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Archive | TeaHouse Blogs

Passports

By Keelan Malone,

Throughout this whole experience I gained a lot of respect for Documentary films and in general. It takes a lot more personal naturalism than I thought. You have to get to know the people you are interviewing and try to get what both the interviewee and the audience want at the same time portraying a great story line. It takes more than the cameras and lighting to get the best you can get out of the project. It is very up close and personal, which taught me the lesson to either do what I love and am passionate about or not do it all. If I’m not truly passionate then I miss the opportunity to have the great impact I could have on the group. Not only did I not feel truly apart of the group I feel the fact that my passport ended up being reported stolen is a symbol of my initial involvement in the film. In retrospect I’m learning a lot more about syncing and editing the film, which helps me understand the filmmaking experience a little bit easier. Even though I didn’t end up going on the trip to India it was still a life learning experience that I would not have gained if I didn’t take this course.

The Last 2 Days of the Last 2 Weeks

By Danielle Cordisco,

Today is our second to last day in India and it’s a very bittersweet feeling. We have had the most amazing experience here in Prashanthagiri. Teahouse films has been able to capture amazing footage for the documentary, but more importantly we have made so many connections to the people here. Individually, we all feel connected and inspired by at least one person. It is going to be very hard to say goodbye.

Despite the lingering thought of leaving Prashanthagiri, Teahouse films still has a lot to do before leaving. Today we worked on getting some last B-roll shots that are on our list. We got on the bus very early so we could go to Aneesh’s house and film B-roll of his morning routine. We also had follow-up interviews with field fellows, Tyler and Isel. We ran into some difficulties during Tyler’s interview because it started to rain right before we interviewed him, but we were able to find a different location away from the rain. Teahouse films had an overall productive day and we were able to stick to our schedule and get a lot done.

Wayanad District

By Paola Gadala-Maria,

I arrived to the Wayanad district roughly four days late and was wondering how it would be like adjusting to the community and environment. Within minutes of arriving at the Profugo house, I stepped outside and a woman was smiling at me. Bindhu was in the kitchen and saw that I was a new person in the group. She immediately comes up to me with a warm smile and just hugs me. No questions asked, no explanations needed. This was the first impression of the Prashathagiri community that I received. I immediately felt welcomed and loved from the moment I arrived. The love and hospitality coming from Bindhu surpassed any language barrier or discomfort upon arrival. She saw a new a face, a new being, and took her in.

Producer outlook on Prashanthigiri

By Brady Covington,

While the overall experience in Prashanthigiri was an incredibly, eye opening experience, there is one day that stands out to me in particular: Sunday October 20th. This was a day close to the end of our journey, but one of the most powerful days for me personally. The group started their day off with a mass at the local church, but I chose to walk around the village and try to get some shots of the empty village while most of the inhabitants were at church.

This was the first time that I was able to walk around Prashanthigiri by myself, and not constantly be surrounded by 12 other foreigners. It gave me the opportunity to feel a lot less intrusive while walking around. Savitri, one of the women that our group had grown really close to, is Hindi and wasn’t at church. As I was walking by, she invited me into her house for tea. Again, this was the first time that I’d been alone with anyone in the village, without other people to help communicate. While neither of us spoke the same language, it was incredible how we were still able to communicate together through a lot of miming and laughter.

This became very common over the next few hours as I walked around. Because I was by myself, more people came up to me and talked to me then they had earlier in the week. While I was filming one man and his family, they invited me into their home and started showing me scenes that they wanted me to film. Because there wasn’t a huge film crew, I felt that the people of Prashanthigiri were more themselves, instead of posing for the cameras, and I was able to capture some very candid moments of the village.

On my walk back to the church, I met an English teacher and we talked for about 20 minutes about education, travel, and religion. Talking to her, and discovering her point of view of the world was inspirational.

Later that day after lunch, I was able to follow Emily, one of the Profugo field fellows, to the spoken English class where she teaches the young children in the village how to speak better English. A few minutes into class, Tyler and Isel, the other two field fellows, joined her. At this point, I had known the three of them for just over a week, but being able to watch them interact with these children, and seeing the passion and patience that they had was inspiring. The children were not only learning English, but also laughing, and having a good time as well.

I also had the chance to play cricket with one of the children named Suresh. The strength and courage that he shows, and his positive attitude and kindness was motivating. This was a child who has had an incredibly tough month during which he lost his father. Despite that, he was constantly smiling, running around, and was the friendliest person that I had met in Prashanthigiri.

This day was a great day where I really got to see the true character of Prashanthigiri, and its inhabitants in a way that I hadn’t experienced until that time. Because I was by myself, I was able to sit back and let the personality of the village show itself, instead of constantly having to look for it.

First Break From Production

By Katie Breen,

October 19th, 2013

Today was our first break from production. The group headed to Banasura Hill, about an hour’s drive from Grand Century Hotel, to take in some of the beautiful scenery and ride on speed boats in the park’s dam.

Accompanied by Annesh and the field fellows, the group took a short walk from the entry of the park to the water’s edge where the speed boats loaded from. Along the way, we stopped countless times to take pictures of the mountains that surrounded us. It was so overwhelming to see such beauty and to feel like we were really inside the mountains. Walking along the water, we noticed tree branches protruding from various parts of the water. We learned that when the district decided to construct the dam, they chose to fill the water over a town! So those branches, we discovered, are the tops of trees from a town that is now under the water.

The park had swings that were built into the trees, which we took full advantage of as we waited our turn for the speed boats. Many families were also enjoying the day at the site, as well as school children who looked like they might have been on a field trip. We tried a mango/orange popsicle that was very sweet!!

Finally on board the speed boats, four life-vested passengers per boat, we took in the views of our beautiful surroundings from the water. It was very serene to be on such a small motorboat amidst such great mountains. It only got better as we loaded back into the van to have a buffet lunch in a room with tremendous views of the water and hills.

Next, we journeyed to the wildlife sanctuary, only to discover that it was too late for entry. We tried to suppress our disappointment and great expectations of being within view of an elephant. Our bus driver took us along a scenic route back to our hotel. We saw our first and only Bayan tree, the presumed national tree of India. It was only in the last few minutes of our time on the scenic trail, however, that we saw an elephant among the trees!! Everyone shifted to one side of the van to take pictures and capture the joy of the moment! It was a great ending to our day “off!”

Reshma

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

Simplicity

By Cameron Piper

It’s hard not to take the time to take in the serenity of the place we’re in.  In doing so, I am able to reflect far more on privilege and a true simplicity of life, compared to the fast paced environment back in the States.  A lot happened yesterday that has caused more reflection today. It all started with the inauguration of the Children’s Program.  The entire community met under some rickety tarps set up against the Profugo house to celebrate a new initiative.  A new initiative that the whole community is contributing towards because they all know it will help better each and every one of their lives – even if it’s not directly.  This new Children’s Program will help for a better future in the village by educating all of the children and providing healthy outlets for growing minds.

At dinner, I was sitting next to Aneesh.  Aneesh has been an amazing help to our group and is consistently smiling with a positive attitude.  Even after he comes to help us early in the morning, having been kept awake by his seven month old child, he selflessly lends himself to our group.  His genuine positivity is something that you don’t see in many people, especially in the United States.  To have met someone, and to honestly call them “brother” after hardly knowing them is truly unique.  Aneesh is someone that embodies potentially thousands of quotes that famous people have said, but when it all comes down to it, he’s there for the sake of everyone in his life.  He always talks about how everything that he does simply boils down to love.  Loving those around him, loving what he is doing in his life, and loving the place he lives.  If I am able to leave this country with just a small piece of Aneesh’s mentality, I would be forever indebted to him.

Ceremony of the Children’s Club

By Meg Malafronte,

Profugo was holding a ceremony for the implementation of the Children’s Club. The community of Prashanthagiri gathered on the front porch beneath a soaking wet tarp that’d been set up earlier that week. Whenever you made eye contact, it was accompanied by a genuine smile. I went inside the Profugo house to find at least fifteen women inside of Emily’s bedroom. They were all getting ready for their performances. It was a feeling I’d experienced as a little girl before a dance recital. Red lipstick surfaced the room, braids, Bindi’s, henna, black eyeliner, brushes, blushes. Visually, the colors were stimulating. There’s something about traditional Indian dress that radiates beauty. While none of us spoke the same language, I came into contact with the universality of human emotion and connection. Despite the gesturing and laughing in communicating with one another, the girls sat me down and began to brush and braid my hair. I felt apart of their ritual. They included me and didn’t treat me as some foreign visitor. The interaction was so authentic and that’s all I could’ve asked for.

Between the harmonious comfort and hospitality, right-handed meals, shoeless cups of tea, green placemats of homemade Indian meals, Aneesh’s hot-pink beet juice, Savitri’s front yard, the boy and girl who delivered milk in the morning, sunrising hikes up green mountains, the stature of Mr. George, and the timeless imagery that lies in my head – I felt as apart of the culture as my soul allowed for.

The Journey to Calicut

By Amy Rowland,

Sitting in the Dubai airport waiting to board our flight into Calicut feels nothing short of surreal. The journey has been long, but has definitely felt longer than it was. However, our journey together as TeaHouse Films has just begun.

So much time and effort has gone into these two weeks that it’s hard for me to imagine what it will feel like when we actually get there. However, I’ve chosen personally to dedicate myself for these two weeks to achieving a specific goal.

I’m challenge myself to always be present. It’s so incredibly hard to leave school for a short amount of time, skip a week of classes and obligations, and try not to think about that fact at all. The reality of the situation is that we only get these two weeks. There is no rewind button, this is raw, real life. Shots we want to get have to be done when we see them. We need to try to make real connections and relationships with people we meet because the bottom line is they’ve welcomed us into their community with no questions asked. Everything is time sensitive and the pressure is starting to build just thinking about it.

But amidst all of this, we must be present in the moment. We must not forget that the people we are speaking to are people not subjects. Most importantly, this is their life. To know these things and to be present at all times will enhance my experience and allow me to gain the most out of every moment. If I return home and all I’ve achieved is a list of new friends and two weeks worth of stories, I’ll have done everything right. (For the record, a few interviews and observational shots would help our case as well)