If it wasn’t for bad luck, we wouldn’t have any luck at all….
Another update to our dedicated supporters as it’s been a little while. I’ll be honest, it’s been a bit of mixed bag of sorts for the documentary and as well for the team. Between Diego, Christian, Dan and I we’ve had our ups and downs. Other projects that we thought we’re proceeding really well have fallen through or been delayed (feature film, hot air ballooning documentary…the list goes on). But we try to be positive and there are some good things happening. We all knew the film industry was going to be hard when we got into it but maybe we just didn’t know it was going to be this hard!
On to the film, things are going extremely well with the final stages and, except for one major burning issue (detailed later), I think the finishing line is in sight. So I’ll start with the major “hiccup”. Dan Elliot, our talented and dedicated composer, and I have been discussing the music at length now for a couple of months. We struggled with providing the deliverables to him in Canada but we managed to get him everything he needed to start on his score. His regular job madness was quietening down and he was gearing up to start the “magic” when it all went wrong. On Easter weekend the building next to his house/studio caught fire (see picture on the right) and very fortunately no one was injured. That’s obviously the most important part but in the process all his recording equipment was damaged and/ or destroyed. Basically its going to take months for his equipment to be replaced and now he has no facilities to work in. Dan has been working on this project with me since I first cut the trailer for the film about a year and half ago. We’ve developed a good working relationship and he really understands what we are trying to achieve with this film and our message. So as a result we have to get a new composer.
The good news is that I’ve been able to get a new talented composer, Jordan Andrews, to work on the project (see the Team Page to learn a bit more about him. http://kenyaspath.com/the-team/). Jordan has a great music brain. He’s located up in Cardiff and has been doing all the music for the Gammons. He’s got an understanding of music and emotion that is unique. Yes it is starting again in some ways but I’m looking forward to developing this new creative relationship.
On a more positive note, Diego has been working with the grader in Brazil and the early images are looking quite powerful. For those of you who don’t know, colour grading is the process in which the colour of the images is enhanced or altered. That statement really doesn’t capture the power of the grade. You can change the intensities of colours, remove colours, change the luminance, hue, saturation and contrast, make images look warmer or colder, put in masks and mattes…and that is just a start. A well graded film can completely change the look and the emotion of a film and is just as important as the music or sound. Just look at the a few of the images below and ask yourself what different emotions are evoked when you look at them. The image is pretty stark but with the colour grade even more powerful. Pretty interesting, isn’t it??
With the picture edit now locked it has allowed me to screen the partially completed film to about 15 people. The response, for the most part, has been amazing. They felt the film was engaging, positive, inspiring and not your typical African documentary. But from the minority, there were people that just didn’t like the documentary. They felt it was another story of a “white person” solving the problems of Africa. Or they felt that Hanne was too harsh or too strong. There is no denying that Hanne is a powerful character. She is, in a way, a nature of force that won’t be stopped. You definitely will have a reaction to her and that’s why I wanted to shoot this documentary. The worst thing you can ever do is a make a bland film or one that generates no reaction in it’s viewers. Hanne is a normal human being and like all of us has our strengths and weaknesses. Yes, this is a story ultimately about Hanne but the documentary also looks at the impact of the project on those around her and examines the lives (and two in particular, Benson and Duncan) that are connected to hers. We have tried to reveal how all these people, for better or worse, function like a family.
The film we have made is a different type of documentary then in comparison to a typical TV documentary. It is quite filmic and it doesn’t give you easy answers. It forces the audience to be attentive and engaged. This is something we wanted to do from the very beginning. I like to think it has similarities to “Capturing the Friedmans” or “My Kid Could Paint That”. These films were both an examination of a subject and didn’t give you an easy answer. They were criticism for the fact that they didn’t take an obvious stance or more specifically that they had formed an opinion but hid it behind a veil of “objectivity”. I am sure we will be criticised along these lines as well.
There is also criticism from those in the NGO/ Charity world that feel what the HHF project does not employ “best practice” or doesn’t empower the Kenyans involved with the project. Those are very big issues and all I do know is that the project is helping 125 children and, in the end, that is all that matters.
In a way the people on the extremes of the argument are not my audience because, for some, they have already made up their minds on the issue. Our crazy brains are filled with preconceived ideas, concepts, values and notions of what is right or wrong on subjects like this. Some people are going to see our film as condescending, some will view it as completely inappropriate and others will feel it is fantastic. My job is tell a story as honestly as I can that engages the viewer to put those ideas aside just for a moment. Then hopefully the viewer will watch, really watch, the film before deciding what they think. But part of me knows we are going to get criticised, even ripped apart, but in the end it’s something we are going to have to take. I’ll take my inspiration from Hanne as my way forward, which is (to paraphrase),”I don’t care about what people have to say… All I’m doing is helping these children, that’s all.” And like I said earlier that is all the really matters.
As always, thank you for your continued support!