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March 15, 2008

All About Timing

BY PAMELA JO BOWMAN, MESA, ARIZONA — I have tried, unsuccessfully, to get the feature film’s name, BAD TIMING changed to something else … anything else. I have been overruled. From the very beginning of pre-production, this film has lived up to its name. There should be a documentary about how much bad timing we endured, oh wait there is!

We officially sent off the application for a MAJOR film festival this week. We both sat down and answered the questions. There was a heated discussion on the film synopsis, another heated discussion about how many actors to list, even a heated discussion on how to ship it overseas. However, the MOST a heated discussion about the title!

hungryHippo.jpgIt feels wonderful to send this movie to Cannes for consideration. We are really pleased with how it turned out. We are happy with the performances of the cast and the excellent work of the crew. We are proud to have produced the first full-length, dramatic narrative feature film based on an award-winning stage play by a Zambian, directed by a Zambian and acted by an all-Zambian cast. It turned out amazingly well for a first production. The passion and commitment of everyone involved is evident in the quality of the final film. I believe it reflects their culture and they will be excited to see it. We know there are 11 million people who will want to see this film! It is THEIR story, their voice, their culture. That is pretty amazing.

So now if I could just get that name changed! Would love some persuasive assistance on this one and perhaps a suggestion or two. I’m all about recognizing the problem, but more committed to solving it. New name, how about HEART OF AFRICA? I like it, but it has been vetoed by the powers that be. Oh, I see it now. Here comes another heated discussion!

September 28, 2007

HALLELUJAH

babyElephant.jpg

BY PAMELA JO BOWMAN - MESA ARIZONA — We spent most of the summer preparing for a legal hearing. To pacify my mind, I began working on a production reel to remind myself why we chose to do all we did for the Zambia project. The following is still a work in progress. It continues to be a driving force as we try to produce a work of art for others and ourselves.

The Zambian project was, for me, one of the most life altering experiences I have ever encountered. I believe the crew members were motivated by much, much more than what they might benefit personally. We worked together and accomplished more than if we had worked alone. That in itself was a life lesson. I hope you can hear the voices of the many people who made this project what it was in "Hallelujah".

August 08, 2007

Genocide or Suicide

BY PAMELA JO BOWMAN, MESA ARIZONA - One of our goals with the Zambia project was to create the possibility of the film industry in Zambia. Upon our return those in the “business” remarked to us how ambitious our goal really was. Of course, in retrospect, our naivete allowed us to believe in our goal and us.

chop.jpgWe have been back for over a year. Since then three more films have been made in Zambia. People write to us asking for our advice for future projects. Others have asked us to sign on as producers for their African projects. So we continue to have a personal and professional interest in the region.

Those who follow global news are well aware of the continued upheaval in the African Nations. It is my opinion that many are using the differences that exist within Africa to divide and conquer. They continue to be successful as more refugees flee to “safe” country's or die at the hands of their fellow countrymen. As refugees flood the economy of these countries it creates more tension and more division. shake.jpgEventually “safe” countries start to drown as more people saturate the countries ability to sustain themselves and the process repeats itself.

Our goal was to unify, educate and promote business within Africa by Africans. We met many who were willing, able and anxious for any opportunity. My advice to the friends I made there is to be careful with who you shake hands. Realize that many who are investing in your country are not investing in your people.

June 20, 2007

FUNDING IS NIT FUN

BY PAMELA JO BOWMAN, ARIZONA, USA — There are many lessons I have learned and some I continue to learn from my experience working on the FilmZambia project. The number one lesson? Always use Other People's Money (OPM), preferably a studio's money or a distributor's money. What I am still trying to learn is how to get that money.

Of course there are a few exceptions that encourage filmmakers to believe they will be a member of a rare and elite club. The successful self-financed film members include Morgan Spurlock (SUPERSIZE ME), Kevin Smith (CLERKS), cyndiStripes.jpg and Robert Townsend (HOLLYWOOD SHUFFLE). These exceptions tease and titillate filmmakers. The truth is, is every filmmaker believes in "his or her story."

Their story, their cinematography, their editing, their actors. They believe every element will help produce a successful piece of art. With that belief, they are bound and determined to get the money from whomever they talk to including their families, their friends and even ... themselves! There are THOUSANDS of filmmakers who follow that film-financing path into a very dark tunnel. If a distributor or producer gets behind your film, chances are that they see an opportunity for financial success. The problem? First-time filmmakers can be quite naive. They are in it for the art. Yes, they want to make their movie, and they want to earn enough money to buy ... more equipment to make another movie. Eventually they begin to understand that there is a business involved in the art of filmmaking and everyone has to eat food, sleep in a safe place, and buy and use TIDE.

It is hard to accept the experience and decision of the money people when they say "no" to your brilliant story. In our case, it was even more difficult. We were students. It's impossible to get distributors to fund educational projects ahead of time. They want to see the finished product to know if the story hangs together because, well, let's be honest, it's students learning by doing. They're cautious about giving money to that sort of thing. Especially if it is the very first of "that sort of thing."

So, how did Cyndi end up in the rabbit hole that she did? Did she not preach and teach all of her students to avoid this very hole? This is what she said, "Surely I know the rule about OPM. If there's anyone who knows this rule, it is me. When I told my filmmaking nephew that I was well over $80,000 on these two films and was probably going to go over $100,000 by the time they were done, I thought he was going to have a stroke. 'Are you out of your mind?' Jason gasped. 'You used your money? Is that why you sold your house?' he asked." Didn't really answer the question did it? To be honest, it was a bit complicated. Hey Cyn! This would make a great movie!

Well, there's nothing like being called on the carpet by someone half your age. And, if Cyndi wasn't feeling embarrassed before Jason started lecturing her, she surely got there after I put together this little piece.

Cyndi's Houses (quicktime)
Cyndi's Houses (swf)

Don't shoot the messenger! She sat and watched this and started to laugh. She actually has gotten to the point of being amused by her exuberance for the film. I mean to shout, "What are her alternatives?!!" Believe me she has shed plenty of tears. She cries like a giraffe. There is no sound! How very odd. In the middle of the day, I will turn to her work station and find tears rolling down those cheeks! Her motto now is, "If you decide it's a good idea to go to Africa to make two films (and encourage 18 faculty and students to come with you for the learning experience of a lifetime), make sure the OPM you get is waaaaay more than a small educational grant that only covers the flight for about a third of the crew. Unless you don't care if anyone ever actually sees the films that you made.."

If there is anyone who wants to invest in two middle-aged women with bright ideas, tons of ambition and enough energy to get the job done, well get in line or get out of our way. We are comin' through. Thought I might try a unique approach to funding. Is it working for you?

May 18, 2007

Character Development

BY PAMELA BOWMAN, MESA, USA – We have distracted ourselves lately by writing. That is really what we want to do, write. So today we took a field trip to Sacaton. We visited with people who live on the reservation. We asked them questions about their lives and their perspective on reservation life. We visited the library. We read histories and legend books and scientific research on land development and water resources.

It was an interesting day as we were able to discuss one of the many stories we are working on. We discussed the characters in our story. Learning about reservation life in 2007 is completely different than what I imagined it would be. PapagoWoman.jpgMy frame of reference has been movies like DANCES WITH WOLVES and THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS. As a child I loved watching John Wayne movies on Dialing for Dollars. I have always loved the "Cowboy and Indian" movies. Today's excursion made me realize how those movies tried to capture many cultures and traditions that in most cases don't even exist anymore and probably never existed then. My romantic notions of Indian life has been altered to reflect the reality of reservation life. They are not the mysterious strong independent people I had imagined. No, it is worse, they are human just like me. They have problems and issues and concerns, just like us.

We appreciated the candor and the honesty of which they spoke to us. Montana Sunrising enlightened us on many aspects of Indian life here and in more obscure locations. The librarians were helpful in locating books of our subject matter. Our minds are working and we are anxious to finish our first screen play. We are also anxious to finish the other 20 stories on our slate.

We returned and shared our experience with our friends and my family. Distractions. Sometimes they benefit us when the alternative is immobility. Sometimes distractions enable us to see more clearly what needs to be done, how to do and then gathering the strength to do it. We are clear. We are ready. Our best work is yet to come as we document our experiences and write our stories. The ones who continue to benefit the most, of course, is us.

May 07, 2007

Enlightened Art in the Dark

BY PAMELA BOWMAN, MANHATTAN, USA – She went into teacher mode before we even arrived at the museum. I had to tease her and asked if there would be a quiz at the end of the field trip! She wasn’t sure if I was serious until she saw me trying to hide my smile.cgpjMet.jpg “My apologies. It’s just that I want to suggest how you might want to look at the work as we … blah, blah, blah.” How she rambles!

To sustain ourselves, we bought an ice cream before we entered the museum. Good thing, because I needed that Ben and Jerry! That museum is HUGE!!

We began in the Renaissance area. Now, in all fairness I have taken art history classes. Cyndi calls them “Art in the Dark.” I called it almost flunking my first college course in my senior year! So I am wandering around looking at the artwork that I had studied and I immediately realized that it would have been much more impactful, memorable and understandable for me to have visited the Met for my class. I would have been able to see how artists, their skills and styles evolved through the centuries. It was enlightening to see how (and when) artists discovered how to represent perspective, human form, texture, light and atmosphere.

Sometimes, in seeing the work of these great artists I realized many of their pieces were just practice works or efforts at honing their craft. Each time we entered a new room, I noticed that I would be immediately drawn to a painting or sculpture or mural because I could “read” the story in the eyes of the subject. hokusai.jpgThe posture of the body, the placement of hand or the attire of the subject would make me see what the artist was trying to evoke. It was amazing and inspiring.

Having my own personal tour guide did not hurt, except my feet! We ended in the Asian wing. I have always loved Japanese art. I am drawn to its simplicity and its complexity. It was a very peaceful and joyous way to end my tour.

And yes there was a full blown verbal test that afternoon. As we walked down Central Park East and through the streets of New York, we discussed artists, movements, color and light. The discussion continues as we apply the work and knowledge of those artists to our current film project. Ever notice how sfumato and chiaroscuro in film is as powerful as it is in painting? Now, how …

Lao Tzu

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength;
loving someone deeply gives you courage.

Where the Girls Aren't

BY PAMELA BOWMAN, MANHATTAN, USA – I walked through the halls of the Metropolitan Museum of Art experiencing the work of great artists through the ages. It was an overwhelming experience. On each wall, in each crevice and around every corner was a record in some form of our history. I kept searching because I felt it was not complete. It was not whole. Finally I couldn't stand it any longer.

“Cyndi, where is the artwork of the women? Where can I see paintings by women?” My question did not surprise her, but she did take a moment to answer. “There were very few women artists during the Renaissance period. It was not thought that women could be great artists. They were expected to stay home and tend to the children and take care of the house.”

“But wait, I have seen movies where women are tutored in art ... like Sense and Sensibility."

“Tutored as a school exercise yes, but not seriously taught as a career. Men could take the time to develop their skills, women did not have the luxury of time.”

She was trying to diplomatic. I was appalled.

“How can human history be really accurate without the perspective of women? You have got to be kidding me? There were no women artists? What if they wanted to pursue art? Would they be allowed to?” Later research revealed that there were a few women painters of the Renaissance but most of them were taught by famous fathers and created only miniatures. It didn't appear that any women were making their living creating art. Surely there must have been women who wanted to create art as a way of living. The only famous woman artist she could come up with was Artemisia Gentileschi.

Cyndi brought me to a room where there were sculptures by Auguste Rodin and his confidante and lover, Camille Claudel. camilleclaudel.jpgAs a young woman, she studied at the Académie Colarossi with sculptor Alfred Boucher. At the time, the École des Beaux-Arts barred women from enrolling to study. A gifted sculptor and graphic artist, she caught Rodin's eye in 1883. An idea of how women artists were received? The famous art critic Octave Mirbeau wrote that Claudel was "A revolt against nature: a woman genius."

My heart was heavy as room after room showed the meticulous work of male artists. It seemed that so many of the pieces lacked warmth. The level of skill was exquisite but there was a dimension that was often absent. Perhaps it was the lack of feminine interpretation of life. How much richer our history might be if we all are encouraged to participate equally.

My first thought was, "Good thing I live in the world today." But then we started the discussion of today. Is it much different? We find more women artists in the world of art than at any other time. But, how many is that, really? In my medium of film, how many women are represented? How many women directors do we have? Producers? Cinematographers? How are they received? The small numbers reflect the truth.

This is NOT a discussion of division but of inclusion. What would be possible if we all were included. I would NOT want people to look at my work simply because I am a woman any more than I would want to have my work NOT taken seriously because I am a woman.

The difficulty is that in the past many women behaved more masculine in order to pursue their dreams. While women entered the art (and other) arenas, the feminine was still missing. Everyone has something to offer this world. It seems that we should embrace our differences and relish in the three-dimensional realm of possibility when all are represented. I believe that I have something to offer and each of you do as well. It is the contribution of all of the points of view that is important.

Today we have the choice to support and nurture each other. It is my hope that one day, my grandchildren will be walking those same halls of that same museum but it will be different as the scope of art becomes wider and deeper. The artwork of today will reflect a fuller spectrum because we're all represented. The picture it provides will be more complete. Wholly representative of the human experience.

May 01, 2007

TOWARDS DARKNESS Shines at Tribeca

BY PAMELA BOWMAN, MANHATTAN, USA – Yesterday we went to the press conference for TOWARDS DARKNESS. Written and directed by Antonio Negret, it is the story about a disastrous Columbian kidnapping. While there have been several films about the rampant kidnappings in Latin America, this film is unique because Negret’s family has experienced the phenomenon firsthand. Rather than being an action film about the event, it is an exploration of the desperation faced by the family and the victim. Because of the strength of the script and, undoubtedly, the connections of Producer America Ferrera, Negret was able to get many talented actors to participate. tonyplana.jpgAmong them, the incendiary William Atherton (of DIE HARD fame), delicious David Sutcliffe (from HAPPY ENDINGS) and Tony Plana (as the earnest Della Serra in AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN, officer Ray in LONE STAR and Martinez in PRIMAL FEAR).

Plana was eloquent and erudite during the conference. He's the first actor I've known to make an argument FOR politics ... politics of the people, of course. “If there is no political solution, the citizens are left in an existential hell. There is no future for the people," said Plana, "And everybody is forced to sacrifice integrity for survival. They must destroy their enemies or be destroyed.” Plana voiced what Negret’s film reveals about the personal consequence of political impotence and antipathy.

In the film, while Jose, the victim, is physically bound, his mind is still free and he spends moments pondering his past while those who are physically free spend their moments paralyzed with fear and desperation. Negret said that he edited the film to show this contradiction. As more of the past is revealed, there is less and less time to handle the problem in the present so the cutting style is very aggressive. This viewer perceives the passage of time not as an opportunity for greater understanding but fewer choices. The film is worth seeing just for the editing.

alejandra.jpgOne of our most exciting discoveries at Tribeca is Colombian actress Alejandra Borrero. Borrero was luminous as the mother of Jose and wife of Tony. She plays the mother with both tenderness and fierceness, a mixture that Borrero feels is typically Colombian. “What I loved about the part of Jose’s mother is that it shows Columbian women being strong. They never know if their husbands will come home again. They never know if they will see their children again. Columbian women are always prepared for independence.” Alejandra admitted to succumbing to the fear and reality of living in Columbia. “I left and lived in a different country for a few years. I discovered I wasn’t happy. I missed my home. I am now living in Columbia. I do not want to live my life like that. I choose not to live my life like that. My country is really a beautiful place with kind people.”

The audience faces the reality of this situation in a shocking conclusion and discovers that we all have to choose every day to be strong and live and love like there is no tomorrow. Catch the film!

April 30, 2007

Blessing in Disguise

BY PAMELA JO BOWMAN, MANHATTAN, USA – I woke up today and, like all days, checked my email. Being a member of the press covering the festival at Tribeca I receive numerous emails every day. Today was no exception. As a member of the press, my job is to attend the press conferences, the press screenings and the general audience screenings. All three have a different feel or nuance.

The press conferences allow the press to ask questions of the writers, actors, producers and directors. It can be a more intimate setting that allows you discuss the motivation of the actors and filmmakers. It can also be far less intimate because, at these conferences, the goal is to sell the film. The passion and commitment to the film can create a stir and, as press, we can influence the ultimate success of a film by the films we choose to cover.

The press screenings allow the press to view a movie without the distraction or influence of the paying audiences. The oddest thing is that press screenings at Tribeca are extremely small. Most are very poorly attended with just a handful of press present. While it encourages objectivity, it doesn't do much to promote enthusiasm because the theater is so "dead." At other festivals, the press screenings tend to be better attended. We have been at Tribeca press screenings with as few as four (4!) members of the press in a theater that holds 400.

The audience screenings are typically packed. You can feel the excitement and anticipation for the film. A lot of this excitement or lack thereof, has been created by what the press has written or not written about the film. The press can and does influence the interest and support of film. So you would think allowing the press to do their job would be a priority. (See Cyndi's post about the value of the press from a distributor's point of view for more on this.)

cgpjrisk.jpgToday our email from Tribeca informed the press of a new procedure to acquire tickets to an audience screening. So far we have been unable to even get into a single general audience screening. The new process is that we need to ask 24 hours prior to a screening for tickets. They let us know in the morning if we will be blessed with tickets. Oh boy. Since there wasn't enough time to request tickets, we decided to play it safe and go to a press screening of a film we'd heard really good things about. (Sundance pal, Levi Elder, told us THE POUGHKEEPSIE TAPES was one of the best films he'd seen.) We can always get into press screenings so we decide "better safe than sorry." At least we could be certain we'd have something to write about.

The screening was set for a new venue, the Clearview Chelsea West. Being a little tight for time, we hailed a cab headed north. We arrived with at least 15 minutes to spare. We were informed, however, for unknown reasons, that the film ad been removed from the list for press. We were curtly informed that it would not screen. Would have been nice to know. Could have saved 10 bucks on the taxi and slept in. But, then, a blessing in disguise, we wanted somewhere to sit so we went to the TOWARDS DARKNESS Press Conference (see blog entry) and talked with some very talented folks. It all turned out in the end.

April 27, 2007

What's the Story?

BY PAMELA JO BOWMAN, MANHATTAN, NEW YORK - Today we took the opportunity to watch three documentary films at a venue for the press. WILL EISNER, PORTRAIT OF A SEQUENTIAL ARTIST; TWO EMBRACES; BETWEEN HEAVEN AND EARTH. We do like documentaries. We recognize how more people are beginning to appreciate them as well. We acknowledge that the public is becoming more sophisticated and more interested in these types of films.

You might wonder how a documentary on a man known for his contribution to the comic book world could reach a sophisticated audience but anyone who has been watching the evolution of the graphic novel craze knows that it does. eisner.jpgPORTRAIT addresses Eisner’s contribution not only to animation but to young animators. Many artists including Neil Gaiman expressed their awe for his talent and their appreciation for enlarging the comic book venue to the adult population with adult topics, concerns and opinions. Eisner’s work was revolutionary. It expanded to more than the typical superhero stories. Comics became political and relevant mainly because of Eisner’s insight and vision. Eisner died in January of 2005 but his work has enabled others to see a different possibilty and experiment with their own vision.

TWO EMBRACES (DOS ABRAZOS) is a movie from Mexico. Since I lived there for 17 years, I am always interested in movies from and about Mexico. This was actually two movies blended together by a shared moment. What I appreciated about these films is the subtle acting that occurred. When you live in Mexico you realize that children are taught to act at festivals and school plays and presentations with theater flair and overly dramatic preformances. Watch a novela and you will know what I mean. In TWO EMBRACES, the actors were subtle and thus more powerful.

As for BETWEEN HEAVEN AND EARTH, we weren’t sure for quite some time if we were watching a feature or a documentary. We weren’t sure if the story was about the circus or the political situation or the social ramifications in Uzbekistan. There were some amazing shots and even some story lines I wish they had developed more, but mostly I wish they had chosen one of the story lines and developed it into a more thoroughly satisfying film.

After today’s viewings, we felt that there are some amazing stories that need to be told. More voices that need to be heard. The ability to create these beautiful shots should enhance the story. Today’s technology should enable the filmmaker to add more depth to their story, but first the story has to be clear and crisp and did I mention clear? We know we can do some amazing things with the software that is available to us. We must not forget that it begins with the story and it should be about the story and it should end with the feeling of experiencing an unforgettable story. That's the story for today's slate of films.

Divine

BY PAMELA JO BOWMAN, TRIBECA, NEW YORK - We walked by a restuarant in Tribeca and I immediately wanted to eat at this restaurant.tribeca-grill.jpg Any eating establishment that has several limos out front and chauffeurs waiting under the awning seems like a safe bet. It took a bit of convincing for me to seriously consider the money side but Cyndi can be convincing about enjoying life in the moment. When will we be in New York again?

So we squared our shoulders and walked in like we owned the place. Turns out Robert DeNiro owns the place! They offered to take our coats and asked if we were listed. We were not of course but they seated us anyway!

We were pleasantly surprised by the prices and delighted with our entre choices. I believe Cyndi used the word divine several times with her Wisconsin accent! Imagine that! After her being a tad grumpy she perked right up after tasting the bread and wild mushroom and fontina ravioli. We really wanted the dessert but there was no way we could eat another bite and then walk, not roll, to the subway.
We will be frequenting the TRIBECA GRILL again before I leave. After all darling, it was divine!

Whining at Tribeca

BY PAMELA JO BOWMAN - MANHATTAN, NEW YORK - Today was a busy day! It was a beautiful rainy New York day. We won’t discuss what happens to my hair on rainy days. Not very relevant. So Cyndi decides to override my cheap ways and hails a cab! To tell you the truth, it would have been faster to walk to the subway. She was mad that I was up and ready to hit the road by 8 a.m. Some people are a tad temperamental in the morning!

So we get to the private screening facility to watch THE DEVIL RODE ON HORSEBACK This is a documentary based on Brian Seidle’s experience in Dafur. Brian was a retired soldier hired as a peace keeping observer (the entity that hired him was never really established). Using his camera, he was able to document the genocide that was occurring there in 2003 - 2005 (and continues to this day). This movie showed Brian witnessing the massacres and also his own self-revulsion at being unable to stop the murders that were occurring right in front of him. He was convinced that his photographs would provoke an immediate response from the world and, in particular, the U.S. government. Although his message is very clear, I felt the film would have been more affective as a narrative feature. I believe more people would have been reached and more would have reacted as Brian naively expected.

I would like to address the whole Tribeca private screening experience. Apparently, in the past at Sundance, the press were allowed to check out movies to take home for private viewing (until last year when someone decided to copy them and distribute covertly). So, they discontinued that option. At Tribeca, they set up a little room with maybe 10 stations for press and industry to view films on a large flat panel display. We all wear earphones. These do enable you to hear your movie but they don't quite mask the sound of everyone walking on the wooden floor above the screening room, people talking outside the screening room and even the noisy reactions of other screeners viewing other movies. The DVD of the movie we watched kept freezing and doing an unpleasant digital dissolution. Very annoying! Someone needs to resolve this issue.

tribecagirl.jpgAfter viewing this movie, we both needed to take a moment and absorb the information and the graphic images of the film. We walked, in the rain, to our next venue, a film workshop. This workshop discussed the different digital cameras and how they all are transferred to film. We were able to view short clips of current films (like CONTROL ROOM and IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS and JESUS CAMP) with details on the cameras and methods used by their filmmakers. We were really able see the benefits and shortcomings of different cameras and formats in the process of converting a film to (literal) film. This made me feel confident and relieved for our feature, which was shot on a Sony HD HVR-Z1U. The documentary, however, was made using four different cameras and four different formats. What a nightmare that puppy will be to blow up! OOOPS.

Afterwards, we went to a few of the press coverage screenings. Nice, but there are no Q&A’s. We hope tomorrow (when we see a movie with a festival audience) that there will be Q&A’s. We really enjoy the insight and understanding the Q&A's provide regarding the filmmakers' process and goals.

April 26, 2007

New York Minutes

BY PAMELA JO BOWMAN, MANHATTAN, USA – On our first taxi ride in New York our cab driver tried to rip us off. I looked at the meter and saw $25.50. I asked if we could swipe our credit card. The swiper was right in front of me! Nope. Cash only. How much? $40.00 dollars. Huh? We let him know we might be from somewhere else, but we aren’t dolts! That same day another taxi driver took the long way around. It took 20 minutes to go 5 miles! I picked up on their tricks. Tonight we took a taxi. He tried the tricks. He asked if we wanted to go 6th ave or 10th. We told him whatever was fastest. He said you can never tell in New York City. I told him to drop us off right where we were. We were a block from our B&B. That will be $4.30. Now we are talking!

We have experienced some wild animals. They are called rats. So far we have met three. I wanted to take a picture of this rather large rodent, but they scurry around so fast!

wickedpJ.jpgTonight we rode the subway up to Broadway. I am getting really good at swiping my subway card. You would think I was a local. I am amazed at the night life of this town. Everyone is out walking around. Broadway was sooooo cool. We had a Mary Tyler Moment without the hat!

I love this town! I have not experienced the New York attitude except from people who aren’t really from New York! Funny how that is. After our cab situation, I was so disappointed that I put on my tough girl in your face don’t mess with me attitude. One of the reporters I met today asked how long I have lived in New York! Oh about 24 hours!

The subway has been another grand experience. We bought an unlimited 7 day pass. I can ride anywhere for 7 days! I would like to say it was a conscious choice to ride the “6” downtown, but it was an error made by my traveling companion. You should never trust those teacher types! So off we went, climbed up the stairs, crossed the street to get to the other side of the subway, down the stairs and here comes that lovely public transportation. We even heard a guitarist entertain us in the station. How cool is that?

I haven’t even mentioned the food yet. There are these cute little cafes everywhere! So much competition can be a good thing for the customers! We have tried Italian, American. I have been told the Mexican food is something to avoid. How can I live without salsa! Someone help. This is New York City. Get a rope! Tomorrow will be another grand adventure. Wait that would be today! What is the point of sleeping? It really does get in the way! I don’t want to waste my New York minute.

Masseuse Wanted!

PAMELA JO BOWMAN - MANHATTAN NEW YORK - Yep, we are in New York City! Trying to attend the Tribeca Film festival. Today we rode the subway down to Tribeca. We managed to locate the building on Greenwich for our credentials. Then we headed 1/3 mile away to the press lounge. Tribeca.jpg

We found out where we could set up interviews with industry people. We found out about private screenings so back to the Greenwich location to set up some screenings. We found out the movie we signed up to cover tonight was really just the red carpet arrival of “the stars”. We had to stand and wait for any available seats. We had to go to the theater where that screening was being held to buy any available seats for the films being shown within 24 hours. (several miles away, and no shuttles.) We asked about tickets for a screening to be held in 4 days. I think that would be out of the 24 -hour requirement, but no, we still had to go to the theater and wait ‘stand by’. Great fun! We were unable to get in. Back and forth we walked to get information and to find out they could not accommodate us. My feet, I can’t feel my feet! Numb, numb, numb. We have had some New York minutes, but that will be another blog!

We realize that this is our first experience at Tribeca. Our only reference is Sundance and SXSW. Every festival has their own way of producing their festival. What we have discovered is that Tribeca is in Manhattan. What that means is if you want to see any screenings you have to plan very carefully because the location screenings are very far apart. The best choice is to stay in the same location and see whatever they happen to be showing for the day. The private screening idea is pretty cool, but the movies of choice are limited to those that need more media exposure. All in all, it is a little frustrating as far as press goes. pjmap.JPG
So, if all else fails, enjoy the food, learn to ride the subway, take pictures like a tourist and enjoy being in New York City! OK. Left to my own devices, I know how to do that! Tomorrow is another day. Hopefully we will be more successful in covering this event as it progresses! All I have to say, ok…all I have to say right now is... know a good foot masseuse?

April 21, 2007

Africa Captured

BY PAMELA BOWMAN, MESA, USA - We all had preconceived ideas of what Africa would be like. These images reflect moments where we stopped and grasped what was real for each of us.
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Photographs by FilmZambia Unit Photographer Mike Montesa

April 20, 2007

We Did IT

PAMELA JO BOWMAN - MESA, ARIZONA - This last Wednesday, Cyndi and I flew over to LA to talk to two producers. We went looking for direction and information about distribution and marketing. These seasoned producers were very helpful. At the end of the day we were exhausted from the amount of information we obtained and exhilarated in learning that we were doing things right. We are seeing the results through the interest of some serious distributors. We told them whom we had contacted and who had responded and they assured us that any of those companies were reputable and could be trusted to package our projects successfully. happyjabbes.jpgThere were two moments that made me realize the truth of the saying "Ignorance is bliss." In viewing our trailers both producers commented how ambitious it was for our crew to think we could go to another country and start the film industry there. Both producers had to swallow their amusement at our naiveté. Seeing our situation through their eyes made us laugh at ourselves and also smile because we didn’t know what we couldn’t do and so we ended up doing it. It all began with Jabbes. He didn’t know what he was asking for when he approached Cyndi requesting her to help him shoot a movie in Zambia. None of us did, but we did it.

April 19, 2007

In The Dark and In the Light

BY PAMELA JO BOWMAN - MESA ARIZONA - This 52 year old widow graciously allowed our film crew to set up our equipment and shoot a scene in one of the three rooms in her home. Laying in the corner of the room, on a thin mattress, was one of her six children, a son. lady2.jpgHe was a young man, probably in his early twenties. He was so small and thin he seemed more like a child than a man. He was dying. One of the actors told us that at one time he was a vibrant young man, full of life and mischief. I spoke with this woman about her life, her dreams, her hopes. She professed not to have any. I asked her if she was happy. "No, I am not. I have so many problems." She has lived a hard life providing for her family. She lives day to day, but she lives. After the shoot, Cyndi offered her financial compensation for her home, a "location fee." We were told the family could live for a year on that location fee. We also gave her two bags of candy to pass out to the neighborhood children. It was then that we saw a smile beneath her sad eyes. We have been back in the U.S. for many months but this woman's eyes still haunt me in the darkness and in the light.

April 10, 2007

Amazed and Appreciative

PAMELA JO BOWMAN - MESA ARIZONA - I read a story of a teacher who had retired after 30 years of teaching. Years later she received a letter from one of her former students expressing his appreciation for what she had done for him. After all those students and all that teaching she cried to receive this small acknowledgement for her lifelong efforts. One letter from one student after 30 years of teaching!

Working with Cyndi I am constantly amazed at the amount of email she receives everyday. I am even more amazed because a week rarely passes without her hearing from a former student. This last week a student wrote asking her to confirm that she would be teaching a particular class this fall. He doesn’t want to take the class unless Cyndi is teaching it. This kind of acknowledgement is common for Cyndi, but never expected or even shared. She is always delighted to hear from her students. She has a ton of success stories of students that credit their current careers because of the knowledge she imparted to them in her classes.

I have known Cyndi as a teacher for over 5 years now. I realized from my first class that I finally had a teacher whose first goal was to teach each individual in her class. As an older student returning to hone my skills I was terrified. My fear did not dissuade her. Instead she found ways to reach my mind and all the minds in my class. Through the years when I heard of students attending MCC I always recommended her classes. Whenever the MCC class schedule came out I would scour the classes to see which ones she was teaching and I hoped those classes would fit into my busy schedule. Last year I took a Cyndi Greening class with my oldest son. He too came out of every class excited about what he learned and eager to return to learn more. I have a BA in communications. I have taught school myself. I have even been a vice president of a school board. I have never experienced a teacher like Cyndi Greening. Every class we learned more then we ever anticipated and we were taught in ways that enlarged our understanding.

It is the students and by extension the community who have benefited from her dedication to reaching the student. She continues to be committed to each and everyone of her students, prior and current. It is always amazing to see and experience someone who’s first priority is getting the job done well not to impress his or her boss but because that is their job. So I add my letter to her growing and well deserved collection. Thank you Cyndi.

March 27, 2007

Get Out of Bed!

BY PAMELA JO BOWMAN, MESA ARIZONA - We have finalized the documentary trailer. We even sent it to the crew and friends for feedback. So far so good. The suggestions for adjustment have been minor. Now we are completing the feature trailer. We will be sending them to HBO. Yes, we are very excited.

As we work, sometimes…, okay, all of the time, we are engaged in conversation. Today we were talking about how people solve their problems. As you can imagine, filmmaking and film editing is just one problem after another. Cyndi told me about a book she read that said people solve their problems in one of five different ways. I can never remember the five ways of solving problems. So, today we made up a word so I could remember them. The word is … Oh heck, I forgot! (Guess what, that is one way of “solving” your problems. Get confused. Get very confused. If you can’t figure it out and don’t know what to do, you don’t have to fix it!)

HV_smallSlide.jpgThe five ways people “solve” problems …

Get Sick (go all the way to dead)
Get Confused (go all the way to crazy)
Get Angry (go to all the way to murder)
Get Depressed (go all the way to suicide)

The fifth way to solve the problem … Actually solve it. Do what needs to be done to solve it. Why, you might ask (as I did) doesn’t everyone just solve their problems? Because, the book says, people are unwilling to solve their problems if they don’t like the solutions.

She elaborated and said, “Pam, think about it. When people have a problem they either become depressed and won’t get out of bed to fix it, or they get sick and won’t get out of bed to fix it. They get confused and can’t figure out how to get out of bed to fix it. Or they get mad and determined not to get out of bed to fix it. Finally, most people get sick of being in bed and finally figure out they have to get out of bed and fix it.

We laughed. (It is particularly funny because Cyndi spent most of January wallowing in some sad place, frustrated with what to do with the films. A little time and distance from the experience … and watching all of the footage from beginning to end as I had originally suggested … made it possible to attack the problem.)

But then, I said, “What about the people who do the “Yeah, but, I can’t change it. Yeah, but, I can’t fix it because blah, blah, blah What about the “Yeah, buts.”

peopleLie.jpgThat’s his second book, she says, The People of the Lie. People who refuse to change or handle their problems and blame other people for what doesn’t work in their lives. She always has an answer to everything to support her theories. I think producers are like that. Or teachers, maybe. I am going to put on my headphones so I don’t have to listen to her elaborate on this anymore. Or I’ll be having a problem getting my editing done on time!

So what does this have to do with anything? Not a heck of a lot. Except that filmmaking is a big problem solving fest. And there is the issue of friends and people emailing us and asking why we aren’t blogging like we used to, so I am committed to one of us posting once a week. ( Your turn Cyn!)

I also wanted to tell many of you thanks for your friendship and support these last few months. I had a big problem! Sometimes I got depressed about it. I was definitely sick of it! And often confused as to what to do. We won’t discuss the anger issues. Alec still has remnants of my bite marks! Ultimately, we got busy and solved it … and we feel pretty proud of our documentary trailer. The movies are coming along well, too. Funny how that works. If any of you are interested in viewing the documentary trailer, email us and we might just send it to you. If not, well you choose which of the five methods you’ll use to solve that problem.

March 24, 2007

Piece of Work

pic_editing_1.jpgBY PAMELA JO BOWMAN - MESA ARIZONA - We are in the editing process. We spend all day, every day (and some nights and weekends) editing these two films. Everything takes longer than I think it should. I believe it keeps getting stronger each day. We put it to bed at night and in the morning we recognize new ways to go back and tighten it . Sometimes taking a “film break” can be another way to discover answers to film editing situations. This month I spent time watching how other editors edit their films. I “sacrificed” some time and accompanied my husband to 4 movies. One historical drama, one coming of age movie, one love story and one I can’t even remember. I looked it up and it would be better to forget that I spent money on it. Oh the sacrifices we make to hone our craft!

AMAZING GRACE, in my opinion, was worth the time and money. I enjoyed how they sequenced the scenes and the story. The casting was right on. I believed in the characters and so I was drawn into their story. The music, the scenery, the shots, the detail. Truly beautiful. I also enjoyed the history lesson for my daughters.

WILD HOGS on the other hand, well, do we need to even address what, in my opinion, was a story that could have been and should have been a coming of age tale for baby boomers past, present and future? I just don’t think there was strong character development. I wanted to like it. I wanted to like them, but all I saw were the actors trying to act...on motorcycles.

SONG AND LYRICS was just fun. I could discuss character development and lack of romantic connection, but I really wanted to just enjoy a film. It has been such a long time since I just relaxed and enjoyed the fantasy. After experiencing GHOST RIDER, I suppose anything would seem good. After all doesn't everyone need a love autopsy. Doesn't everyone want to find, "A Way Back Into Love!” Oh yea, "Pop, goes my heart!" Sometimes silly can be a fun and life affirming experience. Drew and Hugh ooze with silliness and it is contagious.

As far as GHOST RIDER. Saying nothing is writing too much.

What is true is that before Zambia I would go to movies and I could tell I wasn’t getting into them as much as I used to. After Zambia, my family has become exasperated as I editorialize every movie experience. I analyze the actors, the lighting, the storyline, the sound, the music, the detail, the shot angle, the subtle story in costumes or food or wall decorations. As I discuss the films with friends and family they berate me about dissecting every scene and character and basically ruining the movie experience. I realize that a really good movie is done so that I don’t even notice the seams or actors or music or detail. I would be drawn into the story and the characters. That is what I want to create, a completely absorbing experience for the moviegoers. It is their ten bucks and I want to earn every penny. I want a CASA BLANCA experience. I want a GREAT GATSBY or a GONE WITH THE WIND or a WIZARD OF OZ. I want my own yellow brick road. I know it will take time and experience, but once you have had that moment in a movie that touches your heart and changes your life, well, the feeling is enchanting and empowering. To create that experience for others is exciting and alluring. It is becoming the wizard behind the curtain. It is enabling others to recognize their own heart, their own brilliance, their own courage and where they truly belong.

So back to the editing process where everyday we think, “why didn’t we get more B roll or shoot that at a different angle or where is the story?” We kick ourselves, but we also are taking notes and learning. We are getting better at this. We have moments where we are creating our own OZ. For me editing is just one more step in the process. It is fun to be able to see the story develop and unfold. It is fun to learn. I giggle with joy everyday! It is a joy to place the pieces together and watch a piece of work evolve into a work of art.


March 14, 2007

Getting Ready for Tribeca

BY PAMELA BOWMAN, MESA, ARIZONA — Today, our press credentials to the Tribeca Film Festival were approved. This festival is in New York City. Manhattan. The Big Apple. I have never been to New York City but a year ago I had never been to Africa, either. Manifest and whatever you want can be yours. I have always wanted to go to New York. My grandfather was born there. I want to look up his history and see his house. So I am going to believe that this will happen and then it will.

According to their website, "The Tribeca Film Festival was founded in 2002 by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff as a response to the attacks on the World Trade Center. tribeca.gifConceived to foster the economic and cultural revitalization of Lower Manhattan through an annual celebration of film, music and culture. The Festival’s mission is to promote New York City as a major filmmaking center and allow its filmmakers to reach the broadest possible audience." The sixth annual Tribeca Film Festival (my first, however) will run from April 25th to May 6th, 2007. The Festival is anchored in Tribeca (that is the triangle below California) and takes place in additional neighborhoods throughout Manhattan, featuring film screenings, special events, concerts, a family street fair, and panel discussions.

In my experience, good motives breed an environment for creativity and acceptance of new ideas. Even though I graduated in journalism and enjoy covering the indie films and their creators, it is the production of my own ideas and the sharing of my own creative thoughts makes me want to attend this festival. I am excited to learn from others who will share their filmic vision and have inspired one of my own.

March 13, 2007

Clear Your Head, Clear Your Schedule

BY PAMELA BOWMAN, MESA, ARIZONA — I love this time of year! I can eat my breakfast on my porch …for two days … and then the nasal drip begins. My eyes get puffy and the allergy breath nauseates even me. I would love to be able to scratch my brain! sunshineGirls.jpg Anyone have a brain scratcher? Knitting needles? Really long q-tips? So the allergy medicines are purchased and I am back on my bike riding to work. Today I made Cyndi take a break and go outside just to sit in the sunshine. We can only stare at those monitors for so long. I keep going over to the Lakes' pool before work, during work, after work. It’s not like watching exercise gurus on T.V. I actually swim while I am there! The exercise is invigorating and motivates me to get my work done so I can go play some more. The truth is that I feel like I am playing when I work, but looking out of the office window at the beckoning sunshine is … just … well … more than this girl can take!

I am convinced that finding time to play outside helps the work progress. We are getting things done. We are almost meeting our deadlines. Believe me, this is an improvement! Last week, Cyndi’s family was here. There was a phone conversation she was having with her sister because, apparently, she was supposed to have met them at a restaurant. “I am almost there. I will be right there. Really! I am just exiting the freeway.” I couldn't believe what I was hearing. She was still sitting at her editing desk! Even if we aren't actually making a deadline, Cyndi thinks she is! She always thinks she's going to make it.

With all of the pollen in the air, my head is so stuffy, I can barely remember what day it is. So spring has sprung. Ain’t it great? Hope you indie filmmakers are making your deadlines. If you're struggling with allergies, let me recommend Benedryl. As a child of the 70's, I've always been told drugs can be a wonderful thing! They make it so much easier to love this time of year … and meet your deadlines … for real!

February 25, 2007

Bowman's Short HEART OF AFRICA

BY CYNDI GREENING, PHOENIX, USA — We spent last week working on the trailer for the documentary and three guesses as to what we're working on this week. Yep, the trailer for the feature. We passed the initial cut to Keith Heffner, the Sound Editor and Music Director. He layered sound, effects and vocals into an appealing and effective mix. It was exciting and inspiring to see everything coming into shape.

heartoafrica.jpgUltimately, we had 88 hours of footage that were shaped into the approximately 90-minute documentary. We had another 34 hours of footage that were crafted into the 90-minute feature. When you're shooting a feature, there is a primary story line that is being followed and there just isn't much other footage to spare. The documentary is a whole different story. With 88 hours of footage, you can imagine there were many, many stories that could be found in that mass of material. The students were required to make demo reels after they returned from Zambia so some of the footage was used there. But much of it will remain unseen, many of the more subtle stories will remain untold, parts of what we discovered will remain unknown. We got to talking about it and decided that some of the stories might be suitable in a short format.

Producer Pamela Bowman has created a short based on the poem she wrote while we were traveling to Victoria Falls in southern Zambia. (The original blog entry of the poem can be found on the FilmZambia site.) In addition to working on the documentary trailer, she's been working this short. I think this piece captures the gentle soul of the people of Zambia. We met so many kind and wonderful Zambians. Check it out.

Pamela Bowman's Short Film
HEART OF AFRICA

Posted on Sunday, February 25, 2007
Heart of Africa (lg quicktime)
Heart of Africa (sm quicktime)

February 09, 2007

Helping Find YOUR Voice, Tell YOUR Story

BY CYNDI GREENING & PAMELA BOWMAN, PHOENIX, USA – The FilmZambia project has been a life-altering, monumental experience for all who participated. It is because of the Zambian project that we (the producers) have come to realize and refine our life mission. We experienced such satisfaction and joy at helping to bring a new voice to the global cinema, in educating filmmaking students in Zambia, in watching our MCC students expand their skills and have profound cultural experiences. The goal of educating, developing and supporting new voices in global cinema continues to be one of our primary concerns.

However, after attending the Sundance Film Festival in January, we realized that we were overlooking the voices of U.S. filmmakers. We were inspired to expand our commitment to include finding and nurturing the voices of new filmmakers in the U.S. Attending the festival, we found our voice and are stating our desire to help storytellers and filmmakers find their unique voice and get their story into the national market.

So, we are pleased to announce the launch of Greening Productions / Angel&Wings Productions, a site devoted to supporting independent filmmakers worldwide. (You will have to read the story of how the company name was bestowed upon us in Zambia! Whle we don't make religious films, we are committed to doing good work.) On the site, you will find the dates and times for classes and seminars that will be offered in the Phoenix metro area. These classes will also be available in different national locations in the near future. In addition, we are making DVDs available to assist in your digital film development.

Wherever we traveled, people interested in film would pepper us with questions. Due to limited time, we felt we could not give adequate answers or explanations. Through these classes and products, we are now able to provide information and assistance to future filmmakers.

So enjoy the site and let us know what you think! If you have thoughts on other products and classes we could offer that would be of support, we'd love to know. We will continue our global projects (we are currently working on a FilmEcuador project and a FilmSenegal project), also. We appreciate your feedback and thoughts!

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YouTube Replaces the Boob Tube

YouTubeLeto.jpgBY PAMELA BOWMAN, MESA, USA – While we were at Sundance, I was sitting in front of a small group of very young filmmakers at a funding panel. After eavesdropping, I learned that they had done a movie on some guy traveling around the United States ... I can’t really seem to remember much more about their film. Not real impactful or just not my cup of cocoa. Anyway they ended up being indie snobs. They were talking about a site called YouTube. They said that they would never post there or respect anyone who did. During the panel YouTube was discussed. The panelist acknowledged the impact YouTube was having on the industry and how some people have found success with their ideas and been offered movie contracts because of what they've put up on that site.

As you can tell I was not familiar with YouTube. I had heard of it, but I had not frequented the site. I have now. We did a test run on some clips from Sundance and have been surprised by the results. We've put up several of the vCasts from the last three years at Sundance. We have been surprised at how popular one vCast is in particular. Jared Leto stars in CHAPTER 27 and the Q&A following the screening of that film has been viewed 589 times in the last 72 hours ... since we like the whole independent voice thing, we can see how YoYouTube facilitates our goal of allowing us to hear more voices. Even the ones in our heads!

... BUT, (there is always one or two around)... how can and do people generate a salary to support life as we know it? Is YouTube killing the market for entertainment media? There is a huge population that applauds that thought. People swap music over networks that bypass the artists, producers and distributors. TV viewership is down. People are turning to other forms of entertainment. And in many cases they are in the creative end of providing it for others to watch and enjoy. Granted some of the submissions are worthy of the Maury Povich show or the wrath of Simon, BUT, (the second one), we have the ability to click away anonymously. No chance of hurting someone’s feelings. Pain free! Personally, I think YouTube is cool.

One of the big drawbacks about the computer age is the isolation. Humans do not like isolation. The internet is our creative way to maintain contact with other humans. We get depressed in our anti-social life style and we plug into the net. We chat and email. We watch movies and listen to music. In fact, movies and music are traded on the internet like baseball cards. As a person who develops media content, it seems that what needs to be considered is the contribution and the rights of the creators. How can the concept of free enterprise (commerce) continue if everything created in the entertainment field is almost instantly free?

In the end it really doesn’t matter. The people have spoken. YouTube and other sites like it are here to stay. We will all deal with it. And like all good Americans, we will try to find a way to capitalize on it.

January 30, 2007

I AM READY

parkCityMain.jpgBY PAMELA JO BOWMAN MESA AZ - Well, that was fun. My first Sundance film festival. Who’d have thought!?! I was surprised by so many things, but mostly I surprised myself. I was so disheartened the first few days. I was watching movies and very few were movies that left me feeling empowered on any level. Finally after attending some panel discussions and interviewing a few producers and directors I began to catch a vision, MY vision.

I can see how movies are shifting. It is like so many other fields of work. Technology is forcing specialization. Even in film, I sense it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to be a jack of all trades. I also feel that filmmakers can sense the power and necessity behind networking and combining efforts. One filmmaker, who in the past has always been a solo act, collaborated on her last project with an AD (art director). She feels her film is richer and more compelling because of the combined gifts and talents. I have experienced that as well this year. I have learned from the FilmZambia.com crew the power of inter-dependence. pamDerOstwind.jpgEveryone from the crew, cast and creators depended on one another. How crucial it was to establish that trust that others would do their job while others counted on me to do mine.

So we are back and more excited then ever about all of our projects. I hate for the night to come that steals away the time to create and discover and learn. So I continue working into the night! It is so liberating to finally be able to define how I want to spend “my” time and energy. It is equally rewarding to develop ideas into thought and possibilities. Mid life really is a wonderful place to be. So bring it on 2007. I am determined. I am empowered. I am ready.

January 24, 2007

$$$$$ for Your Film

BY PAMELA JO BOWMAN, PARK CITY, USA — We spent over three hours in two different sessions listening to film funding entities reveal how to get money for your film. In two sentences, I can tell you everything you need to know.

1. Start your movie, make a reel and/or trailer, send it to the funder/funding agency.

2. If they think your film is worth making, you will hear from them. If you don’t hear from them, well … learn from the silence.

MOVIES THAT MATTER Panel Matters at Sundance 2007

BY PAMELA JO BOWMAN, PARK CITY, USA — On Monday, we attended the HOW “MOVIES THAT MATTER” CAN MATTER Panel Discussion at the Prospector Lodge. It was worth attending the festival for this panel alone! The panel consisted of men and women who were involved in this year's festival social change films. As is typical at Sundance, the event began late and a lot of time was spent reviewing each panelist and his or her contributions to filmmaking.


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Members of the panel included filmmakers Judith Helfand (EVERYTHING'S COOL and previously, BLUE VINYL), Sean Fine (WAR/DANCE), Rory Kennedy (GHOSTS OF ABU GHRAIB), Eric Schlosser (author of FAST FOOD NATION), Gayle Smith (Center for American Progress), Brian Steidle (Marine Captain and subject of THE DEVIL CAME ON HORSEBACK), and Diane Weyermann (Participant Productions). They presented clips of their films and discussed their motivations for doing good in the world with cinema as their tool.

Each panelist expressed their passion and belief in their individual films. Evidence exists that their films have been a catalyst for change. Each panelist was able to provide examples of how their films had created change in the world. Very powerful. The panelists shared how they unite with grass roots and activist groups that can use films as part of their efforts. Gayle Smith (the Center for American Progress) talked about giving political power to one's filmmaking. Like the HISTORY IS MADE Panel Discussion, this panel deepened my commitment to filmmaking. It restored my faith that film can be powerful and can create meaningful dialogue and concrete change globally. When there is conversation there is communication. When there is communication there is understanding. When there is understanding, there is a change of heart and a change in behavior.

January 23, 2007

HISTORY IS MADE Panel at Sundance 2007

BY PAMELA JO BOWMAN, PARK CITY, USA — On Sunday, we planned our schedule around two important panel discussions. HISTORY IS MADE was a panel about how films that deal with historical periods become the current generation's reality for that history. Producers, directors and/or writers of films that addressed issues based on historical events were on the panel. Three documentaries were represented and one feature film. Bill Guttentag (NANKING), Julie Gavras (BLAME IT ON FIDEL), Steven Okazaki (WHITE LIGHT/BLACK RAIN) and Marco Williams (BANISHED) brought films that dealt with the rape of Nanking (1937), the Vietnam War (1970's), the dropping of the nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki (1945) and the forced migration of black citizens from southern states following the civil war (1965 - 1930's).

   

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Ian Buruma was the moderator for the panel discussion. There were about 50 filmmakers attending the discussion. The intimate setting of the Filmmaker Lodge created a comfortable atmosphere for discussion. Buruma introduced the panel and small clips of most of the films. This gave us a sense of the story the filmmakers were trying to convey. Each spoke about their movie and its history. They shared why they chose their specific project. They revealed who they worked with and what message they were trying to convey.

The discussion included the importance of documentation. They discussed how it is easier for countries to research, remember and document the history of OTHER countries while forgetting or burying the history of their own. It was suggested that one of the purposes of documentaries was to influence our lives today with the wisdom of the past. The panelists suggested that we view historical stories with a contemporary resonance. The question of "collective victimhood" and reparations was broached but, of course, no resolution would be forthcoming since we do not yet as a society have answers for these sorts of tragedies. Regardless, I appreciated the conversation.

January 22, 2007

For Sundance Tells Me So

BY PAMELA JO BOWMAN, PARK CITY (USA) — There are things you should know BEFORE coming to Sundance. I heard about a family that decided at the last minute to come to Sundance from the upper midwest. They arrived thinking they could just find a hotel, a car, and a typical ticket booth to purchase tickets for any showing of their choice. WRONG! So, this being my first year I thought some of you would like to know how to do things with minimal ‘I wish we hads.” This list is not complete or even all that accurate, so take it or leave it without judgment.

There is a FILM GUIDE that should be read cover to cover. This will enable aspiring filmmakers to be aware of events like, oh, I don’t know, meeting commissioning editors. This is an event where anyone can sign up to meet with editors from PBS, HBO, Discovery, ITVS and even Sundance channel. You sit with eight other filmmakers and the editors . You pretend that the editors are really listening with interest to what you have dedicated your life to for the last several years. They tell you to call them and they give you their card and you walk out wondering if they had special cards printed out with fake numbers on them. (The film guide is available online for print out – free!)

gephardt.jpgThe film guide also lets you review all the films being screened, their times and locations. (Films like FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO (featuring Dick Gephardt's daughter, Chris) and THE TEN (about the Ten Commandments ... like these ten Sundance mandates). They try to put everything in a handy calendar so you can plan out your day as efficiently as possible. This efficiency is only affective if you get up early and stay out late and never eat. Pretty soon the movies all blend together except the ones you hate. Those you remember vividly!(Guide free. Films are not.)

The film guide also informs you of Panel Discussions like HISTORY IS MADE, WOMEN IN FILM, MAKING MOVIES THAT MATTER. These panels include current directors, producers, writers and casts of this year’s Sundance films sharing insights and challenges about getting their film to the festival. (Guide is still free and guess what, so are most of the panels!) Check out blog on these panels, or not.

warmClothes.jpgAttire around Park City. I am a skier. So warning to skiers, avoid looking at the mountain. Really. Stop looking. Ignore the ski boots on the bus. Keep your eyes closed. Pretend the night skiing is cold, and boring and oh forget it. Ski half a day. During the festival the slopes are pretty empty. Cool. Having never just sauntered around a ski town, I was unprepared for the cold. It just is not cool to wear ski-wear to keep warm at the events. What is up with that? I suggest a long coat that covers your legs and those warm fuzzy boots to match the coat. Don't forget that fuzzy hat! Aren’t you all that! Of course, locals will know you are a festival goer, but who cares? (Oh yea, skiers!)

Traveling around Park City. This is kind of cool. They have a shuttle system that is FREE! You just have to find the convenient locations to hop on. They are not heated, but most of the people are. If you are desperate you can always catch a ‘taxi’. They charge about $3 to $5 per person. Kind of expensive for the ONE mile ride, but sometimes the five spot is worth finding out that thawing out can be painful in a pleasant and itchy kind of way.

Nourishment and sustenance It is a good thing that so many things are free because the food isn’t. I think that they have a special menu (with special prices)for the festival week, but I can’t prove that. I spent over $8.00 for two slices of French toast! ARGH!

Airline tickets. Do it in advance. Duh.

Hotel reservations – Do it in advance, like in October and then you will have money for food when you are here. Seriously, if you go with friends you can all camp out in a condo for a fair price per night. Divided up that is. Check it out. Best if you are near Main Street. Easy access. No parking problems. No driving issues either. And for the sneak in skier, there is a lift right down town. Really!

Film tickets. You can go through some weird ticket process and pay a fortune for this lovely opportunity or you can go to the movie an hour early, stand in the wait list line, paying $10.00 per ticket or $15.00 for Premieres (this year). Sometimes you can even find scalpers with tickets. The lines are inside a tent so you won’t freeze. No saving seats for friends in the wait list line! Yea right!

Parties. I’m too exhausted to go. I am here to learn as much as I can about filmmaking. I don't care about partying. Guess my age is showing. I hear there is some action going on. So if you are into that sort of thing have fun. I come for the movies, to learn how to make better movies and to write about what I think. Scary I know. What is this world coming too?

Eleven? Kind of like a bakers dozen. This one is simple. Have fun. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Don’t brag out loud about your film or who you met or speak too loudly on your cell phone! Tomorrow I won’t remember who you are and you won’t remember who I am. Although next year one of us could be on a panel! YIKES!

Lost in Park City

BY PAMELA JO BOWMAN, PARK CITY, USA — For those of you who visit this blog often or know me personally, you know my reputation with luggage. It's not good. The airlines lost my luggage not once, but TWICE during our trip to Zambia. I am used to to traveling with minimal clothing and supplies. So used to not having what I need that I have subconsciously made it a way of life.

Examples?

CYN_PJ_sm.jpgWell, after being disappointed in some of the movies here at Sundance, we left the building early. On our way home, I remembered that I had worn gloves. Nice leather gloves. Gloves my mother gave me. Gloves that I needed! We returned to the theater. I slithered in, hoping no one would notice I was the one who had left early. The young man sitting next to me was walking out with them in his hand. Gloves found, anonymity lost. During our next outing at the Press Reception for NANKING, we left the building excited to have accomplished our goal of interviewing the directors and actors. It was a chilly night. Suddenly, I realized I was chilly because I left my neck scarf behind. My son's neck scarf. Ooops. Cyndi returned for it and found it (literally) under the seat of some guests.

Now, whenever we leave the condo everyone asks, “Pam, are you feeling naked?” Huh? I have become so absent minded! It must be the high altitude. Yesterday, I forgot my camera! Today, when we went to pitch our films to HBO, I forgot the reel! Then later at a panel discussion I left Cyndi's phone in the cafe! Funny thing is, is upon our return for said items good things have happened. I found them! We also gained unexpected meetings or access to more information. It all ends up good in the end. Luggage returned, items found, memories made. All is not lost.

January 17, 2007

We'll Be There

BY PAMELA JO BOWMAN - MESA ARIZONA - We are still editing. We are still excited about the potential of these two films. As we review the footage and discuss ways to make these films tell the story, we become stubbornly determined to finish this work of art. For us Africa was like a dream. Were we really there? These films are evidence to us that yes we were there and we did what we said we would do. In our dark editing room we have moments of wonder at the beauty of Africa. We see the aspirations of the Zambian people in their eyes, in their determined stance, in their graceful, but unwavering movements. Their lives are an inspiration to us to keep working, to keep trying, to keep editing.

Because of the films and the expense of editing the films, we didn’t ever seriously consider spending the time and money it would take to go to Sundance this year. Cyndi has sold her house to pay off these films. That is how dedicated she is to them. As the time for the festival approached we received the program guide. During lunch breaks we would review what films would be shown, what panel discussions would be offered. We saw the seminars being taught by filmmakers we respect. It was then that we realized going to Sundance would benefit not only our filmmaking, but also our current films, BAD TIMING and VOICE OF AN AFRICAN NATION. We started toying with the idea. How could we do it? Could we take the time? How could we afford to go? Then one day we realized we could not afford NOT to go.

slcms_home_leftimage.jpgIt was amazing how things fell into place. A small condo was cancelled and offered at a discounted price. Air miles were made available. Cyndi cannot finance anyone’s experience but her own. Those of us going are taking care of our own arrangements. We are going. As we watch the films and attend the discussions and seminars I believe everything we learn will be applied to our current project for Zambia. We will return in 10 days with an experience that will help us finish these films.

So Friday morning we fly to Salt Lake City. Brrrrrr. We get to stay right there at the Marriott in Park City! We feel bad for whoever had to cancel their Condo reservations….sort of! Kind of like their loss is our HUGE gain. Life works like that sometimes. We like to think that it was meant to be. Serendipity. Regardless we are looking forward to every moment. You can even see us on our live web casts reporting on all the events. Check out cinemaminima.com. We’ll be there!

January 15, 2007

Sundance 2007 Goes To War

bylinebowman155x96.jpgBY PAMELA BOWMAN, PHOENIX, ARIZONA, USA — Edwin Starr sang, "War, huh, yeah ... What is it good for ... Absolutely nothing ..."     But, the topic of war seems to be good for something at Sundance 2007. Seven films found the topic of war — conflicts of the present and past — worth remembering, reliving and recreating to grant filmgoers access to this ancient and most inhumane activity.

ghostsabu.jpgGHOSTS OF ABU GHRAIB, directed by Rory Kennedy, will screen in the Documentary Competition. Rory Kennedy ‘s documentary provides insight into what occurred at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The film examines what and who was responsible for the abuses that occurred to the inmates. It also looks at how the United States, the world leader for human rights, excuses itself from obeying the very laws for which it has gone to war to protect. Americans will find this film revelatory, uncomfortable and disturbing. For those who have the valor to watch this film, Kennedy offers the opportunity to engage in the discussion of how to defend and protect the liberties the U.S. professes all people to have.

nankingWomen.jpgNANKING directed by Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman will also screen in the Documentary Competition. In contrast to Abu Ghraib, NANKING depicts humankind at its most humane and also at its most inhumane. In 1937, the Japanese Army entered the Chinese city of Nanking. Hundreds of thousands of innocent citizens were killed. Among those were women who were first raped, tortured and barbarically murdered. A small group of Westerners in Nanking united to save, protect and shelter some of the citizens from their tormentors. By comparing the actions of these two groups, the film shows the spectrum of good and evil that exists in the human race. It forces an internal interrogation to decide what we might have done and what we should be willing to do today.

In addition, the film exemplifies the importance of documenting history. Guttentag and Sturman were able to recreate these events from journals, diaries, pictures and footage. Through interviews of survivors from both countries they were able to recreate an event that many would leave buried with the corpses of men, women and children of Nanking. They have been resurrected in this film to teach us all the power of the individual.

noEndSight.jpgDirector Charles Ferguson brings the Iraq documentary NO END IN SIGHT to Sundance 2007. The power of the individual is showcased in this film. Unfortunately, that individual is the President of the United States. Ferguson interviewed high-level government officials who were in Iraq prior to the war and others who were present during the military discussions on what should occur. NO END IN SIGHT exposes the incompetence of the American administration and the consequences of their choices. It also shows the results of those choices and the impact on Iraqis, Americans and the world. This film reveals the roots of this war for anyone willing to watch it. While it may be difficult for any nation to admit that their leaders failed them, future voters will benefit from the awareness that elected officials could better represent their values and expectations. Many Americans may have believed that they could trust their government to tell the truth. This film shows a betrayal of that trust in concrete terms. Viewers will be unable to say they don't know the truth unless they continue to ignore it.

whitelightBlackrain.jpgWHITE LIGHT/BLACK RAIN by director Stephen Okazaki is haunting in its depiction of the events and the results of the dropping of the atomic bombs in 1945. He visits with 14 people who survived the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagaskai on August 6 and 9th, respectively. Over 200,000 civilians died instantly. This is the story of those who survived. In some cases, the audience witnesses that there are some are things that may be worse then death. In addition to the survivors, those Americans who carried out the bombings are also interviewed. They talk about how they live with their obedient compliance to their orders. WHITE LIGHT/BLACK RAIN reminds the world's citizens to recall what happened 62 years ago. It reminds us to recognize how fragile the balance still is between countries with different cultures, beliefs and values. In one brief, blinding moment, the world was irrevocably changed. The escalating tensions in Iran and North Korea should cause us to recall that millions of lives can be destroyed. All hearts will be haunted by the stories of the survivors of the White Light / Black Rain.

graceIsGone.jpgDirector James C. Strouse explores the impact of war in dramatic narrative form. His film GRACE IS GONE will screen in the Dramatic Competition. Lead actor John Cusack said the following about his choice to do this film. "Art is political in the deepest sense when it gives people a sense of place within a political framework. The circumstances of this war in particular are buried in spin and hidden agendas, and I think it is an artist’s job to try to expose the truth, in this case an emotional truth. There are some moral questions that needed to be asked about this war that go beyond political discourse and polemics. In my view, not every discussion needs to be one of point – counterpoint. If we can’t acknowledge that pain and grief caused by war is real, then we’ve really gone mad. That’s why I thought GRACE IS GONE was a really important movie to do.”

GRACE IS GONE is a dramatic film that powerfully depicts the impact of the Iraqi war on the individual. As Americans, we are all affected by the war, but that impact is nothing compared to what a family experiences with the loss of a father, mother, daughter or son. GRACE IS GONE is Strouse's debut as a director. He worked closely with Cusack who was also a producer of this film. Their commitment to the truth is evident in the characters and their relationship with each other. The true strength of this movie is the subtle way in which it brings a deep understanding to the viewers about that loss. It also gives the viewing audience a sense of place and allows the audience to explore their own political framework, Cusack and Strouse help us all to experience that war and art are political.

hotHousePrisoners.jpgHOT HOUSE by director Shimon Dotan appears in the World Documentary Competition. There is a saying in the U.S. that prisons teach inmates how to be criminals. In Israel, nearly 10,000 Palestinians have been sentenced to prison for acts of murder and other criminal behavior. Dotan interviews these prisoners and finds future terrorists are being created within these prisons and their plans are being formulated within the prison walls.

Dotan's documentary emphasizes everyday prison life. It shows that prisoners have access to newspapers, television and, more importantly, each other. While there are inmates who express their commitment to the negotiation process, there are others who did not and do not regret their terrorist actions. In their culture, they are heroes and martyrs. They embrace this belief and continue to embrace it and encourage it with their children. The strength of their belief is deepened during their time in prison. They say there is strength in numbers. As the number of prisoners in Israeli prisons increase, Dotan shows that Palestinian nationalism and ideology strengthens as well.

3comradesWidow.jpgMasha Novikova's THREE COMRADES show how the daily lives of citizens are fragmented by war. Chechnya fights for its independence from the Soviet Union as their citizens face terror and despair. They struggle with the fear of the unknown future while remembering the hard but predictable past. War kills more then lives. It kills childhood and memories and hope.

December 25, 2006

I'll Be Thinking About You

BY PAMELA BOWMAN, MESA, USA — Norah Jones has a new single out. It is called I’ll Be Thinking About You. That pretty much summarizes this year. I will often think about all the people, places and events of this year and I will smile and I believe I will cry.pjcarmel.jpg It is strange how I placed so much emphasis on the concept of a New Year. It isn’t the New Year that alters my life direction. It is me. It is my life and I get to choose. Like wise it is your life and you get to choose too!

Today, Cyndi and I were exchanging Merry Christmas wishes. Our conversations can never be simple. No, we had to get philosophical. We were talking about what people can and do accomplish with their lives. We ended up talking about how there are those in the world who didn’t have encouraging parents or ideal situations, but they had determination and confidence in themselves in spite of their upbringing or life circumstances. Cyndi was raised in a small farming community in Wisconsin yet she just spent a year as the executive producer of a feature and documentary filmed in Africa. Not exactly what one might have expected from that background. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay area but lived and raised my family on a farm in northern Mexico for 17 years. Quite unexpected.

Likewise we met many in Africa who are ignoring their disadvantages and challenging circumstances of life to pursue their dreams and goals. All over the world, we see and meet such self-determined souls. I have come to believe we can accomplish whatever we set our minds to … it’s simply a matter of becoming aware of who we see ourselves to be in the world, whether we are inspired by our lives and whether others are inspired by what we’re taking on.

Even though I am no longer using the New Year as a benchmark to have a new beginning, I do feel like I have just finished reading and rereading the chapter of a history book, mine. I now feel that I have reviewed it long enough. I am now ready to take that learning to meet new characters, new challenges and discover new subplots. I find strenth in knowing this chapter will always be there to refer to, but I need to remind myself that the past can become a barrier or a path to the future. I choose the path.

Which segues into another thought I had yesterday. This year, for our annual Christmas Eve party we invited a different group of friends over. During the evening, I thought, “If I had been on the ball this year and actually mailed Christmas cards, how many new addresses would I be adding to my list? How many would I be deleting?”

For me, the thought was, how wonderful! My list has changed! My world is expanding which means that I am expanding. Then the thought came; maybe I am the "someone new" on someone else’s Christmas card list. Maybe there is someone who is glad that I am their new friend this year. Maybe I’m the expansion in their world. It was a fun thought.

As they say, the front of the hand always comes along with the back! In other words, both sides of anything are always present. On one hand, there are some people who may feel their life is so perfect and complete they do not need anything new or anyone else to be happy. Some may feel they are just too busy to have any more interactions with another human being. I, on the other hand, find myself rejuvenated meeting new people and discussing new ideas and declaring my opinions with sincerely interested friends. I have yet to meet a person that I didn’t learn something from. For me that is what I enjoy and value—the learning that comes from human connection and interaction.

So, my plan is to continue to learn and take moments to “think about you” — the people who have enriched and contributed to my life experience. I will not allow myself to lead anything but a full-on, self-fulfilled life. I won’t allow circumstances to limit what I want and am able to do. A self-fulfilled life is the key. A SELF-fulfilled life will be defined differently for each of us because, whether we’re American, Zambian, Iraqi or whatever, we are each a unique contribution to the world. Respecting, appreciating and valuing those differences is what puts us on someone’s “Christmas card list.”

So Happy New Year to friends old and new. I’ll be thinking about you. And guess what! I bought some Christmas cards on Christmas eve ... Do I have your address?

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 07, 2006

Sending Cyberhugs

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BY PAMELA JO BOWMAN,
Mesa, Arizona, USA

So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear ones
The old and the young

In the United States, the lights are up on our houses and the malls are crowded with shoppers, some happy and some humbuggers. Some are experiencing a white Christmas while we Arizonans experience a nice Christmas.

Those of us who traveled in the world this year are experiencing a different Christmas. I thought I would feel calmer. I thought I would be repulsed by the buying frenzy. I know in past years I always was. This year is different for me. I want to embrace every tradition and savor every ritual. I like going to the mall and seeing both the joyful shoppers and the grumpy ones. I think it is because we have the freedom to be either.

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A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear

We still have the freedoms but lack of fear has diminished for all of us. I believe in Zambia there is a fear of hunger and an unknown future. I think that Zambia is on the brink of change. I believe it is an African nation that has the chance to prosper. Like all opportunities it will not be a highway, but a rocky way. It will be up to its own citizens to stand up and unite together to create a nation of possibilities. This year, I have learned that if you want something bad enough and you work to make it happen, then something does happen.

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And so this is Christmas
For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones
The road is so long
And so happy Christmas
For black and for white
For yellow and red ones
Let's stop all the fight

And so this is Christmas this year. How human to look back and remember last Christmas. How very busy I was. I was working for someone else. I was trying to make everyone else’s Christmas enjoyable and I forgot about my own. Next year will come and I want to remember this Christmas as joyful and warm and fun. It is fortunate that I have the ability to choose that. It is wonderful that I have the right to have that.


ZambianTree.jpgAnd so this is Christmas
And what have we done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so happy Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young

To my friends in Zambia I wish you a joyful Christmas. To my friends here … make it a joyful Christmas. I wish I could hug you all! I guess a cyber hug will have to do!

Song lyrics: "The War is Over" by John Lennon

November 27, 2006

Doer's Did

BY PAMELA BOWMAN, MESA, AZ, USA -- "A non-doer is very often a critic -- that is, someone who sits back and watches doers, and then waxes philosophically about how the doers are doing. It's easy to be a critic, but being a doer requires effort, risk, and change."  Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

I am sure that many who heard about the film Zambia project were skeptical. Many of the people I talked to seemed leery and even confused as to why I would want to go to Zambia to shoot a film. Certainly it seemed exciting and adventurous, but many expressed concern, fear and even criticism for our naïve enthusiasm and high goals and ideals. Many tried to discourage us by pointing out the obvious concerns that we tried to bury in our minds before we left. I was fearful of the unknown. But I really thought 14 students led by 4 faculty could accomplish our goals. I suppose that was arrogant, but it also was brave. We were willing to go and do what no one had gone and done before.

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In reflection we wanted to support a fellow classmate with a dream to remember and honor not only his son, but all children who die prematurely. For me, that could best be accomplished through education and economic change. I was intrigued by the possibility of establishing a new industry in a third world country. We would often discuss the potential for future employment for Zambians and also to develop an art form in Africa. As digital artists we truly appreciate art and it’s contribution to the world society. I believe art in any form promotes thinking and problem solving and self- expression.

So three months after returning from Africa we are in the editing process. Our lofty goals have all been forgotten as we return to our daily activities of work and family and friends. We have discussions on what it was like before and during and after. We remember and feel badly that we didn’t have the impact for change except with in ourselves. Then we received the news that Mulenga Kapwepwe, our contact from the Zambian National Arts Council, has been running a cultural support program (including film, art and music) that was recognized by the European Union. Because of how well the program was run, Zambia is one of the top five countries chosen for ACP funding! They will have access to over EIGHT MILLION DOLLARS for continuing development of film. We have been asked to write a proposal to access funding and support future filmmaking!

Who would have thought our efforts would be recognized so quickly? Who would have thought the risks taken by MCC faculty and students to shoot a film in Zambia could have produced such results? Who would have thought the change in us as we became more of who we each were could have affected such change in a country? Non-doers doubted and critized and even at times became detrimental in the process. But doers would have thought. And doers did.

November 24, 2006

FilmZambia Production Podcast - Part Five

BY CYNDI GREENING & PAMELA BOWMAN, ARIZONA, USA -- Producers Pamela Bowman and Cyndi Greening reveal the post-production challenges faced by the FilmZambia upon their return to the U.S. following 28 days in Africa. With the Sundance deadline on 21 days away and nearly 200 hours of footage, the process of shaping a story is examined. Distribution and the festival circuit are discussed. Part Five of Five.

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Podcast on Friday, November 24, 2006
FilmZambia Production Podcast, Part Five
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November 23, 2006

FilmZambia Production Podcast - Part Four

BY CYNDI GREENING & PAMELA BOWMAN, ARIZONA, USA -- Producers Pamela Bowman and Cyndi Greening continue talking about the production experience in Zambia. The perils and problems of production in an extremely remote location are explored to help independent filmmakers better prepare for their production experiences. Part Four of Five.

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Podcast on Thursday, November 23, 2006
FilmZambia Production Podcast, Part Four
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November 22, 2006

FilmZambia Production Podcast - Part Three

BY CYNDI GREENING & PAMELA BOWMAN, ARIZONA, USA -- Producers Pamela Bowman and Cyndi Greening describe some of the more memorable moments encountered by the FilmZambia crew filming in the Ngoni warriors at sunset, shooting in Mandevu and Mtendere and at the breathtaking Victoria Falls. The challenges of moving such a large cast and crew is discussed. The challenges of shooting in a country where little or no film has been produced is also covered. Part Three of Five.

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FilmZambia Production Podcast, Part Three
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November 21, 2006

FilmZambia Production Podcast - Part Two

BY CYNDI GREENING & PAMELA BOWMAN, ARIZONA, USA -- Producers Pamela Bowman and Cyndi Greening explain the preproduction processes encountered in taking the FilmZambia crew to Africa in the summer of 2006. Carnets, cross-training, visas, customs forms and story development are discussed. Part Two of Five.

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Podcast on Tuesday, November 21, 2006
FilmZambia Production Podcast, Part Two
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November 20, 2006

FilmZambia Production Podcast - Part One

BY CYNDI GREENING & PAMELA BOWMAN, ARIZONA, USA -- Producers Pamela Bowman and Cyndi Greening discuss how 14 students and four (4) faculty members came to shoot the first dramatic narrative feature film and companion documentary in Zambia, Africa. Mesa Community College student Jabbes Mvula's tragic loss of his son inspired the crew to journey across the world to help establish the film industry in his son's name. Part One of Five.

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Podcast on Monday, November 20, 2006
FilmZambia Campfire Podcast, Part One
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November 07, 2006

The Little Things

pamArgent.jpgBY PAMELA BOWMAN, MESA, ARIZONA - This weekend I went to my high school class reunion. I stayed in San Francisco in the financial district at The Argent hotel. My kindergarten “boyfriend” is now the general manager. After driving many hours from Phoenix, I walked into my suite to find a chilled beverage, chocolate covered strawberries and a welcoming note. It is the little things that show thoughtfulness and consideration. Or it could be that some boys will do anything to make up for not buying a 6-year-old girl popcorn at the movies?!

I hadn’t seen many of my classmates since we graduated 30 years ago. I recognized my close friends immediately. There were many classmates, however, that I did not recognize. Names were familiar but faces were not. As people came up to me, I would look into their eyes to try to catch a memory or hint of recognition. That is something I tend to do with everyone. It is how I connect. Some people were very guarded and wouldn’t let me in. Others seemed alarmed that I tried to get into their space. I guess, after all these years, they weren’t sure if it was safe. I wanted to scream, “It’s me! Let me in!” Instead, I would just smile and respect their silent retreat.

Now I am back home. Cyndi and I traveled together and so we had many hours to discuss the Zambian films and our goals for our lives and ourselves. Since it takes around twelve hours to drive from Phoenix to the Bay area, we used our travel time to record a few podcasts. I told her the noise from the tires hitting the road was too loud and they wouldn’t be usable but, just like when were in Zambia, she wouldn’t listen to me! I was right, of course. We will have to re-record them. When will that girl learn?

In one of the many discussions, we talked about how we have so many projects to get done and that, at times, we feel paralyzed by the staggering amount of work. Thankfully, the weekend provided a good break and now we are ready to get back to it. Back to looking at a hundred hours of footage for the doc and to further edit the feature. The task seems overwhelming but it has become a passion. It is difficult to separate the telling of the story from the context of everyday events. How can people fully appreciate the efforts of the crew and what we were all able to accomplish under such difficult circumstances? We truly want to convey those heroic efforts without demeaning the gracious people of Zambia and those we grew to love.

As I looked into the eyes of many of the Zambian people—people with whom I had no history, no past, no connection—I was often surprised that they were so open and willing to share their lives and feelings and frustrations with anyone willing to listen. I have come to believe that sometimes that is all it takes to find your own answers—a listening ear or a film capturing one’s words, needs and feelings. It seems that humans need to connect and share as part of growth and expansion. Providing the opportunity for another person to feel safe in expressing their deepest desires is a profound gift. As filmmakers, we tried to do that for the people of Zambia. It’s a little thing, really.

It continues to be the little things we will look for in the footage. It is always the little things that reveal the most powerful moments and tell the most profound story. And, for me, it is always about the people. Gazing into their eyes, hearing the words they spoke and feeling the truths they didn’t need to articulate . I want them to know their words and thoughts found a safe place and were not expressed in vain. I want the world to hear and be touched by their lives, their history and their heritage.

It is the small things. Always the small considerations that speak the loudest and mean the most.

October 20, 2006

Alert Your Face

BY PAMELA BOWMAN MESA ARIZONA - I like to laugh … a lot. As a matter of fact I am usually laughing in my head most of the time. Some people ask me? “Pam, are you happy today?” And I say, “Sure.” Then they say, “You should alert your face.”

I don’t have the most revealing of faces. In Zambia, Malumba Malumba, one of the actors was sharing his impressions of the crew members. He commented on M.K. and how she was so approachable. “You can tell she is in charge of public relations. She greets everyone with a smile and a hug.” He said that Jeaniece is just a sweet girl. He was the one that gave Cyndi the nick name Makumba. That means earthquake or when she walks in the room things start to move. Then he pointed to me and said, “When you meet Pam she looks straight in your eyes and sees into your soul. She is quiet and watches everything and everyone. I think she will tell the real story of Zambia.” The crew joined me in laughing on that one!

pamlaughing.jpgSometimes I had to go to my room because I just had to laugh into my pillow! How many people could come to the Kraal and ask for our coveted black t-shirts? How many of the drivers were going to ask how many different crew members for gas money, phone money and food money? The one that was over the top was when I sent a driver with K50,000 kwacha for phone minutes and he returned with K40,000. I asked him what had happened to the rest. He explained that he had decided to put the other K10,000 in his phone. WHAT? Or the time we gave the driver K60,000 for gas and only K40,000 was put in. “I am going to use the rest for my ride home.”

There were so many moments of sheer ridiculous requests. We had a cook. His name is Daudi. We loved Daudi. He cooked very well. And he tried so hard! The night before we left he approached me and said, “Pam, I want to come to America and be your personal chef in your home.” I was dumbfounded. I couldn’t help it. I had to laugh out loud and in his face. How could he think I could afford a personal chef? Cyndi received even more requests. One was for three computers to start an internet café! One person asked Jeniece for her hair! “Your’s will grow back.”

Of course the one time on the trip that I couldn’t contain my composure was when Cyndi fell off the bus and landed face first in the African dirt. “Cyndi, are you ok?” Both Alec and I asked. I mean we were concerned for her welfare. But before she answered I could feel my stomach start to tighten. She looked like she was doing the breast stroke in the African dirt for pete's sake! She replied, “Yes! I am just so pissed!” She finally got up and stormed after M.K. Our windows slammed shut and the laughter bubbled over. She could hear the roar from outside! Just remembering...well my stomach is tightening up all over again! The image is burned in my brain. Too funny!

Yes, I learned many things about Zambia and about myself. I like to laugh …a lot and I think I have alerted my face!

October 15, 2006

Nurturing Dreams

BY PAMELA BOWMAN, MESA, ARIZONA, USA - As we edit the two films we created in Zambia, we each are affected differently by the footage we view. It is true we begin to feel the same feelings we felt as we relive some of the moments we experienced.

WomenChildren.jpgAs an older woman, I believe I saw and felt things many of the other students might not have seen or felt. For me, many of the most difficult or uncomfortable moments came when I spoke with other women of Zambia. Sometimes these moments came when Zambian men talked about their women.

I heard many men speak about the value they place in women in their role as mother and wife. They say they honor their women because they care for their future generation. I spoke with the women. Time after time they told me how they were home with the children and ended up having to find work wherever they could. They told me that their husbands and the father of their children rarely help support the children they fathered. Often they do not see their husbands for days. He shows up when he wants usually without offering financial assistance for their home or family. They feel abandoned by their men and by their government.

I do not suggest that this situation is unique only to Zambia. It is not. But it was in Zambia where I was interviewing the people. I was interested in their interpersonal relationships. One Zambian man told me that men were most important because they were the ones who contribute financially to the family. That, he said, is what makes men more essential. During our conversation, he mentioned that his wife worked also and had a better job then himself. He was glad because his employment was not always steady.

“Wouldn’t that make her a financial contributor to the family as well?" I asked. "Wouldn’t that make her just as essential?” He had to stop. He smiled awkwardly. He had a moment of realization.

I watched the men and their interaction with women. I watched their interaction with me. Many times, I felt degraded and I don’t even live there. During one scene in the feature, we tried to portray Zambia’s version of a wedding shower. At this party the bride receives instruction on how to care for and respect her husband and her children. She is told what is expected of her. I, of course, asked if men receive similar training. No. I was told that they do not. “It is the woman who has all the control. She runs the home. She raises our children. She is the queen.”

I spoke with many “queens.” They feel abandoned and are left with few choices. As part of my research, I would ask men, women and children the same question. “When you were young, what did you want to do when you were older? What did you want to be?” It was easier for the men and children to answer the questions. Many of the women would stop and reach for the memory of those early years. Years when they had dreams and goals. Years when they were a child themselves. They would look down at their withered hands. 3ZambianChildren.jpgThey looked around and saw their children running with hungry bellies. They would finger their own torn, worn clothes and tangled matted hair.

More often than not, they would flatly say, “What does it matter?"

It should always matter. How can a mother be the heart and soul of the family if her personal dreams do not matter to her or those of her family? Everyone deserves to have dreams and the support and ability to make their dreams come true, especially the queen!

September 27, 2006

Good Intentions

BY PAMELA BOWMAN MESA ARIZONA - "I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.” — Douglas Adams

DSC06343.JPGWhen we went to Zambia, we had good intentions. We thought we would bring a new industry to a country that would embrace us and our goals. We thought that Zambia would want an opportunity to expand its employment options. It didn’t occur to us that Zambia or other countries might not want to do things the same way we do things. Some people like to learn from their own mistakes instead of the mistakes of others. I am sure when the wheel was invented, people were hesitant and wanted to stay with what was more familiar. We should have thought of that possibility and been more sensitive to a people's self-discovery.

Countries consist of people and traditions and pride. Zambia is not any different. Zambia has 73 tribes in its country. Each tribe has their own language, their own history, their own culture. Some of the tribes work together and are friendly to each other. DSC05880.JPGOther tribes don’t like each other much. I am sure history would explain their apprehension with each other. Tribes are like large families. When a couple marries then their children adopt the tribe of their father. Some tribes believe in polygamy. Others tribes forbid it. Each tribe has its own mores and values and standards. But whichever tribe a Zambian belongs to it is the best tribe in the country. If you don’t believe me just ask one! One thing they all have in common is respect. They respect the right of other tribes to live according to their beliefs. Sound familiar?

We also went to Zambia to learn about their culture. We went with the belief that every culture has something to offer. We wanted to know what their culture could offer the world. We spoke with many about what made Zambia a wonderful place to live. The people looked at us like we were crazy. They looked around them and would respond, “Zambia is my country! Why wouldn’t I love it? Look at the people, they are so friendly.” And indeed they were to us!

DSC06602.JPGI believe what ended up happening is that instead of us helping establish a new industry and changing a country, our experience in Zambia changed us. We discovered things about each other, but more importantly we discovered things about ourselves. We are becoming more of who we were intended to be. We keep unlayering ourselves and those around us sometimes are confused as to who we are. They are not alone. We are confused as we discover who we really are as well. It is a process, but it has been self-affirming for all of us.

We may not have gone and done what we intended to do, but we ended up where we needed to be.

September 13, 2006

I Am Enough

BY PAMELA BOWMAN MESA ARIZONA USA - Logging – I sit and watch and record events of the movies and I remember the essence of Zambia. I try to concentrate and pay attention to what may be useful for the films and then a scene occurs or a moment is recorded and all the emotion I was feeling at the time floods back to me. I sit and let those feelings embrace me. I smile.

Last night I was reviewing the Danny concert. I showed my kids how they danced and sang. I wanted them to listen to the sound of Africa. Instead I sat in my chair and started dancing myself! I realize they will never understand what I experienced in Africa. Sometimes I do not understand what I experienced in Africa. I just know I am different.

Sometimes I feel I have edited my own life. My feelings prior to Africa seemed all consuming. I would hear songs or moments would flash into my mind and those feelings would consume me. I have learned that feelings are feelings and if I want to get through them I have to allow myself to feel them. I can’t fight them. They are feelings. They are my feelings. I have learned that eventually one day you might wake up for a sunrise and send your feelings away and they obey. Those all consuming moments become a faint fond memory. They become a smile.

pamsmilingsm.jpgAfrica taught me to be patient. It taught me that I cannot do everything for everybody. I can do enough and others will do their share and at the end of the day it is time to dance and play and laugh.

The crew says I seem happier now that I am home. They say I don’t seem so stressed.They attribute it to my husband and children. Certainly there is truth in that, but I also believe I am happier because I am more me. I am less of everyone else. And that is enough. I am enough.

September 09, 2006

Producers Pow Wows

BY PAMELA BOWMAN, MESA, ARIZONA – One afternoon, Cyndi and I let our documentary cinematographer, Robbie, join us for the producer’s meeting. He had his camera with him. He heard our conversation and he recorded some of it. His comment was something like, “I wondered what you guys talked about. It’s fun to hear the inside scoop.” I think he enjoyed the Cyndi and Pam pow wow. Much later in the trip, after a particularly frustrating day, Carlos said, “Man, I can’t believe it. Cyndi and Pam go through this every day.”

carConference.jpgAs producers on an enormous project with responsibility for 14 students traveling to another continent, Cyndi and I would discuss every little detail that had occurred throughout the day. I felt honored that she trusted me. Sometimes we vented and sometimes we celebrated. There were only two times I publicly humiliated her. She humiliated me a few times as well. (Pam, SHUT UP!, on camera no less.) It’s hard not to make a few blunders when you’re managing such a huge task in a pressure cooker situation. For the crew, we tried to stay positive and encouraging about everything. Sometimes, the challenges would get to us, too. Mostly we confined our negative comments to the car trips between sets so they wouldn’t know the hard time we were having trying to keep it moving. We learned to trust each other. Being from different lifestyles and yet accepting of each other encouraged a partnership of trust.

We could see crew members behaving similarly with each other. The feature crew became a very tight-knit group because of how much they needed each other’s commitment and support to accomplish their responsibilities. The documentary crew struggled as they were expected to support the feature crew and get great documentary moments. They vented and struggled just as we did.

I know there were times where we both were so frustrated with events and/or each other that we wanted to bolt for the next plane home. Fortunately for the project, instead we would discuss the situation and resolve the issue of the moment. I guess that is called damage control. There were times when I relied on MK and Jeniece to vent my frustrations. I knew they were my roommates and more importantly my friends. They would listen and they knew that my feelings needed to be heard. They also knew once expressed they were allowed to dissipate into the African night. Cyndi knew I shared with them. She knew sometimes I needed others to help me sort out my feelings of frustration. She trusted me and by extension trusted those I had faith in. In doing this we avoided the grudge match.

powwow.jpgI believe one of the unique qualities of the crew is our ability not to hold grudges. Instead we lightened the load by making it and any situation a joke. Life is too short to hold on to stuff. Conversation and clarifying our opinions helped avoid contention and misunderstandings. Knowing that everyone was committed to the success of the project no matter what encouraged tolerance for each others differences and respect for each other.

The project is still not done. Cyndi and I still continue to have our pow wows. If you read the blog, you see the crew is in the same space. They want to continue working, too. We are in negotiations on how we can keep this momentum going in future projects with this crew. We believe we have something unique to offer the world. If you don’t believe me listen to one of pow wows, but be forewarned, our ambitions are contagious.

September 08, 2006

Production Crew Slideshow

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September 07, 2006

It Begins...Again

breakingRock.jpgBY PAMELA BOWMAN MESA ARIZONA - The editing process begins today. Editing is tedious (not as tedious as breaking rock beneath the noonday sun in Lusaka) but it is the end result that should make all the hard work worthwhile.

Sometimes, as you go through the footage it is painful. There are moments you want to capture, remember and use, but as you ponder upon what the point of the movie is, sometimes you have to cut out something that won’t support the story. It is rather symbolic of life.

In life we all get distracted. We have a plan or goals or dreams. Then something or someone comes along and you get lost for a little while. If you are paying attention you can correct your course and get back on track. Sometimes the distraction shows a better direction or more noble goals. Sometimes you readjust or change completely. Sometimes you become disappointed in yourself for choices made or wasting time on insignificant things. Then, if you are true to yourself you edit out the unnecessary or start all over again. Being true to your story should always be the determining factor. What has to be cut doesn’t always have to be thrown away. Sometimes the footage is saved for the future…just in case.

Cyndi often says the following in regards to an actor or a scene. “That was authentic or real or true.” As we edit these movies I know she will once again teach us to search out the authentic moment that supports the story. Sometimes it may be a matter of opinion. Hopefully it will be obvious as to what scene best portrays the story line.

So the next process begins. We are all nervous and extremely anxious. We want to view the rough draft and see our efforts manifested. At the same time we hesitate. This last process is crucial. We can not let up now. Today we started planning the edit. Tomorrow we will all work together to get it done quickly. In the end we will have our movies. And at the end of the day it will be our crew that did it all, through pre production, production and post production.

So it begins…again.

September 05, 2006

Third and Final Week Summary

VictoriaPrecipice.jpgBY PAMELA BOWMAN MESA ARIZONA
Requested by readers.

Monday August 28 2006 –
Visited Livingstone. Hiked around Victoria Falls. Great photos and footage
Ate lunch downtown . YUM!
Returned to Lodge. Enjoyed evening under the stars.
Slept well!

Tuesday August 29 2006 –
Took Helicopter ride over falls. AWESOME!
Toured wild animal park. Tons of elephants.
Drove back to Lusucka!

Wednesday August 30 –
Shoot court room scenes and prison scene. Intense!
Issue with frustrated actors. We don’t blame them!
Create courtroom out of nothing!
Once again problem solving capacity building.

Thursday August 31 –
Crew and cast at business for shoot.
Wrong location, but make do.
Pamela’s luggage is picked up. YEA!
Laundry is done- Good thing. Clothes were beginning to stand up all by themselves!
Shoot concert scene at Dolphin restaurant. Fun night! Dancing again.

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Friday Sept. 1 2006 -
Sound person Susan leaves set early. Bummer!
Shoot exterior shots. Drive up to location.
Beautiful location, but not right for scene. Oh well shoot it anyway.
Drive back home. Worried about money for gas, food and essentials.
We make it back.
Go to Concert for Danny. Shoot concert. Fun!
Head home hungry and tired. Pam won’t stop for food. Lousy producer-tight with $.

Saturday Sept. 2 2006 -
Shoot more exterior shots.
Lunch with Mulenga-very productive for Cyndi and Pamela
Crew blogs and return home for party.
Cast angry about money issues.
Cyndi addresses issues then retires for the evening. She has had it.
Crew Dances and parties all night!

partyTime.jpgSunday Sept. 3 2006 -
Crew sleeps in. Too much partying!
Cyndi and Pamela meet with Danny. What's up with that?
Pack up.
Head out.
Shop for 15 minutes.
Get to airport in plenty of time.
So glad to be going home!
So glad to be done with this movie.

Monday Sept 4, 2006
Arrive home at 5 pm. Lost 8 hours in flight.
Pamela and Mike loose their luggage. Pam is cursed!
Hugs good-bye.
How to survive with out each other?
Go to bed and sleep!

Holding Hands - Holding Hearts

BY PAMELA BOWMAN – MESA ARIZONA USA - We are home. And once again one piece of my luggage is lost. For some reason it seems appropriate. While in Zambia I left my life behind and for 23 of the 27 days I had very little to remind me of that life. Now upon returning I bring back only the luggage I recently had been reunited with. All that I acquired in Zambia was in the luggage the airlines has misplaced on our return flights. Two different lives and perhaps two different people living them. I’m sure there is meaning there somewhere. I am just too tired to analyze it all.

pushTheBus.pngNow that the filming has been done I wonder who will read our blogs. The work is not finished. There is post production still ahead. Our crew does not have the luxury of taking a few days to rest or have jet lag or time to absorb recent events. We still have to push the bus! So push we will.

When I told my family about some of our challenges and some of the highlights I kept seeing the faces of our Zambian friends. I would love to be able to reach out and touch their faces and hold their hands. In Zambia everyone holds hands. Grown men are seen walking down the street holding each others hands. It showed the world they were brothers of the heart. It was endearing and sweet and good. There is sweet intimacy in holding hands. I think it says you trust those hands with your life and with your heart.

We are home. Now we are with others who missed us and supported us and loved us. Once again that is really what life is all about. Being kind to each other. Loving each other. Encouraging each other.

To the crew I would love to say…..what, what, what. And thanks for sharing the best of you. You have enriched my life. I would hold your hands any day because we are brothers and sisters of the heart.

August 31, 2006

African Sunrise

BY PAMELA BOWMAN LUSAKA ZAMBIA AFRICA - We were told not to miss the African sunrise, but most of us found our beds too warm and our pillows too deep. It was curiosity that got me out of bed. I couldn’t wait to take an open air shower! I am weird, I know, but it was cool, because there was warm water and pressure and a tree to hang my towel and I could look outside while I shampooed my hair! I walked outside our hut and down the path to my personal chair overlooking the gorge. It was so quiet and peaceful even with the sound of the rushing rapids.

I walked down to our open aired dining room and found the crew and other guests visiting. The conversation sounded loud and inappropriate. I wanted to shout “Be quiet! Listen to the silence!” I wanted to take a moment and sit and reflect and think and just be in the moment. I was not able to do that. We might be in a beautiful place, but we were there to work. I promised myself to get up early the next day and take the time to ponder and think and reflect.

Off to Victoria Falls. We hiked as far as we could. It felt so good to feel the mist on our faces and the clean air in our lungs. Then off to lunch. Food! Yea! Back to the lodge to enjoy the evening at the top of the world. There is nothing quite so odd as blogging on a laptop under mosquito nets. Sleep came quickly. I love it here!

_MG_7002.jpgI managed to wake up for the sunrise. I sat at the edge of the gorge and watched the day begin. I thought how much I wished my family were here to share this amazing experience. I even shed tears and watched them dry in the red dusty dirt. I whispered words on the wind and felt them float away. This place is sacred.

I climbed aboard the helicopter and didn’t even have the chance to think about what I was doing and where I was going. We flew over the falls, over the river, over the elephants, over the villages and soon we touched down and the other crew members climbed on board. Was I just in a helicopter? Yep!

On the way home we toured the animal park. Tons of elephants (Really!) Zebras, monkeys, wildebeests, water buffalo, impalas, and hippos. Now for the long ride back to Lusaka! Back to the cast and our last days of shooting. Will we get it done? Of Course we will. We are the most stubborn bunch of filmmakers I know. Actually, we are the only filmmakers I know!

There have been so many memorable experiences, but for me the lodge and the gorge and my morning of solitude have been the most meaningful. No matter where I go I will always remember the rising African sun.


Soul Break

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BY PAMELA BOWMAN

Lazy horizon swallows the African light
Dust and dusk silhouette sauntering baskets upon chitenge.
Faithful followers of ancient paths.
Deepen the trail of their children’s graves.

Dark child straddles what once was, is and will be.
Eating the dust that has long been stale.
Wondering wandering waterless way
Back to where nomads wouldn’t linger, couldn’t stay.

Small fires signal the presence of life and home
Boiling the nshima to fill their hungry souls.
Bloody moon half rises to silent sobering eyes
The cries have died without ears to hear and mouths to lie.

Wind carries the morning without a hint of dew.
Young withered hands are hunting food.
Babies wake with stomach empty ache.
Another African morning, more souls to break.

August 28, 2006

A Promise Of Good Things

BY PAMELA BOWMAN LIVINGSTONE ZAMBIA - We left Lusaka at 4 in the afternoon. We were told it was a 5 hour trip to Livingstone. Alec was the first to suggest before we even got out of town that we should stop to eat. So technically we left at 5. We arrived in Livingstone at midnight. Once again, Zambians have a different concept of time.

We managed to find the turn off to our hotel, The Taito Falcon lodge. We called the owners, who were waiting dinner, to inform them that we were almost there. At the turnoff the pavement ended and the ruts began. Individually we began to look out into the night and see the bush we were driving in. Our silence became nervous giggles as our bus load of film makers could see the possibilities of the Blair Witch Hunt African style. The road became narrower and steeper. We passed huts and African tents and tall tree houses. We kept driving and occasionally found a small sign indicating that we were on the right road. Cyndi said, “They said that there was only one fork that was unmarked.” Great we silently thought. We didn’t know how close we were or how far we had to go. We just knew we were lost in the African bush. Are there still cannibals in the world? Would we drive off and into the Zambezi River? Would we fly off the Victoria Falls? We started to write a story line for lost or survivor. We all knew who would be voted off and given to those cannibals!

lodge_bed.pngAfter a moment of forever, 40 minutes, we arrived. We exited the bus and were greeted by a voice that could rattle your bones in fear and did! Raspy, deep, brawny South African accent accompanied by a demonic laugh. We clung to each other as we walked single file to where this man led. It was dark, It was quiet. It was after midnight. We followed the narrow path to our outside dining area. Waiting for us beside a campfire was an elegant table surrounded by real luminarias. The buffet serving table was built from small stones. The surrounding walls were constructed of hatch. We had finally arrived in Africa. Even though we were exhausted we wanted to explore, to capture, to feel the very essence of this place.

After an appetizing meal we were led to our rooms. I don’t think any of us could have been prepared for what we found. We slid the bamboo doors open to an open aired room. Inside were our beds covered with mosquito nets. Bamboo walls reached as high as my head. A rock wall divided the bathing area from the bed area. Our rock shower had a tree growing in the middle with hooks for towels! It was so cool! The best part was the soft comfortable beds. We were in Africa! Tomorrow we would discover more, but for now it was just enough of a promise of good things.

August 27, 2006

Weekly Review Two

August 21 2006 Monday:
Great Day- We were shooting at our lodge.
We got 11.5 pages done
Amazing experience – Looks like a great week ahead.

August 22 2006
We spoke too soon!
Ying yang for sure
By the afternoon we were back in the swing.
Amazing footage of bridal shower with drummers and dancing.
It can’t get much worse…can it?

August 23 2006 – Wednesday
Shot exterior shots around town
Went to Mtendere – a high density area.= scary!
Interviewed many of the people = SAD!
Let’s hurry out of here!

August 24th 2006 – Thursday
Lost the bus- Acquired a new bus. Great Bus driver named Benny.
Shot wedding scene at church.
Actress deliberately came five hours late to insult Cyndi. Lovely.
8 crew members left behind in dark to wait for ride- Looked for big dipper- received lesson on constellations in the southern hemisphere from oh brilliant one!

Danny_at_the_dolpins.jpgAugust 25th 2006 – Friday
Shot at ZNBC –violence on the set – oh boy the drama!
Something about the rules applying to everyone.
Shoot at restaurant with Dany.
Dinner at restaurant – Dancing again! Interesting evening.

August 26th 2006 – Saturday
Researched options concerning Pamela’s baggage.
After receiving laundry bill, crew spends morning doing their own.
Boys used latex gloves. They have such sensitive skin!
Went to Lusaka Playhouse for 50th Jubilee.
Was rude and left to go eat dinner and relax and do more laundry.
Cyndi calls her father to wish him a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

August 27th 2006 – Sunday
Some go to church. Others slept.
Visit internet café. Blog. Shop for souvenirs.
Plan trip to Livingstone. Get bus arranged. Get hotel arranged. Should be fun.
Crew needs a break. Off we go!

No Problem

BY PAMELA BOWMAN, LUSAKA, ZAMBIA – Zambia’s mantra is “no problem”. After two weeks we have learned that if anyone says “no problem” it means there is a big problem. Example? Well, we were told all of our set locations were arranged. Now in our world that means that if you are shooting at a bank the bank has been contacted and has agreed that a film crew will have access to the location for x amount of hours for x amount of days. In Zambia that means that someone has thought about what bank would be nice to use and when the film crew arrives the bank manager is approached and asked if the crew and cast could shoot for a little while.

OurGangOnSet.jpgOne day we verified with our location scout about the shoot the next day. He asked what time we would be arriving. We told him 8 am sharp. He said “No problem.” Our location scout is also our transportation coordinator. We were waiting by our gate at 7:30 then 8:00 then 9:00. The cast was waiting for their pickups as well. Finally our bus arrived and took us to a different location. We finally arrived to a surprised business owner who quickly tried to accommodate our cast and crew. We could tell he was uncomfortable with us being there, but we had no choice. We tried to get the set ready. As we lit the set our lights blew as did the owners transformer. The room filled with smoke and a smell that was well unbearable. Our location scout said, “No problem.”

August 21, 2006

Spiders

BY PAMELA BOWMAN, LUSAKA, ZAMBIA, AFRICA - It was like the first night we were there. We could hear the screams in all of our rooms. A spider had been found. The screams sent the insect into hiding, but our crew of ladies searched until the ghastly arachnid was found. The shoes and other accesible weapons surronded the enemy until Ginger protested the killing of the creature. With mouths agape, Ginger approached the enemy. She captured the offender and placed it in its POW portable camp. She slowly carried it out of the compound and ceremoniously placed him outside and watched him scurry away. It should not have been a surprise to learn that she was the one to get the kiss of gratitude from her leggy friend! I guess that could mean the creature is back and stalking us all. Yep, there is Jeniece and MK screaming. The search is on but, with the pacifist gone, the weapons are loaded! We are taking no prisoners and there will be no humanitarian releases.

Weekly Review

BY PAMELA BOWMAN, LUSAKA, ZAMBIA, AFRICA - The other night we filmed each other and talked about our first week. Sort of a debriefing. Some had to stop and think, "what did we do this week?" Lack of sleep seems to create a blur of time. So we decided to recap the week in brief summary form just to help us recall what we did and that we were productive.

Thursday August 10th - Arrived in Zambia - Received VIP treatment. We have arrived.
Dropped off luggage at lodge - became acquainted with resort and its staff.
Went to Lusaka Playhouse - Met the cast

Friday - August 11th - Educational exchange meeting at Evelon Hagn College
Copy scripts for cast
Met with cast for script distribution and contract signing
Script read through

Saturday-August 12 - Continue script read through
Internet cafe
Visited high densitiy area. Interviewed locals for Doc - Village Mandevo
CREW LOVED THIS EXPERIENCE

Sunday-August 13 - Some went to church while others slept
Prepared shoot of N'goni warriors at village
Shot N'goni warriors at village and at resort
COOL DAY

Monday August 14 - Rehearsal at Lusaka playhouse
Set up set at Persian warehouse
Lights blow - power issues
Set break down/return to lodge
research light problem at ZNBC
Shop for lights
PROBLEM SOLVING DAY

Tuesday - August 15 - Pick up new lights
Begin shoot at ZNBC - Late night
LATE NIGHT but we worked!

Wednesday - August 16 - Shoot at Tweekatoni school
Mosquito and rent issues
Rebuild glide cam
Shop for dolly supplies (CYNDI CREATIVE!)
Build dolly
Cyndi and Pamela get lost in search of food for set
Crew returns tired and blood sucked from mosquitos
EXHAUSTION AND FRUSTRATION

Thursday - August 17 - Shoot back at ZNBC
Set improvisions/issues
ARGHHH!

Friday - August 18- Shoot at ZIS
Sound studio
Shoot at ZNBC
GETTING IT DONE!

Saturday- August 19 - Meet with Zambian screen writers- pitched their ideas- feedback
Film country storytellers
Teach local Zambian film students (lights, sound, makeup)
Pizza with all students. Visit with students
Eat out at kareoke restaurant
Dancing at Rumba club
RELAXING AND FUN!

Sunday -August 20 - Church for some
Sleep for others
Shopping for family
Internet cafe
Evening at lodge- relax
Discuss next day shoot-verify with actors on Pick up time.
RESTFUL

Monday - August 21 - Shoot at lodge

August 20, 2006

A New Week

PAMELA BOWMAN LUSAKA ZAMBIA AFRICA - Tomorrow begins a new week. We are spending time recuperating from last week. Yesterday, after spending the afternoon blogging and writing to our families, we went back to the resort. We showered and got dressed. For everyone else that meant clothes unrelated to the film. For me, it meant wearing my whites instead of my jeans. Yes, my luggage is still in luggage twilight zone. Then we went to a restaurant. It had a karaoke system. Only three of us were brave enough to sing. It was fun to be silly or watch others be silly! My family has banned me from singing in public or private or in this lifetime. After dinner we went to a Zambian rumba club. There were moments when most of the crew danced in a circle with wild abandon. Even the old ladies were be bopping to some kind of music we had never heard before. By midnight the majority had had enough of crouds and music and the day. We returned to the resort. Instead of going to bed like mature adults we sat around and talked again until 4 in the morning! What is wrong with us?

Tonight it is back to business. We have a planning meeting for next week. Cyndi is really good about de-briefing the crew and analyzing what has happened and what needs to happen. So I am confident this week we will make great strides in getting more scenes wrapped up.

In the meantime dinner awaits at the resort.

August 19, 2006

It's All About the Food

zambian_breakfast.jpgBY PAMELA BOWMAN LUSAKA ZAMBIA AFRICA They have pizza here. They have bread. They have bottled water. You may notice we talk about food a lot. That is because we are working so hard that we are always hungry. We decided that we needed to have food on the set for everyone to nibble on between sets. So Cyndi and I left one night to go to the grocery store....alone! Cyndi was driving. She said I couldn't because I am a student. What is up with that? So she is driving. In Zambia you drive on the left hand side of the road. She kept repeating to herself "Do what feels wrong. Do what feels wrong." I guess that includes driving down the middle of the road because you can't really judge how close you are to the wrong/right side. Are you following all of this? Hitting the curb is the other alternative. She managed to do that a few times too. They have round abouts. We thought we were just circling around and around. I couldn't help but have a Depends moment! It was too funny. We did manage to find the grocery store, but then we had to figure out how to get back to our resort. The only thing I am allowed to say is that getting lost in Zambia was an experience and one we have managed to repeat again and again as we forage out for set food! I am not allowed to discuss details because some things that happen is Zambia must stay in Zambia. As a result Cyndi has hired a private car and driver to take me to the store in the evenings for the set food.

We are also making a move or two here. Last night we all were on the local T.V. show as they highlighted our crew and project. Being on someone elses set felt odd. I thought Cyndi was going to start telling the host how to fix the lights or check the sound, but she refrained and then made the whole crew march onto the set and introduce ourselves. March we did!

We are having fun getting to know and work with the cast of BAD TIMING. They seem as dedicated to this project as we are. They are also as hungry as we are! It's all about the food!

Another week starts in 36 hours. Thank goodness for Sundays. We all need a day of rest and some more good food! Just don't let Cyndi drive.

August 14, 2006

Solving Problems

NgoniVillage.jpg

BY PAMELA BOWMAN, LUSAKA, ZAMBIA -- I thought the first day of shooting would be today. I was wrong. No news there! We actually had an unexpected opportunity yesterday. Our bus driver is a dancer for the Ngoni warriors. He actually organizes his troup to dance at parties and such. So we thought it would be cool to see his group dance. Our host graciously located a village about 5 miles from where we are staying. So Cyndi had this bright idea to shoot it. She is brilliant like that. It took FOREVER to get there. Lovely roads! Anyways, the dancers were all in authentic dance attire and we landed at the village just in time for a sunset shoot. AWESOME! Our whole crew pulled together and captured amazing footage of these native dancers among these real African huts. Most of the village people were so sweet and curious and cooperative. We loved it. After, we came back to our resort and watched the footage. The colors of Africa are amazing. We are so proud of ourselves!

Then today happened. We started our shoot. We had to wait a couple of hours for our bus. ARGHH! Finally we were off to the theater house and had a small rehersal. Then we went to the location. We got everything set up and the actors were ready, the cameras were ready and we were ready. Lights, camera....wait lights, pop. Big problem. The electricity couldn't handle the lights. But being the seasoned crew that we are. I mean we did shoot the night before! We remained calm. Figured out we had a problem we couldn't solve, broke down the set, fed the crew, loaded up the crew and began figuring out how to solve the electicity issue. Cyndi, Jabbes and Jacob, Mike, John and Susan went to ZNBC and received the information they needed for tomorrow's shoot. Problem solved.

The rest of the crew went back to our resort to do laundry by hand. That is easy for me because I only have one change of clothing. Homeless in Africa, Need of clothing. Please help the airlines find my luggage. I am borrowing one piece of clothing from each crew member! It's all good. I don't care because I am in Africa shooting a film! I am also still queen of all card games. The crew has been humilited by the old lady!

Tomorrow is another day. It will be a good one. Hopefully we will be able to blog more often soon. Another problem we are working out. We are great problem solvers. In the mean time we are learning about Africa, each others families and about each other! Scary stuff!

August 12, 2006

StoneFace

stoneface2.jpgPAMELA BOWMAN ZAMBIA AFRICA-Hello! This is "Stoneface." Yes, the crew has nicknamed me! What is up with that? I can't imagine why? I was the one who couldn't sit still and was smiling ear to ear as we approached Heathrow. I was in Europe for like 4 hours! I was so close to Italy and Spain and Greece! That was painful! Then when we were actually landing in South Africa everyone was telling me to look out the window. There was a problem because on a 747 middle aisle you can't see out any window! But they told me how beautiful the sunrise was. Wasn't that nice of them? OK I was a little sleep deprived. I found out that I can't sleep sitting up! stoneface.jpgThe first night I sat between Cyndi and Alec. I was an oreo between two people who love to TALK! The second night I was between two people who thought the chair arm rests were only for them. I was squished! MEN! So finally we arrived in Zambia. We walked off the plane and it was so COLD! I had the privilege of being the only crew member to have lost luggage. Still lost after three days. But being stonefaced - nothing fazes me.

I loved meeting the cast. I loved listening to them talk. Their speech is musical. I am beginning to actually understand them. It is also uplifting to feel the excitement they have over the project. So on Monday we start filming. Is that possible? Yes it is! I can't wait to see the dailies. There is not a word to describe this experience. So I won't even try.

So from Stoneface to those who care - I won't say good-bye. I will say see you later.

August 06, 2006

Changing My Heart

BY PAMELA BOWMAN MESA, AZ USA - A friend told me the other day that after all of his world travels it was Africa that was the most difficult place to visit. He said it was emotionally exhausting. Another lady I heard about came back and after a week found herself on the side of the highway crying. The impact of Africa had caught up with her. An acquaintance told me that his daughter chose nursing after participating in an African humanitarian opportunity. He told me the experience changed her life. I believe this experience will change all of our lives because I believe it will change our hearts.

We will be boarding the plane in 48 hours. I better start packing! Before Cyndi left for the Sundance Producers Conference she counseled us to pack early. OOOPS! Not the most obedient am I.

Just to justify my behavior… I have been busy! My son Ben flew in from Chile on Thursday. I had to teach him how to make enchiladas! I spent time listening to his adventures. I am a good listener. I looked right into his green eyes and down to his soul. kids.jpgI also spent time with Isaac and Audrey. Newlyweds are fun to be around. They argue so lovingly! Too cute. Then I spent time with my girls. We went to a movie, we went swimming, we talked. Did I mention shopping? I woke them up in the morning with a back scratch. I want them to miss me! Do you think they will miss me? Then Chris and I spent time with each other. I am pretty sure he is going to miss me, but you never know with those strong silent types.

I also spent time on myself. I have been waking up with the sunrise. I go in my backyard and lay in my hammock and enjoy the peace and promise of the dawn. And I think. I think of this life I live in the United States. It is so full of potential. It is so full of everything. I realize that next week I will be waking up in Zambia. I imagine that life in Zambia is not so full of everything. I will find out soon.

I told my friends and family that I expect to be different when I return. I expect this experience to change me, to change my heart. I expect that the things that I might find important and vital now may seem trivial and inconsequential. Jabbes told me that in Africa people take time to celebrate life with each other. He says there is a lot of socializing. There is a lot of dancing. There is a lot of laughter. They take time.

I believe this experience will change my life. I think it will change my heart. I think it already has.

August 02, 2006

Our Motto: Be Prepared

pjthinking1.jpgPAMELA BOWMAN MESA, ARIZONA USA - We are as ready as we are going to get. The script is done, the storyboards are done, the day of days is done. The equipment is packed. The supplies are ordered. The shots are injected. The tickets are in hand. The actors are preparing for their parts. The sets are ready. Everyone’s roles and responsibilities have been outlined and explained. When we land in Zambia we will be ready to start shooting BAD T!MING and we will be continuing with VOICE OF AN AFRICAN NATION.

So maybe the question is not are we ready, but is Zambia ready for us? Our small and determined crew will be landing next Thursday morning. We know they know we are coming. They have been generous with their support and encouragement. Jabbes and Cyndi are in daily contact with friends, business associates, press people, educators and family. I would imagine they are just as curious about us and our culture as we are about them and theirs.

We have not had the luxury of sending over crew members to scout out sights, sets, actors and costumes. Jabbes has delegated many things to those he trusts in Zambia to manage many details. When we arrive we are confident that those he trusted will be ready for us and our goal of shooting these films. We know that the Zambian crew understands and appreciates that we only have 4 weeks to shoot these films before returning back to the USA. We do not have the luxury of waiting for sets to get done or for actors to learn their lines. Everything must be ready. Jabbes assures us it will be. He trusts his friends explicitly. This gives us confidence because we know and trust Jabbes. He has been a man of his word.

Cyndi is not only preoccupied with shooting these films. She has other things on all of our plates. She is a teacher after all. So every waking, and no doubt, sleeping moment is spent either teaching or figuring out how to teach a concept, program, ideal or specific student. Those in education from Zambia have contacted her and arrangements are being made to teach those interested in pursuing a career in the film industry. This is scheduled to occur within the first 24 hours of our arrival. As a teacher, she knows she is also always learning. She has contacted educators who will assist her in documenting Zambian story tellers and artists. She is as excited about this aspect of the project as she is the feature film and the documentary.

As you can tell this project is multi-dimensional. That is because Cyndi is the queen of multi- tasking and has taught us to be the same. We are all learning and doing so much. We have to. She has done all she can to help us take advantage of this once in a life time opportunity. So maybe the question should be is Zambia ready for Cyndi Greening and her FilmZambia Crew! Zambia, brace yourself, a cyclone is landing on Thursday morning. So be prepared, anything can happen and usually does.

August 01, 2006

Film Zambia Crew

FilmZambiaCrewThumbnail.jpg

(Click to view larger image)

July 29, 2006

Hurry Up and Get There

BY PAMELA BOWMAN, MESA, ARIZONA, USA — Ten days and counting. We will be leaving on the 8th in the evening. That gives us all day to run around and wait. ARGH!

Last minute details.
Getting my girls all ready for school.
Do they have new shoes, notebooks, pens and lip gloss? Check.
Money for lunches? Check.
Yadayadayada.
The talk about no boys in the house while I am gone? CHECK!!!

Pams-ben.jpg Now my boys are different.
My new daughter-in-law will have to deal with Isaac, son Number One. Son Number Two is a different story. Anyone know of a good orthopedic surgeon? Yes, Ben needs to come home from Chile to repair his torn meniscus. I will not be here to mother him. My husband assures me they will all survive without me. How is that possible?

Do I have all my supplies?
Cameras?
Pepto Bismol?
Sanity?
Memory, now where did I put that?

This is so FUN! I am going to Africa. I am on a film crew. I am so happy to be me! Thank you Cyndi for having confidence in me. Thank you for having the vision to see how wonderful this screenplay is. Thank you for all the work you have done to put this together. No one really knows all you have done except you, but I have a pretty good idea. We are all indebted to you. We all owe you and the only way to show our respect and admiration is to show up, work hard and have fun. I think we can do that!

Ten days and counting! HURRY UP AND GET HERE!

July 26, 2006

ALWAYS

BY PAMELA BOWMAN, MESA, USA - During one of our training sessions we were told the pros and cons of this project. It is easier and more fun to focus on the pros. The cons were like, “you could die over there! You really could!” Cyndi wanted to make it perfectly clear. “If you have a problem with that then you had better pull yourself out of this right now!”

There are wild animals and a culture we are not familiar with, but die? Bungy-jumping-.gif
We are not bungy jumping off of Victoria Falls. This was clarified by our fearful leader Cyndi. We are going to be insulated. Jabbes has arranged “supervisors” for each of us. We have had our shots. We have done as much as we can to prepare for this project. We are dying to go!

But that statement does leave one with moments of reflection. Late at night with the steady sound of breathing from each of those I have nurtured for the last 24 years I ponder what their lives would be like with out me in it.

Through the years everyone develops relationships. In the everyday events of life you see and relate to those you see and relate with every day. I have never consciously chosen to stop associating with anyone. Usually circumstances dictate who I see or don’t see. I remember hearing that after high school you won’t see those you have spent four years of your life with. I didn’t believe it then, but it was true. The same occurred with my College friends. And as I have left communities I have been disappointed and sad at the lack of communication with those I have history with. So now I am embarking on a new adventure. I would be remiss not to think of the implications. As I meet new people and develop new relationships I acknowledge it diminishes the time I have for others, including myself.

There will come a time in all of our lives when we can not be a part of the lives of those we love, but I believe that we can always be in each others hearts. Sounds corny, right? Well, it is. That doesn’t make it untrue. I also have found strength and courage knowing of the love and confidence others have for me. Recently, I also have experienced self-doubt and weakness when I have felt all alone, abandoned or worse denied.

pjsliding.jpg“You could die over there! You really could!” I know that is true, but I also know I could die right here. And I will some day. In the mean time I am enjoying the feeling of birth, my own, separate and yet intertwined with family, friends, nature, environment and once in a life time opportunities.

My little world without me in it. Yes, I want to be missed by those I cherish. I want them to know it isn’t what I may accomplish that is worth remembering. It is how I made them feel.

Be forewarned, when I am gone I will haunt your heart just as many linger in mine…Always.

July 19, 2006

A DAILY CONVERSATION

BY PAMELA BOWMAN MESA AZ USA

“You are going where?”

“Africa.” I say it casually as if going to Africa is a normal occurrence for any 48 year-old wife and mother of four.

“Are you nervous?”

“Nervous? Why would I be nervous?”

I am going to Africa to shoot a documentary and help with the first feature film ever made in Zambia. Should I be nervous?

“There are wild animails!”white bird africa_m.jpg


“In the zoo!”

Actually, we will be in a large city for two weeks. Apparently there are wild animals and birds and creatures roaming the streets, but I am sure they will not mind us. Now when we travel to the bush, I love saying that. It sounds so exotic. We might encounter some wild life, but I am confident I can out run Cyndi.

“What about diseases?”

“We have all taken shots." Ouch on those. And we will be taking malaria pills. And did you know my husband, who is not going to Africa can not give blood for like 7 years after I get back? I do feel bad about that. He has good blood.

“What about your family? Who will take care of your children?”

I look at them like they are boring me with details.

“My son’s, 23 and 20 are green…with envy. They are just mad they aren’t going. My 17-year-old daughter is thrilled. She gets the car while I am gone. My 11 year old will be running the house. She has been bossing us around, well , for 11 years! I hope to shout that she has raised us to be self sufficient and productive members of her family.”

“What about your husband? Won’t he miss you?”

“Yes, he will. He likes me a lot. He thinks I am entertaining. He also likes that I am adventurous and am always thinking.”

OK now I am exaggerating. There are not many men pj-and-Chris.jpgwho like women to always be thinking. Thinking is usually followed by spending money, remodeling, talking and for some going to Africa.

“How long will you be gone?”

“Almost a month.”

“A whole month? That is a long time!”

A month is 30 days. We will be gone only 27.
It really isn’t that long. My biggest fear? The food. I must admit I tend to be a foodie. I like what I like and fish is not on my list. They belong in the water where they can outswim the larger fish.

“Well, call when you get back. I want to hear all about it.”

“Yea, sure, I’ll have you over to watch my slides.”

Now who’s nervous! I see the fear in their eyes.

“Oh, will you be doing slides?” They ask with trepidation.

“You betcha!”

It’s called a movie!

July 15, 2006

Represent

PAMELA BOWMAN, MESA, ARIZONA, USA - In many ways , I imagine, this project is like any film project. You have a script, you have actors, you have sets and costumes and you have a crew. In more ways this project is not like any other film project.

The aim of art is not to represent the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance. — Aristotle

In our situation we recognize that we represent much more than ourselves in this project. We realized from the beginning that what was being produced would reflect on MCC, Mesa, Arizona and the USA. Grand Canyon 29.jpgAt the same time MCC has respected the rights of the Zambian writer to tell his story in the way that best represents his culture. It is a deep, mutual respect. It is honorable.

This project is unique because as far as we know it has never occurred before. We do not know of any other junior college or even a four-year university that has provided funding for their students to go to a foreign country to help the citizens shoot their nation's first film. As a result our crew recognizes our responsibility to do our professional best. We will represent what is noble and courageous about America.

This project has been funded in part by MCC. This project exemplifies an excellent use of funds earmarked for innovative student and faculty learning. Arizona is known for its artists and for supporting art. Arizona understands the educational benefits of art. Kent Seidel, PhD said, “There is ample evidence that the arts help students develop the attitudes, characteristics, and intellectual skills required to participate effectively in today's society and economy. The arts teach self-discipline, reinforce self-esteem, and foster the thinking skills and creativity so valued in the workplace. They teach the importance of teamwork and cooperation. They demonstrate the direct connection between study, hard work, and high levels of achievement.” When you consider the artistic contribution Arizona is known for, it is not surprising that Arizona would be the initial state that supports such a project. We will represent what is creative and cooperative about America.

Grand Canyon 98.jpgAs citizens of the United States, we understand that some regions in the world view all Americans as greedy, self absorbed, lazy, power hungry individuals. We know this is not true and we have the opportunity to show the world another side of America. This project exemplifies the true spirit of American citizens. Our goals are selfless and altruistic. We will represent what is kind and generous about America.

We have a huge responsibility to ourselves. We are to learn all we can from this educational opportunity. We are to expand professionally through this momentous project. We are to grow personally from contributing and participating with the Zambians. We will represent the achievement that is possible when one commits oneself to service, leadership and global understanding.

July 09, 2006

From Mother to Daughter

PAMELA BOWMAN MESA ARIZONA USA - One sunny noonday while traveling with my daughters to a lunch date, I ran into some road construction. Sitting at a light, I honked my horn gently at the car in front of me to let them know that we had the green arrow to turn. The passenger took offense at my nudge and let me know with just one finger what he thought of me and my considerate reminder. Now tell me what is a mother to do?

As human beings, do we not have the right to communicate our intentions? Could I allow my daughters to think that I would tolerate such disrespect? Well duh, NO! I followed the car through the light and approached them on the right. I rolled my window down and asked, “WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM?" The passenger flips out his handy dandy switch blade!

I follow blade man just long enough to have my daughter write down the license plate and the make and model of the car. My husband calls to tell me to get off the stupid freeway. Now, let’s get one thing perfectly straight. Freeways are not stupid! I comply and exit the freeway. I report the information to the police. They promise to call if they locate the one finger switch blade man. They never called back. My daughters learned an important lesson that day. Their mother is insane.

My daughters are now 17 and 11. They are beautiful, intelligent and funny. They do not honk at cars, but they do fight injustice in their own way. I am honored to be their mother. I hope they have learned how valuable they are. I hope they know sometimes you have to sacrifice something good for something better and sometimes you just have to sacrifice. I often tell them that life isn’t fair, so, oh well. I also hope they see that I think life is an adventure. I want them to know that I know I don’t know everything, but I am having an awfully good time learning as much as I can.

pam-and-Wis.jpg

I am going to Africa to shoot a documentary on the first feature film in Zambia. Now just how many daughters are telling that over the water fountain? I can see the first essay at school next year. “We spent the summer learning about Africa because my Mom decided that is where she wanted to go and so that is where she is.”

My children will have a wonderful life. I‘d like to believe I had something to do with that. They are adventurous and curious and productive and kind. They have known disappointment. They have known heartache. They have known love. They do have one flaw. They never honk.

July 07, 2006

Advancing Confidently

PAMELA BOWMAN MESA ARIZONA USA -- Last night we had another training session in preparation for the feature film shoot. Cyndi was multi-tasking again. She had us set up for an interview. We talked with former student Jordan Pack. Jordan was an animation student who was back for the summer. For the documentary, she wanted to get his take on our opportunity of filming in Zambia as MCC students. He said how he wished he had had such an opportunity and how it could have benefited his career aspirations.

AZRepublic.jpgWe also had a visit from the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. Their reporter Josh Kelley (and photographer Dave) observed as we got the interview recorded. Josh also commented on what a great opportunity for MCC students to go to Africa and shoot a film. Later, we watched footage from a previous practice shoot. We critiqued our work. We discussed what worked and what didn't. We examined the lighting, camera angles, sound and editing. It was very beneficial.

Then came the talk.

We have the funding for two (2) faculty and eight (8) students. The problem is there are 15 students and six faculty. That means Cyndi wants to get funding for 5 more students. That's $15,000.00. If she can't locate funding, that's five students who have dedicated their thoughts and actions to this project for the last four months that will not get to go. The question I have (and I am sure the other students have) is, am I one of the 5 who will be left behind? Cyndi calls it Sophie's Choice (from the William Stryon novel and film that starred Meryl Streep). The dreams and goals of which child lives ... and which child dies?

Cyndi explained that the determining factors will be an assessment of our effort, commitment and knowledge. Do we show initiative? Do we have to be told what to do or do we just do it? How do we relate to other crew members? Do we work well as a team player? Are we paying attention to what has to be done and thinking of ways to accomplish it? How skilled and proficient are we with all of the cameras, lights and tools? If we don’t know how to do something do we figure it out, ask questions, read up on it or let it become someone else’s problem? Are we open to the cross training Cyndi is providing for us?

Most everyone works well as a team. Certainly many hands make light work. The hardest part for those left behind will be knowing the contribution that could be made if he/she were able to go. Each of us wants to go desperately. We might even think we deserve to go for the effort we've put in, but that doesn’t mean we can go. Even though we have unlimited energy, determination and passion, there is a limit to how many plane tickets we can afford.

As I wait to see if the funds come in, I will ponder on what Henry David Thoreau said, “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” I await the meeting in the common hours.

June 25, 2006

It Is Simple

PamFriends.jpgBY PAMELA BOWMAN, MESA, ARIZONA, USA - This last week-end the MCC film crew had the opportunity to participate in some Zambian culture. As a result of Jabbes’ sons death, the Zambian community got together to show emotional support to our friend Jabbes. We visited together, We broke bread together. We prayed together. We offered words of condolences and even financial support for the cost of the funeral expenses. It was apparent to me the joy the Zambian community found in each other’s company. It was also comforting to feel their acceptance of us in their home and hearts. They extended their hands of friendship to us and I hope they felt our hands and hearts reaching out as well. It was simple. It was pure.

I think that is one of the greatest benefits of working together, building friendships. You get to know each other and you find out how easy it is to like other people once you understand why they are the way they are. As the crew becomes more familiar with each other, well there is a lot of yanking of each other’s chains. It is fun. I keep reminding Shawn not to take my picture, that the story is not about me. So of course I find his lens in my face all the time. Jabbes tells me that my daughter is “very pretty” and that she must get it from her father! I tease Cyndi about, well... everything! She is constantly telling me that I am a worry wart! Me? Carlos told me he ran over my camera on Saturday, both ways! I think laughter cements the bonds of friendship. It is simple.

A song in the play “Wicked” goes, “I’ve heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason, bringing something we must learn. We are led to those who will help us grow- if we let them and we help them in return.” I think that is true. I have had good friends my entire life. Life long friends. Friends who through time have shown loyalty and honesty and understanding. I cherish those friends and always will. I have also had acquaintances that proved to be less then I need in a friend, but I still have learned from them. Some life lessons have been taught to me by people who I don’t want to even remember meeting or knowing. So I choose to forget the person, but remember the lesson. It is simple.

This life experience is teaching us all so much about the art of film. But the real lessons are the human relations that are being acted out at every meeting, at every training, at every event. Cyndi and Jabbes have come into our lives for a reason. They bring to us something we must learn. We have been led to those who will help us grow and maybe we can help them in return. That really is what life should be about, helping one another, loving one another. I think that is called charity. It really is that simple.

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 11, 2006

Diet Pepsi anyone?

BY PAMELA BOWMAN, MESA ARIZONA USA - Who is Cyndi Greening and when did she lose her mind? At first, she teaches her classes with what can be described as the mother of Sammy the Squirrel in overdrive. (Over the Hedge!) She goes through computer programs with speed and agility and somehow it works because we all get it! Then she tells our class that we can, if we want, be part of a team that produces, films and edits “spotlights” for potentially 90 departments at Mesa Community College. This would mean we could get on-the-sight experience with making a short movie, working on a real crew and then seeing our work produced through the college website. Excuse me, but what film student wouldn’t want that experience?

Then things get interesting. What about a spotlight in Spanish and Cantonese? Oh and by the way, “would any of you be interested in going to Africa this summer and working on a feature film and a documentary? Email me a letter why I should choose you to come…. Now you can see when you have a shaky clip or a crappy cinematographer, how “Shake” can make your clip solid as a rock…Who's tapping? Knock it off! Bring up Motion. I want to show you..Anyone want to go get me a diet Pepsi?” Diet Pepsi.jpg

Over the river and through the woods to Africa we go… It is more like over the rapids and through the trenches but what the heck! What housebound new mother hasn’t ventured out with her newborn baby to a restaurant or a movie and been totally embarrassed that her child, the apple of her eye, hasn’t learned how to behave in public. The good mother returns home and begins teaching her child how to be a productive citizen in society. First lesson? No whining! As a crew representing MCC, Cyndi is teaching us how to be productive contributors in the world of film. She is taking not one child, but 16! She is insane, but like all good children we will not have her committed. At least not until after Africa! We will behave. We will learn. We will not embarrass our Mum. Yea right! She has to sleep sometime!

Hopefully, after careful training and lots and lots and lots of practicing, she can sit in the audience with a smile on her lips and moisture fogging her glasses as she watches the finished piece performed perfectly at our movie screen at Sundance! Until then, any one have a diet Pepsi?

June 05, 2006

Determined Souls

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go. — T.S. Eliot

BY PAMELA BOWMAN, MESA, ARIZONA, USA -I can only speak for myself. I never thought I could go this far, but I was willing to risk going too far! The time is getting shorter and our group is getting tighter. Our goals are becoming more focused. We are a small group of determined souls. We are committed to telling the story and telling it beautifully. I believe we each understand the significance of this film about Africa and for Africa. This film will give a voice to Africa. Not the war torn political driven drowning shout of small and greedy men. This will be a small quiet respectful voice. It will demand the world’s attention because it will speak the truth. It will speak from the souls of Zambians who believe in family and unity and love. It will touch the hearts of the world as they discover the Africa that has not been portrayed in our nightly news.

We have just a few short weeks before production starts on the feature film. The documentary began weeks ago. We are learning every day from those who have gone before. We are wise like that. We are also smart. We are learning from our own experiences. We are also naïve. All growth is a leap in the dark, a spontaneous unpremeditated act without the benefit of experience. Henry Miller

We have the leadership to guide us. We have the vision to direct us. We have the desire to motivate us. We have each other to lean on, yell at, learn from and depend on. We are a small group of determined souls. We will succeed.

May 23, 2006

Pamela Bowman ~~ Ripples of Hope

happyPam.jpgBY PAMELA BOWMAN, MESA, USA - "To dream anything that you want to dream. That’s the beauty of the human mind. To do anything that you want to do. That is the strength of the human will. To trust yourself to test your limits. That is the courage to succeed." – Bernard Edmonds.   Six months ago I told my friends I wanted to make movies. There is power in verbalizing your dreams.

In February, during our MCC digital film class our instructor, Cyndi Greening, announced that she was producing a film and a documentary that would be shot in Zambia, Africa. She then invited any class members interested in assisting in the project to submit a letter explaining why they should be considered for the project. My son, also a student in this class, encouraged me to try for a spot on the film crew. My supportive husband told me to write the letter. I hesitated. Why would a middle-aged woman (albeit a college graduate 25 years ago!) be considered for such a project? What could I offer? So many self-doubts flooded my mind. “Men often become what they believe themselves to be. If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it. But when I believe I can, then I acquire the ability to do it even if I didn’t have it in the beginning.” -Mahatma Gandhi.

I prepared and submitted my letter. We continued to work on our class film projects. I signed up to assist in the MCC spotlight project. I began working with other filmmakers and discovered how beneficial, crucial and liberating teamwork can and should be.

As the semester progressed so did the project. Meetings were held and expectations were expressed. Funding goals achieved. Hopes became reality. This film was going to be made. The documentary of the film began. Roles were discussed. Issues were addressed. Passports were required. Medical procedures were outlined. More meetings were scheduled. The importance of loyalty to the project and each other was emphasized. Research of Zambia began. Project goals were outlined.
Who was going would be determined by the amount of funds raised and if your contribution would warrant the expense incurred. “The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving." -Albert Einstein.   I want to be of great value.

Journalists began to investigate and report on the project. MCC began to explore the many educational opportunities for foreign and domestic students. Government officials began to appreciate the positive political ramifications of this project. More meetings, more schedules, more opportunities.

A Zambian named Jabbes had a dream to come to America to learn digital film so he could return to his country and provide more artistic and financial opportunities for the Zambian people. He has a beautiful story to tell, BAD TIMING. So much good from one man's dream. “It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope.” – Robert Kennedy.   Jabbes is sending many ripples of hope.
"You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand."-Woodrow Wilson.   We will not forget the errand.

Six months ago I quit my job and began pursuing my own dreams. Six months! Anything is possible when you have a dream ... and you have a professor named Cyndi Greening who sends forth ripples of hope everyday.