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The straw on our backs

My Video scholarship 2010 entry

WORLDWIDE | Monday, 2 August 2010 | Views [685] | Scholarship Entry

The straw on our backs

My name is Lee-Ann Odendaal. I’m 25 and from a small town in South Africa. I have a background in theatre, TV presenting, communication and some TV production.

From a young age I have had an interest in traveling and making documentaries, especially wild life documentaries. And the Amazon has always been on my top 5 list of places to travel. So when a friend sent me the link to this scholarship competition 4 days before the closing date, a few things shot through my mind like a lightning storm. Yes, I had almost no time to shoot this project; I have no equipment and no budget since it is my last week in Qatar before returning to South Africa.

But all this was quickly replaced with excitement about the scholarship opportunity. So I made a few calls to some friends and decided to use the resources at my disposal, which were: a small handy cam, an editing program on my laptop that I have never used before, a friend with a car, ½ day to plan, 1 day to shoot, 2 days to edit.

I found myself in the State of Qatar, the heart of the gulf, the “liberal” brother of Saudi Arabia, the oil and gas Mecca of the world. With a few hours to come up with a concept and to organize, I went with a topic that really grew on me during my time in Qatar. Not the money, not the rapid expansion or even the fact that they have the highest CO2 emission in the world. But rather the people that do the service jobs that most of us don’t seem to appreciate or even notice.  Jobs like construction, trash collecting, security, and cashiers at the supermarket. I wanted to take a look at the people on whose backs a country gets built. During the one day I had to shoot the establishing shots, cut aways and interview a security guard and cashier at my local supermarket I found that there was a much deeper story lying in this country to be told. But I would be doing injustice to this story and its people by attempting to capture it in such short time. The story of big dreams that get crushed by the elusive labor laws of this country. Stories of love and conviction to your family. Stories that point to human trafficking. I wish I had more time to really dig my teeth into this. But for now I just tried to capture the optimism that still exists within these conditions and to show a glimpse of the people behind the story.

My personal ambitions as a film maker would be to get involved whilst getting the story out to the public. It is not simply enough to go in and use somebody’s life to tell your story. This seems to me like a form of prostitution. I ‘m not saying that I would like to make every story a personal crusade. I simply feel that if you use somebody for your story they are giving so much of themselves to you. It is only fare that you give something back to the community. True differences are made by working at ground level with people and not by simply interpreting their lives in your own contexts.

Thank you for taking the time to look at my entry.

Kindest regards

PS. I tried to upload my entry in YouTube, but was unsuccessful, so I have used a different program and attached that link. I hope you are now able to view my entry.

Tags: 2010 travel video scholarship

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