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February 24, 2007

Revisiting FilmZambia Crew Reels

BY CYNDI GREENING, PHOENIX, USA — Working on the film trailers has us revisting all of the shooting days and recalling the terrific, dedicated work of our amazing FilmZambia crew. Their dedication and determination were unparalleled. So, a reminder to take a look at their reels if you're looking for a crew member who will do whatever it takes to get your film done!

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

December 09, 2006

Mike and Jeniece in the Big Apple

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Mike Montesa and Jeniece Toranzo's Photo Gallery is up for viewing. You can check out all of the wonderful things they are doing and seeing while they are visiting New York City. They met up with FilmZambia crew members Alec Hart and Jacob Felix and headed over to Rockefeller Center. Jacob, Mike and Jeniece also went down to Ground Zero. When they return to Arizona, they promise to put together the NYC vcast. So, stay tuned!

September 23, 2006

We are Driven

mikey.jpgBY MICHAEL "KARATE MASTER" MONTESA, SCOTTSDALE, AZ - Before leaving for Zambia, my life was quiet and boring ... I always followed the rules, always by the book, always inside the box. I would work nonstop, sometimes 60 hours a week. I would follow a strict daily schedule planner everyday. I worked. I forgot what fun was. All of that has changed now ... I have changed.

It's really amazing how one trip to an African country can change people's lives. It has changed my life, for the better. Sometimes I wonder, "What if I had never gone to Africa? What if I had never given myself this chance?"

This morning, I was having a conversation with one of my fellow respiratory therapists during break and he told me how he can see the changes in me. He noticed that when I got back to work I was reserved and depressed. He said that when I talked about the trip I became excited and proud. I have told him about the experiences and the personal bonding that happened on the trip and it just feels so good to be heard and to be understood by other people. Sometimes when people ask me about the trip, they only want to hear the exciting things. I don't try to tell them about the challenges that we overcame. I am not sure if they care or can understand. But some people try.

It is still difficult for me to be back to work as a therapist . I feel so disconnected and lost sometimes. Most of the time, I just want to be left alone. But in my line of work, that is not possible. I have a personal responsiblity to my job. I am so thankful and grateful that they let me take off five weeks and held all my classes and my duties while I was away. I am part of a team at work as well. We are responsible for patients during the critical settings. I understand the value more than ever of every team player and what we all contribute to any project. This is not the time to pull away from them because they need me now more than ever. Regardless of the stresses of work, I am still committed to the lessons I learned in Africa. Everyone needs to take time to laugh and play and dance. I don't want to ever go back and be that overdriven stressful person I was before. I really believe that taking time every day for moments of fun are making me a better employee, friend and family member.

The ironic thing about this discovery of time management is the conflict I have over the film Zambia project itself. I realize the crew still needs me too. We are under a deadline to get a rough draft of both the feature and the documentary by this week. So, many of the crew are working all nighters logging and editing endless footage. I try to help as much as I am allowed. The good thing is when I am with the crew I am also having fun.

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The other day, I was capturing some footage of Cyndi, Pam and MK's conversation about the problems behind the set and on the set. I was amazed how much I didn't know. Some parts I knew but most of the problems we had I wasn't even aware of over there. I am grateful to them for dealing with those problems. Cyndi and Pam were constantly everywhere! They dealt with food issues, phone calls or just phones, ATM's, actors, props, transportation problems, sites, director issues, endless problems that occured every day! I know we had challenges on the set too but our problems were much smaller compared to what they were dealing with. I am glad we didn't know about those issues because it could have affected our concentration on our jobs or how we dealt with certain actors or other member of the crew. Thank you Cyndi and Pamela for being our PRODUCERS ... for always watching our backs and for not letting us get affected by the daily issues that faced us everyday. Thank you for letting us grow and learn the challenges of filmmaking. You helped us be better crew members and better friends to each other.

Listening and watching the footage brought back tons of fun memories from the trip. When I watched the clips I experienced the same feelings I had when I was actually living it! Sometimes its difficult to look at photos because I miss everybody and our time at the Kwazulu Kraal Lodge. I have to remind myself that the future starts today. A friend of mine told me not to dwell in the past but let the past be your guide to your future and he is right. We have two films to finish. One film to show a story of Zambia and another film to show the crew's experience. I am excited to share our experience and the emotional aspect of filmmaking. I believe our documentary will show the human side of film. I think it is compelling because it is so real!

groupie.jpgBefore leaving for Africa, I was so excited to photograph the beauty of Zambia but after coming back to the U.S., I realize I have captured something else ... I have helped capture the heart and soul of the film crew.

September 13, 2006

LIfe After Zambia

BY MIKEY "KARATE MASTER" MONTESA, MESA, AZ - My life after Zambia has changed. I don't know why but it's hard to adjust to my normal life again. All I want is to be with my FilmZambia family, to work and talk with them like we did when we were back in the Kraal. When I was in Zambia, I felt free, like a Taita Falcon flying in the endless sky. taita_falcon.jpg

I had no restrictions on myself and I didn't limit myself. I spoke my mind freely and was not afraid of what other people would think of me. I think that is why I miss that life so much. When I was in Zambia, it seemed like I had more freedom to be me than I do here in the US. Working with the crew over there was so much fun and and continues to be rewarding here. We take the time to talk about what's going on at work and in our personal lives. We are understanding of each other and we listen to each other. We are friends.

As an artist, I want to express my feelings through the art of photography. My work shows vibrant and happy places but my work doesn't always honestly reveal what I really feel about my subject. After Zambia, I realized that the words I speak can be just as powerful as the images I shoot. It's amazing how the crew has taught me to be a better photographer. They respond to me and my work and give me advice and valadation. Sometimes they critique me and other times they compliment me. I feel their genuine concern for me. It is liberating.

Their advise extended beyond what I offered on the project. Cyndi, MK, Shawn and the others were always there to listen to me. In the past, I usually kept my problems inside me. I felt that it was weak and bad to reveal your problems. Now I know that it feels good to be heard. It feels good to let it all out and let people listen to you. In the disclosure I often found answers to problems. I found out that real friends may not agree with you, but they still care about you.

I really do think that the Zambian trip changed me. I have a different outlook on life and my perspective has changed a great deal. The other day, Cyndi asked us in reflection if we realized before we left that the trip was going to be a "life altering" experience. I had never thought about it but now I realize it was. It changed me for good.

doom.jpgIn addition to finding my own value on this trip, I also got a new appreciation of the importance of friendship. Real friends are those you know you will always have in your life. Distance and location may seperate you, but if you have opportunities to meet or talk you take up where you left off. This experience created a bond based on the project, the work, the struggles we overcame together and the personalities of the crew. My "doommates" will always be with me. To me DOOM means so much more than an insect repellant or a silly group name. It means friendship with openess, honesty and acceptance. I'm so grateful to have these friendships because they showed me it is more then ok to have fun and enjoy life. It is what makes life worth living. It also gave me something to look forward to every day. Those guys make me smile and laugh all the time.

My life will never be the same again. I am thankful for this trip because I began to understand me better. I gained more self-esteem and I learned to stand-up for myself. I want my voice to be heard. I want my art to reflect me. I have decided that having fun and enjoying life is important. I have a greater appreciation for my friends and for being a friend.

This journey is not over! It is just beginning. It will continue to be interesting and life altering. I'm looking forward to the challenges that will come along.

September 08, 2006

Production Crew Slideshow

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September 05, 2006

Home Sweet Home But Not Really

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BY MICHAEL 'KARATE MASTER" MONTESA, MESA, AZ, USA - I'm finally home after 33 hours of flying and sitting in airports. It feels good to be home and be able to have a warm shower, wear fresh smelling clothes, and know that water runs 24 hours a day. My body knows that I'm home but my mind is still behind in Zambia. I really do miss the place and now I realize that I am not ready to be home yet. I miss the wake up call and taking turns using the shower before the hot water runs out. I miss the roundtable talk with Cyndi in the morning during breakfast and during dinner. I miss everything.

_MG_9111.jpgLiving with the crew for 27 days was fun. We went through a lot of challenges but we overcame all of them. We worked it out together and shared everybody's input on things. I am so proud of our film crew because we worked like a team and nobody held grudges on each other.

Coming home was especially challenging for me. While in Johannesburg Airport in South Africa, the British Airways Counter person refused to let me on board the plane because I was missing the plane ticket stub. (I guess on the way from London to South Africa, they ripped the wrong ticket so I had the opposite ticket). After much discussion with many people, they finally let me board the plane. Then before boarding the plane, they wouldn't allow me to carry my camera bag because it was big and they said will not fit on the overhead bin which it does. So I took all my camera and lenses and I was downgraded to a clear plastic bag and a laptop computer.

_MG_9187.jpgWhile in London, we had a seven hour layover. Just enough time to visit the Hyde Park by the Paddington Station. That was a nice break after 10 hours of flight. We were able to enjoy the London weather and able to walk around. Then at the the Terminal 4, we had to go through a tough security check again and had to follow a long line. That was a nightmare. Finally, before boarding the flight to Phoenix, the US. Homeland Security checked my passport and asked me a few questions. I got scared for a while but they were nice enough to let me board my flight. That was my first time ever to get checked by the Homeland Security. I'm a frequent traveler and this is the the first ever. After getting to Phoenix, AZ, I found out that my camera bag never made it to the U.S. Unfortunately, it was the same for Pam's luggage (remember Pam lost her luggage for 3 weeks while we were in Zambia). Hopefully, our bags will turn out today. I'm very positive on that.

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Now that I'm back in the US, I feel some sadness and void in my heart. It will never be the same again like it was for those four weeks. We became a family and more than good friends. There are some people that I have known or worked with for a while like Cyndi, Carlos and Alec. There are some people that I got to know for the first time. I got to know MK and Pam and made a special bond with them. I also got to know Shawn and he became like my little brother. We watched out for each other and we worked together all the time. He actually made a big impact on me about filmmaking. He knows tons of stuff about film and I learned a lot from him.

Looking back on our journey, I feel lucky that I had this opportunity. I will remember this forever and cherish it. I am home but its not quite the same again. I am looking forward on getting together with everybody on the crew again.

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September 02, 2006

Almost Home

zambezi_river.jpgBY MICHAEL MONTESA, LUSAKA, ZAMBIA - Well, our time is almost up here. We are leaving tomorrow afternoon via South Africa and London. I admit, being on the set was not easy and was not fun all the time but the crew made it enjoyable to be there. Sometimes, it got boring and the takes would seem to last forever. I love working with the Zambian actors. They are fun and some of them are very easy going and casual. We made a lot of friends here and it's going to be hard to go back to the States and resume our normal lives (for me anyway).

I will miss the all the crew and most especially my roommates, Carlos and Shawn. I got to know everyone and developed new friendships. What I also learned from this adventure is how much I love filmmaking. I know the work I want to do and I can now focus on the film industry. I realized that I would love to produce. I like to see how everything goes together and put the thinkgs in place to make a film happen. I know it's not easy but working with a good team (like ours) helps.

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August 26, 2006

Fun, Zambian Style

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

August 19, 2006

The Zambian Colors

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

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

Our filming began last week and it's exciting. I can't believe we are now working on a professional film. Our crew is awesome and everybody helps each other out. One of the fun moments is at night when we sit around and talk and laugh and share stories or play pool or games. We hear outside our resort the sounds of Zambia. We can hear the neighbors laughing and we can smell their dinners being prepared. The colors and sounds of Zambia are beautiful and moments I will cherish the rest of my life.
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August 01, 2006

Film Zambia Crew

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July 29, 2006

Thanks For The Opportunity

BY MICHAEL MONTESA, MESA, AZ, USA - Eleven days from now, we will be leaving Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport for Africa. We will be arriving in Lusaka International Airport in Zambia after 32 hours of flights and layovers. I'm really excited and just can't wait! Can you imagine we will be filming the first movie about Zambia, written and directed by a Zambian? All of this is possible because of the support from MCC, the State of Arizona and from the government of Zambia and Dr. Edgar Ng'oma. Thanks to everyone for all the support and this incredible opportunity.

mike_1979.jpgWhere would I be if my parents had never decided to immigrate from the Philppines to the States 16 years ago? What if I had never come to the US at all? Would this opportunity ever happen to me if we never moved to Arizona? WHAT IF is a good question but there is no way to know the answer. All I can say now is I am so glad I came to the US and moved to Arizona; I am so thankful for it. My parents believed that there would always be opportunities waiting for us in this country. montesa_central_park1.jpg They thought that all we would have to do is work hard and search for that opportunity. They wanted to take advantage of the higher standard of learning, equality and freedom that every citizen enjoys. I do enjoy the beauty of America and, in my experience, this is truly the land of opportunities. Even Jabbes says that about America.

My perspective of America is far different from the people who were born here. The people here are friendly and caring. Of course, I have lived here now for 16 years so my mentality is more American now but I also practice my Filipino tradition. I am lucky to have both montesa_antelope_canyon.jpg worlds because they are each unique experiences. When I'm in Africa, I want to share with the Zambians how beautiful this country is. I want to show them that this country is not just about theme parks and skyscrappers but also about the natural wonders that surrounds us and the efforts of people who try to preserve the natural resources. If I were to pursue a career montesa_brooklyn_bridge.jpgin medicine, I would probably become preoccupied with my responsibilities and not enjoy the beauty of nature. I think that is why I love photography and cinematography so much. I love to capture beauty. I will enjoy this opportunity to reveal America's natural beauties by showing my photos to interested Zambians.

montesa_monument_valley.jpgI want to return the favor America has given me and my family by representing the USA in its best light. I look forward to sharing our talents, gifts in the arts and our good citizenship. This is but a small contribution and a way for me to be thankful for the opportunities afforded me by this country. Meeting Cyndi, Jabbes and the Zambian Production Crew is not an opportunity I take lightly. Each day, I feel that this is my given purpose in life. THANK YOU.

July 20, 2006

Dream Come True

zambia.jpgMICHAEL MONTESA, MESA, ARIZONA, USA - As a photographer, I always dreamt of working for National Geographic or the Travel Channel. The locations they go to or the exotic places they photograph make every photographer green with envy. But having the opportunity of going to Zambia is going to put me into those locations of those photographers. I have a chance to take those sorts of images. I have never thought in a million years that I would be a photographer who would get to chance to shoot in Africa. Now, I'm going not just to photograph but to be a part of a film crew. I will get the chance to capture a native story and the essence of one of an African nation. HOW COOL IS THAT!?!

A few weeks ago, when The Arizona Republic published an article about the trip, people from the hospital where I work started asking about what it is all about. They knew that I wanted to be a filmmaker and they are happy and excited for me that this lifelong dream of mine is finally getting started.

Some people are curious and wondering if I'm going on a medical mission. In the medical field, when some people hear about a trip to South America or Africa, they often assume that it's for a medical mission. HIV/AIDs, poverty, refugee rescue and those sorts of problems come to mind. Jabbes, the director of the film, is a classmate of mine and a Zambian. Through Jabbes I have learned that Africa is so much more than its problems. This trip is my own personal mission to help the people of Zambia have their voices heard and stories told around the world.

The story that we film and images we make from Zambia will increase and perhaps change the awareness what Zambia is really like. Everything I read and see tells me that the country is so beautiful. For my part, I hope to capture and showcase the whole of Africa (not just the problems) to my fellow classmates at MCC, the residents of Mesa and the citizens of the world who have an interest in understanding and appreciating other cultures.

July 10, 2006

29 Days And Counting......

psa_photo.jpgBY MICHAEL MONTESA, MESA, ARIZONA, USA - This weekend, Jeniece and I had an opportunity on helping out Katie and her film crew shoot a Public Service Announcement about Alzheimer's Disease. It was a great learning experience for me and Jeniece and good opportunity on meeting some new friends in the local film industry. I was there to light the set using the DP Lowel tungsten lights mimicking early morning light and also took some production stills (luckily, I brought my camera with me - I never leave home without it) .

jeniece_make_up.jpgJeniece also had a great time learning make-up techniques for film and enjoying her time on the set. She is such a great person to work with because she is always willing to learn and always jump on the opportunity to help. I always see her taking notes and writing down individual's name just to make sure she won't forget. Unlike me, I can only remember 2-3 names a day. I need to start writing down some important notes from now on.

steadicam.jpgWe also had an opportunity to see the steadicam in action. It was an amazing experience to see what it can do. Watching the playback, the shots looks smoother and flows nicer (courtesy of $8,000). It must be great to have one of this. Now I know what I want for Christmas.

We are now a month away from leaving to Zambia and all the excitement is building up. All I think about now is our adventure and the great opportunity this is for us to be able to film in Africa. Everyone is putting their best on working together and learning the tools that we will be using in the film. The Zambian project definitely made us closer like a family.

June 26, 2006

The Zambian Way

BY MICHAEL MONTESA, MESA, ARIZONA, USA
PHOTOGRAPHY BY SHAWN DOWNS

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This Saturday was an emotional event for the film crew. Jabbes' son Kondwani, passed away last week. The film crew and the Zambian community came to offer their sympathy and support Jabbes. This is also the day of opportunity for the crew to witness and participate in the Zambian culture. For the first time, the crew got their first taste of Zambian food and I could see from their reaction that they liked it very much. Our new friends also shared us some stories about their beautiful homeland and just by listening from their stories, it makes us excited to be there right away. We can't wait to get there.

Here are some of the photos from the gathering this weekend.

OUR NEW ZAMBIAN FRIENDS
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FILMZAMBIA PRODUCTION FAMILY
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FilmZambia_photos.jpgTo see all the photos, click the Camera icon.

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 13, 2006

Production Crew

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May 29, 2006

Keep The Camera Rolling

mike.jpgBY MICHAEL MONTESA, MESA, USA - It has been three months now since we started shooting the documentary. I remember how excited I was on the first day of the shoot because I got to use the Sony HVR-Z1U camera (that camera was the rave at Sundance last year and I really wanted one of those) and we got to interview Jabbes for the first time. The first day we spent over three hours capturing his backstory. That footage became the backbone of the documentary.

Now, many months later, we have logged many hours of filming and used up tons of DV tapes. I can't believe that within a month, we will be on a plane to Zambia. This is so exciting. Sometimes I can't sleep when I start thinking about it. When I was younger, I have never thought that I was going to become a filmmaker and let alone be filming a movie in Africa. This is one of those opportunities that you don't want to let go.

Working on the documentary has taught me not just different camera techniques but also to become a good team player. I did not know most of the film crew before but now we are becoming a family. It's always good to get to know the people you're going to work with because we will be in a foreign land with a different customs, laws and culture.

A shot in the arm: Some of us already have taken our travel shots (Hep A, Hep B, Meningitis, Adult Polio, Typhoid and Tetanus/Diphtheria vaccines). I got mine last Monday (Malaria and Cipro pills were also prescribed). My shoulders did not hurt when I was getting the shots but I was really in pain the second day. You are not supposed to get a fever with these shots but I did. Maybe it was from the pain. I was hurting and aching all over my body. But all that pain was worth it. I will endure the pain for the success of the film. In the end, I'm sure it will be worth it.

May 22, 2006

Michael Montesa - Cinematographer & Photographer

mike.jpgBY MICHAEL MONTESA, MESA, USA - During the last week of January, Cyndi Greening asked me what will I be doing this summer and I said I planned to go to Europe for a vacation. Then she asked me, "Would you like to go to Africa to shoot a movie?" My answer was "YES, forget Europe I'm going to Africa." It is such a thrill and an honor to be a part of this Zambian film production and to work with MCC's talented and dedicated filmmakers. I could have never imagined that I will be a part of a film production this big and a film being shot outside the US and a film that will be shot in another continent and a film that is history in the making for MCC and Zambia. It seems Africa was so far away, but now, in a month or so, we will be stepping in its soil and breathe its own air and meet new people and share our passion and love for art and filmmaking.

Working with Cyndi during the pre-production of the film is such an awesome experience. Her excitement and dedication are contagious and every time she speaks of the project, you can hear the thrill in her every word. Her dedication to the film makes me even more committed and makes me want to work even harder for this project.

The first time I met Jabbes was during our photo shoot for a publicity photos for Cyndi's website. I found him a very interesting person to talk to. He is very well spoken and you can tell right away that he has this big ambition not only for himself but for his country. I really admire his wisdom and family values. I had a chance to get to know him better when I invited him to my home and introduced him to my family and my culture. It is such a privilege to work with him and to work with his people.

For some time now, I proudly told my family, co-workers and friends about this film project and how excited I am. They are very supportive of me and even my work is willing to give me six weeks of vacation just to go to Africa. I feel so lucky to have all these people around me and all this support. This project is my priority and will always be my priority. I'm even willing to put my other career as a Respiratory Therapist on hold. Now, I even put sleeping on hold.

This experience will open a lot of doors for all of us. We will never forget this experience, and we are thankful for this opportunity. And I can't wait to share my experience through the photos I will be taking to post on this blog.