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  • The Gift: An Akha Story

    1,666 views 5 years ago
    We shot this in Thailand while studying film with MediaLight Asia for a couple months. Location: the Northern Thai mountain city of Doi Mae Salong, a Chinese enclave on the Myanmar border. Visit www.medialightasia.com for more info.

    This is the story of a husband and wife and a cultural challenge they faced for 10 years. This video was shown in the same village that we shot in and the crowd of a hundred+ was so quiet, all you could hear was the video. They clapped afterwards and you could see people crying in the audience. It was heart touching.

    Backstory on video production: This week of film school was documentary week. The entire school left Chiang Rai and stayed in Mae Salong for about a week to research, write, shoot, edit and display the film to this Akha Village.

    Our team's original plan was to film a comedy of parenting differences between Western Moms vs Akha Moms. My wife Aimee and our 7 month old daughter would play the role of the Western family and Armee and her youngest daughter would play the Akha roll.

    We had 2 days to shoot. And after conducting Armee's interview and getting some generic B roll shots, we headed back to the headquarters and our translators went to work translating Akha to Thai and then Thai to English.

    The following morning, at 8AM, our team read the translated script and discovered that Armee's story was anything but comedic, but heart wrenching and inspiring.

    We knew, as a team, that we had to re-write our storyboard in about an hour and spend the next 4-5 hrs shooting (making up a new film) new B Roll.

    The best shot of the film, Hannah running to meet us, was a fluke shot, as Dimi and I were goofing around with the camera to try some different shots.

    As we rounded the corner of a sketchy path, there was Hannah waiting for us!

    When we featured this film at the Akha village, hundreds of people laughed in delight at seeing Hannah! Afterwards the film ended, you could here people crying and hugging Armee.

    Their story won us Best Documentary Award for Media Light Asia 5.0. Show less
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