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Filmmaking

Working in Slums: Volunteers in the Philippines Help Build Social Housing

Client
Habitat for Humanity GB
Equipment
Panasonic GH4, Rode NTG-2
Role
Director, Editor
January
2020

This is exciting video project is part of an ongoing series for Habitat for Humanity GB. Along with many other Habitat branches, they have sent a team of volunteers in the Philippines to help a large team of local workers on a project to rehabilitate and upgrade makeshift homes into typhoon-resistant homes.

The original project is a contract between Habitat for Humanity Philippines and the local government to carefully and thoughtfully rebuild slums in Greater Manila. Rather than chasing their residents to build luxury homes - a common move across Africa and South Asia - the government is tackling the problem head on. By partnering with that charity ("NGO" if you're American), they'll be able to build affordable, social housing for the poorest residents in Quezon City, Greater Manila.

Keeping filmmaking simple

Made on a very short trip, it was difficult to get some quality time for interviews with the volunteers who were completely knackered most of the time. Still, we managed to find some slots, the sound isn't always perfect but due to where we were filming and safety reasons I couldn't lug around too much gear so we kept it simple. We'll refine it over time but I do believe that it helped people make feel a lot more comfortable too.

In fact, I'm surprised at how easy and natural everybody looked and felt on camera. My other key learning from this is that spending a lot of time with people beforehand is crucial to help get better interviews. I joined in on the volunteer work for a few days before starting filming. It not only helps build better relationships - and better interviews - it's also a key way to understand what they do and ask better questions.

Building a web series for a charity

This was originally planned as a longer type of documentary but we've had a change of heart after reviewing the footage. This is looking to be more of a web series with several episodes now so we decided to play around at first with the look to get what we wanted.

In order to develop this series for YouTube, we have decided to go down a different route in order to boost their channel, targeting multiple keywords through the entire series of videos and thus get better engagement. Pretty exciting now to work on a longer term international projects and I can't wait to see where this will take us next.

The great thing about a trip like this is that you also come back with lots of photos from the trip:


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