The working name for our lead character is Pili. We decided on the name after meeting many Pilis from Miono, Bagamoyo and Mbwewe over the last two weeks. We tell the story of the everyday risk of HIV/AIDS through Pili and therefore we have introduced the character to lots of groups of women as we test and refine the story to see what they think. This is crucially important as Pili is their story and derived from the stories these women shared with us.
The biggest test we had at the end of last week was to share the story with our lead women (pictured with Producer Sophie and Director Leanne). We had shared the story with various other women in the area but not the gang of four that we had been working closely with. This discussion had four parts: 1) assessing if they like the story, if it is authentic and realistic, if it’s good, if it’s bad, what needs work etc; 2) would they feel comfortable and confident in acting out the story; 3) are they familiar with potential issues arising from their participation and how can they help each other and how we can help them with support in Tanzania and the UK; and 4) this film probably won’t make money, but if it does the money would be invested in the community and the groups that helped with the film, we need to make sure this is done appropriately and see what they themselves would suggest.
The first two parts were pretty straightforward – they liked the story and said we were together on this as it is their story. The third part needed some clarification of filming schedules and the need to harvest before the rainy season (this is particularly pertinent for one member of the group who owns her own family land and has to plan crop rotations, the other members work as casual labourers on the land). The fourth part was more tricky, simply because as one woman, Cecilia, stated ‘Pili is everywhere’ and that the needs and challenges are great, if any money is made we need to think about how best to use it. The other women agreed ‘Aya, Pili is everywhere.’
We agreed we would all have a think about how best to distribute any money made, e.g. through micro-lending groups, local NGOs we work with. But of fundamental importance to us, to have these women conclude that they could see our character in the lives of the women they know is encouragement that it is their story we’re telling. For the women in Miono, Pili is everywhere.