LITTLE DIRECTION

Posted: November 8, 2010 in Movies

On 10th October 2010, people across the world participated in the ONE DAY ON EARTH project capturing an unprecedented global video snapshot of a single 24-hour period. Participants, ranging from teenagers with cell phones to Academy-Award nominated documentarians using the latest HD cameras, filmed the world from their own perspective. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) partnered with ONE DAY ON EARTH to help the project reach participants in 100 countries with low bandwidth, making it a truly global initiative.

A group of talents from Dhivehi film industry volunteered to help UNDP Maldives produce their ONE DAY ON EARTH. Administratively from UNDP Maldives, AMINATH IBRAHIM aka SANU managed this project. She through my wife, who is her colleague at UNDP Maldives, somehow convinced me to helm it.

I had only five days for pre-production. Without any delay, I helped SANU write a short script from the perspective of UNDP Maldives. I must say she wrote a pretty impressive piece. The very next day, I went through her script and prepared a shooting script including a shooting schedule so that anyone who took over the KODAK HD flipcam could do an easy job.

Just three days to go, I approached KID PRODUCTION head, HUSSAIN MUNAVVAR who is also a cameraman to lens. However, due to time constraints and with a day to go, he arranged me IBRAHIM WISAN aka KANDI who is promising, talented and had several big budget films under his belt as a cameraman. We met at newly opened GONUTS WITH DONUT as I explained him the entire shooting script. He was more than happy to volunteer.

Later that night I sat with SANU who assigned herself as the tenderfoot production manager. I briefed her on the shooting schedule, how to handle one and introduced her to KANDI since shooting was to begin before sunrise next day.

Shooting went as scheduled. I checked with SANU on the progress of the shooting. She was enjoying her new found job so much so that I thought she would opt a career change. At the end of the day, it turned out to be a pretty good shooting experience for her and her assistants. As for KANDI it was just another walk in the park. The whole production team did an admirable job shooting nonstop from sunrise to sunset.

Two days later, SANU gave me the raw materials for editing. I went through them for labeling. The artistic side of KANDI was clearly seen in every frame even when he had to shoot with a camera much, much smaller than he usually handles, not to mention with limited functions and a light weight tripod he had to use that almost tumbled even if someone blows lightly at it, from a considerable distance. So three cheers to him.

Since I was not informed of a deadline to submit the final cut, I took everything too easy. I kept delaying editing. But about ten days later after handing me over the raw materials, my wife informed me that SANU wanted the final cut a day before 10th November 2010.

After twelve days of some worrisome editing, I managed to do a very rough cut on my wife’s VAIO using Premiere Elements which constantly kept giving me a low memory warning and several not responding messages. When I was unable to continue, I did a backup of the project and asked producer-director, FATTHAAH if he could help. He did try to help me but unfortunately, his system was unresponsive and troublesome as well. I panicked. I called actor-editor, MUA immediately. As usual, he was cool enough to turn a cucumber more greener. He asked me to bring my project to his studio, DV PRODUCTIONS.

Things were not going too good at his studio either. But after several software crashes and uncountable reboots, MUA was able to export a rough cut with a narration track that I recorded using sound recorder. My wife was too eager to provide the narration since it was a rough cut.

I submitted the rough cut for comments. I met SANU at UNDP Maldives where she gave me a list of amendments. She insisted my wife do the narration for the final cut too. Though my wife agreed, we had another issue to settle. We were still brooding over what music to use. My wife kept telling me about a song which was produced by UNDP Maldives in association with local artistes called RAKKAAVETHIBIYYAA DHIVEHIRAAJJE  (if stayed alert, Maldives). I listened to it. Though it was a song on our environment, I felt it was not just catchy but perfect as well. I used the melody throughout the eight minutes of this short documentary and the first part of the complete song at the end credits. I then did a better recording of the narration for the final cut. MUA helped me with all the technicalities including refining the narration recording, color grading and trimming the final cut plus all the needed importing and exporting.

This afternoon I viewed the final cut with my wife before she gave it to SANU. My wife was a tad sad that I didn’t include a shot of fourteen storey government office building, Velaanaage for the high rise line said in the narration.

SANU called me early this evening. She was ecstatic. She thought the final cut was awesome. However, she still wanted to correct a typo and credit for the song added at the end credits.

I called MUA immediately. He was all too available. We did the correction and the addition SANU asked plus inserted a shot of Velaanaage. My wife thinks the final version now looks more complete. She will hand it over to SANU tomorrow.

This is my involvement in direction since 2003, even though it’s a short documentary. I thank all those who volunteered for this project. Special thanks go to KANDI and MUA for their enormous support. I couldn’t have completed this project without all those who helped me, even if it was for just ONE DAY ON EARTH.

Cheers!

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