December 12, 2006

Happy Birthday, Cyndi!! We love you!

Cyndi and younger sister Sandy in the driveway on Grandma Greening's farm in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. Sandy found the haircuts quite alarming ... Prince Valiant, anyone? The shoes are something else, too! Mine look a little large while Sandy's look a little on the tight side. Notice how her feet are punching up like bread rising in a pan. Sandy was one of my best buddies in my youth and continues to be one of my closest allies. Seeing the photo of the two of us is a terrific birthday gift!

Pamela, "BA" Bowman
Happy 50th birthday!
There are so many things I could tell the world about you. Nervous? You should be! Let’s see…

You are who you are and “you are quite clear” on what you want. What is unique about you is your ability to help others gain clarity on what they want. I have benefited from your constant teaching this year. You have given those you know such a profound gift of self. As you have given us a sense of who we are I have watched you discover more of who you are. It is true we call you the GT (giant toddler), but in truth we all need to be more childlike. We all need to accept and love people as they are. This empowers all to become more of who they are intended to be.

Thank you for all you have done this year. I am quite confident that your next half century’s contribution to the world will be very significant, valuable and LARGE! Your brilliance is shining brighter all the time. We are not blinded by the light, but guided by it.

Thank you Cyndi. I celebrate your life.
Always, Pamela

M.K. "Gypsy Punk" Racine
Joyeux Anniversaire, Cyndi!

This is the second year I have been able to be part of your birthday and I hope to continue this well into the future. You have come to be a major part of my life, Cyndi. Academically you enabled me to flourish in the creative and supportive environment you so patiently and consistently provided. And eventually, the technical expertise you supplied me with, met the creativity I had within. Thank you!

Professionally, you entrusted me in roles and responsibilities far beyond that of which I thought I was capable. Again, I learned from you not in a classroom, but in the openness of a country primed for growth and opportunity, a reflection of me. How can I possibly thank you enough?

Personally, Cyndi, you have become a dear friend, one who provides humor, words of wisdom, comfort, compassion, knowledge, a positive perspective, and timely wit, among so many other gifts.

I don’t believe there is a birthday gift ample enough to show my appreciation for you and the various ways in which you have enriched and impacted my life. This birthday I wish you all the happiness you can handle through the gifts of love, friendship, good fortune, success, prosperity, good health and all other gifts important to you. Thank you and Happy Birthday, Makumba!

Je t’aime! –MK

Carlos "Shake Shake" Espinosa
Feliz cumpleanos…

Cyndi, well what can I say, even though I have known you for quite a few years already, I have not formally said happy birthday to you, You always hide it so well.

The big Five-0; well you are young at heart. It has been a privilege to be one of your students, to learn from you, to be motivated by you, to get pushed like nobody has pushed me before and more importantly to have your friendship. You have given me many wonderful gifts in life and this I cannot repay you...thanks for everything you have done for me.

So far, you have accomplished great things in life, and it seems that you are just getting started, I hope to be part of many more birthdays and experiences.

Te deseo felicidad, prosperidad, salud, amor y dinero……Cheers!

Nick "Tick-Tock" Marshall


Well wishes for all birthday celebrations! Thank you for sharing some of your knowledge and honesty with me. You've been a patient teacher and a caring friend. I hope your birthday is joyful and fun.


Jared "Grace" Moschau
I wish you a happy birthday and the best big 5-0. You have been a great influence on me and have pushed me to do things that I wouldn’t make myself do and I am not the only one. You are a role model to everyone that is part of the crew and also like a mother. I appreciate everything you have done for me and the opportunities that you have given to me. I hope you have another 50 great years.
Happy B-day Cyndi,

Robby "NPB" Brown
Hey Cyndi, Happy Birthday…The way I see it, the glass is half full…love you, Robby!

Michael Montesa

Happy Birthday Cyndi. Thank you so much for everything. Thank you for being my awesome mentor and for letting me work with you through all these years. Thanks for all the advice and thanks for being sweet and caring friend.




More birthday wishes to come throughout the WEEK!!!!
Alec "Sleeping Beauty" Hart
Jacob "Jacobo" Felix
Shawn "Nikolai" Downs
Edgar "Billie Jean" Rider
Heath "Karaoke King" McKinney

October 27, 2006

Boys Are Broadway Bound

BY CYNDI GREENING, PHOENIX, USA & ALEC HART, NEW YORK CITY, USA – On October 16, 2006, two of the FilmZambia crew took off for "The Big Apple." While Alec spent the spring in NYC attending classes, doing an internship and, in general, having a big adventure, Jacob was at Mesa Community College taking media arts classes. After working together to make the documentary and feature films in Zambia, the guys decided the could live and work together in NYC. So, they finished editing the rough cut of the feature and boarded (a much delayed) plane headed eastward.

BroadwayBoys.jpgIt's been a little over a week that they've been gone. They report that they're putting the finishing touches on their demo reels and started to contact production companies and entities via CraigsList Manhattan. They've been spending time building their skills with AfterEffects 7. After editing the film on Final Cut Pro, their skills are well-honed in that program. As you can see by the photos, the guys were well-loved and appreciated by the gals on the crew. Jacob is surrounded by Jeniece, M.K. and Pamela. Alas, the best photo I could find of Alec was one with me. I'm sure they'll hope to be similarly surrounded in NY. We shall have to see how they do with that.

Alec reports that the weather is cool and crisp. They're doing a lot of walking and exploring. Jacob is liking the New York deli food and the architecture of the city. I'm wondering if Jacob is homesick. Based on Alec's vocal quality when he calls, I'd say he's pretty dang happy where he is ... it might even be "home" to him now. I'll keep you'all updated on their progress.

September 18, 2006

Getting Bug-Eyed

bugEyedEditor.jpgBY ALEC HART, PHOENIX, USA – We got back from Zambia on September 4th. I think I have spent 90% of my waking time since then sitting in my chair staring at a computer screen. I'm turning into a bug-eyed freak. Nick, Jacobo and I have the task of pulling a powerful and compelling film out of the footage they got in Zambia.

I want to send props to AUGUSTINE LUNGWU and BENNE BANDA. I would edit ANY film they were in. They are terrific film actors. Their performances are so consistent, they are a dream to edit. Any scene with the two of them cut together quickly, easily and effortlessly. It would be neat to have them as the main characters in the next Zambian film.

Some of the other scenes have been a nightmare in hell to edit. I am, however, grateful for every one of those difficult scenes because they're making me a better editor. Trying to pull two-second reaction shots out of other sequences to have the performance make sense is taxing but rewarding when completed. Jacobo has been editing with me. He's getting good at Final Cut. We're going back to New York City when the films are finished. I need to get back to work and start building my reel. Having these Zambian films on my resume won't hurt either!

September 08, 2006

Production Crew Slideshow


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August 22, 2006

You Know You're In Zambia When ...


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.

August 01, 2006

Film Zambia Crew


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July 09, 2006

Logging Footage

CyndiAlec.jpgBY ALEC HART, NEW YORK CITY, USA - Everyone is getting anxious to go to Zambia. They are eager to get the film BAD T!MING started. The documentary, VOICE OF AN AFRICAN NATION, started filming in January so I already have a ton of work to do. I've started logging the 47 hours of footage that we have SO FAR. I'm sure they'll get a lot more exciting and dramatic footage in the next month. I think some of the most beautiful footage will be shot in August. I am expecting that we will have well over 200 hours of footage by the time this is done. I hope to get an early start so we can get the story shaped as quickly as possible.

This photograph was taken in Arizona last month. We were out to dinner with The Bowes: Sandy, Jeff, Chris & girlfriend Sara. It's not too often now that we're all in the same city at the same time. In the U.S., as we get older, we tend to move some distance away from our famiilies. Our life is not as communal as the Zambian life. Our families are much smaller, too.

Cyndi says that it is because we live in a much more industrialized and modern country. We do not have the same need to stay close to our family because our survival doesn't depend on staying connected to our family tribe. We can do things like move all the way across the country and live in NYC on our own. Through an accident of birth, we were born into a wonderful life. Through intention, we can help those born in a very different world to share what their life is like. As the editor, I like being able to see ALL of the detail behind what the audience sees.

July 04, 2006

Independence Day

AlecHartWebshot.jpgBY ALEC HART, NEW YORK CITY, USA - Tonight, I walked over to the East Hudson River to catch the end of the Macy's Fireworks display for Independence Day. The smell of burned sulphur was strong in the air. The loud booming of the fireworks echoed in the concrete canyons. You could see the reflection of the explosions in the glass.

Tomorrow, I start logging the footage for the documentary, VOICE OF AN AFRICAN NATION. Recording began in early February in Mesa, Arizona. Cinematography will continue until BAD T!MING, the first Zambian feature, wraps. The deadline for the Sundance Film Festival is generally the first week in October. Since the films wrap on September 3rd in Zambia, it will be a miracle to get the rough cut ready in time for the 2007 festival.

Initially, I was planning on going to Zambia as part of the crew. Now, I think I can be more useful by staying in the states and working on the edit. We're still working out how to get the back-ups safely back to the U.S. during the shoot. We tried uploading a file on a server here and having it downloaded there but the connection was too slow. Tomorrow, I have to check into FEDEX.

June 24, 2006

Who We Are

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

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

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

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

May 28, 2006

Partying with a Purpose


BY ALEC HART, PHOENIX, ARIZONA, USA - Last night, we had a party. It was for all the Supporters of the Zambian film projects, the Arizona "Friends of Zambia." When you're making a documentary film, there's no such thing as just a party. Even a party has a purpose!

If you look at the photo collage, you can see cinematographer Shawn Downs getting footage of the event. For the documentary, we have to capture critical moments in the making of the film. We look for those moments when the crew is working well together (like the party). We also watch for the moments of greatest conflict. Drama is, after all, dependent on conflict. Since we're about a month away from leaving for Zambia, the number of dramatic moments are increasing.

Being the child of the producer, I probably see more dramatic moments than most people. I see the exciting moments when we find out the Zambian Ambassador may be able to visit Phoenix or that the Arizona Governor has been briefed on the project. I was there when it looked like Mesa Community College would be able to start a faculty exchange program with Lusaka U and the Evelyn Hone Technical School.

There are those other times, too. I also see the difficult moments as Cyndi works to get all of the money, supplies and logistics we'll need to make TWO films in Zambia. It's a pretty monumental project so there are many people who really want to go. Even worse, the number of people wanting to go keeps growing. Now that the films have gained a lot of support, more and more people try to "attach" themselves to the project. This is the challenge of producing.

I've been hearing about filmmaking, screenwriting and producing since I was a baby. I had always heard about how difficult it was to "attach" the right people in the beginning of a project (like cinematographer Nancy Schreiber) and how easy it was to attach interest after the project was underway. I see it now. I understand producing in a very different way. I understand why you bring your crew together for an informal gathering ... a chance to get to know each other more informally, to bond with the directors (we have two of them, Jabbes on the feature and Cyndi on the documentary), to try and see where there might be problems in the future. Much better to find them here in Phoenix than when we get to Zambia.

For the producer, everything has a purpose.

(Photographs by Michael Montesa)

May 22, 2006

Alec Hart - Editor

sff06-alec_hart.jpgBY ALEC HART, NEW YORK CITY, USA - I tell my friends that I'm going to Zambia to work on a film and no one believes me. It's just like when I told them I was going to move to New York City to go to film school and work as an editor. I didn't realize how far away New York was from Phoenix until the plane was landing at JFK. I don't think I have any idea how far away Zambia is from the United States --geographically or culturally.

Today, we had lunch with Jabbes and he was talking about life in the village. He wanted to get the measurements of the females so his mother could make suitable Zambian clothing for the women. I can't even imagine Cyndi in a Zambian dress. We're going to have to get a million "production stills" of that!

I've been to Sundance for the last four years. I am hoping that we will get the Zambian documentary and dramatic narrative done in time to submit to the festival. It would be a dream come true (and a miracle) to have our film at Sundance. For Jabbes' sake and to honor this historic moment for Zambia, it would be really cool if it could debut at Sundance. If we all commit ourselves to it and do our best work, the gods might smile on us!