Myself, Richard Taylor and his daughter Wynne are filming our second indie documentary in the first three weeks of November 2013. We have chosen the rarely seen countries of the Guyanas in the Northeast of South America. In each country we will capture the beauty of the place and explore the major historical events there.
In Guyana we will be filming at the former sight of the Jonestown Temple where the American Jim Jones convinced 950 souls to follow him there. On November 18, 1978 (35 years ago), they all died, most by suicide but over 300 children were first murdered by their own parents. This was the largest tragic single loss of life of American citizens in one day prior to September 11. We have interviews lined up with several Amerindians who knew the Temple residents and Jones. We will be the first ever to interview on camera Fitz Duke, an Amerindian who still lives near the former Temple sight who was hired to drive visitors to and from the local airport and the Temple, and who survived and witnessed the shooting deaths of U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan, whose visit precipitated the events of that fateful day. Congressman Ryan was the only U.S. representative to ever be killed while serving in an official capacity.
In Suriname we will be filming the sights of the recent Suriname Guerrilla War, which revolved around power over Eastern Suriname and control of the trade in cocaine. The war had serious consequences for the Maroons (especially the N'Djuka) and Suriname: villages were demolished, roads (including much of the eastern East-West Link), water pipelines and power lines, schools, public buildings, clinics, and businesses were destroyed. We will be interviewing a local N'Djuka University Professor there who will also be describing the fascinating history of the Maroons as slaves who rebelled against their white masters after escaping and forming hidden away encampments in the Jungle.
In French Guiana we will be tracing the footsteps of Papillon. Papillon was a prisoner in the infamous French Guiana penal System, sent to serve a life term for a crime he swears he did not commit. His life there was devoted to escape, of which he pulled off several times. His story was written by Henri Charrière who claimed he was Papillon. The book was a number one best seller in France for many years and the book precipitated the closing of the Penal Colony due to the outrageous conditions and abuse of the prisoners described in it. The book came alive on the big screen in the 1970s blockbuster Hollywood film Papillon, with Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman. We will be exploring the Transportation Camp at Saint Laurent du Maroni where he first escaped, as well as the famous Îles du Salut and Devil's Island (where Alred Dreyfus was interned as political prisoner). We will also explore Papillon's first destination following his successful seafaring escape at the town of San Fernando in Trinidad.
The film will end in Venezuela where Henri Charrière finally escaped to, and set up a new life. As a final flourish of the film, we will be filming at Angel Falls, the largest falls in the world, which remind us of the heights of the wild human spirit as well.
The film will not only explore these geographically beautiful places and historical stories, but the triumph and failure of the human spirit. We will contrast the lives of such men and women in their sometimes triumphant and sometimes despairing final ends.
We will be filming aerial shots with a GoPro Hero 3 attached to a stabilized gimbal on a Quadcopter in all the places mentioned in the film, barring being prohibited from doing so either by officials or by weather. Devil's Island is prohibited from entry but we hope to get some beautiful stills and video near the coastline.
Risks and challenges
Richard Taylor and I have produced a similar indie film before called The Wild West of Namibia. This film was made without hardly any planning. This new film we be similar but of course much better as it has been planned from the start. The camera gear is of a higher quality as well and my experience as a filmmaker and cameraman are much advanced. We have funded the entire trip already and the base money needed to complete the film. However, the budget is simply too tight and this extra $2500 will go a long way to improving the music quality of the film as well as graphics and other costs.
You can view a 10 minute preview of The Wild West of Namibia here https://vimeo.com/61941277Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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