Saturday July 25th, 2015

Video Workshop Set for 8-11 October

WASHINGTON, DC, 25 July 2015 — I’m pleased to announce that I will conduct a Video Workshop in Washington, DC, on 8-11 October 2015 in Washington, DC.

During the event, I’ll be sharing many of the lessons I learned while on assignment this summer in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

Veterans receive a 20 percent discount on the enrollment fee.

For more information, please see http://videojournalismworkshops.com/live, or contact me at billgentile@billgentile.com.

Best regards,

Bill Gentile
www.billgentile.com

Sunday July 19th, 2015

Ecuadoran Amazon Challenges iPhone 6+, FiLMiC Pro

http://videojournalismworkshops.com
http://videojournalismworkshops.com/live

SARAYAKU, Ecuador, 28 June – 2 July 2015 – I think this shot made from the foot bridge that spans the Bobonaza River illustrates some of the shortcomings of the system I took for this assignment in the Ecuadoran Amazon.

I’m standing on the footbridge spanning the river in the autonomous indigenous region of Sarayaku when a canoe carrying some folks comes down the river, goes under the bridge and onto the shore. I’m using the FiLMiC Pro app and my iPhone 6+ is set on manual control of exposure and focus.

To change those settings in conjunction with changes of the images I’m making, I have to touch the iPhone screen and drag on the controls, up and down the screen. This, of course, is difficult to do without shaking the camera. So as the boat moves down the river, I have to adapt the exposure and adjust the focus – without shaking the “camera” – which in this instance is an iPhone 6+ on a hand-held and somewhat flimsy monopod or tripod. This turned out to be a real challenge.

Zooming to bring the subjects in a bit closer is another matter. On the right hand side of the FiLMiC Pro screen are buttons to zoom in or zoom out. But I’m faced with the same issue of adjusting the zoom while trying not to disrupt the shot. To help get around this, you can buy lenses for the iPhone.

To see the clip, click HERE.

So before you grab your iPhone and head to the Amazon, or any other place where conditions may be adverse, you really should consider some of that system’s shortcomings. At the end of the day, I would have taken the same system, as I think the advantages outweighed the shortcomings.

I went to Ecuador on assignment for American University’s (AU) Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) to do a short film on religion and the environment.

Bill Gentile

http://videojournalismworkshops.com
http://videojournalismworkshops.com/live

Thursday July 16th, 2015

Bridge Runner in Ecuador

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SARAYAKU, Ecuador, 28 June 2015 – We arrived in Sarayaku after a five-hour canoe ride down the Bobonaza River. I was struck by the foot bridge that members of the community use to traverse the waterway. It’s a noisy, squeaky, shaky, sketchy affair — and a gift for any filmmaker. On it I was reminded, once again, of the wonder of our craft.

A kid sees me shooting video of people crossing the river. I’m crouched down on one knee and he stands behind me watching the screen of my iPhone 6+. Doesn’t say much. I suspect he’d never seen a cell phone before. There are no phones and no televisions in the sprawling, autonomous territory where about 1,200 Kichwa Indians live in seven separate communities. But somehow he understands what’s going on.

So the kid watches what I’m doing and then decides to give me something really cool. He runs to the opposite end of the bridge, then turns back toward me and races at me. He’s a little barefoot locomotive. He gets closer and I’m not sure whether he’s going to crash into me or swerve away. Then at the last moment he just slides right by me – and I don’t see him again. But I remember his smile.

And that’s the moral of the story. That’s why we do this. It’s what makes it worth the discomfort, the time away from home and family, the insect bites on your skin, the parasites in your gut, the ache in your knees, the hard memories of colleagues chewed up in the fray.

It’s about those moments that we exchange with total strangers. Those moments that enrich our lives, that broaden and that deepen our humanity. It’s the smile on a kid’s face.

To see this boy run, CLICK HERE.

I was on assignment for American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS), working on a short film about religion and the environment.

http://videojournalismworkshops.com

Sunday July 12th, 2015

Fishing on Bobonaza River

SARAYAKU, Ecuador, 1 July 2015 – This is one of the more extraordinary scenes I captured during my three-week visit to the Ecuadoran Amazon. Here, in the autonomous, indigenous region of Sarayaku, Kichwa Indians of the seven communities that make up the region join a fishing expedition on the Bobonaza River.

Members of the communities pepper the river with the leaves of specific plants that induce a temporary state of semi-paralysis in fish, allowing the villagers to capture them with harpoons, nets and even machetes. Both a solemn and a joyous occasion, the harvest once was held each year. But the dwindling stock of fish has forced authorities in Sarayaku to limit the event to once every two years.

I went to Ecuador on assignment for American University’s (AU) Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) to do a short film on religion and the environment. The Kichwa Indians who live in this area have a special relationship with the jungle. While explaining that relationship, my Kichwa guide referred to the jungle as “the mother,” from which life emanates. It’s more a spiritual relationship than a religious relationship.

My guide also explained how this region has come to be known as “the epicenter of resistance” to efforts by the Ecuadoran government and foreign petroleum companies determined to extract oil lying underneath the jungle floor. I’ll have more on my guide, Gerardo, in future posts and, of course, in the films that emerge from the post-production process in which I am engaged right now.

What a fascinating process: reviewing, watching transcribing hours and hours of video to make the final products. In my Backpack Documentary classes at American University’s School of Communication, I refer to this process as “the creative treatment of actuality,” or “the creative treatment of reality.” That’s what I’m doing now. Figuring out how I can “treat” the trove of moving images and sound that I captured during my journey to one of the richest forests in the world.

Thanks for following this journey.

Bill Gentile

http://videojournalismworkshops.com

http://videojournalismworkshops.com/live

Wednesday July 8th, 2015

Gear to Go

WASHINGTON, DC, 8 July 2015 — I’ve received a number of messages about the equipment I took recently to the Ecuadoran Amazon. As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m not a “gear head.” But it’s important to keep up with the technology that enables us to do our work and to compete.

So I’ll take a bit of time and space here, and over the next few days, to go over the equipment I took to one of the more challenging places one can work — the rain forest — especially during the rainy season.

Pictured here is the essence of what I took on the trip: an iPhone 6+ equipped with FiLMiC Pro; a charger for the iPhone; a MacBook Pro laptop computer; a wireless microphone set; re-chargeable batteries for the wireless set; a directional microphone; an external hard drive; a tripod and a monopod; cables and connections to make it all work together; a map; a hat.

I’ll go over each of these items individually, and how well (or not) they worked, so stay tuned.

http://videojournalismworkshops.com
http://videojournalismworkshops.com/live

Wednesday July 8th, 2015

Upriver

BOBONAZA RIVER, Ecuador, 29 June 2015 — On the journey to the indigenous region of Sarayaku deep in the Ecuadoran Amazon, I took a five-hour canoe ride down the Bobonaza River. I saw dozens of canoes, run mostly by male “pilotos” and “punteros” (pilots and pointers.) A female pilot was somewhat of a rarity. This woman and her passengers were fighting their way upriver, quite an ordeal in very low waters.

Sarayaku is an autonomous region of this South American country. There, Kichwa Indians for decades have resisted the advances of the Ecuadorian government and foreign corporations to allow oil drilling and “development” in their homeland. This is why both the inhabitants of the region as well as the Ecuadorian government consider it the “epicenter” of resistance.

The trip to Sarayaku is especially timely because of the Vatican’s recent encyclical defending the environment and the poor. Pope Francis on Sunday 5 July landed in Ecuador on the first stage of a three-country visit to South America, bringing with him the Vatican’s message of concern for society’s most defenseless and the world they live in.

The journey to Sarayaku came at the tail end of a three-week trip to the region. I was on assignment for American University’s (AU) Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS), and charged with producing a short film on religion and the environment. I’ll keep you up-to-date on the post-production as it unfolds.

Because I anticipated some difficult conditions in the jungle, I trimmed down the gear and shot the film with an iPhone 6+, equipped with the FiLMiC Pro app, and directional as well as wireless microphones, which I used interchangeably. I had to buy some other gadgets, as well, and I’ll discuss that in later posts, so stick with me as I review the material.

(Photo by Bill Gentile)

Monday July 6th, 2015

The Epicenter of Resistance

CANELOS, Ecuador, 29 June 2015 — This is how my journey to the epicenter of indigenous resistance to oil drilling in the Ecuadorian Amazon began — a five-hour canoe ride down the Bobonaza River in Ecuador’s “Oriente” region, rich in oil and other natural resources. I traveled to Sarayaku, an autonomous region of this South American country. There, Kichwa Indians for decades have resisted the advances of the Ecuadorian government and foreign corporations to allow oil drilling and “development” in their homeland. This is why both the inhabitants of the region as well as the Ecuadorian government consider it the “epicenter” of resistance.

The trip to Sarayaku is especially timely because of the Vatican’s recent encyclical defending the environment and the poor. Pope Francis on Sunday 5 July landed in Ecuador on the first stage of a three-country visit to South America, bringing with him the Vatican’s message of concern for society’s most defenseless and the world  they live in.

The journey to Sarayaku came at the tail end of a three-week trip to the region. I was on assignment for American University’s (AU) Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS), and charged with producing a short film on religion and the environment. I’ll keep you up-to-date on the post-production as it unfolds.

Because I anticipated some difficult conditions in the jungle, I trimmed down the gear and shot the film with an iPhone 6+, equipped with the FiLMiC Pro app, and directional as well as wireless microphones, which I used interchangeably. I had to buy some other gadgets, as well, and I’ll discuss that in later posts.

In addition to the technical issues, the Amazon presents challenges unique to itself. These include heavy rains, muddy pathways, questionable food and water supplies, plus spiders, scorpions, serpents and poisonous, stinging ants.

(Photo by Bill Gentile)

 

 

Saturday May 23rd, 2015

Bangkok Workshop #4 Launches

BANGKOK, Thailand, 21 May 2015 — Bangkok Backpack Video Journalism Workshop #4 opened with a “here’s what it looks like” screening of “Chain Gang,” the first piece I did when I began practicing this craft. It has served me well ever since.

For more information about my live or online workshops, see http://videojournalismworkshops.com/live and http://videojournalismworkshops.com, respectively.

 

(Photo by Bill Gentile)

 

Wednesday May 20th, 2015

Bangkok Workshop N. 3 Ends

BANGKOK, Thailand, 17 May 2015 — Workshop No. 3 in Bangkok ends with a photo of a terrific group of young journalists. Thank you all.

 

Saturday May 16th, 2015

Bruce Jones: Build Your Internet Presence

BANGKOK, Thailand, 16 May 2015 — Build your Internet presence. That’s what designer and Internet marketer Bruce Jones advised the students in my Backpack Video Journalism Workshop when we Skyped him in from his Boston office today. Use all the social media tools, Bruce told them, including YouTube, one of the most powerful tools we can access.

In the picture, Ying Panyapon translates Bruce’s message.

(Photo by Bill Gentile)