Adios Antigua

Today Bengy, Cesar and I are saying goodbye to Antigua. This is one of my favorite places on Earth. The culture, cuisine, beauty, and people are like none other. Photos only tell a tenth of the story.

In about an hour we will head over the mountain to La Limonada to spend some time with Shorty. We are hoping to capture the footage we need to portray Shorty’s personality and the love he has for his community. Shorty is a major character in our film … and we need these shots.

Right now we are headed to breakfast at Cafe Condesa one more time before we leave Antigua. If Antigua is a crown, Cafe Condesa is one of it’s jewels.

Tres Magnificos

We have had a productive week in Antigua and Ciudad Vieja. We wrapped one of our stories yesterday after three long days of production. The Ortiz family was such a blessing to work with. We spent two days documenting their routines at their house and then followed their three children at school. Interestingly, despite the fact that it is rainy season, the only day it has rained is the day we needed for it to rain for our story … Thanks to God.

Ciudad Vieja is a beautiful little town at the foot of Vulcan Agua. Kyros school has some amazing views of the volcano and surrounding patchwork fields of green. We followed Victor, Michelle and Josue through their day of school and conducted a few interviews. At the end of the day we drove to a couple of lookout points above Ciudad Vieja and Antogua to get some timelapse footage. It was a wonderful closing sequence for our time together as a team of five.

Today Bobby and J.Mac flew back to the US. They will certainly be missed. Now we are down to three team members. This morning we shot footage arpind the central park in Antigua. We paid a young boy to shine a man’s shoes so we could get a shot of a child working. We also saw several elderly women begging for money. The visuals are such stark contrast … Beautiful surroundings, beautiful people … But such great need. Bengy and I will continue to work with Cesar in Antigua today and will travel back to Guatemala City tomorrow to spend the day with Shorty. We will travel to Casa Bernabe tomorrow evening to begin production on some orphan related stories. We still have over 120 official shots left on our storyboard in order to complete our project. I am certain we will shoot those and even more … This country is simply beautiful.

Antigua

We left Guatemala City on Thursday afternoon to head to one of the most incredible cities in the world … Antigua, Guatemala. We slept in on Friday and relaxed by the pool at Hotel Antigua. It was nice to have some R&R after working so hard for over a week. We stopped by a few of our favorite spots to enjoy the cuisine: Cafe Condessa, Fridas, and a few others.

This morning our friend Mayra drove us out to Ciudad Vieja so we could get footage of Ortiz Estuardo, a baker who has three children in the Kyros School. We started at Estuardo’s place of employment, a bakery in Ciudad Vieja. The owner graciously gave us full access to the location as we documented the baking process. The aroma was simply amazing. The bakery makes over 250 cakes and 750 pastries a day.

After shooting for a couple hours we drove over to Estuardo’s house in San Lorenzo. It was wonderful to see the Ortiz family again. We fell in love with them in January. We interviewed Estuardo and then began to interview Veronica when it started downpouring. It hadn’t rained the entire time we have been here and it all came down at once. So we took advantage of our rain gear an shot some rain footage. After out shoot we returned to our hotel “basecamp”, archived our footage and then ate dinner at the infamous Rainow Room.

We head back to San Lorenzo for more filming today. J.Mac and Bobby fly back to the US on Tuesday. Bengy and I will be sad to see them go. We are quite a team and I am so thankful for their companionship. Los Magnificos!

Photos From First Five Days

Here are some photos from our first five days in Guatemala.

Walking through an alley by the dump

J.Mac, Bengy and Bobby walking  in an alley by the dump.

Scavenger digging through trash

A scavenger digging in the trash for doll parts.

Working with the "Doll Lady"

Our team working with the Doll Lady.

Doll Lady with dolls

The Doll Lady – Maria Del Fina.

Doll Lady's neighborhood

The Doll Lady’s neighborhood.

Doll Lady's neighborhood

The Doll Lady’s neighborhood.

doll parts

Doll parts waiting to be assembled.

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A view from the Potter’s House.

trash at the dump

Trash with discarded baby doll parts.

Doll Lady entering house

The Doll Lady entering her house with doll parts.

Doll Lady washing dolls

The Doll Lady washing doll parts.

trash at the dump

Trash at the dump.

Mother with daughter and Doll Lady

The Doll Lady sells a doll to a little girl.

Doll Lady Market

The Market where the Doll Lady sells her dolls.

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A scavenger shows dolls to the Doll Lady.

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Doll parts soaking in water.

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The Doll Lady – Maria Del Fina.

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Children playing in an alley by the dump.

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The Doll Lady puts the doll back together.

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Bengy and J.Mac push a doll arm off a table for one of the shots.

bengy hugging doll lady.tiff

Bengy hugging the Doll Lady.bobby-02.tiff

Bobby rigging up his camera.bengy-set.tiff

Bengy giving some direction to some extras.

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Bengy giving some direction to the mother and daughter.

It’s Not a Job – It’s An Adventure

Our first five days have been eventful. We arrived into Guatemala City on Wednesday night and hit the ground running. After dropping our gear off at Joel’s house, we went to a local McDonald’s for a production meeting to review plans for the week. We went to bed about 2:30AM.

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Thursday morning came early. Our alarm was set for 5:30 AM so we could be ready for a 6:15 pickup to take us across the city to an organization called “The Potter’s House”. We spent a couple hours getting to know Edgar and Gladys and then drove out to a neighborhood next to the Guatemala City dump to begin filming. We worked with a scavenger (a person who digs through the trash at the dump in search of things of value) and a “Doll Lady” (a person who takes discarded doll parts, cleans them up, and sews them back together to make new dolls). The Scavenger and “Doll Lady” were so kind and happy to help us. We ate lunch at the Potters house and then spent the rest of the afternoon shooting at the “Doll Lady’s” house. We returned back to Joel’s around 7PM and spent some time with a crew of Guatemlan’s who are helping us (Hubert, Diego, Pablo, Esteban, and Jonathan). It was a blessing to hear their heart for Guatemala. After the guys left, we archived our footage and were in bed by 3AM.

Bobby eating breakfastWorking at the "Doll Lady's" house.

Friday was another early morning – 5:45 wake up and 6:30 Pickup to travel to the Potter’s House. We spent the morning at the “Doll Lady’s” house filming more of the process with the dolls. Then we walked through the community shooting footage of other micro-economy enterprises. After lunch we spent the rest of the afternoon shooting interviews with people from the Potter’s House about their work in the community around the dump. After dinner we watched a couple videos about the Guatemalan Civil War and the dump to give us more information and context for our project. We finished up some file backups and went to bed about midnight.

Interviewing Gladys - the founder of the Potter's HouseIMG_0656

Saturday we hired a security team to take us to a market to shoot the final scene with the “Doll Lady”. The market was chaotic with vendors and people everywhere – we were thankful we had the extra security. We hired a mother and daughter to be a part of our scene and they worked wonderfully. After the market scene we traveled across the city to shoot some wider shots in a dump at Villanueva because we are not allowed in the main dump in Guatemala City. However, when we arrived at the dump, we were told that their was an “armed conflict” going on in the dump and it wouldn’t be safe, so we drove back to Joel’s and interviewed one of the Gang Pastors about his work in the prison. After diner Scott was feeling pretty bad and went to bed at 8:30PM to try to get some rest. The rest of the team was in be by 11:30.

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Sunday Scott woke up at 10:30AM ate breakfast, went back to bed and slept all day. Bengy and Bobby went around the city with Diego to get various shots. After Bengy and Bobby returned form their shoot the team decided to take Scott to the Emergency Room because we were concerned that he might have the Swine Flu. We were seen immediately and Scott was given an IV to help bring down his 102 fever. The doctor took some blood to test for Swine Flu and took a chest X-Ray. We all tried to stay positive in spite of the situation. After about 45 minutes the doctor returned to give us the unfortunate news. Scott’s blood work came back positive for “Influenza A” – a strain which could be the H1N1 Swine Flu. The doctor prescribed Tamiflu and suggested that Scott be quarantined for five days to prevent the rest of the team from getting ill. There are 24 hour pharmacies all over Guatemala City but only a few keep Tamiflu in stock, so Joel drove to a few until he found some. Scott took the first dose and went to bed. Bobby and Bengy and J.Mac worked on a video podcast episode and went to bed at 2:30AM.

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We are hoping that Scott will be feeling better and will be able to jump back into production asap.