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!

January 01, 2007

Day One, 2007...and Counting...

“Argue for your limitations and, sure enough, they’re yours.” –Richard Bach

I’ve done this a great deal in my life, at the very least created my own limitations. Whether creating them, arguing them, it’s the same thing, the same result – you’ve established your limitations in life, at least for that moment in your life.

Going to Zambia was one. A limitation I argued for unknowingly. Over and over I told myself I did not have the money to fund my own trip, and in speaking and thinking those words I limited my opportunity to go, and more than anything I limited my life.

To me, life encapsulates the experiences you choose for yourself and those that just jump on into your life without invitation or welcome, leaving either a good impression upon us, or a bad memory. Further, it’s up to us to take these experiences and reflect upon them: their influence, our actions, their impact, our reactions, how they molded us and how we chose to be molded. My thought has always been, Life’s biggest mistakes should become the most valuable lessons. A lot of good intentions, but do those intentions come to fruition?

Perhaps choices are what balance the types of experiences we have in our lives, the number of good and not so good experiences and thus the quality or value of our lives. Experiences appear before we know it and, some, without our knowledge; there are those we force to make happen, those we struggle with, and others we hope to avoid. As a Libra, I seek balance. I appreciate the struggle, though at times, it zaps me of my energy and leaves me to wonder what’s next and am I prepared? I also appreciate the good, the loving and immeasurable experiences that keep me thankful for who I am.

My decision not to go to Zambia was a financial one, I did not want to create debt that I would be paying off for several months, for only a four week trip, believing I would have as similar experience in Phoenix as I would have in Zambia, or trying to convince myself of that.

The thing is, I already had some financial debt and would be in debt whether I went to Zambia or not, so what’s a little more debt, for an experience of a lifetime, for THE life changing experience of a lifetime. By no means is this blog a lesson in financial planning or personal financial management, but it is a valuable lesson of life and of opportunity. In the end, it was Stefan that took on the financial responsibility of my trip, and for his support I will be forever thankful. But that is the interesting part, had it not been for him, in the end, would I have made the decision to go to Zambia?

“Argue for your limitations and, sure enough, they’re yours.” –Richard Bach

We all have fears in our lives, some greater than others, some for more valid reasons than others. Jeniece and I are terrified of African spiders, the crew found that out on about day one of our trip! But whether great or small, our fears are real, though unlike spiders, many times what we fear very likely does not exist, our fears are of what could happen if we made a certain choice, or what may not happen as a result of our choices. So we argue for our limitations, the ability to not make a certain decision, to go through life thinking we avoided the need to make a choice. -A choice between two things equally good, or perhaps between something new/different with something comforting/familiar.

And, hence, we have limited ourselves and our lives, and even the life of another in some cases. We may feel we have avoided making a major decision, when in fact we have made a choice to not experience what could be the beauty and essence and purpose of our life. It’s quite a gamble, with extremely high stakes. Sometimes, we may never know what we missed out on, in forming our limitations. Other times, we say yes and move towards our lives, yet slowly build our argument, we don’t see that life experience through entirely, we cut it off wondering or even knowing what possibilities exist, yet allow the fear to creep through and argue the limitation for us. Keeping us safe from what we perceive as harmful, or preventing us from moving away from what we perceive as safe, though it may not the best life for us. And in the end, when all is said and done, we’ve just limited our life, our happiness, our growth and our potential. -All for something that does not exist.

Fight your fears; take them on. And as far as limitations, wouldn’t it be wiser to refrain from arguing for your limitations, than to build only to conquer?

I’m not sure what is more saddening, knowing what you’ve missed out on in your life, or having no idea what greatness has passed you by. Had I not gone to Zambia I would have missed out on a tremendous number of experiences, opportunities for growth, and an introduction to my future self, one with a broader perspective and foundation from which to build the remainder of my life. Had I stayed in Phoenix, would I be clueless to the existence that faces me in the mirror?

Ultimately the choice was mine to make, to go to Zambia. Cyndi provided the opportunity; Stefan provided the funding, yet it was up to me to say yes, to step on the plane and wave goodbye to an old self, not a bad self, but a confined one.

Own your life.
God gave it to you, to make choices, to create your own happiness, to conquer your own fears, not to argue for your limitations, but to argue for your place in this world, wherever you choose it to be.

2007 is the Year of the Boar in Chinese astrology. The Year of Abundance! The Boar happens to be my Chinese astrological sign. I won’t say my expectations of the cosmos are high for this coming year, but my hopes certainly are, not just for me, but for all those I love in my life.

The notion is that each New Year brings with it the hope of a better life. Whether it is financial prosperity, improved relationships, good health or increased self-knowledge, a new year is a new beginning. Yet, I also choose to acknowledge that each day brings with it the same opportunity; the potential for a similar hope. Today, in the new year, in the coming years I will not only take with me the words of Richard Bach, but the valuable words of an unknown author, that, “Each day is an opportunity to write your own happy ending.”

This year, I choose possibilities over limitations, opportunities over boundaries, and my life over my fears.

In 2007, I hope you…

Find balance, Argue against limitations, Avoid your fears of the non-existent, Own your life, and Write an abundance of happy endings

Happy New Year and God Bless!

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

November 15, 2006


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 08, 2006

Hailed Destiny

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

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

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.

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

October 02, 2006

Back to the Start…

BY M.K. "MARIA" RACINE, PHOENIX, AZ - I believe that things come full circle; now that the Sundance rough cut deadlines have passed, I am posting a blog entry that I had intended to make at the very beginning of this Zambian experience. My fiancé, Stefan, is the primary reason I became a member of the Film Zambia crew and I cannot end this Film Zambia experience without thanking him, without letting everyone know why, how, when this all took place for me. I'd like to go back to the beginning, to express the thoughts that have been with me all this time, as I begin to close out my experience in Zambia. This photo is the last one on my memory card, from our trip to Africa. Stefan took it as we left Sky Harbor, the night we returned from Zambia, the night he took me back home... SkyHarborpost.jpg

Look at the stars
see how they shine for you
and all the things you do
and they were all yellow...

By Coldplay

At times, during the night, we would be traveling on the bus to somewhere in Zambia. I would look out the window and up at the stars. A pleasant thought would come to mind, that Stefan would be looking up at the same starlit sky. (Though 9 hours later.) It always gave me comfort, as I would recall the lyrics to the song Yellow each time. Yellow, our song, and also Stefan's favorite color. I felt these stolen moments were my way of communicating with him and though these moments were brief, they meant a great deal to me. Unfortunately, I overheard Cyndi, one night, remind crew members that we were in a different hemisphere, hence under a different starlit sky than our loved ones back home.

Regardless, I continued to feel my connection with Stefan as I looked to the brilliance above, during those dark rides through Zambia.

If it weren't for Stefan, I would not have made it to Zambia. He and I were in Germany for five weeks in the early part of the summer, a time period that paralleled the original filming schedule. Once we had returned, the film budget was no longer able to support airfare for crew members. Those that still wanted to go needed to consider self-funding their trip.

One evening, while Stefan and I were having dinner, he looked at me and said, "if money is the only reason you do not go to Zambia, then it is the wrong reason."

Stefan funded my experience in Zambia. Though he did not have the money to spare, though it would take me miles from our life in Phoenix, he could see what the trip would give me in return...he saw the opportunity that I could not. He looked beyond the pragmatic and saw the adventure, the fulfillment, the life changing experience I was so primed for, one that awaited me in Zambia.

Right before I left for Africa, I sent out an e-mail to family and friends, thanking Stefan for loving me so much as to make this experience a reality for me. I had intended to blog such a sentiment, upon arriving in Zambia, however, by the time Internet access was available to us, we had Film Zambia experiences that needed to blogged. I never posted my public thank you…until now.

Stefan, you have given me more than I could have ever asked for, now and over the past several years. Stefan1.jpgYou continue to support and love me unconditionally, without limitation, without reservation. Thank you for your sacrifices, your selflessness and for your love. Thank you for knowing what's best for me and letting me go, without letting go. I appreciate you more than I can convey, and love you more than you could ever feel.

Stefan, look at the stars
know that they shine for you
one for each selfless thing you do
and yes, they are all yellow.

Danke schune

September 21, 2006

Blah Blah Blog....

BY M.K. "GYPSY PUNK" RACINE, TEMPE, AZ - MK.jpg Very recently, this is all we’ve heard from Cyndi, in person, through e-mail…”you all need to blog!” I agree with her, we all need to blog a little more. But my last was pretty draining, so I have been avoiding the “pen” as long as possible. Post-production has been a little demanding, in a different way than production was. However, I fully expect to reap the benefits of learning and growth, as I did while in Zambia.

Post-production for the documentary is slow, tedious and timely. With over 80 hours of footage and only three weeks for completion, from the time we arrived home to the Sundance deadline, the task was overwhelming from the beginning. Just how I like it. It’s been great to be around the crew again, to work as a team, but even the team as a whole has diminished some and our task force has lessened a bit. Some of the crew has returned to school full time, others to work. As far as our families, we might as well be back in Zambia, as I see mine very little.

I’m am intrigued by the editing process; I got a taste of it this summer, while working with Cyndi, Robby and Heath, on the China – International Video. But we are not even at that point yet. Still logging and capturing…. I am pleased that we have such a great amount of footage. Better too much than too little. Before we left Phoenix, we had decided on a certain path for the documentary. However, once we arrived in Zambia, Cyndi told us to just let it unfold. It will come out and we’ll go from there. Interestingly enough, a few documentaries have unfolded before us. It has been established, which one will be sent to Sundance. We have one for MCC, and another…what we’ll do with it when completed, I don’t know.

I shared my thoughts about yet another documentary, one that follows the members of the crew over the course of this next year. Its purpose would be to better illustrate the remarkable change this experience propelled in our lives. How it has changed us as individuals…living dreams, finding something inside we didn’t know existed…and how it has changed the course of our lives as a whole. Some of us have been fighting the change since our return, while others are letting it happen and a few are pushing hard towards it. There were a few times, while at home, I felt a doc camera should be there to capture the struggles that have arisen for me, as I tried to assimilate back into the life I had left so briefly. But when you have changed, even a little, you can’t go back to what was, not easily, and not honestly. To do so would be to cheat yourself of the destiny that has fallen upon you - this moment in your life. And also cheat those close to you, from knowing the person you have become.

I’m not sure why I experienced so much change in such little time. Perhaps because I have said no to so many things to this point, that this one yes let in the power of past experiences I missed out on. Who knows? I’m just thinking, just looking for answers...trying to piece things together. I don’t think it will be as easy as putting the documentaries together. If that is the case, I’ll accept that as what was meant to be.

Before I left for Zambia, I thought I had created the path my life was to take. But now, there are questions. As with the documentary, I know the answers will come; it will all unfold before me, and I’ll just go from there.

September 08, 2006

Production Crew Slideshow


Slideshow Large

Slideshow Small

September 03, 2006

Letting Go...

LG 1.jpg BY M.K. "GYPSY PUNK" RACINE LUSAKA, ZAMBIA, AFRICA - When you come to a place like this, with the purpose we had, you know you'll have the opportunity for growth, professionally. Very likely you'll experience something similar on a personal level as well.

What I didn't expect, what I didn't know in the very beginning, is that I had arrived here incomplete as a person. I only know that now because I feel I'm leaving with my life so much more enriched, in ways I had never imagined or expected - certainly in ways I didn't plan.

We had so many struggles in making these films, both indiviually and collectively. There was a feeling that we were isolated in a number of ways. Not merely isolated from home and loved ones, but from the outside world in general, isolated by the culture here, and for our mentality and our values. As a group, a crew, our family was on its own here. But this is when you realize the power and force of family. We never faltered as a crew; that wasn't an option.

To be honest - I don't want to leave. I don't want this feeling to end, because right now, today, our last day in Zambia - I know we've accomplished something. We achieved the goal we had when we arrived; the goal that led us here. And looking back to how we accomplished our goal, piece by piece, person by person, I know these are the people and the experiences that have made my life much more complete. The've changed my outlook with regard to my own life, my goals, my personal growth.

I feel blessed for being witness to the growth of each person on our crew. And it hurst a little to know we won't be there for one another in the same way we were here. But they should each know that I'll always love them, I'll always support them, and of course, I'll never forget them.

I came together with these people to make a film, but the underlying factor is that we were brought together to enliven and make more complete one another's lives. We each did that for one another in our own way, and what I've taken from them, what they've chosen to give me, is something I would never have found on my own.

We each have our lives back home; we long for our loved ones and the comforts and conveniences that make it home. Yet here, we made a life for ourselves. Some days we had to scratch our way to the top, in order to accomplish the smallest task. At times, for all we got done, we still didn't accomplish a thing. But we kept pushing and we made our life here successful. Now, to be pulled away from this life, a life we all worked together to create, a life that relies so heavily on one another - it's a little sad. I have nothing but positive feelings regarding our film family, and I can't wait to see my family back home, but I can't help thinking...

We're all living two do you let one go?

LG 2.jpgLG 3.jpgLG 4.jpgLG Shake.jpg LG 5.jpgLG Alec.jpgLG Jared.jpg LG Pam.jpg

August 30, 2006

Staying Grounded

BY M.K. RACINE LIVINGSTONE, ZAMBIA AFRICA - It’s easy to be consumed with the day to day operations of filmmaking; add the elements of cultural diversity, “language barriers,” and a vast disparity in the concept of time, one cannot help but allow a little stress to affect ones physical and mental stamina. Further, such factors enable one to lose sight of established objectives, loosening ones grasp on what needs to be done in order to adapt to the environment; adapt to a degree that offers some semblance of accomplishment. It can be challenging to stay focused and grounded in ones work with so much “static” and unforeseen obstacles, diminishing energy and little to no sleep. To me, being grounded means developing a foundation from which to exist; where going back to the basics takes you along the right path, no matter where it meanders, or why. To be placed in a quasi-polar work environment and culture has challenged my abilities to stay true to myself. To act as I have always chosen to act, to speak and think in a manner that I thought was second nature. It’s easy to be grounded when your foundation has settled on familiar territory. To uproot it and replant it, on foreign soil, does not ensure the same solid ground from which to exist. This experience and opportunity have, overall, been satisfying, but by no means has this been easy.

This weekend, however, marked a pivotal moment in this trip and the project, at least for me. The crew journeyed up to Victoria Falls late Sunday afternoon, arriving at 1:00 am on Monday morning. Though the terrain was rough and our destination uncertain, the trip, the time, and the “anxiety” were all worth it. We stayed at the Taipa Falcon Lodge, overlooking rapids 16 and 17 on the Zambezi River. The view, the air, and the aura provided me with calming, majestic and overwhelming beauty. For the first time in this trip I felt I was being swallowed by the vastness of Zambia, and inspired by its natural and antiquated beauty.

To this point, Lusaka offered me adequate insight into city life here in Zambia, but Livingstone, Victoria Falls, showed me Africa.

Sharing this enlightening experience with other crewmembers really brought me back to who I am, why I came, and how I choose to leave this country. Perhaps it was also the separation from our hectic work schedules, but Victoria Falls allowed me to revisit the aspects of what make me feel grounded and realize that those elements are within myself and cannot necessarily be pulled from the physical environment in which I find myself at any given time. Sitting over a massive gorge illustrates the fact that, at times, there is no place, no land on which to build your foundation, so it just needs to be carried and accessed from within. How I lost sight of that, I don’t know….
This experience never ceases to amaze me, however, and continuously I’m presented with an opportunity for growth. A major goal for the feature and documentary was to obtain aerial footage of Victoria Falls. In a day, we made the decision and finalized the plans to charter a helicopter to take the crew over the falls and surrounding area. Initially, the cinematographers and still cameramen were to be the only crewmembers to take flight. However, we were able arrange three flights within our allotted time, enough for each member of the crew to get an aerial peak of Victoria Falls.

Personally, I am a little scared of heights and would have been fine with staying grounded. Yet, at the last minute, while Mike and Carlos were being given instructions for an “open door” flight, Cyndi hollered, “Go!” and gently lead me towards the helipad. I really did not have a chance to process her choice and its impact on me, but jumped into the back next to Shawn. Carlos and Mike were seated next to the open door, being given the opportunity to get the best shot. As soon as I jumped in I was secured in my seat and given my headset. Shawn was next and before I could get my camera out of my bag, we were in flight waving goodbye to the documentary crew below.

Though the footage was amazing and will take the feature to a new level what affected me most was watching Carlos, Mike, and Shawn behind their respective cameras. They’ve all worked so hard thus far, and though the purpose of the flight was to enhance our work, I could see the excitement they each had in this opportunity to improve the film and enhance their filmmaking experience. I think we all have those once in a lifetime opportunities to take advantage of something spectacular in our lives. Some jump at the chance, others let them pass, while another group is somehow dragged in with uncertainty, yet leaves unable to imagine how life could have unfolded any differently.

“Staying grounded” wasn’t an option for me yesterday, and with this flight behind me, the likelihood that I will be dragged in with uncertainty the next time is minimal, by all means I will choose to take flight.

August 22, 2006

Home Sweet “Home”

lodgeCrew.jpgBY M.K. RACINE – LUSAKA, ZAMBIA AFRICA – Today we shot at Kwazulu Kraal Resort, the lodge at which we’ve made our “home” the past two weeks; where we will reside until our departure from Zambia. Shooting at Kwazulu Kraal means reliable power, quick set changes and no stair climbing. Our rooms were used as sets, and our personal belongings as props.

Though we’ve been provided great locations to film thus far, working from “ home” has been extremely efficient, contributing to a less hectic work day and more streamlined operations. Daudi, the lodge chef, has also benefited from such a work location. There was no need for him to box our lunches or arrange lunch pick-up and drop-off. On site craft services allowed him to step from the kitchen, into the courtyard and place lunch on our table, as he would for a family dinner. 

Another significant benefit of shooting from “home” was that our cast knew the location of our lodge, which eased their travel and work day as well. For a couple of scenes we were able to go into the community and invite local villagers to join the cast as extras. Jeniece made up more people today than any other day, so far, and in a very short period of time. It’s great to move production along quickly and be happy with the work, the cast and the venues. We look forward to continuous success with this project, up until our departure from our second “home” to our own home sweet homes.

August 01, 2006

Film Zambia Crew


(Click to view larger image)

July 24, 2006


Zambezi.jpg.jpg BY M.K. RACINE, CHANDLER, AZ - It’s not “hard” to jump back into things after a five week long hiatus, especially when everyone continues to move eagerly forward! However, it’s not easy either. I returned from Germany on a Friday, discussed “where we’re at” with Cyndi and Jabbes on Saturday, joined the crew for a meeting on Monday, and laid sick in bed for over a week, since Monday night. Yeah. It hasn’t been easy.

The easy part was meeting with Cyndi and Jabbes, as well as reading the completed script with the crew on Monday. To be back where the energy and excitement is…well, it was exhilirating! I wanted to give everyone a big hug and just sit and catch up – but there was work to do.

Even that had to wait, however. For a week I lay in bed, wondering, "what else am I missing;" it was agony. Time is closing in, as far as the budget, organizing equipment, funds, etc. I keep telling myself, however, once everyone leaves for Zambia - those efforts will not cease. Hopefully, we will be able to continue to generate funds. I’m sure we will continue to generate interest. Though time is short to fund the trip for all students, we will work towards increasing awareness and donations for the film, our project, and the long-term educational exchange, among other goals. In no way are we near the end, and that’s very exciting.

In the grand scheme of things, five weeks, well six, won’t be too much of a loss in time for me. In its entirety, for Jabbes and Cyndi in particular, this film will be a year-long adventure. It’s come so far and I cannot wait to look back six months from now, and consider all the progress we’ve made to that point. But enough dreaming, it’s time to work; time to get out of bed, box of tissues in hand, and get to work!

July 02, 2006


Koln.JPGBY M.K. RACINE, KOLN, GERMANY - One can hardly be prepared to learn of the sudden loss of a loved one.

It is hard for a friend to watch one suffer when dealing with such emptiness. For me, I am not sure what is most difficult, being there - feeling there is nothing I can do to truly comfort my friend, or being thousands of miles away, while others do the comforting, and I remain absent.

I was so saddened and shocked to read of the passing of Kondwani, while viewing the website, weeks after his death. Jabbes continues to be the brave, strong individual I’ve always known him to be. To read the thoughts and words of various members of the crew, allows me to grieve with them, but to also feel for them. Members of the crew care for Jabbes, greatly. He is respected and well liked. When such a friend suffers, one cannot help but suffer and ache too. Though I feel limited in what I can offer, from this distance, prayer empowers me to be with each of them.

When I think about Jabbes and such loss, I also think there must be a gain. I now envision two angels by his side. Two brothers meant to be together, meant to be with their father in this way, so no amount of distance can ever separate them. This is a gift not all experience, a gift not all seek to find. I pray this gift offers Jabbes comfort and provides his sons with peace.

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 06, 2006

Separation Anxiety?


I am leaving the country tomorrow, though not for Zambia.
I will spend the next several weeks traveling Europe. I eagerly anticipate all the new experiences I will have, yet already long for the two things I will miss most while gone. My puppy, Kota, will stay with family for the duration of my travels. I really don't know how I can turn in for the evening without a big wet kiss from my little guy (103 pounds little), or how I will swim laps without my little "puppa" Kota. The other difficult separation will be my "hiatus" from the Zambian film project. I have briefly left Mesa Community College, Cyndi, Jabbes and the rest of the crew. Although I am thrilled to spend this time abroad, I leave behind, with some sadness, my "film family" and an active role in the project.

My current travels have been planned for over a year. Well before I met Cyndi, long before I met Jabbes. I was disappointed to learn my trip would coincide with the one to Zambia. At first, I committed myself to working solely from Mesa, the hub if you will, of information exchange about the project, upon my return. I had planned to update the electronic press kits and other resources, as progress was made in and communicated from Zambia.

After a brief conversation with Cyndi a few weeks ago, I opened myself to the idea that I would travel to Zambia upon the completion of my personal trip, in time for fliming in the bush, and the training of local Zambians in the area of film. Every oppportunity available to me, to contribute to the project and the people of Zambia, is an opportunity for which I am truly thankful and eager to make possible. Whether I stay or go, my plans are to be involved in the Zambian flim project through its completion and I anticipate, well after its end, the lingering feeling of accomplishment and gratitude as a result.

I spoke to Jabbes the day before I left. We conversed on the phone for about an hour. I did not want to get off the phone. I knew it would be the last conversation for several weeks, and thus the beginning of my "absence" from the project, in a functional capacity. I have watched the blogs and biographies, each day, since my first away. I want to stay in the loop, to remain visible, supportive, and encouraging. I have already received and replied to an e-mail from Cyndi, read about the "good fortune" of Lindsey and the puzzle pieces Jeniece identified. The puzzle pieces we are collaboratively working to put in place. I miss the involvement, the planning and the excitement. I miss the faces, the friendships, and the focus we have as one, a single group, with a common goal - well, many common goals.

I know my role is small, but it's so meaningful to me, on a multitude of levels. To step away, for even the briefest period of time, leaves me feeling a little empty. This shift in my role, coupled with the distance between me and my film family, has further developed my appreciation for this project and the work and dedication involved. I am leaving a little less whole, but all the more committed, all the more determined to see this project succeed, to witness growth for Jabbes, the students and faculty of MCC, and the country of Zambia. I leave, only to come back a couple weeks deep into filming, a couple weeks further from the beginning, and a couple weeks closer to our dream.

May 22, 2006

M.K. Racine: Marketing & Distribution


In a lifetime, there are only a handful of opportunities to be part of something amazing.

A handful... if any.

One should not let these limited opportunities pass without first considering the impact it may have on his or her life, their community, and the global family. At some point we must choose to give back, or at the very least become a facilitator of growth for others and further, empower and enable them to flourish on their own.

I have the opportunity to facilitate the growth of a nation, to assist in delivering the message of a country, and expose the face of a people.

I met Jabbes Mvula at Mesa Community College, through a mutual instructor, Cyndi Greening. I viewed his digital story, MY JOURNEY FROM ZAMBIA TO ARIZONA AND BACK AGAIN. This reinforced my belief in that it takes just one person: one person to propel change, one person to motivate many.

Jabbes’ motivation is his son, a cherished memory that will forever live. In learning his story, Cyndi developed a relationship with Jabbes, a relationship that has extended to a group of talented Media Arts students at Mesa Community College. This convergence of a group of people, from different walks of life, to share, to create, and to inspire, is an opportunity I cannot let pass. I choose to be a part of something amazing. Though a small part, it is one that will influence the industry of film, embrace the spirit of nations, fulfill the dreams of one man and alter the lives of us all.

With a formal education and professional experience in marketing, along with training in graphic design I look forward to contributing to the film BAD TIMING and documentary THE VOICE OF AN AFRICAN NATION in both a creative and operational capacity. I look forward to daily interaction in a team that has taught me so much already. Not just about filmmaking, but also about the opportunities that life presents us with. The opportunities that materialize when we choose to be open to ideas and when we choose to be open to others.