Since we left you last a lot has happened… Jose and I arrived in Siem Reap monday morning after nearly 36 hours of travel. We got off the plane and walked into the one building that makes up the airport. It was very unconventional but beautiful. Many trees, bushes and flowers surrounded the building and the architecture was very interesting – almost as if it was very large log cabin built in an asian style. We went in and were immediately thrown into the visa process. Let me stress that things run very differently here in Cambodia. Our passports were barely looked at – along with any pictures or other pertinent information, we paid $42 cash for our visas, and waited a VERY long time before we could even get our baggage. Regardless, we were able to leave the airport and were picked up by John in a Tuk Tuk.
As we drove toward our guest house in a tuk tuk nearly grinding on the ground due to the weight of all our equipment and four people (people were looking as us like we were crazy!), Jose and I were struck by the difference in environment. We wanted to jump out and start shooting immediately, but John reassured us that we would have plenty of time. We arrived at the guest house and were greeted by a very friendly gentlemen who showed us to our rooms, conveniently all next to each other on the first floor.
Soon after our arrival, we got straight to work. We had to both test all the equipment to make sure things worked after the long plane rides, as well as create “Scene Files” for the Hvx200 camera. “Scene Files” are essentially different visual styles that can be saved in the camera. For example, when we are filming in the jungle we can change the scene file within the camera to #1 which will have more contrast, versus when we are in the city we can change the scene file to #2 which will have more color temperature… etc.
Since we did most of the testing at the actual Land Mine Museum, we got plenty of wonderful footage. We filmed the children running around, the tourists learning about land mines and some of the locals riding by. It was very interesting to read and hear about how Akira works with mines, and how he decided to create the museum. In fact, we all went to an outdoor restaurant near the land mine museum to read a new book that will be coming out soon that features Akira’s story – from being a soldier to demining in Cambodia. We only read several chapters, but it was great to read his story and to hear some of his reactions to it. We are excited for the book to come out soon!
Today we got up at 6am and headed to the Land Mine museum. We filmed an interview with HAK, a nineteen year old boy who is learning how to eventually de-mine. He currently leads many of the tours there and speaks english very well. During his interview he shared with us many stories, including how he lost his leg… While walking in a rice field with his three siblings he stepped on a land mine. The explosion immediately knocked him out, and he later awoke in a hospital without one of his legs. He also awoke to the news that the mine didn’t kill him, but instead killed his siblings. Despite his sharing this tragic event with us, he expressed happiness at being able to help Akira teach people on how to prevent such occurrences in the future.
We also interviewed Bel, filmed a lot of the daily proceedings at the land mine musuem, as well as many scenic shots of the local environment. We are very excited to have people see the fruits of our labor. And thanks to Cinevate, the manufacturers of the Brevis35, the look of our film is absolutely stunning. In case you are unaware, the Brevis35 is an adapter that allows the use of either film or photography lenses on your Hvx200 camera. Currently, we have been using Nikon and Canon lenses, and have been extremely pleased with the footage. Filming in such a bright, lush and beautiful place certainly helps. Just today, Jose was commenting on the look we were able to capture with the hvx + nikon/canon lenses. With the Master Pedastel (CONTRAST) punched up, and the gamma and color temperature slightly changed within the camera, much of what we filmed today looked as if it was straight out of the Constant Gardener (specifically scenes taking place in Africa).
Well, tomorrow is another day in our 30 day schedule. We’ll keep you posted and best wishes!