Tuesday, March 29, 2011

iPhone recordings

Now that I am back in the states, I have better internet for posting video clips. Will post a few iPhone clips first and then move on to video clips in the not so distant future. I tried the iPhone on this trip as the "blog" camera and was not happy. To hard to hold and I was either recording video when I wanted to take a pic or vice versa. Funny how I mention the camera lens is not wide enough for "Self Documentary." Is that even a real thing?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Day Five shooting complete & on the road home

So this quick trip is now 12 hours away from being done. Just the last leg home with one tired, smelly and slightly cranky white guy (of course that is my daily condition).

Day four included b-roll in a very, large street market setting. A little overwhelming, so today we went to a smaller market and that worked out better. We also went to the Firestone rubber plant and talked to people who have been affected by the toxic waste dumped into the river. Interesting to see thousands of rubber trees lined up in acres and acres of fields. From there I jumped on the plane finished with a whirlwind trip and some pretty interesting locations.

Liberia is an interesting place; overcoming a civil war and trying to stand on it's own two feet is not easy to do.

I am so tired I would be dangerous to drive (or operate a keyboard) so I will cut it short. Stomach a little queasy from airline food and lack of sleep.

Included a picture from Day 4 - Enjoy and will post again once I get home and sleep for a while!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Day four complete...

Today was a so -so day for shooting. Tried to collect b-roll in the main market center. A little overwhelming to the be the white guy with a camera and trying to be discreet, so I thought I would include some images from day three. Look at the places I get to go for those of you who think I am riding the high life overseas. Hot water and A/C is out in the hotel, but over all I have slept well at this place (thanks to a ceiling fan above the bed). Tomorrow we head off to the Firestone rubber plant to interview people suffering from toxic waste. I also get to head home in the afternoon. Great news, but I am a little concerned that the shooting will get pushed as late as possible and something will go wrong. I do not want to spend the night in the Liberian airport.

Will get my butt kicked on the flight home as it is 24 hours in an airplane or airport. This time you know what you are in for, the movies you have seen, the hour sitting in Accra, Ghana is not a break but a drag and new people to share a very small space with - but hey, I'm heading home :-).

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Day three complete and I am exhausted...

Today was a great day of shooting. Stressful, as everything is with run and gun shooting on a DSLR, but interesting topics to cover.

We started of with environmental issues and visited a community that has open sewage running through their area. We interviewed people in a food shop next to the sewage river about health concerns and what can be done to help. Was hard to get close to it, but I've learned to bring gum and keep chewing, ignoring the smell. Next was a community built around a small lake/stream that floods during rainy season. No help from the government, so they started to build their own retaining wall out of swamp grass bundled up in knots. Last stop was talking to children selling items in a very large market area. Why do they sell? How much do they keep and who gets the money? Interesting to see children with no real hope, but just trying to help their family survive in most cases.

On a side note, someone stole our hubcap while we were moving slowly in traffic. I was in the back seat and some people started to point and shout at the driver as a young man ran away with his hubcap. He stopped the car in the middle of the road and gave chase, but came up short. Just earlier someone stole his turn signal light when it was parked. People steal parts off of cars to sell. He even said later they will try to sell your part back to you (if you don't get a good look at them). Also got a good case of sunburn today. Hopefully I will not become a crispy critter tomorrow. All par for the course.

Sorry about the lack of media and quick write up. Slow connection and it is after midnight. I am beyond tired. Will add media after the trip.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Day two of shooting & internet issues

We completed day two of the five day trip. The most interesting part of the day was our trip to the Rock Community. It's a large rock quarry where men, women and children live and work. We went to interview people (including children) about the conditions they live and work in and talk about poverty and how it affects them. It was hard to find people to talk and I had someone with me who did not understand interviewing, which basically meant he would feed them enough of the question and answer, that they only had to respond with very brief answers. I was just trying to keep up with shooting, much less directing and interviewing while shooting. The images will be strong, not sure about the interviews. The sad part about poverty is it is a cycle. Parents have children they can't support and once a child can make any amount of money at all, there is no hope that they will ever go to school. I am surprised with the people we have interviewed, that many point to loosing someone, a father or mother, early in life and how much that affected them and changed the course of who they have become. We ended up offering the chairman of the Rock Community some money. The person I was with had no Liberian money, so I offered some US dollars. $10 was a good amount and it turned out I had $9 or $20. So he got more and was a happy camper after that.

I think this blog will be more of a post trip blog since it is hard to load images and I am still tired (the heat does not help). At least I kept lunch down today, which was a mix of rice, greens, meat, chicken and fish. Every bite had a bone.

Also having some issues with the internet today. When the power went out during the day, it never really came back up to speed (slower than dial up, but hey it was something).

Only going to include one picture from today and that is me with the small children that live in the Rock Community. They didn't really want to come close and take a picture.

Happens to me often overseas...

Monday, March 21, 2011

1st day of shooing in the can, I mean, hard drives...

It's 12:30am here and we wrapped up the first day of shooting. The biggest news is that we finished the day/night by buying prostitutes in downtown Monrovia. We first tried to talk to some of the girls about taking some time to speak about their lives on camera. That wasn't going to work, so we went inside an "establishment" to try and work out a deal. Remember I am traveling with equipment, one white guy (not white like me, family comes from India) and four Africans (one female). I was asked to put away my camera that was sitting on the table as it was making the other patrons nervous. We eventually went through a maze of hallways and rooms with two girls waiting. Once the room boss saw the group and equipment (two Africans and the two white guys) he started to freak out and kicked us out. We then went to an even shadier street with the girls and found a room there.

The interviews were nothing fancy. I made a crazy shotgun mic boom handle grip thingy out of spare red rock parts. Had a grip, long shotgun with the zoom H4N mounted on the grip so you could stand close, boom from underneath and watch the zoom recorder. Had one led light I used to back light the girls so you could not see their faces. Didn't look great but we recorded their stories of loosing parents at young ages and no work. Tough girls.

Will have more to say and try to upload pictures tomorrow. Out of time and I need to catch up on sleep and get this jet lag. Was starting to fall a sleep while interviewing a UN official in the afternoon. I did manage to stay awake when we interviewed the Liberian speaker of the house.

On a side not, ran into the personal bodyguard of Charles Taylor. Huge guy that has no future now, but he does want to tell his story. Was with Taylor from the beginning and now is looking for handouts.

Could be an interesting documentary film...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Made it to Liberia!

Brussels was my first stop. Bumped to an aisle seat in in the extended leg room section and had no charge on the bags! (+1 for United). Have you ever went on a trip and not really checked the itinerary until you're heading out? Well the wife asked what my layover was in Brussels and I was like "I don't know." Turned out to be five hours long. Oh, so fun...

Second leg was another oops, as I did not know we were going to Ghana to pick up some people on our way to Liberia. Oh well.

Made it through customs, even though the lady said I had to pay a tax on the equipment. Said I have never had to do that. Debated with her for a while and she let me go. Close one.

After that it was waiting outside while my pickup people show up 45 minutes late and then it was out to dinner.

Now off to bed. Will post pics sometime tomorrow!

Have pics but really slow connection and I have been up for 0ver 28 hours.