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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!

August 14, 2006

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 01, 2006

Film Zambia Crew

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(Click to view larger image)

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 27, 2006

We're All In This Together, Even If We're Not All In Africa

sff06-gina_puma.jpgBY GINA PUMA, MESA, ARIZONA, USA - I am working on this project as Associate Producer through Cyndi Greening’s vision to make a difference in the world. I think most of us are a part of this project because Cyndi asked us to help her make the world a better place, not just for the people of Zambia but for all who will view this project and give their blood, sweat and tears to make it happen. In our many conversations about this endeavor, Cyndi has shared her altruistic intensions of teaching the people of Zambia to make films and teaching her MCC film students about life outside of the classroom. Thank you, Cyndi, for expressing confidence in all who are involved and for having the stamina to run with this. You are going to need to use those broad shoulders of yours to see this through. Your strength will help us all endure.

Then there is Jabbes. What a courageous man. I think there are two things that can happen when you encounter such a tragedy in life as losing your son; you can bury yourself along with your child and never find your way out of that hole -- or -- through his death you can make his life mean something. Thank you, Jabbes, for sharing your story and your precious little boy with us. Jabbes, Jr. has touched the lives of so many already and this is only just the beginning. This little boy has big plans for all of us. Thank you, Jabbes, Jr. We ask that you guide us and guard us. You are our inspiration.

I am not traveling with the crew to Africa, but I am still very much a part of this journey. Let’s just say that my idea of “roughing it” is staying at a Holiday Inn instead of the Ritz. I really can’t picture myself sleeping in a tent, under a mosquito net, in the Bush, just inches away from being some lion’s dinner. The members of the crew, who know me well, don’t want to hear me whine the whole time about not being able to pee in a bathroom, among other things.

Besides, someone needs to stay stateside and keep things running on this end. I am working on the preproduction tasks. There is so much that needs to be done and so little time to do it in. We are looking for more money to increase the quality of the project and to bring more people on board. Setting up the proposals is so important and I think it is what creative people hate to do most. Planning is the key to success so we need to get as much done before the crew even boards the plane to Africa. These next few weeks are going to be extremely busy. Thank you, to my family, John and Eric, for supporting me and not complaining, too much, when I am not available for them. I am looking forward to the propulsion of this mission and to participating in this amazing voyage.