Journey to Kathmandu Aryal Family Relief Fun

In 2008, I was in Nepal filming the documentary Journey to Kathmandu.  Much of this time was spent with chai tea sellers, Prem and Goma Aryal, and their two children Kopila and Kapil.  I am happy to say that just yesterday I received word from the daughter, Kopila, that the family is safe and unharmed.  However, along with so many Nepalese families, due to the earthquake, they have lost their home up in the mountains.

J2K Free Download

 

If you would like to directly help the Aryal family – and if you’ve seen the film, you know how lovely they are – then please donate via PayPal to cgparkhurst@gmail.com .  All monies will go directly to the family.  Along with the satisfaction of directly helping a family in need, you will also be emailed a free download of the film, ‘Journey to Kathmandu’!

In advance, thank you for your contribution, and if you wouldn’t mind, please share this link to anyone you know whom might be interested.

Advertisements

Manifesting Your Film Life (Part II of ‘Living Your Dreams’)

It wasn’t that long ago when the term new age or the idea of doing yoga made the majority of us laugh, cringe, or want to get as far away as possible from the nearby Birkenstock-wearing and granola-consuming hippy, who was busy reading about zen and the art of something or other.

Thankfully, things have long since changed.  Thanks to books and films like The Secret and thanks to the proliferation of yoga studios on every other corner of just about any major city, topics like alternative medicine, yoga, and meditation have become as commonplace as sports and nutrition.  In fact, those last three topics have become big business in the Western world. contemplate_nepal

I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that I resisted many of these things for many years, having grown up on the east coast, in Rochester, New York.  And that it wasn’t until I had moved out to Portland, Oregon back in ’97 – where there might just be more yoga teachers and massage therapists than there are coffee shops – that I started to open up to some more progressive, holistic ways of thinking (smudging your work or living space, anyone?).  And, for the most part, I’m pretty damn happy that I did.  (Though my east coast-born self will always still be a little skeptical of things like spirit animals, soul stones or cynical about the whole yoga fashion industry.)

Sometime around 2006, I started reading a couple of books like Jack Canfield’s The Success Principles and Brian Tracy’s The Miracle of Self Discipline.  These types of books allowed me to gain a lot of insight into the power of positive thinking.  And how doing just a few things to alter my at-the-time fairly negative, cynical, and pessimistic attitudes (East coast, baby!), I could significantly shift the course of my life.  By realising and accepting and truly understanding that I did, in fact, have the power to create the positive change that I was looking for, I was able to start bringing into my life the things that I was seeking.

To many of you, this probably sounds pretty darn familiar.  The book and then later on the documentary film, The Secret, touched upon this whole concept of manifestation, as have a slew of other books discussing the power of manifesting and the laws of attraction.

Many many many books and websites have been dedicated to this idea of manifestation, but to put it fairly simply, it’s the practice of putting one’s thoughts into reality.  By dialoguing about, writing about, and thinking about certain things, we, in essence, have the power to put them into our lives.  The new age set likes to explain it as putting something out into the universe in order to get it back.  One can effectively use it to get a promotion in the workplace, find a solution to a conflict with a colleague, get out of debt, find the love of your life, etc.

Now, just like anything else, it’s rarely as easy as the marketing of said books and movies make it sound.  No one – at least no one that I’ve ever met – can simply “think” something into existence without having to actually DO something.  You’ll remember, after all, that money doesn’t grow on trees.  One has to plant and water and maintain the tree, before any brances containing money will ever happen.

But manifesting does work.  You can put things out into the universe – and this works negatively and positively, so be conscious of that – and what you are asking for can and will come back to you.  Again, as long as your willing to do some work along with the thinking and belief, it can all happen.

I used and continue to use on a daily basis the power of manifesting in my film work.  I remember one particular lesson – the power of daily goal setting – that I learned from Brian Tracy and his Miracle of Self Discipline.  It’s proved to have been invaluable over the years.  Basically, sit down with a pen and paper and think about no less than ten goals that you want to achieve some time within the next year.  It could pertain to relationship, income, careers, family, etc.  Whatever they are, quickly right them down, but be sure to include an end date for your goal.  This is very important.  You must write down the date that you want to have achieved said goal.  And also write as if it has already happened.  Don’t simply write down ‘I want to make $4000 a month’.  Instead, write something like ‘I am making $4000 per month in July’.  This puts you within the thought and also gives you an exact time frame to manifest to.

If you write this kind of list down on a daily basis, it will change things.  I can promise you this.  And it’s not magic (though the effects are certainly magical).  At least, it wasn’t for me!  It’s actually pretty simple.  By writing this list every day, you are putting it into your consciousness, you are putting it out into the universe.  And when you are writing down these goals, you are seeing them on a daily basis.  And just by seeing them – along with the end date – you will start to build energy around making these goals happen.  Before you know, you’re going to be starting to tick things off of your list. 

I used manifesting when I made my Nepal doc, Journey to Kathmandu.  From the outset and from the relatively safe confines of Portland, Oregon, when I first even had the inclination to do this film about goats journeying through the Himalayas in Nepal, I was manifesting the film.  I had no money, no film gear, and only myself and the idea.  But I started a blog about the film.  I began telling everyone that I knew – family, friends, even the checkout teller at the supermarket – about this film that I was doing.  Soon I started looking for a producer.  We started meeting regularly.  I began applying for grants.  All the time constantly telling everyone everyone everyone about this film that I was doing.  The film just began to grow from this power, this belief.  And the universe began to work its magic, answering me back on a nearly daily basis.  People came out of the woodwork, to help me see my vision become a reality.  A Regional Arts & Culture Council grant came through when I needed it most, just before Christmas.  People volunteered to help me put on a benefit concert.  Colleagues began loaning me film gear and an editing space.

As I mentioned earlier, nothing happens simply by thinking it into existence.  Certainly, movement and diligence and hard work is required.  But none of it happens without some kind of manifesting, without first asking the universe for what you want.  After all, how is the universe supposed to know what you want if you don’t ask for it?

How to Start Making Documentaries (or Living Your Dreams!)

Over the years, when discussing the kind of work that I do, I’m often asked one of two questions: (1) How did you get into documentary film? (2) Why the interest in SE Asia?

At this point, I have been asked these questions so many times, that I often end up giving what I think is some fairly stock borderline boring answer about how I was asked by a colleague to help him shoot a film for six months in Cambodia, whereupon I would soon discover what would become two of the biggest passions in my life: (1) documentary filmmaking (2) SE Asia

Thing is, whenever I give this short, rather benign anecdote, I’m usually surprised by the reaction that people tend to have, which is generally one of interest and sometimes even inspiration.

Me? Inspiring?  Yeah, I usually am just as surprised by this!  But, you know, sometimes I’ll take a moment and try and understand how someone could be excited or inspired by my story of how I got into this whole thing… and I think that I can understand.  It’s less about being inspired by me – thankfully! – and more about being inspired by something that we all tend to be inspired by: seeing or hearing about someone who is living out their dreams.

Mixing and Booming in Cambodia

Mixing and Booming in Cambodia

Whenever you hear about someone talking about their dreams and passions – whether it’s doing some humanitarian work in a remote part of the world, creating a beautiful garden in one’s own backyard, winning an Olympic gold medal, or fixing up an old car –  it’s hard not to be moved by what they’re saying.  You can hear in the tone of their voice, the gleam in their eye, or the glowing energy that seems to surround them, that they love what they are talking about.  And moreso, that they love it in a way that is usually reserved for a favourite pet or maybe even their firstborn!

And often, just by being around this energy and hearing about someone’s passions or dreams, it moves us to maybe even contemplate our own.  And to think that maybe, just maybe, we can, and SHOULD, be living our own dreams.  We all can relate to that, right?

So how did I start following my dreams?  Well, first of all, I should tell you that it took awhile.  It didn’t happen fresh out of university.  It didn’t even happen in the first decade out of university!  No, it wasn’t until my mid-30s, after I’d worked a wide variety of jobs like dee-jaying at a strip club, writing/editing for an online health website, bartending, and valeting, just to name a few.  None of these were remotely even close to my dream jobs or dreams – though some of my guy friends were certainly envious of the aforementioned dee-jaying gig – as much as they were a means to pay the proverbial bills.  Sure, there were a few along the way that I didn’t hate, but by and large, I just sort of blindly went from year to year and job to job, feeling largely unsatisfied with what I was doing with my life, vocation-wise.

The whole time that I was working whatever job I was working, I was keenly aware that I was not doing what I was longing to do: film.  I had probably known since my senior year of college, at the State University of New York College at Fredonia that I wanted to do something in film.  My course of studies was in Communications/Media, and the course load was basically radio and television broadcasting.  For years, I had thought that I wanted to work in radio – I’d done on-air work since I was 13 years old at our high school, which was one of the last to actually have a radio station, WBKT (Brockport, New York).  Somewhere during my junior year at Fredonia, I started to see commercial radio for what it was: commercial bullshit.  And that, ultimately, simply being a dee-jay was absolutely not going to fulfill me, creatively or spiritually.  I was going to need something a bit more substantial.

It was during my final year in college, while as an independent study, along with two other colleagues, I co-wrote, co-directed, and edited a feature video/film (called ‘The Unorthodox Courtship of Adria Quinn’).  Those last two furious weeks of editing at the end of the semester were some of the happiest in my life, at that time.  The filmmaking dream seeds were definitely sown during those days.

Eventually, this would culminate into a rather deep unhappiness which, of course, would start to bleed into personal aspects of my life, til one day I’d woken up and realised that my unhappiness was taking its toll not only on my well-being but it was affecting my friendships and family relationships. (Love life?  Yeah, we won’t even get into that!)

Anyhow.  Happiness.  Or the lack thereof.  Throughout much of my 20s and early 30s, it was very much tied into what I was – or more aptly wasn’t – doing with my life.  Making movies.  At least, for a living.  (I’d written and directed and produced another full length digital feature, Cascades, but that was still a bit before I was actually able to do for a living.)

In the summer of 2003, I found myself in the second year of working in the hotel business.  I had worked my way up from parking cars as a valet for a hotel to being a supervisor of a staff of people parking cars as valets for a hotel.  My time was mostly spent parking cars, writing bad poetry and less-than-stellar screenplays, and hanging out at bars with friends.  Later in the summer, my roommate/landlord, Steve Fitzpatrick, approached me with the proposition that would forever change the trajectory of my life.  He had recently been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to go spend six months filming people in a post-conflict country (Cambodia) who were making their meager livings by digging up and disassembling unexploded ordnance (UXO).  He was set to leave in a month’s time with his tiny documentary crew, only it now looked like his sound guy wasn’t going to be able to go.  He wanted to know if I’d be interested and willing to leave my job and go and do sound for him on what would end up being a film called Bombhunters.

Award-winning film still from 'Bombhunters'

Award-winning film still from ‘Bombhunters’

There are times in one’s life where they know with every cell of their body what their decision to an important questions will be.  And this was one of those times.  Leave my miserable, unsatisfied life of valeting and shitty poetry for the chance at making a film on the other side of the globe?  Uh, yes, please.  Sign me up right bleeping now!  And so it took me all of about five minutes before giving him a resounding ‘yes’.

Within weeks I was on a plane bound for a country I knew nothing about, with a guy I didn’t really know, and with very little money in my pocket.  But I was embarking on a great journey with many lessons and with life-altering consequences, and for that I would be forever grateful…

(Tune in next week for the Part II of ‘Living Your Dreams’!)

How to Drone on About Drones

I remember years ago while editing on the award-winning documentary Bombhunters – the film which got me started on this whole documentary and SE Asia path – I was cutting together a “history of bombing” montage. Starting with the first-ever bombs dropped from an aerial source during Italy’s war with the Ottoman Empire in 1911 and culminating with at-the-time cutting edge new drone warfare being deployed by American forces in Iraq in 2004.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Circa 1915: Crowds gather to see a birdlike German ‘Taube’ aircraft, on display at Les Invalides, Paris, at the height of the First World War.

I remember being slightly fascinated, slightly horrified, slightly enamored with the spectacle of it all. We all know them well now: the visuals that have now long since become everyday news images of black and white (or infrared) video footage from a drone’s perspective blowing up a distant target from above. But at the time, I’d never seen any footage quite like it. And then when I saw the exterior shots of the drones where the point-of-view camera angles had been coming from… well, that was also something I’d never seen before. They looked like these mechanised giant ants kind of racing through the air towards god only knows who or what. Even now the images of these drones still creep me out. (As they should, no? I mean, how is the idea of some human thousands of miles away manning a giant mechanical deadly insect by remote control, ready to unleash a host of destruction upon unsuspecting citizens of another country, not creepy??)

Thing is, maybe the term ‘drone’ has gotten a bad wrap, what with all of these photogs and filmmakers nowadays employing these drones for their own not-exactly-destructive ways.  Alternatively, the footage that has now also seemingly overnight become incredibly familiar are coming from these various flying machines equipped with small cameras and manned by remote controls in the hands of mere mortal men.  Since roughly 2010, filmmakers and hobbyists worldwide have been taking some rather stunning pieces of aerial footage that had long-since been only achievable by a specially license heli operator and a select number of camera operators who maybe specialised in this kind of aerial photography (and had the financial mans to achieve it!).

It’s funny.  I kind of go back and forth on the whole camera drone thing.  I mean, on one hand it’s just continuing Coppola’s prophecy of “some little fat girl in Ohio is going to be the new Mozart and make a beautiful film with her little father’s camera…For once the so called professionalism about movie will be destroyed forever and it will really become an art form.”  You know, the ongoing democratization of filmmaking that we’ve been hearing about since digital video started to take shape in the 90s.

On the other hand, it can be argued that not unlike when the DSLRs flooded the market with wedding photographers cum wannabe filmmakers, aren’t these drones perhaps enabling the hobbyists to puff out their chests and suddenly tout themselves as aerial cinematographers?

The Elvis of Cambodia crew has, in particular, been seeing a lot of drone footage of Cambodia this past year.  And yes, while a bit of it tends to emanate from the backpacker GoPro-and-YouTube-loving crowd, some of the stuff is undeniably pretty damn good.  (And I don’t mean to imply that all of the drone users are the afore-mentioned backpacker types!  There are a lot of industry people using these as well.)  With the estimated number of NGOs in Cambodia at 10 0000+ and a rapidly growing commercial and consumer base, the need for made-on-the-cheap footage but with high production value is everincreasing.

Patrick Firouzian aboard the Lake Clinic 4, getting set for some aerial footage of Cambodia's Tonle Sap.

Patrick Firouzian aboard the Lake Clinic 4, getting set for some aerial footage of Cambodia’s Tonle Sap.

French filmmaker, Patrick Firouzian, who prior to his work as a consultant for NGOs (he is the co-founder of Global Roots) and photography and film endeavours, worked significantly in both the IT and manufacturing sectors, ventures which would help him greatly while shooting in developing countries throughout SE Asia. Over the past couple of years, he too has been embracing the drone technology and has taken some rather remarkable footage in both Cambodia and Nepal, the last two settings of Barang Films documentary productions.  He was kind enough to allow us to use some of his aerials for our July fundraiser in Portland, Oregon and during our Kickstarter campaign.

Just recently – after nearly a year’s correspondence – I was able to meet up with him over some nice Indonesian cuisine at Sumatra Restaurant in Phnom Penh! We spoke at length about various topics, including but not limited to filming in SE Asian countries, in particular “droning” (if you will) in these areas. Firouzian, a fan of using the DJI copters operates with two different set-ups, employing the DJI Phantom 2 for his GoPro outfit, and then he also recently acquired the S900 model for use with his Panasonic GH4.

We shared some great “war stories” amidst mouthfuls of nasi goreng and chicken satay and I came to admire this person who not only displays a passion and professionalism for his work, but clearly cares for the cultures in which he is able to do his work; a man with a Barang heart, one might say!

We have agreed to meet up again in the next week or so in hopes of testing out some of one another’s equipment. I’m looking forward to finally getting out my Feather Crane, which my friend’s over at Lite Pro Gear were so kind as to ship out to Cambodia. (There will surely be a post about these initial tests!) And Patrick has offered to take me out droning on one of his boat ventures to film the great Tonle Sap from above.

Am greatly looking forward to delving into this magical world of the drone…

Line-up Revealed for ‘Elvis of Cambodia’ Fundraiser, Purchase Tix

Cambodian Dance Troupe of Oregon - Apsara Dancers

Cambodian Dance Troupe of Oregon – Apsara Dancers

As of today, Barang Films has announced the line-up for the July 19th, Elvis of Cambodia fundraiser.  The following acts have generously donated their time for this event, in which all proceeds will go towards helping the Barang Films people finish filming in Cambodia, with an eye towards beginning post their as well.

The line-up includes headliners, The Bayon Band, a band that has been performing Cambodian psych rock and oldies on the West coast for the past 20+ years.  They performed here in Portland for the last Khmer New Year party and all members filmed interviews for the film.  They are led by none other than Kong Dina, who appropriately sounds like the second coming of none other than Sin Sisamouth himself!

Legendary Cambodian singer, King Soriya

Legendary Cambodian singer, King Soriya

Joining The Bayon Band will be a very special guest all the way from Long Beach, CA.  King Soriya has agreed to perform gratis, stating that she believes in our film about Sisamouth!  (She also can’t wait to re-unite with Kong Dina!)  We affectionately like to think of this duo as King Kong!

Earlier in the evening, we will be honoured with the Cambodian Dance Troupe of Oregon who will be performing the lovely and mysterious traditional apsara dance.  Five years ago, Troupe leader, Phirath Farley, performed with her group at our film benefit for Journey to Kathmandu .  Cannot wait to see them again!

Director, Chris G. Parkhurst will also be unveiling a new film short and/or scenes connected with ‘Elvis’.  There will also be other Cambodian film shorts as well.

Raffles for prizes, karaoke, and other highlights will be added as we draw closer to the event which will be held in the amazing space next to the Mekong Bistro, known as Eternity Hall, located at 8200 NE Siskiyou St 97220, Portland, OR.

This event will be emceed by Cambodian favourite entertainer, Khiev Samphat!

MC Khiev Samphat

MC Khiev Samphat

 

The event is on Saturday, July 19th from 7-11p.  Doors will open at 6:30 and tix will be $20.  However, if purchased beforehand online, they are only $15.  We recommend getting them now, while supplies last, as space is limited.

 

Alternative Film Financing Part One: Creating Your Strategy

It’s Memorial Day and my wife and producer, Stephanie, and I have been discussing our upcoming schedule for the next three months.  This will be the most critical period in our filmmaking on Elvis of Cambodia, to date.   Not only will be filming some important interviews as well as heading down to Los Angeles and Long Beach for the Cambodian Music Festival, but it is during this time that we will be raising major awareness and funding that will allow us to re-locate to #Cambodia in the Fall (for 3 – 6 months) for completion of principal photography and hopefully getting headlong into post production.

Film Funding Headquarters for Elvis of Cambodia

Film Funding Headquarters for Elvis of Cambodia

This can be a tricky, mind bending, and sometimes in worst case scenarios, film-ending time.  We’ve drawn upon past positive experiences (and sometimes failures!) from years of working in the film industry, which has often including financing our documentary projects, and tried to put together a strategy for ‘Elvis’.  This has included books, online research, practical experience with our own projects, and practical experiences from other filmmakers.  It is our hopes that this series will help you as you embark upon the sometimes scary, but often times quite rewarding journey that is film self financing.

Just last night we took large poster-sized sheets and filled them out with topic headings like Fundraiser, Cambodian Music Festival, #Kickstarter, and Cambodia.  Below these headings was everything that we’d need to know regarding the area.  Where did we hang these big sheets of manifestations?  Right in the damn living room.  I’d suggest doing the same.  It gets it out and into a place where you simply can’t avoid it.  Every time you walk by or are in the living room you are seeing in front of you all of the various tasks that need to be done.  And friends and family will also be seeing them.  Not only will they think you’re serious about your project, but subconsciously (or better yet consciously!) they’ll be devising ways to help you on your journey.  We’ll be checking off our list over the next few months.  And  you know, it doesn’t look all that bad.  Really.

Heading on Poster-Sized Sheet for Film Financing

Heading on Poster-Sized Sheet for Film Financing

Author, Carole Dean, has written a super helpful guide to alternative ways to finance your film, whether it be a short, feature, or a documentary. The book has recently had it’s 2nd edition released and it is called The Art of Film Funding. I’ve used this book a number of times over the years, in particular with the last doc, Journey to Kathmandu. We are now picking it up again for Elvis of Cambodia.

Now, keep in mind, I am not endorsing this book so that you’ll help these people make some money (they’ve made plenty, believe me!).  I know better than anybody that it’s easy to get caught up in the game of buying up all of the how-to film financing books to the point that before you know it, you’ve spend all of your dough on books instead of your film. So to save even a little money check your local library for titles before heading over to Amazon (or wherever). Now I know what you’re thinking. Yeah, sure, my local library is going to have specialised books such as these. Well, you’d be surprised. I just ran an online search on the Multnomah County Library (Portland, OR area) website and they had a sh*t ton of great film books. Heck, I wish I’d checked my local library before purchasing some of these books!

There are also some great podcasts out there worth checking out.  For a nice overview on alternative film financing listen to the BlogTalkRadio podcast on this very subject. Mind you, it may be a bit new-agey and woo woo early on in the podcast, but keep listening as there are some solid points made within.

As we venture down this leg of our filmmaking journey we’ll be publishing more posts on the subject.  So keep coming back to the Barang Films blog.. only by sharing this information can any of us be truly successful in the zany world self film financing!