Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Kids and Elephants - Final Day on Location

We completed our final day of filming last week. The goal was to gather a few children - mostly below the age of ten, to capture their thoughts about elephants on film. Akram (mahout) and Champa met us at the Peace Pagoda early one morning.
The Pagoda is a large Buddhist Stupa on the Ring Road a few kilometres south of where Champa stays. We pre-arranged to have some children and their parents meet us at the monument for filming. The kids represented multiple countries - India, the United States, Japan and the UK. They had a chance to meet and touch Champa, give her bananas (Champa loves bananas) and, of course, go for a ride.
Once set up, we first interviewed the children one on one - questions included "What do elephants eat?" "How do elephants take a bath?" and "What do you think about when you see an elephant?"  The session was very fun. It was a beautiful day and our location was next to a large public playground where there were many local school-children playing. Taking advantage of this, with the permission of their teachers, we recruited two more children to participate in our interviews.
What really impressed us was the security staff at the Peace Pagoda. They obviously love elephants as much as we do. Without our asking, two of the guards brought Champa a large bundle of fresh Peepal leaves for her to eat while she waited between takes.
They delivered the bundle with big smiles on their faces! The guards knew just what to bring Champa, because the Peepal is one of her favorite trees to eat.
As you might imagine, we tend to draw a crowd whenever we film Champa and Akram. This day was no exception. Tourists from all over India and the world - from places as far as Nigeria and Russia - came over to greet the big elephant, touch her and have their photos taken with her.  I had to do a bit of crowd control so we could complete all of our shots - we only had permission to film the elephant for about 4 hours.
Despite the crowd and noise, we completed all of our planned shots and even managed to record Akram for some additional audio narration. Aside from a small introductory voice-over, our short documentary is entirely narrated by Akram Khan.
We are currently working on the rough edit of the film. If all goes well, we plan to present a rough-cut to one or two focus groups by the end of March. The film will then be sent to Croatia for a final cut and edit.

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