Tag Archives: film making

Getting back

While we were in Uganda, toward the end of the trip we would often mention how we wouldn’t be able to process the trip until after we got back. Interviewing, trying to get b-roll, it was stressful, it took time, and often made us less present in events then we would have liked.

Transcribing, then reading back and trying to organize the story for our documentary has really been the processing. There are many interviews that I wasn’t around to listen to, people whose stories I wasn’t around to hear. There were images and things that I wasn’t around to capture. Coming back, I’ve been able to see these things, along with review what I already knew.

There’s so much.

Lewi, Sr. Rebecca, the girls at St. Mary’s, and others I never got to hear their full stories. I had heard the spark notes version at best during the trip, but coming back to transcribe them I learned of the senseless bombings and killings in Uganda, of the plight of young women and child brides.

I had shot b-roll of a guard understanding that he was important at the school, but understanding little else about it. He had seemed a little suspicious with us there, and generally like he didn’t want us to be there bothering him. I remember leaving feeling a little confused to why we needed to bother him.

I found out while transcribing Sr. Rebecca that men commonly came to the school and posed as relatives of the girls so they could get the one they had bought as a child bride. I found out that some of the girls had specifically said that the presence of this guard helped them to feel safe. I found out that men had even showed up that morning and had been turned away.

It made a lot more sense why we were bothering him after that.

The entire process of editing has helped to bring context and understanding into my experience of Uganda, and it has also helped to put pressure on the necessity to make sure that others will be able to understand this experience.

It will be interesting to see how we can come down to do that in a 20 minute film, and if it will truly help people to understand and respond in a way that’s appropriate.

The Stories Still to Tell

Alaska. When I think of this place, I no longer only think of dog sledding, the snowy expanse, and drilling oil. I no longer see the population of 735,132 (provided by the United States Census) as a simple number.

What I now think of when I hear Alaska
What I now think of when I hear Alaska

When I think of Alaska, I think of Bethel. I think of the rolling tundra, the hazy blue sky, and the providing rivers. I think of the people, and I think of their stories.

And boy, did they have stories. After 13 interviews and even more interactions with the people of Bethel, I heard countless tales. It would take an entire two-week long documentary to share all of these stories and opinions with the rest of the world. And so, as a writing team, we had to reduce over 13 stories, to a single, 25 minute-long film.

The script we have written is good. It is true to Bethel and it shares the people’s commitment to a subsistence way of life and their fear that it, along with their culture, is coming under threat. It includes the difficult economic realities as well as the visible proof of climate change evident in the Yukon-Kuskokwim River Delta.

Yet, I cannot help but shake the feeling of shame at the fact that some of the stories will be left untold. The people of Omaha will not learn of the tragic cultural trauma the Yup’ik people underwent, nor will they grasp the full reality of the fishing restriction problem.

It is simply impossible to learn and write the story of all 735,132 people of Alaska. In the midst of all of these stories, we must simply choose which to share and which to save. We pick, and we choose, but at least I can find comfort in knowing that the 13 stories that were shared in Bethel will live on in my heart as well as that of the entire Alaska team.

Our job as journalists will never be over. There are always new stories to tell and new cultures to explore. Though our Alaskan film making adventure is coming to a close, I know that I will continue searching for new people to talk to and new stories to tell.

Still Hard at Work

Coffee is the fuel of our lives.
Coffee is the fuel of our lives.

It’s been over a week now since we have returned from Alaska. For some reason, I had the idea in my mind that the majority of our work would be done once we were back in Omaha. Yet again, I was wrong. From the day we returned, we have been hard at work. Each day it seems that I’ve learned something new about the film making process. Here are some of the things that I’ve learned: Continue reading Still Hard at Work