Progress and holding your nerve

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A lot happened last week. We finalised our awesome crew with the addition of the great Tom Osborn the sound recordist – possibly one of the most important members of the crew, as it doesn’t matter how good your film looks or how good the story is, it is rubbish if you can’t hear anything – and Kant our Oscar-nominated Editor (yes, really!). UNAIDS are interested in linking the film with their 90 90 90 campaign. I discovered what a carnet is (thanks Yosh from Feral equipment for their excellent advice on this) and we’re close to finalising our kit needs. Flights for the UK crew are all booked and half the team have been jabbed. Oh, and we had our first screenplay. All in all, last week was a week full of progress.

The permit saga is in official farce territory (I am saving a doozy of a blog post for when we’re back from Tanzania) but I’m holding my nerve on this knowing we’ve done everything above board and paid up our fees in December. Feeling quite tense at the end of the week good-friend-Gem-the-radio-producer pointed out that this is the most difficult bit of the whole process – holding your nerve and getting everything set up before you leave: if you can hold your nerve at this time everything will feel fine once in Tanzania. And she’s right. Once in Tanzania things will feel like they are actually happening, I’ll get to see the Tanzanian crew and the four top women we’ve been working with all this time, and once all the crew and kit have arrived production will roll. All of this will happen. I would really like to be in Tanzania this morning and get cracking with the production. But of course for production to happen I need kit, insurance, a carnet, and a shooting schedule – all of which are my jobs for the week!

Added to my to-do list: finalising the ‘Bible,’ the look book Leanne has put together outlining what our film is about and why it is so awesome a lot of people are going to want to watch it. The bible is our ticket to distribution. My idea was to make a film and screen it to some academics, students and policy types, but given the talent I’ve been able to assemble and the quality of the story it would be a waste for this film to not be seen more widely. It also seems odd getting a distribution deal for a film that has not been made; however in many ways this is similar to academic research applications where you make promises as to the innovative outcomes of your project without having done the research. This week I will therefore be thinking about everything that needs to be done to make a film while simultaneously selling it.

In sum, there’s a lot going on, but it beats departmental meetings, 2am student emails, and marking. Film production like a lot of academic work seems to be 50% organisation, 50% holding your nerve. Now I’m off to see how many malaria pills I have left in the cupboard to save me a trip to the Doctors, where I have become such a foreign travel regular that nurse Elizabeth and I frequently mess with NHS waiting times by having an extended gossip about Sierra Leonean politics.

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