#19 Cambodia – The Female Bomb Disposal Teams of Cambodia

And with one final push the MA is over!! Here is the culmination of all of my work over the year. 3 weeks of filming in Cambodia, 3 weeks of editing in Cornwall and a fair amount of emotion went into this, so I hope you enjoy.

I am now also editing a 3 minute version of the documentary for One World Media, so if there are any sections you feel would definitely be good to use in this please let me know 🙂

Special thnaks go to Cambodian Mine Action Centre and Cambodian Self Hep Demining for letting me film with them and being so accomodating whilst I was out in Cambodia.

#17 Cambodia – Angkor Wat time lapse

The editing is now well under way for my 20 minute documentary, and I really wanted to show some of the beauty of Cambodia without giving anything away for the final piece… so here it is, a brief insight into Cambodia, through the famous Angkor Wat temple at sunrise.

I would just like to point out that this was after the Euro 2012 football match which saw England beaten, so no sleep and a struggle to get in location before sunrise… I’m quite pleased with the result.

#15 Cambodia – music is key

I have done a lot of research into documentary style and content now, and one thing stands out to me immediately – music is key.

Get the right music, and the feel of the story is captured perfectly, the documentary flows and the characters are felt. Often in this case the music is barely noticed, but it would impact hugely if taken away.

Get the wrong music and the content is lost. Nothing else can really be absorbed or taken in. The wrong music gives the wrong feel to your images and can often misrepresent a story entirely.

So this is the challenge I am faced with… I want to use music quite significantly in my piece, but I am not a musical person at heart. I want the sound to carry through the piece, lifting a sequence when personal stories are told, and allowing for silence of words when poignant images are shown. I feel often words are used too much in documentaries and I do not want to fall into this trap, but at the same time, without the right music I may have to…

So now I must search. For comms free music with a Cambodian feel. Any suggestions are greatly welcomed!

And the stage I am currently at… story – boarding all of my shots on little pieces of paper on the floor (it’s all about walking through the ideas in your head in a physical way, even if it does look a bit amateur).

#14 Cambodia – back on the home front

So as most of you know, I am now back from Cambodia and it was amazing!!

I apologise for keeping you all in suspense since my return… I have been so busy what with house-moving in Falmouth, weddings in Rome and recovering in Surrey, that my blog went somewhat neglected. I am back now though, and ready to get editing!!

Editing however, comes as quite a daunting task… as the hours of footage need to be trawled through to produce an Al Jazeera Witness style 20 minute documentary, that is both innovative in design and compelling to watch. I CAN do this 🙂

I am not going to reveal any of my footage just yet, but here are a few of my favourite images from the 3 weeks away… let me know what you think.

Also just a quick note to say that before I left Cambodia I made the compulsary visit to the Killing Fields and S21 (or Tuol Sleng, Pol Pot’s secret prison) in Phnom Penh. If you’ve never been (or like me, hadnt really heard of them before my research into Cambodia began) then they are well worth a visit. It seems slightly wrong that something so horrific has become one of Cambodia’s biggest tourist ‘attractions’, but after visiting you can see why. I am not going to go into great details of my experience here or try to explain it to you, I will simply leave you with the image of the killing tree; which was used to beat young children to death in the time of the Khmer Rouge…

#13 Cambodia – Landmine victims

Last filming day in Battambang, and not such a busy schedule as the previous 2 days. You’d think I’d be relieved, but I actually really like being busy, especially when I have nothing much else to do in the province – so the morning was rather frustrating for me.

07:00am – alarm

07:30am – off to breakfast with my driver (oh yes, even though I didnt have any interviews until 1pm, we still went for breakfast early as ever – although he did consider this a lie in, and to be honest I have taken to the Cambodian meal-time routine and generally wake up starving!).

08:30am – back to the hotel, whilst driver goes off to enjoy his ‘holiday’ (his words not mine).

I decided to be productive and filmed several pieces to camera from the balcony in my hotel, overlooking the bustling roads of Battambang. The rain then started to pour down, so sound quality may not be great – but I did get some good shots.

01:00pm – drive off to CMAC HQ to pick up several stuff members to accompany me to the outskirts of the town to meet with Dos Sopheap, a landmine victim and winner of Miss Landmine Cambodia. Sopheap was a beautiful girl with a lovely family and very sweet nature (of what I could tell trough the language barrier- she was always smiling). My translator from CMAC however was not as good as English as I had previosuly believed and some of the questions were completely lost on him. This meant that I could not really ask Sopheap directly about the Miss Landmine Cambodia competition which I had wanted, and it sounds really bad but I did feel quite frustrated with the whole situation (though obviously did not show this as everyone was trying to help me so much). I think in future I would take my own translator with me to all interviews to ensure 100% understanding and good communication at all times, rather than relying on the volunteering support of those staff members at CMAC who could speak english.

I then went around Sopheap’s family home where her mother, brother, 2 sisters and grandmother were sat, exchanged some basic phrases wit them, said ‘akun’ and left.

Back to the hotel to then pack and head off on the drive back to Phnom Penh. We stopped once on the 5 hour journey for food and had some of the most amazing street foos- was like kebabs, but they were little meat parcels with peppers and stuff inside- mmm! 🙂 I love being with Cambodian people to try all the local food.

My driver dropped me off on Street 278 – the ‘golden street’ of Phnom Penh where all of the backpackers hang out, and that was the end of my CMAC adventure!! Now for a little Cambodian city break before I return home on Tuesday…

#11 Cambodia – CMAC dogs + machines

Wednesday 4th July 2012:

06:00am – alarm goes off!

06:30am – meet my driver down in the hotel lobby and drive off for breakfast (with all of the kit I need, including tripod). Breakfast was another concoction of banana milkshake and donut… mmm.

07:30am – CMAC HQ (Battambang) to meet up with Cham Sambah to go off into the field for the day. The drive took about an hour over some VERY rough terrain – I must say I have never felt quite so travel sick as I did on this journey through the dense ‘jungle’, but luckily the CMAC vehicles can take it!!

We arrived at Russei village, to see a meeting taking place between the village people, the Governor of Battambang and members of the government who had been sent to the village to ‘redistribute’ the land. The meeting was over land disputes, and CMAC was there to act as a voice for the people (as they do not work for the government, or any private firms, but for the people themselves). My canon camera started flashing red battery – nightmare as this is the camera I like to use for all of the ‘action shots’ (but this was my fault for not checking it before I left, and I just had to make do with JVC and flipcam).

Also in the village was an English girl called Gaby, who was doing her PhD on the social effects of landmines on communities, and had been living in the village for nearly 3 months. She was lovely and very passionate about the effect of landmines and the cultural need for land. Something like 85% of the Cambodian population earn their money from subsidence farming, and this requires land. If there are landmines on the land, then it cannot be farmed, and so it cannot be used by the people. I went to speak to a man in the village who had lost his leg due to a landmine in the field, and spoke about the importance of CMAC in helping this situation.

Back in the car now and drove on to see some of the other CMAC operations in the local area. Heavy machinery was being used to build, community ponds (to provide water for agriculture and for drinking/ washing in the villages), roads and schools.

Stop for lunch on the side of the road – loving the local food! I had some ‘banana cakes’ (aka deep fried banana puree) as a little starter, prepared for me by a young girl no older than 7 (Sambah insisted I take 2, but knowing that lunch was coming I could only manage half of one for now). I then sat down in the local road side restaurant surrounded by working men (no women to be seen) for a lunch of sticky rice, beef and long beans, fried egg, fried pork and chilies.

On the road again – this time to visit the dog teams. I was really looking forward to this, and the dog handlers were obviously very fond of their dogs. The operations actually go on from 7am – 12pm (don’t really work after noon as the heat is too great), but luckily when we arrived at 12:45pm the director was happy to give me a demonstration and even showed me some mine demolition (blowing up exposed mines with TNT).

Final stop – demining machinery. 100% safe and covers a lot of ground in one day. This team was all men, but they were lovely and happy to show me round. I forgot to say that at each of these stops I was given my briefing before hand (which was then translated for me by Sambah) and then signed in and out – very official.

Great day – I’m really enjoying being out and about in the field with CMAC and wish I had done more of this at the beginning. There’s no time to miss home when you’re busy from 7am – 7pm!! Then early bed which I love :p