Sunday, December 28, 2008

Zambia 08

In early December '08 I went away on a job to Zambia for two weeks. It was the best job of the year. We were filming the process of a social entrepreneur training initiative of 150 women from around the country. These women were divided into ten groups and each group in a classroom with two trainers. They were taught how to start a business, how to estimate cash flow and profit, how to conduct market research. We followed them to different villages and witnessed how asking local businessmen how they conducted their businesses, what the market was like. The aim of the charity's plan was to start women in young business and therefore directly improve their local market place, stimulating business; local economy; and ultimately female empowerment. In a society where the women is seldom as educated as the man due to looking after the family, and far too often their farms as well, the charity's overall aim is to empower young women and equalize their standing in African society; a CAMpaign for Female EDucation.


After all the groups had done their market research there was a meeting in the big hall where they all had awards given out for different reasons, some on best business ideas, some most realistic cashflow predictions, etc. Every time a group won a prize all ten girls would come to the front and dance around in circles, it was amazing to see.

But the most amazing thing was at the end of the course, when all were awarded for different reasons. Not only did each girl come to the front of the hall to dance, but when the ceremony had ended and all went to their classes, they continued to dance on campus.

All around us was the sound of triumph and promise by women who were full of joy and hope. By women who over half are orphans because of AIDS and largely ignorance. Women who knew that not only had they been trained how to be self-sufficient in business, but influence their surroundings by helping others around them. It was a dance that meant so much, it was quite overwhelming.

Friday, October 24, 2008

By myself but not alone


Rosario's gone for a short break whilst I'm at home looking after the girls. It's strange for me to be with them for so long without a break. Not to mention exhausting. They're so full of life, running after each other through every room laughing mischievously, or they're competing with each other for my attention and keep saying "my turn my turn!!", or "upa upa upa". After meal time I find myself wandering how soon it will be before I can send them off to bed, but when they're finally in bed and I have the house to myself I miss them.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Australia

Tourism Australia is releasing an advert directed by Baz Luhrmann, the director of Romeo & Juliet, Moulin Rouge and Strictly Ballroom to name a few. He's made a film called Australia and is using the advert to promote both tourism for his native homeland and his new film. It's about an over-worked woman in New York who is being harangued on the phone by her boyfriend, "we need to get away, I don't know you anymore!" and in a dream she is approached by a young aboriginy boy.

I think the advert is great, the quality is obviously of feature film standards alone. I like the link between the boy releasing red dust from his hand and the dive into the Australian lake - a good cut point between 'real life' and vacation land!


Monday, August 18, 2008

East of Eden

If I get murdered in the city go read the letter in my desk,
don't bother with all my belongings, but pay attention to the list.
Make sure my sister knows I loved her, make sure my mother knows the same,
always remember that there was nothing worth sharing like the love that let us share our name.

Friday, June 27, 2008

not so dummy


Scene - We had all just been shopping in Hammersmith and had returned to the van, placing Juanita and Catalina in their respective babyseats in the back of the van. Then Ro notices an unfamiliar item in Catalina's mouth....

Ro: Cata!? Where did you get that dummy from?
Juanita: teeheeteehee
Ro: Juanis, where, did Catalina get her dummy from?
Icaio: Maybe she took it from somewhere... Juanis did you pick it up from the floor?
Juanita: Nooooo.
Ro: Juanis, did you take it from a baby?
Juanita: Yes, Juanis take tete from baby

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Skater at the library


I was walking back home from the station via the short cut that passes round the back of Dorking library and there was a teenager practicing his skateboarding moves infront of it. I took a couple of pictures of him with my new camera. After a few wide shots I just wasn't getting what I wanted, so I stuck the camera on the ground facing upwards of where I knew the skater would pass above me during the middle of his trick. This was the result. Unfortunately it's a little blurred but I don't think it matters - he's moving!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Mounted Branch finally ready to watch



This is the title sequence to the horse series I filmed last year - Animal Planet, airs Tues 10th July 8pm. In the popular tabloid newspaper The Sun (the best selling newspaper in Britain!) there is an article online with another video link teaser of the program. The shot of the two aggressive lads is at a Man United vs Man City match, I remember hearing the horse approach behind me and being shocked at how quickly the policeman arrived! Click here for the link.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Valenciennes

IMG Media called me to work in France for a weekend to film the last match of the French season at Valenciennes' home ground against Nice. We interviewed Abdeslam Ouaddou, the team captain. It was for The Arab Football Show, a series which concentrated on players with Arabic routes, although he was more French than his native Moroccan name suggested. The producer Alex and I filmed the town, interviewed the coach and watched the fans line up outside the stadium gates. It was to be the first ever football match I had ever attended, and I was nervous.


During the entire game my adrenaline was flowing. It was not an easy task to follow the ball with my camera, especially since I had to zoom in very close and therefore move the camera a lot to follow the ball. This was not as difficult as actually anticipating (the essence of all good camerawork) where the ball was going to go, so I quickly realised I needed to use both eyes. My left eye is usually closed when I look through the viewfinder with my right so I can concentrate on the image I'm recording. But for football I needed to use my left eye to see which players expected to receive the ball and where they were running to. I found I had periods of intense concentration where I was totally successful in my anticipation, and highly satisfied, and other times I was tired and would miss the game entirely, my filming being nothing more than a blurred green swishing left and right with no decent image at all.

Whilst Alex was watching the game with me he would direct me sometimes with where the ball was going. Before half-time he said 'Nice are attacking' - I quickly framed wider and panned to the goal to see their first goal go in. Brilliant, I captured it! Both sides fought more aggressively after that, and Nice were a much stronger team. It was almost like predictable clockwork filming Nice's attacking style, they always played the same tactics and I knew where each three strikers were going to go, as if I had seen Nice play football a thousand times. Valenciennes on the other hand were angry and weak, they defended most of the time. Then Nice scored their second goal and I had been filming the coach sitting on the bench so I missed it. I felt terrible.


After half time the red team were trying harder, but I could see Uaddou getting more irritated in defence. Then suddenly their striker charged up the right wing and the whole stadium went crazy. I could barely hold the camera on the tripod for all the excitement. He didn't score but was fouled and the popular striker Savidan took a penalty and scored. I knew where he was shooting so it wasn't hard for me, and after catching two goals out of three I didn't feel so bad. And that was the first match I had ever been to.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Marius

I had the pleasure of working in Rio de Janeiro at the beginning of May, where I think I can safely say I had one the best restaurant experiences ever. Upon arrival we were seated at a round table and admired all the paraphernalia on the walls (like old china plates, a pirate's treasure chest, giant sea shells). One of my colleagues came back from the bathroom and told us all we MUST have a look. I later went myself and was amazed to see the floor covered in stones, and tubs of ice to urinate in.


Two beers and three oysters later there was a tremendous crash on the floor and everybody cheered - a waiter had obviously dropped a plate by mistake and couldn't hide the fact. Then another plate dropped, and the customers reacted again, but not so loud. Then a third and fourth time, and the customers had stopped cheering for fear that the chef was perhaps arguing with the owner infront of everyone. But the plates kept crashing, so much that shards of china would spread to our table! After a while I asked a waiter why this was happening, and he told me it was a form of celebration, similar to the Greeks, when they do good business. A few minutes passed and the same waiter approached me again, this time asking me to follow him. Naturally curious I got up from my seat and he took me round the corner to where all the waiters passed through. There before me were loads of broken wine bottles littered all over the floor. He took a bottle from the floor that only had a chip at the top and said, 'Here, break it!' So I did. Then I picked up another, and another. It was a fantastic stress reliever!


I enthusiastically returned to our table and called everybody to come have a look and everyone had a go. Then my friend Dave said 'Hey Ric, look at these!' and to our right were around twenty old military helmets displayed on shelves. So I promptly picked up a knight's lancing helmet whilst two others did, and we returned to the table together.



When we got back to the hotel we met a guy who we were working with on the same event and told him all about it. He asked us what the restaurant was called, and when we said Marius he said 'But we went there this evening and saw nothing like this! Where were you guys!?' That was the funniest thing of all. Who said curiousity killed the cat?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Dorking at Dusk

Yesterday we went for a walk a couple of hours before the sun set. We hadn't ventured east of where our house is where Glory Woods are, an apparently large woods where my brother-in-law often goes walking with his neighbours. On the way back from our walk I saw a cherry blossom creeping over the fence of our next-door neighbour's garden and had to take a photo of it. I like the silhouette of the roof top in the background and the sun low in the sky. I can't believe I took it with my camera phone!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

MB pic


Early in 2007 whilst I was filming the documentary series on the mounted police branch in Manchester we went out to witness two police officers on horseback leading the Gay Pride March across the city centre. It was a really enjoyable experience, everybody was in high spirits and even the police officers would encourage the crowd to cheer since they were the first people all the waiting crowds would see. Well, they were the second people half the time; I would be running up on ahead so that I could get shots of the horses approaching camera (the position I am in above) so I'd be charging up an empty road full of people waiting for half naked men to be dancing on moving trucks, like a mini 'Carnaval' of Rio de Janiero, and instead they'd see me! And they cheered!


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Danielito

I took this photo of Juanita's friend while I was following him through a toddler's indoor playground, and I've been carrying it on my mobile with pride ever since I took it months ago! I realise he's slightly blurred, but I love the black figure against the explosion of colour.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

How we met


When I met Rosario in the school we worked in together I thought she was gorgeous. Unfortunately it wasn't good timing for me because I'd just come out of a long-term relationship. When we started meeting each other randomly in the school corridors I would feel nervous and excited that such a good looking girl would make the same eyes at me, but because I was still mixed up inside about my previous relationship, being such a purist, I thought I'd just take things nice and slowly and see what happens. But I just appeared to her like I was being hard-to-get, and my apparent disinterest only interested her more.

I couldn't believe she was giving me all the positive signs, being as attractive as she was. We'd go out for coffee regularly, we'd connect on different levels and our relationship developed quite quickly. I was thinking about changing careers and she encouraged me whole-heartedly, giving me an intelligent energy and positivity I wasn't finding anywhere else. Then one day I received loads of texts in one go and was taken back at how confident she was - over the months she was playing all the cards in the flirting game!! One night we somehow ended up in Bar Madrid where after a few drinks and a few more dances she surprisingly decided to leave early. I told her I would accompany her to the main entrance which she was surprised at (or did she just feign surprise?) and then I took her in my arms and kissed her goodnight. I remember the scene quite clearly. There were two bouncers at the nightclub door looking at us, it was a warm summer's night in the middle of London, cars whizzing passed and none of it shaking our stare; mouth open, her eyes staring up at me almost in disbelief. That night determined all others that followed.

But being the indecisive Libran that I am I wanted to play things my way, and was often taken aback by how 'open' she was. I wanted to feel like I was in control of how our 'flirting' was progressing, but she was making all the moves! It was understandable since I was taking so long to make up my mind. However, upset at not feeling in control, I told her I just wanted to be friends and predicted she'd back off a little but be just as keen. Well, she did more than that; she disappeared. No more cheeky texts, no more calls, no more coffees after work. Gone.

That's when I realized I wanted her. After a month of hearing not even a whisper, I called her. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Paso este meme a Uchi, Marie y Entretanto.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll


...is Juanita's favourite song at the moment!! By Ian Dury and The Blockheads. She doesn't quite say the first few words of the title correctly, but I'm certainly not going to correct her!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Second coat


We've finally moved in to our new house after months of waiting. I quite enjoyed the stress of the whole thing to be fair - driving the hire van, seeing the new house empty with all our plans for it ahead of us, watching the girls run free from room to room, and enjoying the fact that Rosario and I could ask each other "which room are they in?". But the thought of painting really didn't attract me. It's so laborious, messy and smelly! But it had to be done. Rosario and I chose colours immediately to lift the terribly boring wood panel formica of all the cupboards, so we chose sky blue to cover them, and a strong red for a couple of shelves. But I had to put a 'primer' on first otherwise the blue wouldn't stay on them for very long. That was long and boring work, proving to me just how loathing I was of the task, my reluctance to do the job made me less inclined to do it properly. Then I gave them to Rosario and she put the first coat of blue on.

My brother-in-law Clive came round and gave me a quick lesson in painting. "Are you going to give it a second coat?" he asked. I told him I didn't really feel like it, it's fine how it is isn't it? "Oh no you *must* give them all a second coat, they won't last a month after getting hit and scratched all the time!" That evening I left all the protective newspaper on the floor so I could continue the next day. After dinner I heard Rosario go into the kitchen for something, and then her scream "oh no Juanita!!!!" I rushed in to find a solitary confident red brush stroke on six different cupboard doors. Juanita had sneaked into the kitchen, and found the brush Rosario had been using just to help mummy and daddy. We went mad. Whilst Rosario yanked Juanita out of the kitchen kicking and shouting I took to cleaning the red off frantically. It just about came off, but the decision to paint a second coat was confirmed.

So came the moment when I had fine-sanded down the cupboards painstakenly, and was carefully stroking the brush up and down listening to BBC radio2 on a Saturday afternoon, warm inside our spacious new flat whilst it gently snowed outside the kitchen window, and Rosario and the girls laughing together in the living room. I felt oddly content.

So what the f*** happened to my irresponsible youth?!!?

Saturday, March 01, 2008

The devil makes work...

I like to think of this week ending in the solitary 29th February certainly as fortuitous if not anything else. The previous week I had filmed for a large production company that specializes in football reports across Europe as a test to my skill, alongside ten other seasoned cameramen, with the hope of repeat work in the future. At the end of the evening I was frustrated and angry. I barely caught the one goal of the match, I couldn't fully anticipate the ball's arrival when passed from player to player, and other cameramen had experience shooting hockey, cricket and golf. Competition was high. Aside from that our house move was continually delayed, and more things were demanded from us for banal legal reasons which delayed everything further and further. And finally, I agreed to help someone out by filming a pilot for a cooking series involving African food with a suspiciously naive approach to organising the filming day. I had a lot on my mind.



On Thurdsay plans were finally put into place and we exchanged contracts, so now we're definitely moving to Dorking and the family awaits us eagerly. On Friday I recieved an email from the producer who organised the football filming and said my footage was among the best he'd watched that evening! I couldn't believe it. He valued my fluent Spanish as an asset and said he'd be calling me soon for work! As for the pilot, I was a little nervous because we were filming in a tiny kitchen with no room to put lights up. After trying and failing with several options, I placed a pole between two walls and hung a light from it and solved the problem. As the day carried on I realised that I was directing everybody and they were all following my instructions without question. It's not as if I want to be a Director, but when nobody else quite knows what to do I have to start telling people. At the end of the day after the equipment was packed away it dawned on me I am actually quite good at what I do, and it had been hard to remember such things after an empty winter and too much time to think about it. Just as the devil makes work for idle hands, being busy keeps me sane.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Eight things

The 'Oso' passed on a 'meme' to me so after a bit of thinking I came up with eight things I want to have done before I die;

1. Celebrate Catalina's and Juanita's 40th birthday
2. Witness the Aurora Borealis
3. Walk the hike up to Machu Picchu
4. Handglide
5. Thank Scorcese at the Bafta's for his inspiration
6. Sit at the head of a long table and watch my children's children reminiscing after a meal
7. Buy another Beetle
8. The same as Ro but not in the love boat please, I never watched the damn soap. Actually, to spend it here would be great!

I'll pass it on to Lo, Uch
and Mati

Monday, January 28, 2008

This actually happened

The following took place on a BA flight between Johannesburg and London . This is a true story.
A White woman, about 50 years old, was seated next to a Black man. Obviously disturbed by this, she called the air Hostess. "Madam, what is the matter," the Hostess asked. "You obviously do not see it then?" she responded. "You placed me next to a Black man. I do not agree to sit next to someone from such a repugnant group. Give me an alternative seat." "Be calm please, the Hostess replied. "Almost all the seats on this flight are taken. I will go to see if another seat is available."
The Hostess went away and came back a few minutes later. "Madam, just as I thought, there are no other available seats in Economy class. I spoke to the Captain and he informed me that there are also no seats in the Business class. All the same, we still have one seat in First class." Before the woman could reply, the Hostess continued: "It is unusual for our company to permit someone from Economy class to sit in First class. However, given the circumstances, the Captain feels that it would be scandalous to make someone sit next to someone so disgusting." She turned to the Black man and said, "Therefore, Sir, if you would like to, please collect your hand luggage, a seat awaits you in First class."
At that moment, the other passengers who were shocked by what they had just witnessed stood up and applauded.

Can police steal cars?

You know in the movies when a police stops a car in the middle of the road, shows his badge and says "NYPD! Give me your car!"? Can they really do that?! And what happens if they ruin the car, or even damage it? Do they supply the owner a hire car whilst their car is being used to chase Wesley Snipes across Manhattan roof tops?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

"I love you"


Whilst I was on the computer Juana and Catalina were playing near me in the living room. Juanita brought me a plastic plate with a quarter of a plastic cake and a plastic knife and said
'for you'.
'Thank you!' I said. Shortly after Catalina stumbled into my chair and passed me a plastic knife and plastic plate and said 'neh!'.
'Oh thank you!' I replied. I returned to whatever I was doing on the PC and then I hear 'I love you'. I thought, did Juanita just say what I think she said? I turned to look at her and there she was hugging Catalina in the middle of the room. Their first moment of verbal fraternal affection! How sweet!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Tukaeje



We filmed this in a small market village in the region of Iringa, Tanzania. I particularly enjoyed shooting this mainly because of the valley we were in, and the mountains surrounding us on either side. It was breath taking.

Monday, January 07, 2008

First Choice



This advert is showing on TV at the moment, every time it comes on I stop what I'm doing and watch it. The confidence of the creators of the ad put all their money on the actor. There are three shots in total, but over half is solely seeing a close head shot of this guy's change of emotions. When you watch it for the first time you've got no idea what the man is looking at. First he is serious, has he recieved bad news? Then he smiles broadly but it turns into an almost worried look. You're kept waiting in anticipation, and then realise why he smiles even more.
Perhaps I indentify with it more since I'm a family man too now. Chopin's Tristesse adds to its emotive nature, and I guess it makes me think how valuable these days are whilst the girls are still so young, they smile at anything, trust in us without question, laugh at simple things. Maybe I like the ad because when I'm in the park, and Juanita comes running up to me smiling I too feel like I'm turning to meet her in slow motion whilst Chopin plays softly in my mind.