Filming in the Field

February 8, 2014

Brian explains what it's like to film in South Sudan

February 8, 2014

From glancing at one of his polished and beautiful videos, you would never be able to guess the funny little challenges or happenings that our amazing videographer Brian Ceci experiences while filming in the field. In order to bring you the stunning scenes he captures in South Sudan, he has to put himself through a whole range of different experiences or obstacles.

For instance, on his recent trip to Malith (you can see Treana’s video message from the village here), even the journey itself was not without a hiccup. Malith is about an hour from Rumbek, and as Brian describes it, the road there is checkered with “fridge-sized potholes,” with most of the traffic snaking along the side of the road.

Brian, Tino (another one of our photographers), Benjamin (one of our translators) and Abednego (one of our long-time South Sudanese staff) made the trip in a clunky Toyota Rav4. After a brief incident in which a small motorcycle with three men collided head-on with the car (not a completely unusual incident on the treacherous roads), Abednego had to calm down local villagers who were livid at the motorcycle passengers for the accident. Using his ever-amazing diplomatic skills, Abednego managed to pacify everyone and finally, our team made it to Malith.

As Brian recalls, “we parked and were quickly notified that they would be making us dinner for the night, which subsequently walked around at our ankles.”

Yes, chicken! It is considered an honour and a sign of respect to be given food within these villages. As difficult as it is to accept food from communities in need, it’s gratifying to them to be able to feed those who visit, and it’s important to accept their food.

Once the team enjoyed their chicken dinner (we’ll spare you the details of how the food got to plate), it was time to sleep overnight in tents. Benjamin, who like Abednego is a local South Sudanese staff member of ours, had never slept in a tent before and owing to his stature (he’s about 6’6”), had to sleep diagonally in the tent overnight. Still, he claimed it was “one of the best sleeps he’s ever had!”

The next morning the whole team was awakened by a typical South Sudanese alarm clock: the “rooster alarm,” which sounds off promptly at 6AM. Because it becomes so hot and the sun is at such a high point throughout most of the day, it’s important for our visual team to capture the people working during the only times of the day they can: early morning or night. It works to Brian’s benefit at any rate because this is when the light is the most amazing – whether he’s capturing children cutting down sorghum or dusting down their prized cattle, each frame from this period of the day is stunning, filled with the most dream-like light.

Unfortunately, even the most amazing light couldn’t disguise the dangerously unclean water they were drinking from an old swamp about an hour away from town, which Brian witnessed when he accompanied them on their hours-long trek for water.

“The edges of the well were completely muddy and wet and it seeped back into the well, which was only about 10 feet deep,” Brian said. “I could not believe how dirty that water was.”

Fortunately, as you know from last week’s post, thanks to one of our generous donors Malith will finally have a new water well. Now that they have clean water, the community will begin to benefit and grow in a multitude of ways (and our visual team is just as excited as we are in support office to capture that growth to show you!).