Monday, August 6, 2007

Namibia Begins

July 24, 2007. Swakopmund, Namibia.

We started early this morning, and we had a lot to do. On the list:

1. Drop off laundry for cleaning (Brook, our Line Producer, had already made it clear that me, Mark, Chad and Chris were beginning to push the bounds of decency; in fact days earlier she insisted that we all shower before she would let us in the van from Kumasi to Accra.)

2. Meet the scientist whom we'd be filming. Up until this point, they'd all been voices over crackly phone lines.

3. Scout locations. We'd only seen pictures of Swakopmund and nearby Walvis Bay, and I for one had been scratching my head, and if truth be told waking up in cold sweats, trying to figure out how we were going to visualize this sequence. (More on this later.)

1. Laundry: Check.

2. Scientists: Check Plus!

Scarla Weeks, Andrew Bakun, Kathy Peeard, and Bronwen Currie (whom we'd meet later the next day) proved to be marvelous, each possessing a unique and charming personality. Scarla is a satellite oceanographer with exuberant charisma, who would later say in her interview that her office was in space. Andy is a big thinker, who occasionally quotes Shakespeare, and has the distinct good looks of a Hollywood actor. Kathy is both shy and bold; shy in the sense that she avoids the camera when given the chance, and bold to the extent that she became an invaluable member of our production team -- scheduling, scouting, approving shots and even on occasion making sure that our Director of Photography had his camera set properly. ("Mark," she asked during a lab shoot, "Is your extender turned off?")

And then there's Bronwen . . . I'd asked myself prior to meeting her, "Who is this woman on the other side of the phone with such a sweet voice, who patiently answers all of my questions (even the dumb ones)? In person, Bronwen is just as sweet as I imagined, and I would come to recognize that her patience and serenity is born of her love of the ocean. Bronwen is a surfer who spends as much time as she can in the water. She's also a biker, who peddles each day to and from the office. A beginning surfer myself, and a lifelong biker, I can attest to the peacefulness that these activities can bring, but in Bronwen her spirit had quite comfortably and unequivocally merged with her constant motion. Bronwen moves as if her feet barely touch the ground.

The excitement I felt upon meeting our scientists (and dropping off my laundry) was short lived. As we began scouting, it became painfully clear that we had less than twelve hours to reinvent an entire sequence that we had traveled half way around the world to shoot. And the clock was ticking.

Kathy and Bronwen discuss hydrogen sulfide, fish stocks, bacteria (and wonder what's for lunch.)

Scarla and Bronwen examining satellite images of Namibia's coastline.

Me and Andrew in the desert near Swakopmund.

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