It 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.
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.