We have made it into the new year. I hope it brings good things. I usually hope this on New Year but in the past the years have not always delivered the agreed goods. Maybe this year is in a better mood but taking the past years as a measure I am not expecting too much. But one has always to be hopeful. I am back at work, looking at the coming 9 months I have left ahead. I still have not actually started work because my tools have not arrived and the college does not know yet what courses will be held this year. Not only when the courses will be held but which courses will run. This makes theoretical preparation or script writing for instructional videos difficult. I am setting up a training plan for an apprentice I will hopefully have at some stage in the near future. My job at the college still has the potential to be absolutely great or totally awful. I see potential for both. It is great having the freedom to start something from scratch, set it up and see it grow and having the knowledge it will still be there when I’m long gone.
However, this requires the people you are setting things up for do appreciate your efforts and have keenness to continue by themselves. A skill transfer needs a bit of a feeling of ownership by the person or organisation which the skills are supposed to be transferred to. This is what I have not quite experienced yet. I get more of the usual treatment most cameramen and/or editors experience . Suddenly you have a hundred people asking you to do favours for them. Every day! “Can you mix me the sound of my music video?”, “The third cousin of my great-great aunt is getting married, can you do a movie(!)? You are so good at it.” “Me and my mates are doing a 6 hour spoof on “Game of Thrones” and need visual effects that look EXACTLY like the original. But we have no budget for it. Do you think you can do it until tomorrow morning 6 a.m.? We filmed about 700 hours of footage and have no clue whats on it, nor what we actually did. We borrowed my brother’s camera and he had no manual for it. We did used the phrase “Chris can fix it in post” a lot! But it will be soooo cool and you have something to put on your Showreel! It has Zombies in it!”
I reject any kind of violence but every person who uses variations of the said above awakens blood lust in me and should die a slow and very painful death. And that is the case when I am in a good mood when approached with such nonsense. When I am already having a bad day I won’t say what kind of thoughts go through my mind. They scare me too.
I really don’t want to be mean and I am happy to do people favours. If something is a quick fix I’ll do it (for friends only!), a retouch on a photo here, helping somebody who is stuck on an editing project there, it’s all good, happy to help. Unfortunately those “favours” are usually either entirely unrealistic to realize or need 100 hours+ of work time. I would be working day and night fixing other people’s errors and projects if I were to take on any of the asked favours. The problem is a bit that everybody wants to make films now but nobody has even the slightest idea about it. Which is weird. Most people have an idea when it comes to building a house, repairing a car, fix plumbing, declare taxes and so on. Somehow it is clear that things involve work processes. Yet, despite the fact that most people spend a significant part of their lifetime watching videos and films, the work behind it stays hidden like the location of the Holy Grail. Not only that, but there is even no understanding that it requires skill and time to do something. It’s not like I am jumping out of the bush with a camera in my hand, swing it left, swing it right, then hop to the computer, type in the words “Make Video, enter”, then the computer rattles a little bit and smokes and out comes “Hollywood”, just because I am an “expert”.
There really is a reason why big budget movies cost in the tens of millions, take months, even years to complete and employ hundreds of people who work 20 hour days. There really is. For some reason, every time I start explaining this and what I need in order to achieve the “expert” results I am expected to deliver I look into faces resembling a flock of sheep who have just seen a card trick.
Unfortunately it usually isn’t much different if you work for “professional” video productions.You can add the sentence “But we have no budget for it!” to pretty much 92% of all professional(!) work requests I have ever received. I think this is likely to be the case for everybody in the media field because all colleagues I have ever met report similar numbers. This is one of the main reasons I left my career. I am in the very unfortunate situation having to make a living out of my work AND have a private life. Yet, here I am again working as a volunteer in the same field. The thing is, I am actually now a Communications and Technical Adviser and I am very interested in the skill transfer idea and showing other people how to do it and set them up for production work. My interest in producing videos myself is very limited, unless it is paid work. It’s work. It’s my job. If I want to produce a video for free I have enough ideas to do my own. I see strong tendencies here that I am going too be seen as the usual camera monkey once the equipment is here. Maybe I am too negative but I am reading the signs I have read many times before. I will find out soon. End of my New Year Rant!
I moved house the day before christmas. Finally I reached my final destination, hopefully. This was my third move in two months. The next day Ian and Erin came over to say hello. Unfortunately they came over because they had forgotten their dinner meeting with another friend, Peter. We found the solution by Peter coming over to my house with his family and have dinner there. They brought plates and food and it turned out to be an unexpected housewarming party.
On christmas I went over to Lissenung island to spend a night. It’s not really in the budget of a volunteer but I thought, what the heck. It is really beautiful there. The huts are 10 meters away from the beach and one falls asleep to the sounds of the ocean. The accommodation is simple but nice. The dining area has one large table where all the guests sit together. It’s a great way getting to know the other guests. This time it wasn’t just tourists from overseas, I had Dr. Frank and Mark from the Kavieng hospital on my boat to
Lissenung and it was very interesting and a bit gruesome to hear how it is to work there. They are doing an amazing job working with the little equipment they have. Meeting them raised my confidence if I ever had to go to the
hospital myself. In the evening the resort had another nest of Hawksbilll turtles hatch, an unexpected bonus for me. I now have the privilege to have witnessed it twice. The night was fantastic, quiet, apart from some nocturnal animals shuffling about and the sound of the ocean. Very different to the usual sound scape I have at my new house. A neighbour plays cheap party music all and every day. I am permanently entertained by song texts like “Put me up, put me down, put my feet back on the ground” or “OOOOhohohoooooo, it’s a party, volare, cantare, let’s get up everybody.” I love songs with a deeper message. I was told the music already drove the old tenant into madness. And he had hearing aids. My ears still work fine.
After a relaxed night I was about to go snorkelling, when I was thrown into a scuba dive refresher course. I asked Ange if they do refresher courses. I haven’t been scuba diving in 5 years and did not want to find out I have forgotten how to do it while jumping of a diving boat in the middle of the pacific and sinking towards the dark depths at free fall speed thanks to the lead weights only because I forgot how to inflate the BCT vest. By coincidence Dietmar just started one with Ian, a tourist from Australia, so I joined in. It was good going through all the steps and exercises in shallow water. I did not forget much, I only had a few minor hick-ups. Then we started moving along the house reef. And I got hooked again. Snorkelling is really good but it does not compare with scuba diving, the feeling of floating along can’t be beaten. It was fantastic and I loved it. Now I face the problem of having to save some money to be able to go on diving trips. Money aside, spending christmas day floating along a coral reef in the tropical pacific is pretty good I would say. Not very “christmassy” in the classical sense but good enough for me.
New year was a bit different as I got sick. My guts were getting increasingly unhappy since three weeks but the day after my return from the resort it hit me with fever. The fever wasn’t too high but the flu symptoms were very strong, I was so dizzy I couldn’t walk straight and the joints ached like crazy. If the temperature goes over 38 degrees we have to do a malaria test to be able to exclude malaria as a cause. The only place to do that is the Kavieng hospital. So I had to take my bike and go to the hospital to get the test done. The hospital itself was a bit of a shock to see. I would not want to be seriously ill and having to rely on that. There were tons of people and I was told I will likely have to wait there all day. Great, I had a hard time standing up. However, I had no choice. Luck came in the form of Dr. Mark, who suddenly stood in front of my asking what I am doing there. I normally don’t like to be treated special or be given any favours but when he waved me into an examination room straight away I did not resist. It was only a 10 minute malaria test after all, the work load of a few minutes. Fortunately it was not malaria. Unfortunately the hospital had no equipment to test anything else. In fact, the did not even have enough thermometers at the hospital to measure my temperature. So he prescribed me strong antibiotics to kill a whole range of possible bacteria and parasites. Not very healthy but I was happy to do it. Unfortunately the local pharmacy did not have the drugs. “Maybe when the container comes in.” I really don’t thing it is fun being a local and getting hurt or sick. I am very glad to have VSA’s medical insurance for the worst case. My program manager Johannes was worried because my fever came and went a few times, a thing fever is not supposed to do. He got me the medication from Kokopo and sent it to Kavieng via courier. It took a few days to reach me but it did in the end. Eventually I reached a point where the medication made me feel worse than the sickness itself and things started to clear up. I am still not feeling 100% well but most systems are back up and running. My new years eve was therefore not spectacular, I went into the new year rolling around in my bed with weird fever dreams and songs like “I’m a barbie girl in a barbie world” as a soundtrack in the background.
I take it as a good omen for the year to come. Don’t ask why, I just do.