Yearly Archives: 2009

From Peter Lansdown – Production Assistant in Cambodia – Promise for the New Year

Elspeth at Angkor WatIt is New Year’s Eve, Christmas is behind us and we are all back at work. Tomorrow is a holiday here and on Sunday we go back to Sihanoukville.

Some things have gone well some have not, so we go back to Sihanoukville firstly to reshoot Chakryia’s family but also because ideas on the film have firmed up and Sihanoukville holds the key to the revised beginning, the last bit to fall into place.

The problem with our disabled Chakryia, our heroine of the documentary, is that the film is chronological and her tragedy happened twenty years ago when she was three. So how do you convey tragedy in a film when you cannot film it?

Samneang teaches dance to disabled students here and her advice is to start with Tragedy. Mothers in Cambodia will pray, they will go to a special place where they can be alone with their thoughts or they will ask a monk to pray for them and burn incense. And so we move to the symbolic and away from the literal.

We cannot capture the 3 year old Chakryia but we can capture the sense of tragedy her mother felt. We can film incense, we can film monks, we can film that “special place”, all symbolic of tragedy here. This will bring a sense of foreboding to the opening sequence and on this we can build a sense of drama.

Meanwhile the editing goes on and the film takes shape and interestingly it builds its own inspiration, seeing the middle and end, an new beginning was necessary, it was obvious, we have it in concept and by Sunday evening we will have it in fact. There are smiles around the office.

From Peter Lansdown – Production Assistant in Cambodia – Trials and Tribulations

Planning the next steps in Epic Arts office - Sovy (our deaf film star), Sam, Elspeth, Katie (Epic Arts Artistic Director and Sam Neang (Production Manager of EA Community Show)Work continues apace, at least it does when the electricity supply allows. There has been a major problem with the supply this last few days. Around about 1130 daily it breaks down and remains intermittent for a couple of hours, which really impacts upon Sam’s editing, and much work has been lost and many expletives expended. So the pressure of timescales builds up as the backlog increases, as Christmas holidays approach and people disappear and with it the stress; as programming, logistics and editing questions all demand answers.

We have done about half the filming but not everything has gone as well as it should. We may need to retrace our steps to Sihanoukville. You prepare, you train, you shoot, then you analyse only to find your subjects said something you hadn’t expected, a lorry hooted at the wrong moment and spoiled your best shot, the light was actually inadequate when you hoped it might have been ok or something else happened that makes it a little bit less than perfect, and you so want to do it again.

So Elspeth works all hours to achieve the best from what we have shot, Sam works all hours editing away whilst Mark and Peter go off to shoot B roll shots (little connecting shots), or reshoot interview excerpts. All the while Elspeth handles questions on the changing day to day administration or waits for transport that doesn’t turn up, such are the little frustrations we face.

Hannah, the Epic Arts Director, has returned to UK for Christmas, leaving everything in the tender care of the delightful Leakhena who comes into our office every morning with her lovely smile to ask if all is well and whether we have any problems and of course we haven’t.

From Peter Lansdown – Production Assistant in Cambodia – Getting Started

Sam, Mark & ElspethWe, Elspeth (Director), Sam (Editor), Mark (Photography) and Peter (General Factotum) arrived in Phnom Penh last Friday, travel-weary but with the promise of a good night’s sleep in a local hotel before the trek to Kampot. Jess from Epic Arts met us at the airport and escorted us first to our hotel and then for a drink in a local bar, supper in the Foreign Correspondents’ Club and then back to bed. She introduced us to Tuktuks (moped powered taxis) to local food and the local language, it was a good start.The drive to Kampot took us through changing scenery and it was not long before we were driving through rich green countryside surrounded by paddy fields with mountains in the distance.Kampot is 5 miles inland from the coast of the Gulf of Thailand, more or less due south of Phnom Penh and has the feel of a run down ex-colonial town, but this rather belies the development and improvement which is going on and there is an energy here which is evident in the courtesy, optimism and smiles which greet you everywhere.Our house provides a bedroom each (Elspeth’s has an ensuite shower room) and a local style loo and shower (scoop and splash) and minimum kitchen facilities as people here tend to eat out; should we wish not to, the Epic Arts café will provide us with takeaway Cambodian meals which we will eat on our balcony overlooking the street.It is really warm and rather humid but the wind is on our side and keeps things tolerable. It was still last Wednesday night and quite uncomfortable as we have no air conditioning but the wind was back the following day. It has been quite cloudy too which has helped as the sun is strong, even in mid winter! Despite that, we have had some exceptional sunsets.This expedition is to make a documentary for Epic Arts which they will use, as they describe it, as an advocacy tool. They plan to tour it around the local area, and it has to demonstrate the ability of the disabled. People with disabilities receive very little in the way of support here and are much ignored.Epic Arts as you can imagine works through art to “promote integration of people of all abilities using the arts as a form of expression, empowerment, education and employment.” I took this from their website which you might like to visit (www.epicarts.org.uk)We have been here a week now and Elspeth’s researches have identified three individuals: Epic Arts’ wheelchair-bound receptionist; a wheelchair-bound performer and a deaf performer, both part of Epic Arts’ Vocational Training Programme, who are ideal characters for the documentary and they are delighted with the prospect of filmstardom! Elspeth has woven a suitable storyline, the first footage has been shot and so far everything is going according to plan…

"Steps, No! Ramps, Yes!" selected for two more festivals.

This week, the PFP film, “Steps, No! Ramps, Yes!” will be screened at the Sathyam Cinema in Chennai as part of AbilityFest 2009. It is to be shown at 1p.m. on Thursday 14 October.

AbilityFest – the India International Disability Film Festival – is a bi-annual event which presents a unique and inspiring showcase for films by, with and about people with disabilites. The Festival is organisaed by Ability Foundation which works for the empowerment, integration and rights of people with disabilities.

“Steps, No! Ramps, Yes!” has also been selected for the “Picture this … film festival” due to take place in Calgary, Canada during February 2010. The film, a triumph for the CRP Wheelchari Users’ Film Group in Bangladesh, will soon be known worldwide. Earlier this year, it was screened at the Emotion Pictures International Disability Festival in Athens.

“Steps, No! Ramps, Yes!” selected for two more festivals.

This week, the PFP film, “Steps, No! Ramps, Yes!” will be screened at the Sathyam Cinema in Chennai as part of AbilityFest 2009. It is to be shown at 1p.m. on Thursday 14 October.

AbilityFest – the India International Disability Film Festival – is a bi-annual event which presents a unique and inspiring showcase for films by, with and about people with disabilites. The Festival is organisaed by Ability Foundation which works for the empowerment, integration and rights of people with disabilities.

“Steps, No! Ramps, Yes!” has also been selected for the “Picture this … film festival” due to take place in Calgary, Canada during February 2010. The film, a triumph for the CRP Wheelchari Users’ Film Group in Bangladesh, will soon be known worldwide. Earlier this year, it was screened at the Emotion Pictures International Disability Festival in Athens.