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One young West African's quest to transform himself into an international Opera star, despite all odds.
One young West African's quest to transform himself into an international Opera star, despite all odds.
367 backers pledged $25,571 to help bring this project to life.

Update from Abidjan!

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To our Fabulous Backers: 

We owe you a big apology for going MIA over the last two weeks. 

A lot has happened, and a painfully slow Internet connection has made updating a bit more difficult than usual. But! We are here! The whole team arrived safely in Abidjan, albeit with a few minor glitches, and we are shooting away in this incredible city. 

As a result of flight over-booking, Elaine and I made an unexpected pit stop in Paris, where my good friend Jordana opened her home and her kitchen to two weary travelers (and about 300 lbs. of luggage). No big deal – 20 hours later we were on a flight headed for Abidjan after a “rough night” of cheese and good company. And then we arrived, Tuesday night, to the balmiest welcoming ever. 85 degrees and 90% humidity at 9pm. Lots of smiles and “bonne arrivée” at the airport (equipment came in without a hitch!) and then a wonderful surprise: Landry and his sister, Grace, came to pick us up! I had expected to see him the next day, as I thought he was still in Ghana picking up some good news. 

Drumroll please… he got the visa! Which means he will be headed to the Netherlands in about a week and half, and we’ll be there to film his journey. BOOM. His adventure is about to begin! 

Taneisha & Landry talking above the lagoon
Taneisha & Landry talking above the lagoon

After spending a few days settling in, taking care of some KS rewards (which also meant a trip out to weekend hot-spot Grand-Bassam for names in the sand), getting reacquainted in-person with our Tenor, learning basic French, and figuring out how to properly bargain with taxi drivers and fruit vendors, Director of Photography Luke Sauer arrived with the other 200 lbs. of equipment and we could finally operate at full capacity. 

Beach of Grand Bassam to fullfill KS rewards
Beach of Grand Bassam to fullfill KS rewards
Shooting at abandoned train tracks
Shooting at abandoned train tracks

Since then it’s been about 4 gallons of water and 3 mangos a head per person per day, because shooting in the tropics is work! We have been constantly moved by the openness and generosity of everyone we’ve met these past two weeks. 

marketplace in Abidjan
marketplace in Abidjan
Amazing cuisine!
Amazing cuisine!

When dealing with the few issues we did have (mostly technical, and due to an inconsistent power supply), we have been met with kindness and a genuine desire to help. Sure, people are pretty taken off-guard by 3 westerners running all over town with a big camera, but we’ve overcome 2 blown power strips, 2 defective batteries, missing cables, skepticism, and hot, hot heat to shoot some pretty amazing footage of Landry at home with his family, touring Abidjan, singing in various stunning locations around the city, rehearsing with his quintet (which is composed of 2 Sopranos, a Baritone, a Contralto, and a Tenor, of course), singing in church, and just trying to get his head around the fact that he’ll be in Europe in just under 2 weeks. 

Taneisha with local school children
Taneisha with local school children
On location at marketplace & train tracks
On location at marketplace & train tracks
Landry's church ~ Stunning!
Landry's church ~ Stunning!

Each day the city itself becomes more of a character in the film - from its blinking high rises and evergreen foliage, to its twisting highways, overwhelming markets, and industrial development. The ever-changing feel of Abidjan has been the best back-drop for Landry’s story we could have asked for. 

TIA collage
TIA collage
Taneisha & Landry speaking outside the church
Taneisha & Landry speaking outside the church
Local street life
Local street life

And while we are working long hours in intense situations, we push through it because we know that 367 people (YOU!) have our backs. This whole experience has been a whirlwind. I feel like we haven’t stopped moving for months, but I’m rarely too tired to keep going. This is the beauty of being able to do something you love, and I have all of you to thank for that. Because without you, the foundation of this endeavor, none of this would have been possible. I’m so glad you’re along for the ride. 

Oh yeah! Just this morning I discovered that Landry knew Rent when he belted out “Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes!” apropos of nothing at all. Full of surprises, this kid. 

So how do you measure a year in the life? How about love

Sending you all lots of it, from sunny Abidjan.

Taneisha, Elaine & The Crew of TFAB

Jennifer Jigour, Sarah Aili, and 11 more people like this update.

Comments

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    1. Bonnie Duncan on

      This is an exciting project, and I'm glad it is well underway. I hope all this talent and effort are rewarded by having the film be a smashing success. The pictures from the Ivory Coast are beautiful. Thanks for keeping in touch and sharing the adventures.

    2. Sarah Aili on

      Hi you guys!! Thanks so much for the update! It sounds like an amazing adventure and I am honored and giddy about you all in it and getting these updates is a treat! Sending lots of love and cool Southern Breezes your way!