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January 07, 2007

Better Off For It

HEATH McKINNEY, MESA, USA - I cannot help but think how much I have changed over that last few months. I wake up in the morning with more confidence. I know that I can do what I put my mind to. Whereas before I only thought I could try. Now I know that trying just would not be good enough. I have the confidence to put myself behind the wheel and drive. I have the confidence to go out on more dates. I have the confidence to go after my goals and not the goals that others have for me. I've made more time to go to school and work. I know where all this confidence came from as well. It came from Zambia. It came from the success of making a full-length feature movie. It came from seeing the faces of 16 people pushing every day to make a single goal come through. It came from the faces of thousands of smiling faces in the face of poverty and limited oppportunity. I may not have changed Zambia but I know that Zambia, as a nation, has changed me. And I am better off for it.

December 12, 2006

Happy Birthday, Cyndi!! We love you!

BY CREW FILMZAMBIA, MESA, ARIZONA, USA
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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!

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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


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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

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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!
Carlos

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Nick "Tick-Tock" Marshall

Cyndi,

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.

-Nick



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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,
Jared

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







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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.

MALIGAYANG KAARAWAN.

   








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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 08, 2006

Life in the Fast Lane

heathsCar.jpgBY HEATH McKINNEY, MESA, AZ - Ever since we arrived into the Phoenix Sky Harbor airport, from our month long journey to Africa, I have had a feeling of confidence. Before we left, I was in a uncomfortable spot. I had no job, no money, no car, and no way to change all of that. All that I had lacked before had made me feel as though I was ineffective as a human being. While in Africa, we all lacked a little bit of that stuff, but we learned to do without. We fought for what we needed and progessed because of what we believed in.

Today, I have a great paying job. I work over 50 hours per week. I bought myself a car; I know I know, don't everyone go into shock at once. I have so much more personal freedom being independent. It really has made me feel as if Africa has turned me into an effective person. And I am indebted to everyone that participated, and helped me change who I used to be.

Now when I drive around town it's a different feeling, because I've never been in a car by myself. Laugh all you want, but it's a sweet change of lifestyle. My sleek '98 Jetta will be my first. They always say that you never forget your first. And that will be the same with BAD TIMING . The first of many to come. I have learned that when you begin something new, there will be things that you love about it and things you dislike about it. The experiences that you gain and treasure will never be erased.

Maybe now that I can drive, I can go to Kareoke bars and practice my moves. Maybe not.

September 08, 2006

Production Crew Slideshow

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September 05, 2006

Something is Missing

karaokeKing.jpgBY HEATH "KARAOKE KING" McKINNEY, MESA AZ - When I went to bed last night, I found myself to be lacking. I didn't hear the constant clacking that comes from a pool table that should have been right outside my bedroom window. Even more so, when I woke up, the birds weren't chirping like the used to. The weather was a lot warmer than I could remember, and I didn't hear the sound of a constant banging on the metal gate that kept us safe inside our little pink palace.

I walked outside, to take in the day, it was missing a herd of little children that were happily wishing me well as I started my day. A bus didn't show up to take me anywhere, and I made my own breakfast. It's hard to believe that all the littlest things that we came to know and love, while we were in Zambia, are now just great memories. I will never forget that place and the way that it made me feel. I truly was part of something so much greater there in Zambia.

I am a little jealous of those that we left behind, Zambia was a gorgeous country. I would love to return to study there and take part of the exchange program that our Teachers were setting up while we were there. I think most of all that I will miss the people that helped us out. Doudi was our chef. He cooked some of the best food I had ever had. He showed us around and taught a few of us some words in the language of Nyanja. He's also a musician, and treated us to a concert on our very last night in the Kwazulu Kraal. Emma, and Diana, were the assistants to Doudi and were learning the trade of tourism in Zambia. Two very kind girls. Then we had Alan, our driver. I never had known such a humble person who always wanted to do what was right. He really kept us in line when we got bright ideas. Helen and Marta were our housekeepers, they kept the lodge clean and tidy, helping us so much. We had so little stress there when we got back from a long day to see that our little homes away from home, were just as good looking as the day we got there.

I'm sure they learned from us as well, but I know that I learned more from them. I am indebted to them, Thank you so much guys for treating us so well at the Kwazulu Kraal. And Dr. Ngoma, zikomo kwambiri.

August 22, 2006

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.

August 16, 2006

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.

August 12, 2006

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 01, 2006

Film Zambia Crew

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July 31, 2006

Storyboarding Dreams

BY HEATH McKINNEY MESA AZ USA - Wow, I really can't believe how much just working on this film has done for me. In so many ways. My first glance at film as a carear was through a class at MCC. It was called Digital Storytelling. Without thinking, I signed up for the class hoping that in some way through that class I would be able to learn how to Storyboard. I'm always drawing and coming up with wild Ideas for cartoons or stories, and I have done a few flash animations in my life but I could never really line them all up in scenes. I knew that I had to learn how to storyboard. The class wasn't anything near what I thought it was going to be, but it ended up being something much much more. My candle of excitement was lit and I started seeing movies and film in a whole different way. I was understanding script, and elements of a story, the story arc and where should it go and why.

heathJabbes.jpgBut, yet, I wasn't getting that lesson in storyboarding that I had hoped for. Then Jabbes came along. He is a wonderful Director, I can say so because I have seen him in action. Not directing actors, but storyboarders. We patiently wait by his side to hear his insight of how one scene or another should be shot. So we can put our pencils down onto paper and try to give him a physical visualization of what he sees in his head. I love this. It seems like Eric, Jacob, Mario, and I have been working without rest and I still want to do more. I got home after what felt like 2 days rolled up into one, and I started drawing.

I would have thought I'd get tired of drawing after a long day but I couldn't help it; being able to see the movie on paper just gave me an energy I didn't know I had. And I can see a change in my abilities to draw, I'm getting better. I always want to give a hundred and ten percent to this project never wanting anything but experience, and a few memories I'd never leave behind. But this really is giving back to me as much as I put into it. It's giving me so much more to give to the project still. STORYBOARDING ROCKS!!!

July 22, 2006

Heart and Soul

traditions.jpgHEATH McKINNEY MESA, AZ, USA - I don't think I'm alone when I say that there are a lot of bland movies coming out of the Hollywood Movie Factory these days. Many don't have the excitement and originality that I like. When I watch movies I look for a feel and or taste that makes it real to me. Recently, I've been watching African-themed movies like A FAR OFF PLACE or THE AIR UP THERE. I don't know if it's the novelty of seeing something other than a Hollywood backlot or stories about distinctly different cultures that makes them feel more exciting and original to me. My favorites are movies with tradition and history tied deep down within them.

The African films I have seen thus far reveal the "Heart and Soul" of its people and I'm honored to be a part of a new movie that we hope will contain the heart and soul of Zambia. From the concept to the script and the cast and director, to locations and theme, BAD T!MING reveals the lives and drama of Zambian natives that live life in ways we do not yet understand. It is our individual and collective hope that we will be taken into the heart of the Zambian culture and celebrate that which makes them unique in the world.

July 20, 2006

Ties to Technology

BY HEATH McKINNEY, MESA, AZ - These last few days have been a horror to me. We have been without cable. I find it sick sometimes how well we can adapt ourselves to technology and as soon as we are cut from it we consider it to be torture. I miss a few shows and I think that I'm gonna die. I'm seriously going to go through some withdrawal when in Zambia then. But, I'm begining to think that they are both neccesary and essential withdrawals from technology. If I am to focus on this project, I'm going to need to think of absolutely nothing but that. And, a distraction of tv and internet is simply unwanted there.

I really am a man of few words sometimes. I do know I am guilty of not keeping people around me more informed of this incredible change I've gone through in order to prepare myself for the journey to Zambia.

I started knowing less than an enthused movie viewer. NOW, I can't get enough, and I don't focus on actors anymore like most of the status quo world. Now, I see the importance of everyone behind the camera is just as amazing as what's done in front of it. I'm delighted to be educated in such a high class manor and that MCC has been the college that gave me this opprotunity.

July 11, 2006

Carrying the Project Together

sillyHeathsm.jpgBY HEATH McKINNEY, MESA, ARIZONA, USA - It's incredible how far this film is coming along in its pre-production. I am literally enthralled by all that is moving around us, the publicity and support ... the support keeps growing. Becuase this is an Independent Film, we are an extremely tight crew with an extremely tight budget. The producer, Cyndi, works endlessly and late nights trying to find the money we need so that all of us in this tiny crew can go. We all feel how important BAD T!MING and VOICE OF AN AFRICAN NATION can be for Zambia; so we all want to be able to get there to support the film to the best of our abilities. This is going to require the effort of hundreds of people, with the bodies of fourteen.

To some it might seem a little bit like we are biting off more than we can chew. At least we are willing to do it. We want to bring a Zambian story to to rest of the world. We all want to get the best thing possible out of this, and will do as much work as it takes to get it done. I love this crew, they couldn't have chosen a better group of people to bring this film to life. We all know what we need to do, and the duties that need to get done to make this a successful project.

I have come to realize that when it all comes down to it, the film industry may be one of the highest forms of art. Like an orchestra or a symphony, you have a large group of people who must bring the highest skill and best effort together and serve the larger piece of work as a group. Every artistic ability comes into play for each individual so the project succeeds for the group ... our small group and the much larger group known as the nation of Zambia.

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.

June 08, 2006

Taking A Stand Against The Storm

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

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

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

May 24, 2006

Blue Sky on Lighting Dark Complexions

blacktemp7.jpgBY HEATH McKINNEY, MESA, AZ, USA - In order to prepare for filming in Zambia, we have been researching and studying everything we might encounter. As a cinematographer, I tend to shoot more caucasians in Mesa. I decided to look for information on what I might encounter photographing darker skin tones.

It was much more difficult than I thought to find information on filming darker skin tones. It seems that I found a lot more quesitons out there than there are answers. One of the places that I found that could give me a reasonable answer was Blue Sky, Lighting Darker Complexions by Walter Graff. They have a nice long tutorial going over the many challenges that you may encounter while filming people with with darker complexion as well as their solution to those problems. Here is the summary of tips which they provide for you.

1) Just because someone has a darker complexion does not mean they need to be lit with more light.

2) The same rules used in attempting to create a sense of depth apply to dark skin as it does for lighter skin. It's about what makes the individual look good, not some rule about light skin or dark.

3) It's also always about the relationship of everything in the frame not just the talent. Sometimes a lighter background helps a darker complexion, and sometimes a darker background is more suitable. It's about what works for that particular individual.

4) Lighting a background to compliment the texture and color of your talent makes for a more appealing frame as opposed to lighting a person for who they are and throwing some light up haphazardly on the background just to illuminate it. The relationship of your talent and the environment is just as important as how the talent looks. Sometimes warm backgrounds work, and other times cooler colored backgrounds compliment the talent best.

5) Everything is about how it looks in the moment. There are no rules in life when it comes to lighting, only guidelines.

Give it a look see here, or check out the other instructional how to's that Blue sky has to offer.

May 23, 2006

A Vision of Zambia

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BY HEATH McKINNEY, MESA, AZ, USA - Over the last few days I have been burying myself in the images of Zambia to try to get a better understanding of the culture and the lifestyles we all will be running into. One thing I've loved my entire life is imagery. There is often a memory linked to an image. Photography and Film give us all that opportunity to recall those memories of yester-year, and feel like we did back then. In Zambia (among all other things that I find compelling) wildlife is unchecked. And by that I mean, the natrual beauty of the nation is endless. Nature is pure and constant. In Zambia during the production of BAD TIMING and THE VOICE OF AN AFRICAN NATION, we will all get the chance to see that beauty firsthand and to recognize how much we really do miss by living in the city. Sometimes the most of nature we get to see is a pigeon digging through a trash can. It is my wish that during our stay in Zambia, you will all take the time to open your eyes to all the beauty that we will capture in camera for you.

With permission and as time permits (after all we are making TWO movies), I will take it upon myself to make a photographic diary of all the animals we encounter and post it for everyone to see. I am looking forward to sharing the beauty of Zambia and helping to destroy the myth of destitution.

May 21, 2006

Heath McKinney - Cinematographer

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BY HEATH McKINNEY, MESA, USA - There are no more than three words that I can use to describe the way that I feel about this terrific journey upon which we are all about to embark. Love, Life, Fear. A little weird and random you say, well please, please, give me a moment to elaborate on that. I Love Filmmaking, and Cinematography. And honestly, if there were anything in this world I would want to devote more of my time to, it's these two things. Do what you Love and you can make not only yourself happy but those around you because they will see that you're enjoying life and want to enjoy it as well. As is said, "If you enjoy something so much that you would do it for free and you can find a way to earn money doing it, you have found your career."

This is definitely mine, definitely something that will grab hold of my steering wheel and whip it into a direction I've never seen before. Bringing us to my second word of choice: Life. This will change it. We tend to make many choices in life, some of them we are grateful for, while others we tend to regret. I've chosen to empower myself to do whatever it takes to make a film become successful in its run and help change the standing of an entire nation when it comes to Media Representation. It's a decision I'll never take back, ever. This Life altering moment was brought to me at a very odd time when I had no clue what to do, and now I do. Life is too important to sit around waiting for an opportunity to come your way, so stand up and do something about it.

When I say Fear many of you think of this word in probably as many different ways as whoever will read this. Bluntly, my view of Fear is that it's good. It causes me to do what I can so that I do not become what I fear to be. It drives me into successes in life by steering me around the things I know would be unsuccessful. If someone asked me if I had any Fears concerning this project THE VOICE OF AN AFRICAN NATION, I would tell them that I didn't but that it was Fear that brought me here. I know this project will be successful to its fullest potential because of all of those we have here working 110% to create something incredible. The end result will be something they Love for the rest of their Lives with no Fear of turning back.