It was 7pm and I was having dinner with James across the street from the M+V offices. We were recapping the most recent Panda Express spot that had just wrapped…talking about the wins, the sacrifices — all the ins and outs of the project, when he shifted gears.
“What’s next?” He asked.
For a freelancer, there are always about a million nexts, but I responded with the project that had been on my mind for months.
“I want to go to the Middle East and tell the story of a Syrian Refugee who is an artist. I want to start changing the conversation about who refugees really are…to reveal their humanity, in some small way.”
￼NO JOKE, HE REACHES ACROSS THE TABLE, SHAKES MY HAND AND SAYS,
“LET’S DO IT.”
That was the first step in the long journey to bring my most recent project to life. In late April, 2017, my Director of Photography and I departed Los Angeles, heading to Amman, Jordan to tell the story of a refugee sculptor living on the border of Jordan and Syria.
We spent four days with him from sunrise to sunset, doing everything we could to get inside his world. We wanted to film what he was feeling, not just what he was doing. Fortunately, we captured everything that we had set out for…and more.
￼I’ve had some time to reflect on the process since we’ve been home, and I can’t help but notice the magnetic power that this project had behind it. Typically, people come on to projects because their schedule allows it and the pay is good enough. Its rare, on the other hand, to have so many people donate their time, energy and resources free of charge to see something come to life.
We had a camera house donate the newest RED camera and a friend donated his Kowa anamorphic lens set. My DP offered up his time and energy. The color house, Company 3 is donating their facilities and colorists time to the project at no charge. I don’t think these gifts are because the people giving them feel like it’s a good investment or that it will benefit them in the long run; I believe they gave because when they heard the story — when they felt the power of the narrative that we were setting out to accomplish — they wanted to be involved. They wanted to feel like, as storytellers, they were helping create a narrative that puts more love, more understanding, and more compassion into the world around them.