The Haitian Perspectives in Film training and documentary production is going very well. We’ve gotten through the first two weeks of major skill building and now we begin the last three weeks of story development, final projects, production and editing. The trainees are impressing themselves with their newly acquired skills, but also fearing that they won’t be able to put it all together to produce their final films. Time will tell, but based on my experience in Afghanistan and elsewhere, I am confident that our impressive group of Haitian trainees will produce equally revealing and engaging stories about their communities’ economic and social development.
The first week was all about visual storytelling – well composed, exposed and focused shots fitting together one after another to create a scene. They started shooting on day one and by the end of the week had shot multiple activities culminating in short simple visual scenes of local crafts people and manufactures. These folks had not used a video camera two weeks ago!
Last week they concentrated on sound and scene-based storytelling. Continuing on from the exercises from the first week, they shot and edited a scene with multiple characters working together and a scene with all of them meeting or talking. From the meeting they selected one participant with whom to practice their newly learned video interviewing technique. In addition, to emphasize the importance of natural sound in lived-reality documentary filmmaking, they recorded sound-only stories. What an intense week! They have to learn so much, so fast that they don’t have time to question their capacity to process it all.
Many mornings we start by watching a section of a documentary. Wednesday we watched part of Raul Peck’s Fatal Assistance, a controversial film about the post-earthquake relief effort in Haiti. Haitians take great pleasure in heated argument. During the coffee break the room broke into three groups of shouters, all debating the topics covered in the film and concerns about how the film presented these issues. When it looks to me like things are getting out of control, and the volume can’t get any louder, the storm breaks and laughter takes over. Not too different then the way it rains. The thunder is deafening, the streets turn into rivers of trash and rubble and then it stops. Never quiet, but calmer.
We are still in need of funds to support the public engagement campaign in January 2015 which will use the films to inject Haitian views into the international dialogue about Haiti! Please donate if you can.