Cyndi my book idea & even though apprehensive about being recorded, by me none the less, she encouraged me to write it. Now that I'm not at the hotel anymore & I'm looking for an editing job, trying everyday to inspire myself & write something, I finally had time to translate all my notes from Zambia that I jotted down to my computer. Reading those notes over again got a spark ah flickerin'. So, at this moment, this very moment, do I want to write this book?
Yes.
Do I think I can write this book?
I don't know. I really don't know.
But I can try.
Nothing significant is worth doing if there is no risk, right? If nothing else it's a goal.

November 09, 2006

Life is like a Movie.... or a box of Chocolates?

BY JENIECE TORANZO, MESA, ARIZONA, USA-I don't know what it is, but it seems to me that every time I meet up with the crew, I am a complete klutz. Ok, so I have some examples and then you can decide for yourselves. At our "Mastermind meeting" on Tuesday, Mike and Robby were helping me unload Cyndi's computer from my truck to her car. Mike was putting the computer in the back on the floor and he asked me to go to the front and pushed the seat back. Well as well coordinated as am, when I went to open the driver side door, I was looking forward and then quickly turned my head to the side and.... Whack! Hit my chin on the door. Oh boy did that ever hurt! I had to walk it off cause it was throbbing. Then to make matters worse, Mike and Robby were wondering what had happened because I started to walk off. So I came back and showed them what I did and I ended up hitting it again! What a goof.

Another story... some of the crew got together and went to a Vietnamese restaurant to eat dinner. Well it didn't start off too good because after we received our drinks, M.K.. asked me if I wanted to try her drink. I thought she mentioned that it was a coconut drink and I thought "hey I like coconuts" so why not? Well as soon as I took one gulp, I about puked. It was not what I had in mind. Low and behold, I did not realize that this was the real deal. That coconut actually tasted like this. All of the other times that I had a coconut flavoring, it was artificial. Go figure. I was so used to the fake stuff that I didn't even know that it was an imposter and that the real stuff was so very different. Puke. That bummed me out because here I'm thinking and telling people "Yeah, I love coconut flavor." Boy that's a lie now. Now I must rephrase my comments to "I like the fake stuff," instead. It didn't help that I was drinking water so I had some of Cyndi's soda to take away the after taste. Next we received our meals. I ordered a noodle soup like dish like I have one other time before. They serve the soup with a side dish of bean sprouts, peppers, and some green stuff that I can't recall the name right now.

Anyway, I couldn't remember if I put ALL of that stuff in my soup so I asked Cyndi, who was sitting right next to me, if you're suppose to put that stuff in. She said "Sure, only if you want to." So I put the bean sprouts in and then asked "even the peppers?" Not realizing that these were jalapeño peppers and not bell peppers, like I was thinking. She said "sure, why not," thinking I knew what they were and only half kidding because she knew that I can't handle spicy foods. So I put them in and started eating. I started eating the bean sprouts and thinking "boy these are kinda getting a little spicy. Why?" Then I took a bite of the jalapeño and about died when I found out why the soup started to taste hot. Oh you better believe it burned going down. Again, only had water to drink, so I had to drink some of Cyndi's drink. I mentioned that it burned and then took a drink of my water, and Cyndi said "It's gonna burn even more coming out the other end." It didn't hit me what she meant by that until I repeated "out the other end," and took a drink of water and realized it then. I choked on my water and it burned coming up! My eyes started to water and all I remember doing was getting up and running to the corner to ketch my breath. Then I went to the bathroom and splashed water on myself. When I got back to the table, Cyndi was so nice to order a plate of rice to calm down the burning. By then everyone of course was laughing. I must say, it would be funny to be the one watching all of this happening instead the being the person it happened to.

Let's not forget the Sweet Tomatoes incident either. Now do you believe me? Crazy huh? With all of that being said or rather typed, it made me realize that each person's life is a story that is played out like a movie. We are all the actors or actresses playing a role. Throughout our lifespan, we will encounter many roles trying to figure out what role it is that we really want to play as. Some may play the villain, the hero, or just your average Joe. With every life, there is a beginning, middle, and end with a climax-just like a movie would. Some lives may be a drama, a comedy, or a horror. The only thing that is great with this life movie is that everyday, we have a chance to change it from a comedy to a drama which in that can become a suspense movie. Each moment we have, changes the outcome of it all. If we all didn't do anything at all, then it would be a pretty boring movie that no one would want to watch. With that in mind, get up and do something then, right?! They say that within the first 10 minutes of a movie, you will know if you like it or hate it. Unfortunately, in life they say you will know if you like someone within the first minute. Actually, I think I heard within 30 seconds. Ouch. Then you definitely better make a dang good impression, huh? Good luck with that. But know this, your movie could have an effect on mine. It makes you think then on who you really want to cast in your life and who you don't. There are always surprises though unlike with an actually film, you have a script to follow with minimal improve. Maybe that's why with most films, we can relate to them and that's why we end up hating it or like it. So what is your life movie? Are you a comedy, drama, horror....what? I'd say for me, right now, it's a comedy.

November 08, 2006

Hailed Destiny

BY M.K. RACINE, PHOENIX, ARIZONA
I'll never forget the children of Zambia....

Sand and wind surround you; dust shelters your face,
You hide your dreams between your hands, don’t let them blow away
Tightly you embrace them, to take as your legs flee
What burns inside is not pain, but a life we cannot see

I’ve come to witness your ghosts, to see with my own eyes
A life at rest, a soul that seeks, all lost within mute cries
Hide your heart beside mine; don’t let it face the day
Without a love, without a breath; among life’s cruel decay
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don’t’ let it take your future
your spirit it won’t feed
for the hopeless there’s no cure
but a wound that lives to bleed

I see your prints on my path; too close to fall behind
Hide your past existence, to find flesh of another kind
When your stomach hungers, you’ll seep beyond the weak
Your bowl will brim with new life, where dreams will stand to speak
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fade into your future,
a want without a need
you know your pride is pure
for you live as you believe

I’ve seen you in your darkness; I’ve followed your eye’s light
Not everything I offer, is worth your sacrifice
Reveal your nestled being, to you and your own world
You are not a child; you are not a boy, no longer a young girl.
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step into your future
strewn about with seeds
what you will endure
follows your own lead

Our vision has been altered; apparitions need not float
Hailed destiny pulls softly, awaiting your approach
A legacy still lingers, lost in phantom misting swells
But you stir within my vision, and there you’ll always dwell

Not Out of the Woods Yet

BY CYNDI GREENING, PHOENIX, ARIZONA - I took a much needed break from filmmaking and spent five amazing days recharging in northern California. I didn't even realize how much I needed the respite. The FilmZambia projects started in early February and hit a fever pitch in mid-May. By the time we left in August, I'd spent over seven months driving the projects. A month-long shoot, followed by two months of pressure-post nearly wrung the life out of me. As I said, I didn't actually realize it until after the trip was done.

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On Friday, I spent the morning walking in the woods near Yosemite. The air was fresh and clean because it was drizzling (as I was warned it often does in November). The smell of pine was invigorating and I saved a giant pine cone. I found myself wishing I could have spent a week or two in the woods, working on a script or two. But, I needed to get into the city.

I spent Saturday and Sunday in San Francisco. I love the city and was so excited to be there. A few years ago, I stayed in the city for five weeks to watch a friend's house. I got to know and love San Francisco; I buzzed around the city in my little red car, working on my screenplays with Karen Copeland, my writing partner at that time. Sometimes, we'd go to Muir Woods for inspiration, sometimes, to Mill Valley or even to Stinson Beach. It was extraordinary. It was easy to be creative; easy to be inspired; easy to be. No wonder it felt like I was going home when I crossed the bridge. The only bad thing about the time in the city is that it was much too short.

sfmoon.jpgThe most magical part of the trip was the chance to recapture a memory. I had recalled coming over the Golden Gate Bridge under a full moon. There was no fog; the sky was unusually clear. The reflection of the moon in the deep blue water made the Bay glitter like the Hope Diamond. I often told people about that crossing and hoped to see it again in my lifetime. On Saturday evening, I was rewarded with a full moon and clear skies. The moment was even better this time because I could savor it and share it. What a gift!

Too quickly, it was Monday and time for the drive home. Unlike a lot of people, I find driving very relaxing. With a good traveling companion, the twelve-hour trip from Phoenix to the Bay area seems relatively short. The hum of the tires on the road blends with my favorite music to create a cocoon of comfort for introspection and reflection. Conversation keeps me focused and alert. If the talk is about creative endeavors, road trips can be very productive. So, if you take a road trip with your Associate Producer, it is certain that projects will be the topic of conversation ... OFTEN ... and they were. So, refreshed, I was able to refocus on the FilmZambia projects and recommit to getting the films released.

November 07, 2006

It's Mediocre

BY JENIECE TORANZO, MESA, ARIZONA, USA - Slowly the crew members are moving on about their "normal" lives. There are still a few hardcore members that still come together and meet ... of course, I am one of them. We recently formed a "Mastermind Group." I don't think that is our official name. We don't have one yet, but it will come soon and it has to be good...but of course!

Well I finally finished my Demo Reel. Cyndi keeps saying, "Slow and Steady wins the race". Especially when it came to editing the Documentary. Phew! Getting that done has been a bugger! We're not done yet! I've edited several short films for class and the thing I know is that I always think that I could do better or make parts stronger. I think that's what all editors think. Sometmes, I've even gone back and started over to get a better film. It's a good thing that I love editing. I know I may be slow, but hey, it's got to be right. Don't you think? Especially, if it's something that is representing you. Get it right, get it tight!

Ok. So tonight is the "meeting." My goals or tasks, whatever you want to call it, were short and somewhat simple. Depends on who you ask, I suppose. My results aren't as good as I'd like them to be. It's a little nerve-racking (yet exciting) knowing that you are on the track to pursuing your passion.

My goals/tasks....whatever:

1. Demo Reel.......(check).
2. Watch How to Make-up Artist videos.......(nope).
3. Update Resume.......(nope-well almost done).
4. Blog.......(I guess that would be what this is......so check).

Okay, okay. So two out of four isn't bad. But it isn't good either. So it's mediocre....I'll have to step up my game for next time.

Now I must go....VOTE!

The Little Things

pamArgent.jpgBY PAMELA BOWMAN, MESA, ARIZONA - This weekend I went to my high school class reunion. I stayed in San Francisco in the financial district at The Argent hotel. My kindergarten “boyfriend” is now the general manager. After driving many hours from Phoenix, I walked into my suite to find a chilled beverage, chocolate covered strawberries and a welcoming note. It is the little things that show thoughtfulness and consideration. Or it could be that some boys will do anything to make up for not buying a 6-year-old girl popcorn at the movies?!

I hadn’t seen many of my classmates since we graduated 30 years ago. I recognized my close friends immediately. There were many classmates, however, that I did not recognize. Names were familiar but faces were not. As people came up to me, I would look into their eyes to try to catch a memory or hint of recognition. That is something I tend to do with everyone. It is how I connect. Some people were very guarded and wouldn’t let me in. Others seemed alarmed that I tried to get into their space. I guess, after all these years, they weren’t sure if it was safe. I wanted to scream, “It’s me! Let me in!” Instead, I would just smile and respect their silent retreat.

Now I am back home. Cyndi and I traveled together and so we had many hours to discuss the Zambian films and our goals for our lives and ourselves. Since it takes around twelve hours to drive from Phoenix to the Bay area, we used our travel time to record a few podcasts. I told her the noise from the tires hitting the road was too loud and they wouldn’t be usable but, just like when were in Zambia, she wouldn’t listen to me! I was right, of course. We will have to re-record them. When will that girl learn?

In one of the many discussions, we talked about how we have so many projects to get done and that, at times, we feel paralyzed by the staggering amount of work. Thankfully, the weekend provided a good break and now we are ready to get back to it. Back to looking at a hundred hours of footage for the doc and to further edit the feature. The task seems overwhelming but it has become a passion. It is difficult to separate the telling of the story from the context of everyday events. How can people fully appreciate the efforts of the crew and what we were all able to accomplish under such difficult circumstances? We truly want to convey those heroic efforts without demeaning the gracious people of Zambia and those we grew to love.

As I looked into the eyes of many of the Zambian people—people with whom I had no history, no past, no connection—I was often surprised that they were so open and willing to share their lives and feelings and frustrations with anyone willing to listen. I have come to believe that sometimes that is all it takes to find your own answers—a listening ear or a film capturing one’s words, needs and feelings. It seems that humans need to connect and share as part of growth and expansion. Providing the opportunity for another person to feel safe in expressing their deepest desires is a profound gift. As filmmakers, we tried to do that for the people of Zambia. It’s a little thing, really.

It continues to be the little things we will look for in the footage. It is always the little things that reveal the most powerful moments and tell the most profound story. And, for me, it is always about the people. Gazing into their eyes, hearing the words they spoke and feeling the truths they didn’t need to articulate . I want them to know their words and thoughts found a safe place and were not expressed in vain. I want the world to hear and be touched by their lives, their history and their heritage.

It is the small things. Always the small considerations that speak the loudest and mean the most.