The Pangea Network

In 2017, we started our work in Africa. Hakaya Productions travelled with The Pangea Network, a non-profit based out of Houston, to capture on the ground footage of their work in Kenya. Pangea’s mission is to empower communities through education and revolving funds. Hakaya interviewed dozens of women and youth across Kenya. We traveled with the local Kenyan team from Nairobi to Kisumu and back. We had first-hand access to remote villages and the heart of Africa’s largest informal settlement (slum) Kibera or now known as Kibra.

This life-changing experience made us appreciate the power of video in sharing the facts on the ground. Hakaya captured behind the scenes footage of Pangea at work, Kenyan landscape and daily life in the slums of Nairobi. 

Emergency Floor

There are times we get to work on projects we are passionate about.  If we are lucky, we get a really cool mission, a product that we want to spread the word about, and some rare people to work with.  We were able to experience that with our newest clients and now good friends, Sam Brisendine and Scott Key from Emergency Floor.  

Sam Brisendine and Scott Key from Emergency Floor.

Sam Brisendine and Scott Key from Emergency Floor.

Sam and Scott are on a mission to create raised flooring for refugee families.  This hits home because Khalil, owner and director of Hakaya Video Productions, was raised in a refugee camp in Gaza City.  So anything to help people feel more comfortable and safe during their time of transition would be our honor.  

The project was to create a call to action for their IndieGoGo campaign.  They are looking to raise $50,000 so they can qualify for a grant that will quadruple that amount.  With the raised money and grant, they will be able to install flooring THIS winter!  We decided the intent for the video needed convey information (why do people need flooring) and portray sense of urgency (to install before the winter, they need the money soon).  Every line, every scene needed to portray these two items.  

Running lines in between takes

Running lines in between takes

Once the script was in place, it was time to film Sam and Scott.  Preparation is key.  One of the main things I learned from this shoot is to have a shoot order.  This is what we did:

  1. Audio - Both Sam and Scott 
  2. Scott's lines
  3. Sam's lines 
  4. Call to action 

It's basic and it helps put everyone on the same page.  This order was chosen for a reason.  Doing audio first, in this case, allowed Same and Scott to warm up. Also with a shoot order, you can see how much work needs to be done so you can estimate how long the project will take. 

It sure can get hot under those lights.

It sure can get hot under those lights.

Once their section was filmed, in the editing room it goes, where all the magic happens.  Even in editing we wanted to inform and create a sense of urgency. This helped us chose music, clips, and overall video tempo.  So here it is and remember to donate!

How close can you be?

If you can capture a good picture you should be able to capture a good video. And as always the best way to learn is to learn from the masters like Robert Capa, W. Eugene Smith, and Robert Doisneau. Now all these guys are photojournalists and in current time photojournalism seems outdated. We always want to be in control and not to leave anything to chance but let's take a deeper look. 

If we went to a movie and sensed that it's unrealistic we loose interest immediately and disengage. We have to believe a picture and let our guards down then, we will be haunted by it.

My station in life is to capture the action of life, the life on the world, its humor, its tragedies, in other words, life as it is. A true picture, unposed and real.
— W. Eugene Smith

In this series of blogs I will try to share with you what I learned and how photojournalism influenced my way of telling stories. Today I will ask you to look at the first picture you took outside on the street. Not a picture you took of a family member, no. The very first picture you took when you walked outside. Mine was far far away from my subject, as well as many others to follow. I was afraid of my subjects (people) I tried to hide and I saw that behavior clearly in my first photos. 

Robert Doisneau - Les petits enfants au lait 1934

Robert Doisneau - Les petits enfants au lait

Later, after a lot of trials I learned to engage with my subject and once people let me into their little world. The pictures became better, closer and more intimate. I usually try to observe myself and the quality of my work based on how comfortable I am in a location and how open the people were. I took that lesson home and tried again in another adventure until I became close, very close to people.

Robert Doisneau “Le Baiser de l’hôtel de ville” (1950), France

Robert Doisneau “Le Baiser de l’hôtel de ville” (1950), France