Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Papua New Guinea "Let's Chew Again"

Back in Papua New Guinea for the second time we saw things with older eyes. We saw a new area, made a new family and visited the old. More footage, more focused on the heroes that bring it all together. Next time we will continue to grow.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


It's not Somalia. It's Somaliland and they like peace -

I was there for almost 3 weeks it was good for me. I met a lot of interesting people and talked about philosophy while chewing Jaad all night (Friday tradition).

I did not want to leave but I had to get back to finishing other things where they were.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


I am in Kenya in the North East, staying in a smallish town called Garrisa for one month with my father (haven's seen him in a year prior to this) who is working with G-Youth.

It's a nice hot, dry place (though being rainy season, occasionally it's wet.) The residents are mostly friendly tall Somali's who love to walk. I am back to being "small girl."

There will be a Youth Day (formerly known as a summit) in two weeks. 700 are invited but it's "expected" that only 300 will show up! Everyone is excitedly worried.

In the frenzy we are playing ultimate frisbee (despite a confusing start), strategically planning construction of a volleyball net with tires/ pole/ cement, drinking milk tea, camel milk, fresh lemonade, whilst discussing the projects and aspirations of the younger generation.

We start major shooting tomorrow. Bring it on G.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Village Update

Pete Dicampo is in Ghana now and just spent almost a week with my village buddies. He said Abdualai is actually getting paid to shoot videos! But he still doesn't know how to edit so he has to give up a cut of the pay. Abdulai told Pete that I taught him how to edit but that he isn't sure how to turn the computer on! Perhaps Pete will give him his old laptop.... thrilling.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Year of the Tiger

I am now in Hong Kong. Recently returned from Papua New Guinea. We were there for 5 weeks, shooting a documentary. We chewed alot of Betelnut, the local "drug," or "coffee," as some say. Our video shall profile it. Soon, we'll have a preview up.

This is what they call culture shock. Tall building galore, like a graphic novel. But I am editing Africa footage so it's like I am there too. It makes the transition -fade- if you will. The fact that it wasn't cold here until the chinese new year hit was great. It's similiar to NYC except I can reach the hanging handles in the subway.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


This website is really great.

We have posted a project! We are trying to finish editing the WhatTookYouSoLong Africa journey. We are a half to one thirds completed! The truth is - I am moving to Hong Kong no matter what to edit, but this funding will secure it.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Monday, June 22, 2009


This is what I am doing now. Starting tomorrow. No time for chatting, but go there and you'll see.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Bye, But I'll Be Back

I said goodbye to the village. I packed up bags and took them away gradually (not even all). It took awhile. Weeks. I have a lot of stuff. I am a stuff person. But we are talking about nice jars and paper and crayons and string and hooks. And the occasional strip of cloth. So it was a mess but I got through it.

(So, of course I gave a bunch away and much of it was unwanted but I'd always ask, so we get to an empty yellow container that has a small handle- it was used for pancake mix, mailed to me, and Abdulai said it was The Best Thing. Like how could I not know he would love that? Haha, I love it.)

They are putting a new Peace Corps Volunteer in "my house." It's good. I am glad, but I am also sad. Some people told me they are worried the new person will not have a character that matches them, the village, like I do. Well put.

Alidu said I have done 2 good things and one bad. He kept me in suspense awhile.. not revealing that one bad thing. The two good things are the movie and the bikes. The bad thing is, of course, focusing on my own ideas of how to do things and not others (specifically the 'ones who brought me'.) He said he'll be sad when I am gone and he wanted to get into my suitcase. He acted it out, so funny.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Village Bicycle Project

We scraped it through at the last minute, much credit to the crew that goes around and does this in Ghana. They sell bikes half price. Good bikes, and teach about them before letting them go. We signed up 60 people, mostly ladies, yea.

There were rumors we were going to run off with the money (before the bikes came) but now it's the best thing I ever did (I was 'warned' that would happen). The funniest part is that people yell my name when they see these bikes riding around, and some people don't like being yelled Puumaaya at (now they Know), but the people yelling say - hey - it has a good meaning. It means happy stomach but also when you want something and then you get it. It's not just a name, it's a word.

I am also being told I have finally lived up to that name, I brought development they can see every single day. Super.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Marvellous Studio

I met them when doing Mango work and they made us a boom pole for our movie and lent us lights we never used. I like them. They have a video editing and sound recording studio - rugged but functional. Razak, the guy who made the place, practically lives in his edit booth. He has about 30 siblings and they are all somehow involved in some aspect of production. I'll put up pictures soon.

His father was the first guy to shoot video in the North. For television, a long time ago... Razak went to school for Electronics, a vocational one upon his father's insistence. He wanted to go to normal school and is still upset about it but likes that he can build amplifiers and wire things. He has a lot of dreams. He wants to make a computer factory in Tamale and a film school too.

The filmmakers here are mostly uneducated, some making scripts without knowing how to read or write. Some of the acting is so good they are wanted in other parts of the country and Nigeria but they can't 'cause they don't know english. But mostly they look up to Indian movies.

Razak wants to learn more effects, maybe in Hollywood, so he can make movies about the traditional stories - how horses climb trees and dwarves turn into any shap or size (like ghosts). He believes in the power of movies, not just for entertainment, but for development. They have a booming business. BUT there is a Stigma about filmmakers I just found out about! They are seen to be bad people and prostitutes. (Probably because of music videos and some of the Nigerian ones.) But really cause people can't seperate the people from the charachters they play. They think they are real.

I just spent a few weeks with them editing a video for the Ghana Danish Communities Association (GDCA) - about the RIGHTS BASED APPROACH. It's a neat and sensible idea. I'll try to upload some of it.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Village Premiere

We screened in the Chief Palace, two nights. With my portable projector, village amplifier, generator, and a big sheet. It was great. Wish everyone could have been there. (Thank you Cheri for riding your bike 4 hours through a wind storm and bad directions (not from me). The village was though and that's what counts. Below, their comments.
"You made a true story."
"Can you show it every night?"
"I like the whole movie. Every part is good. You won't fall asleep."
"We aren't educated and we can't read, but this puts something in our minds we can think about."
"I was planning to go (south), but now I won't. I would like to go for a visit to know our capital city, but not to stay."
"Some people used to think others were making it up."
"I like the juxtaposition between Accra (capital) and the Village."
"I now understand how girls can get seduced by boys."
"I like the message the movie has, especially sickness and stigma."
"The movie starts out funny, but then it gets serious."
"The station (in our village) looks nicer than it is."
"I am not planning to go anymore, I would suffer more than the characters!"
"I was worried about the character at a certain point."
"The movie is educative about what to watch out for and steps that can be followed."
"I had heard of fire (destroying buildings in the south), but now I've seen it."
"Even though we are discouraged from going, people will, because of poverty."
"Nowadays people have changed. Youth move around and our children do whatever they want without consulting us. This movie can advise them like we (elders) can't."
"Our minds now tell us not to move."
"I like seeing Accra in the movie since I've never been there."
"I see using condoms is good, or we could abstain."
"I don't want to go south but if my husband asks me to I will. I do want to see the nice buildings."
"At night we can think about the movie instead of negative things, which is especially good for us elders."

Monday, March 16, 2009

Doing the Splits

I was showing a 7 year old how it's done, rather - how it's not done. There was a huge popping noise as my pelvis hit the floor, I went down toooooo fast... it really hurts, increasingly.

Friday, March 13, 2009


I think I've spent about three weeks in front of the computer subtitling. First our movie and now the Mango Movie. It's liberating to finally know what people are saying. But also frustrating to be sitting in front of a computer for two weeks. Luckily I am not dreaming about it. I used to dream about editing and there was no escape.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

My Urban Migration

I awoke the last day of the festival missing the village and wanting to leave. I flipped a coin and stayed, but the next day made it home in 7 hours - before dark. I hadn't been to Voggu in close to 3 weeks and everything was dusty. Usually people "yell" at me for "keeping long" but they were okay. The most okay I ever saw them after being gone so long.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Bon Appetit.

At the beginning there was bread. Then there was french bread. Goat cheese, soft serve ice cream, yogurt, cotton candy, chocolate croissants, crepes, steak sandwiches, and last but not least strawberries. It was a tasty time. There are men walking around with big boxes on their backs, guess what their carrying? Fresh baked bread and President's butter. 50 cents will get you a full baguette with butter in a piece of brown paper so you don't dirty your hands. Why didn't I learn French?

Burkina Faso Film Festival

(Feb 28-March 7)

We had a screening of our movie, but it was bad. There was a sky light! So no one could see the movie. Just the subtitles, which had to be changed at the last minute cause they were too long. I was still burning the disc the night before the show when the others managed to get us free badges to get in to all the movies.

Me and Daria and Cheri shared a bed in our new friend of a friend, Lucy's room, a model and freelance interpreter who loves movies. Unfortunately Nash (Director) and Kari couldn't come at the last moment because Nash's father fell sick. I didn't invite Abdulai (Producer, Writer and Star) cause we were going into the unknown and he can be a baby.

One highlight was a meal we were invited to by people in the Burkina Faso/ French film/ TV industry. The waiters and waitresses were on roller-blades and they juggled, ate fire, contorted, and flipped. They served us salads and a slab of meat cooked by hanging in fire - we all ate too much and felt sick after.

I got to watch Real Films. My favorite one was 20 minutes. Shot on 35mm, sadly showed on video, called Nora. It was about a real modern dancer from an African village. She tells the story of her early life in surreal scenes cut with brief text. The main characters speak in dance and everyone else acts "normal." The filmmaker was around and I heard she organizes an artistic film festival in Russia, where she is from, but lives in the US. The modern dancer is living in New York but from Africa.

While I didn't talk to her I did talk to a bunch of Kenyan filmmakers who came with a nice short called "Killer Necklace." It was shot on the Red, borrowed from South Africa. They also had an unfortunate screening with skylights in the room! I was interviewed by BBC and that's what I told them about when asked about movies I saw. I actually heard it the night I got back to Ghana! (I had a brief identity crisis and introduced myself as a Peace Corps Volunteer, but maybe that's why they aired it.)

I knew the festival was a big deal, but upon meeting people from around the world there, learned it was the "biggest" in Africa. Mostly I hung with an Ethiopian/ French couple who lives in Amsterdam. Others included a group of Scottish and British living in Ghana, a Ghanaian journalist/ filmmaker, a German graphic designer, a Malian/ German couple, an African/American filmmaker with a funny movie about an after school program, a couple with a Ghanaian Beach Resort, a Global Film Producer (former PC Volunteer in China), and a German film festival rep. We also got a tour of an impressive production studio by locals.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Big Movie : Hilariousness & a Type of Confusion

Our ringleader in the city slum, Mohammed, was put to the task of finding and dressing 2-3 school children on a Sunday while we were shooting with the lead actress, Asana. At an interim between scenes with her, Mohammed tells us to hurry and shoot with the kids. Because of his tone of urgency I reluctantly said okay.

David entered the room where he keeps the equipment and was totally surprised when more than 25 three year olds dressed for school started crying! David and I had to hide behind a corner with the camera because they were afraid of us (common at their age). Finally the kids calmed down, after given candy, on a bench. Of course the bench topples and they all start crying again!

Type of Confusion: Asana disappeared after shooting with the kids and we thought the mafia man took her only to realize later she fell asleep while waiting for us.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Big Movie : Utter Fear and Hilariousness

Utter Fear;
Upon arrival to the city slum we had to get permission to shoot. Similar to the customs at the village we had to go around to different elders and opinion leaders to present our identity and cause. Everyone accepted until we got to the "mafia man." Like out of a movie he threatened to impound the camera if we didn't comply with him so we did what he said.

The first time we met him was next to a bus at the main station for exporting goods abroad (his job-area and terrain). When he didn't offer us shade I knew something was up. He said we were rude for not greeting him at his house and that we would need to come back in an hour. An hour later he is nowhere to be found. The next morning we go to his house and back to the station. We had to wait outside a fast food place more than an hour for him to let us in. Then after talking at him and his goons he said he had to go to a baby naming and we needed to come again.

At this point we had wasted quite a bit of shooting time waiting for his permission and everyone knew it. We were told to forget him. But how? When one is surrounded by people in a market, who surely work for him? Finally, divided and confused, we run into an NGO worker and fluent English speaker. He explains that this man is just a "youth leader" in a certain area and we can "forget" him. The camera will not be imploded and we have rights and this man just wants money.

So we start shooting. We didn't trust anyone anymore for leading us to this trap.

As we are starting to prepare the first shot in the Slum some men call David & Abdulai over to ask them what the hell they think they are doing. I decided I would watch from a distance, and as the crowd and voices grew I was scared and took out my fear on the kids getting too close to the camera I was guarding. It ended and I frantically asked David what happened. He said there was one guy who was really angry and the others were yelling at him. In the end they said "we should do a really good job."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Big Movie

Dec 10 - Jan 9

It was planned, researched, re-planned, interrupted, refreshed, then finally - it happened. There was a lot going on. Abdulai was in recovery, I was in re-entry, and new people on the scene; Nash Imoru, a friend (and Kari's BF) living in Tamale as a teacher for the deaf, and David Kavanaugh, a friend from learning film. They both appeared like magic as the clock almost stopped ticking and wound it up.

We had a wild ride of utter fear, hilariousness, generosity/ bribes, role confusion, mis-communication of all kinds, theft, fire, hunger/ thirst, depression, alienation, jubilation, realization, and companionship. Too bad we didn't shoot it but then we'd have another list. I'll try to share some highlighted examples.