FMFAC Behind the Scenes: Guatemala

After a nice little “winter” break (we find filming during the holidays are almost impossible in most countries) , we are back on set in Guatemala shooting for Filmmaker For A Cause. We decided to work with one of our previous partners, Women’s Justice Initiative (WJI), where their organization has grown tremendously since we last step foot in their communities. I won’t spoil everything for you because we want you to learn visually from the videos but long story short, they are working with the indigenous women of Guatemala to educate them on their rights. Here was the original video we created back in 2010 but stay tuned because we have 4 brand new ones coming soon.

I have a feeling it was a little warmer when the team was here before.  Everyone in the town/villages is freezing their butts off due to an abnormal cold front.  We are a few hours outside of Guatemala City in a small town called Patzun. This is our home base more or less while we travel into small indigenous communities to do our work.  Most of these communities are not far from Patzun, maybe 30 mins tops, but the narrow roads winding through mountains and giant chicken buses going 25mph faster than they should, never make a for a fun morning stroll in the Mog.  As usual, when we arrive in the communities, everyone is very curious as to what’s happening and who we are.  “Why are these americans here in their giant truck in our village?” But once you get out of the car, introduce yourself, show a good friendly smile, & they see you are with a local, everyone seems to be very accepting. You can only imagine, we are the talk of the villages for the week.  

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If you have ever worked in some  foreign countries, you might understand that time is not particularly the first priority.  It is very often to show up 25 mins late and that’s not being rude.  Very different than our on point/sharp America.  It worked well for us sometimes as we might be behind a few minutes getting from one interview to the next but at the same time it doesn’t always work in our favor.  We found ourselves one morning locked out of our filming location with a very critical interview ahead.  As we waited around 30 minutes for someone to show up we became a little stressed on preparation time before our talent showed up.  Luckily we had desk materials to build a tripod and as usual we nailed an awesome interview.

The views from the villages are astonishing.  Houses all along the side of the mountain over looking volcanoes in every direction, mountainside farms, Lake Atitlan, and some of the most gorgeous sunsets.  This always provided a beautiful back drop for interviews and a great space for flying the Inspire 1 Drone.

A view from a participants front yard in one of the villages.  Absolutely astonishing.

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A view of Volcano Fuego during a sunset.

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As I look back on this project and compare it to others I think recording the audio was a pretty tough.  Everywhere we went I felt there was some kind of background noise trying to drown out the interview.  The villages are built around the highway/main road so there is always noises from big trucks/motorcycles that you can not escape. And we are in a rural area so its weird if you don’t have a dozen chickens & stray dogs running around your yard making all kinds of noises. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to grab a howling chicken and start cooking it for lunch so it could be quiet on set.

Interviewing a WJI village supporter who’s wife has gone through the program.

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The office rooftop of WJI in Patzun.

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Our wonderful guides/WJI employees in front of the truck while we were filming in a village.DSC_2469

Each day was long, as we were up at 6 am prepping gear, driving to a village by 8 am & continuously filming until sunset.  There was typically only one place in the village where we were allowed to park the truck and film the day away.  This meant the two of us hauling tripods, lights, bags, & the camera up hills, through farms, and schools all at 6,000 – 8,000 feet depending where we were.  You better believe we planned our route of the day pretty well so there was no back tracking!  Despite the long days we always returned back to our lovely “hotel.” And by “hotel” I mean the sweet Mayan family that we are staying with.  Every morning & every night we ate food as a family.  Ma, Pa, the 5 kids, & a few other randoms every day.  It felt great to be accepted in the Guatemalan house as if they were our own family.  As usual, memories forever on another great FMFAC production.

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Stay tuned in a month or so for the videos to be released.  Now its time to get back to editing and staring at a computer more 🙂

-P

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