By Marissa Losoya,

The sun beat down as we carried our heavy equipment up a hill to the next location, and I imagined the sun collapsing into the mountains, orange and pink collateral over the paddy fields, the church, and our dirty faces. We worked hard for the sunset but we never got it. At least, we never really saw it. It was always too foggy. We worked all day, and when we got on the bus to go home, there was still mental work to be done—18 hour days. I actually nodded off at a dinner table. I’ve always been too excited by the prospect of food to ever allow that to happen.

I don’t find it hard to not laugh all the time, to argue, and to be serious. But to be serious and have so many others rely on your judgment—I felt the weight of that everyday, pressing down and squeezing out all the tired tears on the bus ride home. The hardest part in our filmmaking for me was trusting my own judgment, then trusting the crew. In my university experience so far, there hasn’t been a whole lot of collaboration. “Group projects” means going back to your dorm and emailing your part—nothing like this. You learn to trust your own work and trust that you’ll find a way to make your deadline, but you don’t gain much trust in others. It’s hard to trust that they’ll care. But we all cared so much. We shed angry tears while arguing with other members of the crew we admired. The bus rides were mostly silent–  all the beauty of the village would flood in, and I felt like standing up on my seat to get the last bit of air. The beauty was part of the pressure– how do we capture it? My face pressed against the glass, looking into a vast landscape that gave so much back– it felt like I was emptying out. I tried to balance the pain in the stories we heard that day with the beauty surrounding it all. I felt hollow with the task of understanding before we got to dinner. The beauty amplified the hurt. The outside beauty was even, everything touched by it and everyone surrounded in it, but still holding an imbalance of circumstances and privilege within it all.

The people filled me up again. I came to find that the true beauty is the imbalance within every person we met and worked with. Reshma, talking about her future, and seeing so much hope for her, so much life in her. Her liveliness vibrated so close to the emptiness and the exhaustion, and I was animated suddenly in thinking of the woman she’ll be, the woman I’ll be. And at the final reflection, I realized I had led and had trusted others enough to lead me. I feel excited to work with this crew to finish a film that makes an audience participate. And I’ll work hard for the rest of my life to get that feeling of fulfillment back. I learned to work hard for a sunset I might not get to see, and work well before a sunrise. I will never meet Reshma again, but I see her everyday, and I wonder, what will happen to me? What is my future? I only know I won’t be empty. I lead, I participate in the pain and joy in this world, I cry hopeful tears behind the camera. I impact others like the people of this village have impacted me. I hope. I am filled with the knowledge that I am not nothing