Saturday morning goes slowly and then I make my way over to drop off my laundry and go to the office to meet the crew to plan the week’s shots. I kept quite during the planning and just watched the process. I didn’t feel like I had earned an opinion in the room. I know nothing about filming and only slightly more about the Laos culture and what PoP wants this video to look like. It was really interesting to watch the process of thinking and how everyone’s experience in the room all contributed. We ended the session with a shot list of everything that we wanted and the order to put it in. We had literally done all of the prior work we could do before actually going out there and shooting the scenes.
Meanwhile all this is happening Lanoy (the PoP country director) is down in the kitchen making everyone lunch. We come down and the desks are pushed into the middle of the room to make a long dining table. It was really magical to see the thought and love that Lanoy puts into everything she does. It was really special to have everyone at the table all eating together like a big family. In Laos it is considered extremely rude to have a dish of food in front of you for just you to eat. In this case we each had an empty plate and a bunch of communal dishes in the middle of the table for everyone to share. Don’t get me wrong when I say, the food was amazing, but it was nothing compared to the atmosphere it created in the room. Everyone’s energy was raised and it was impossible to find someone without a smile on their face. It just another testament to the Lao culture and how it centered around the people in your life. It might seem simple and probably even the same as being in the States from what I’ve described, but I just can’t describe how it feels completely different. I feel like every meal and group gathering is a family reunion. I do get this feeling at home, but it’s with my family and close friends, not people I barely know. Even at home, for me, it only happens every once and a while and not every meeting. Experiences like these reinforce my somewhat new perspective that there really is nothing that comes close to the importance of the people in my life. I just don’t need anything in my life other than these experiences.
Of course Lanoy doesn’t let us clean up after the meal, so we go and wrap up the shot planning and get ready to leave to explore some potential shot areas for the opening culture shots in the video. Lanoy brings around the truck and we can’t all fit so she put some stools in the bed. I immediately jump on that opportunity and jump in the back. A few others jump in the back and we head off. I found out a little of the way through the trip that we are going to one of our friends rice fields. We pull of the main road and then off that road and off another until we are going down a narrow dirt road completely away from where people except the farmers here go. Lanoy pulls over and tells us that it’s time to walk the rest of the way.
We hike down the path until we get to a bamboo fence meant to stop the large animals from coming onto the field and eating the rice.
It’s the middle of the day, so the light is not as good as early in the morning or at the end of the day, so we’re just scouting potential shot spots. I think it’s really beautiful in this light anyway, so I take some shots of us walking around and looking for good angles.
Here’s our crew walking along the side of the field. The actual field is a few feet lower and covered in muddy water. There are also crops that we don’t want to damage. In this picture starting from the closest person goes Lauren, Abby, Lanoy, Ben, Pavath (Another person in our office who is form the U.S. but speaks fluent Lao and also just wanted to come along), and Aaron (husband of a PoP employee and wanter of this experience) in the back.
Then, Ben takes off and does what he does best to find a great shot for the video. We all just stand and watch in awe at his creative mind at work.
Then I take a shot of what he’s looking at to give everyone a perspective of what we’re going to shoot and how absolutely beautiful it all is.
Then, Ben says this is it and we leave to go back to the truck to leave and go back home.
On the way back I took a shot of us cheering and Lanoy and Ben hi fiving at finding this field and getting a great location for our intro shots to the video.
On the ride back Ben and Abby and I really had a great time in the back of the truck goofing and talking about what an experience we’ve had already. We shared things about each other and about our early impressions of the Lao culture. There are some people in my life different and similar form me who I just get along with really well and these two fit in that category. We have all kind of conversations that make us laugh, process the day, and learn from each other. On the way back into town I got a few shots of Luang Prabang, the town I’m living and working in. The main banner picture above this page is probably the best one I could get and then here is another of the beautiful rainbow we saw on the drive home.
During the ride Abby and Ben told me that they have a grip task for me to do tomorrow (Sunday). I didn’t know what they meant, but I was just grateful for getting the chance to go out and see their shoot in action. I told them that I didn’t want to take up necessary room and they told me that I had to come because they would actually need me there to help.
After we got back to town, I left and got some sleep to get ready for the early start in the morning. We were starting the filming and needed to get there before sunrise to make sure we got the most beautiful light during the shots.