Everything went as I expected it would when we got on the ground. On the way to the airport we were informed that we won’t be having our production planning meeting the following day, but instead, they day after that. Thus began three weeks of unexpected and changes in plan; some of the foremost of which were last minute trip changes and by last minute, I mean that same morning which happened several mornings. Those mornings I wished more than ever, my only option for coffee wasn’t Nescafe. Regardless, we had to roll with the changes and adapt and modify our plan. This required us to to constantly have our goals and objects consistently at the forefront of our work.
We also had several days where three or four extra Bangaldeshis joined our filming party for several days at a time. The challenge here was that, while we planned to pay expenses for our hosts, location producer and associate producer, we didn’t plan to pay for anyone else. However, it would have been very rude of us to not pay their expenses even though we would only end up having a single interview with the unexpected guest. I never did get the reason why they were with us for several days except that, like the schedule changes, it was the Bangaldeshi way. A final challenges were there were several times I had disagreements with Jon Mckee as well as with Bill Nikides. These disagreements varied from scheduling, to creativity, to control.
But as with most things in life, these circumstances only served as a means by which to expose things that were already in my heart. Things like anger, desires for control and for everyone to enjoy their time and get along while they were working. I discovered that success for me wasn’t simply getting all the shots or the right interview content but that everyone enjoyed working with each other. That’s an admirable goal but not entirely realistic. We rubbed each other, we bugged each other and we disagreed with each other. I initially categorized these as bad things, but Bill, who has led upper-level CIA strategy teams and countless wartime field teams for the US military later told me, “embrace these differences, they’ll result in the growth of the project and more frequently than not, a higher level of creativity. It’s good man! Enjoy the arguments!”I for one, hate conflict so was consequently stretched. Working on my own for so many years didn’t result in my conflicting anyone. I just went a long and did what I needed. So this proved wise advice from a seasoned, old man.
The trip overall was a great success. We had our moments of washing clothes in the sink, day-early departures and instantaneous location changes and disagreements about approach. Everyone enjoyed the trip, loved the project and came away satisfied that what was needed was accomplished and we do it all again! I’ll get in to some of the post highlights in the next post on this and then talk a little about our distribution plans.