Monday, December 13, 2010

Kibera Film School Pictures

Just got an email from the Kibera Film School that included some of the following photos, and thought I would share them with you.



Adam of Future Filmmakers directing a scene of short film by children from Kibera. On the scene Aida Achieng of Kibera Film School. The scene was shot in Kibera




Stephen from Kibera TV, helping carry a tripod during the shoot in Kibera of a short film by children of the Future Filmmakers workshop.




Future Filmmakers Adam and Willow facilitators with the children during a visit to Hot Sun Foundation in Kibera.




Belinda, Alice, and Bonface from Kibera Film School mounting the video camera on a tripod working on the Hot Sun Foundation Promotional Video shoot



Kibera Film School Crew working on Hot Sun Foundation Promotional Video Shoot




Susan from Meru, Jeff from Machakos, Alice , Martha , Arnold, Ian and Beryl from Hot Sun Foundation, Jason from Bahati- all participants in The Future Filmmakers Workshop, supported by Hot Sun Foundation and the Kibera Film School.




Adam Loften of the Future Filmmakers Workshop showing Belinda, Josphat and Wyclife of Hot Sun Foundation some tips on using the DSLR 6D camera

Remember, you can support the Kibera Film School by going here:
http://www.globalgiving.org/3632

Second Screening For Matatu Express



A second screening for Matatu Express was held at Kramer's on Yonge Street in Uptown Toronto on Friday December 10. It was a private screening for many of the investors and friends that took part in the fundraiser we did in the summer. Thank you so much for all of you that came and took part. At the end of the screening I took a few questions. It was a great time to re-connect with people and share my experiences with Kibera to many people that were extremely intrigued and inspired by the struggles and accomplishments of Kiberans. It was also great that my editor Agnes Dec, my sound guy Buck Moore, and other editor Chris Wardle were all there to take part. Here are a couple more photos from the event, thanks to my friend Matt Middleton for taking them.


Friday, December 10, 2010

A Message from the Hot Sun Foundation



In the summer I had a fundraiser for Matatu Express to raise funds for the films completion. In other words, although the film had been shot, I needed money to have it edited, sound mixed and colour corrected. I was also able to give a donation with the money to the Hot Sun Foundation, a charity based in Kibera that teaches young people filmmaking skills so that they can tell their own stories. I just recently received an email from then, detailing a recent success story. To read it, and learn how you can help out by making a donation this holiday season, click here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Matatu Express is Now Available Online!!!

You can now view the shorter version of Matatu Express online. The longer version will be touring festivals worldwide this year.
Click here for the HD version of Matatu Express.
Click here for the low resolution version of Matatu Express.

Special thanks to my Editor Agnes Dec, Sound Editor Buck Moore, and Assistant Editor Chris Wardle. And thanks to everyone else for making Matatu Express happen, especially Peter and Christabel Opudo, John Hogan, Njeri Rjonge, and all of the cast and crew. Without you it couldn't be done.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sneak Preview Screening

On September 24th, 2010, Matatu Express had it's first sneak peek screening to a small invitation only audience at the Tequila Bookworm at 512 Queen Street West. The event was lots of fun. It was a packed house, and got a warm reception from the audience. After the film was screened I answered some questions from the audience. The reception was held on the balcony outside. I would be lying if I said I wasn't anxious about the evening, but I'm really happy to say that everything went swimmingly, and people were really interested in the subject of Kibera. I feel blessed that I have such great friends. Thanks to Jim Morrison for his creative input, my editor Agnes Dec, my sound designer Buck Moore, assistant editor Chris Wardle, my guide/photographer Peter Opudo, and everyone that took part in the film in Kibera. Thanks for making it happen. I'll keep posting news on which festivals will be playing Matatu around the world.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Imminent Arrival of Matatu Express

Matatu Express had a fundraiser a few weeks ago, and thanks to the kindness of friends and family, has raised enough money for it's completion. In addition a donation has been made to the Hot Sun Foundation, a non-profit charity in Kibera which provides youth in Kibera the opportunity to learn filmmaking and tell their own stories.
Matatu Express is currently in it's final stages of editing...so stay tuned! And thank you to everyone for their continued support.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Matatu Express on Youtube


Matatu Express now has a channel on Youtube, just click here, and remember to subscribe for all the latest clips of Matatu, and also for my other documentary, Sketched Out.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Video Fix, 2 New Teasers and Asante Sana Kibera


All video with the exception of the pre-production ones have been converted to flash. This should make them considerably faster to load. Once again I apologize any inconvenience caused by the delay in watching the videos, I hope you understand that it had to do with circumstances beyond my control. I used a great free program called cute mov to flv converter. They are the same folks that make the very excellent and free cute ftp program, but unfortunately it now has a time limit, so for ftping, I use coffee cup, which is high quality, reliable and best of all - free.
I also uploaded two new teasers. They are a little on the rough side, but I wanted show some more video content to get people a taste for the film. I will be working on a more polished trailer soon, and of course the film itself in the coming weeks and months, so keep checking back here. In the meantime, you can see the first teaser here and the second one here, or just go straight to the video page.
In other news, I will be leaving Kenya soon, so I just wanted to say thank you to everyone involved in Matatu, especially John, Njeri, Christabel, Peter, Buck, and all of Kibera. It has been a fascinating journey. Thank you so much for your help, and I hope I have the privilege of seeing you all soon again. Thanks also to everyone that became fans of the hustlers of kibera, please tell your friends about them. And keep posting comments on this page or email me at colm@matatuexpress.com I love hearing from you...so keep in touch.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Matatu Express: The Video Podcast


I'm working on two trailers for Matatu, but for fun (or most probably, as a diversionary method of procrastination) I started cutting a video podcast. It's basically a collection of production photos and behind the scenes shots. A special thanks to Jane for providing the music - she is singing a very beautiful traditional Maasai song. It's on the video page. Or, here is a direct link to it as well.
****Special Bulletin*****
As I've mentioned before, I do not have a high speed connection, it is low speed and extremely unstable, making uploading or downloading video content a near impossibility where I am here in Nairobi, so I am unable to verify the video. As I understand it, the promo video is working fine, although it may take several minutes to load, so please be patient. Please email me asap at colm@matatuexpress.com if something isn't working as it should be. I will convert and upload some of the videos to flash (which should make them much quicker to load) as soon as it's technically possible for me on my end. Another option for the video podcast is to click the "download to my ipod link" below the video. Thanks for your patience and understanding everyone.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Hustlers of Kibera Album Available Online


I have uploaded the debut album of the sensational Hustlers from Kibera online. You can hear it on their facebook page. Please check it out, and show them some love by becoming a fan, commenting on their page, or drop them an email. Here is a link to their facebook page. I am still waiting on song titles and album information. I will provide additional info when it arrives. For anyone interested, the music used in the recent promo video is Track 10.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

New Promo Video Available Online


"Me and my gun makes you
break your spinal chord
ready to blow understand this metaphor
Gimme the dough
Walk down we are ready to go
so come slow."
- The Hustlers

After dealing with about a kazzilion technical issues, I was finally able to cut a promo for Matatu. It is a collection of B Roll shot around Kibera and features a wicked track from The Hustlers. It is slightly larger and has better resolution than the other videos, so it may take a few seconds to load. You can find it on the main page at Matatu Express. Here is a direct link to the video.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Matatu Ride with Mras


Last official day of shooting was Friday. Who did I interview, you ask? Well you don't do a documentary called Matatu Express without doing an interview with a Matatu driver. So that's what we did. We met Mras who has one of the most dangerous jobs in Kibera. He navigates the treacherous roads of Nairobi picking up and dropping off people and cargo all over. He dodges police, people, bandits, and most importantly, other matatus, all in a day's work. We had a great interview and went for a ride in his matatu all along the outskirts of Kibera for some B roll. What can I say? It was fun, and as a bonus, I never once dropped my camera, despite sticking it out the side window to capture people jumping on and off and hanging on for dear life while standing upright out the open side door.
In other news, I am really happy to announce that the Hustlers will be providing the soundtrack for Matatu Express. I think these guys are seriously talented, so I provided a facebook and youtube page for them. I will be adding more content to the pages as time goes on. Now the long and arduous process of editing begins!
Photo above taken by Peter Opudo

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Explosions Rock Kibera! More news at Eleven.


Planet Earth was my place of birth
Born to be the SOLE controller of the universe
Besides the part of the map I hit first
Any a rhyme that I can adapt when it gets worst
The rough gets going, the going gets rough
When I start flowing, the mic might bust
The next state, I shake from the power I generate
People in Cali used to think it was earthquakes
- Eric B. and Rakim, "In The Ghetto"


A series of explosions have recently rocked and shook the foundations of Kibera, leaving a powerful trail of destruction in it's wake. Shortly after a great interview with Sururu and his crew, who together form the hip hop crew "The Hustlers", a simple freestyle performance outside Sururu's home turned into a barrage of intercontinental ballistic missiles of words and rhymes that both stunned and shocked, resulting in a massive explosion of Hip Hop that came suddenly and without any warning. Casualties are still mounting....more details to come, please stand by.
Photo above taken by Peter Opudo.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Millicent, Mohammed and Chuck D.




"We don't see the people who are doing real things getting enough props. We often see politicians who are everywhere but nowhere at the same goddamn time. You know the kind of person: You see them everywhere on television but nowhere in front of your face."
Chuck D., Public Enemy


Meet Millicent and Mohammed.
Millicent works at a health clinic in Kibera that runs 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Not only that, she is a single mom and raising her young child alone. Her one room home is pretty deep into Kibera, so she makes the 45 minute trek daily to treat fellow Kiberans. Most of the illnesses are related to infections from drinking unsafe water. Her marriage broke up because her husband was from a different tribe, and things got ugly around post election time, so they are no longer together.
Mohammed volunteer coaches a Kiberan girl's football team. When I asked what tribe he belonged too, he simply stated, "I don't believe in tribes, I am a proud Kenyan."

When I asked them where else would they live if they had the choice, both of them replied they would not live anywhere else.

In other news, I have re-uploaded the podcast that is slightly better quality and less distorted. I am new to the podcast thing, so hope you can forgive me. Using Audacity, which is free to download in case you're interested.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Matatu Express: The Podcast


I just finished making the first audio podcast for Matatu. I recorded audio from the journey into Kibera, all sound is recorded on location in Kibera to give listeners a sense of the sights and sounds of Kibera. Hope you enjoy it. Click here to listen to the podcast. Picture above taken by Peter Opudo.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

DJ Jah Hill!


“Life is one big road with lots of signs. So when you riding through the ruts, don't complicate your mind. Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy. Don't bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality . Wake Up and Live!”
-Bob Marley

Day 3 of Matatu. Interviewed DJ Jah Hill, who has a radio show on Kibera’s only radio station Pamoja fm, which means “Together” in Swahili. Jah Hill is simply a legend in the Soweto district of Kibera, where he resides. We covered alot of ground today, walked for probably a total of 10 kilometers, into Soweto where Jah lives, then into the outskirts, and up on the surrounding hills where there was a school in one of the many buildings that were burned down during the post election violence. Every where we went, people would call out “JAH HILL!” I knew I was in the presence of a true celebrity. We then proceeded back into Kibera, uphill, past the railroad tracks and were just about to go into the radio station when we ran across the station manager, who despite having a family emergency was gracious enough to do a very quick interview. We then got to the station where Jah went on air live. What a day! Thought I was doing one interview today, ended up doing about 6. Had to use the backup battery and slip in a new tape. Must have met about 30 amazing residents of Kibera who were all generous with their time and gracious over all. Most of all though I have to give maximum respect to DJ Jah Hill for his time, his talent, and an amazing freestyle rap he gave on the outskirts of Soweto. Respect Jah Hill!
Photo above taken by Peter Opudo

Sunday, February 7, 2010

On Overcoming Stage Fright (do it anyway)


"Courage is not the absence of fear. It is acting in spite of it."
-Mark Twain

Day 2 of production happened on Friday. Interviewed James for a second time, then interviewed the Chairman of his orphanage organization, and after that shot the meeting itself. The shoot presented some technical difficulties, mainly to do with audio issues. The thing about Kibera is that it’s a pretty noisy place, as there are so many people jammed into a small area. There is music, there is singing, there are planes overhead that rattle all of the structures that are made out of thin sheets of metal, and there are kids. Lots of kids. Kids that like to scream, to laugh, to shriek and to holler. All of this can be a major challenge when recording audio, and I am trying to take steps to tackle this issue. The interviews themselves went pretty well, and my guide Peter remarked that I appeared more comfortable and “less nervous” than my first day in Kibera. Damn, I thought to myself, I thought I had my cool as a cucumber poker face persona nailed. I guess that’s why I am a director and not a performer. I suck at acting. When I was breaking everything down and packing my gear up, this kid came over to ask me questions about what I was doing. I told him I was making a movie about young people in Kibera. He said he didn’t have a job and asked what he could do to help. So I told him he could do an interview. I gave him one, and a couple of bucks for his time. I have to give this guy credit and a shout out, because I could tell he was kind of nervous and embarrassed to come up to me, but it took guts and I have to give him props for that. Thanks Edwin.
Photo above taken by Peter Opudo.

Friday, February 5, 2010

i can't get no sleep


“The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people's reality, and eventually in one's own.”
Susan Sontag

Day one of production of Matatu Express. Made it deeper into Kibera for an interview with James (pictured above) who runs an organization that helps protect orphans in Kibera. Also made contact with DJ Jah Hill, who I will be interviewing next week. I am beginning to be stunned and amazed by the passion, creativity and collaboration within the streets of Kibera. James lives with 2 of his brothers and 2 friends in his home which is about 6 feet by 6 feet. He has a bed, a small coffee table, and 2 chairs. No running water or electricity. The interview went well. The further you go into Kibera the more hardship you see. The roads are really a labyrinth of mud and garbage with a river of sewage running in the center. I got home in the early evening and we had some people over for dinner, it was fun for awhile. Then later when I found myself in bed, I had trouble sleeping. It was raining outside, and I kept listening to it. I kept thinking about James and his 4 houseguests sleeping in that tiny space, and I could almost hear the sound the rain must be making right now coming down on that tin roof. It’s four am and I can’t get no sleep.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

T.I.A baby


"Had to stop at a red light
Looking in my mirror not a jacker in sight
And everything is alright...
Drunk as hell but no throwing up
Half way home and my pager still blowing up
Today I didn't even have to use my A.K.
I got to say it was a good day."
-Ice Cube, "It was a good day."


Spent yesterday working on a budget for Matatu and researching funding options – my least favourite aspect of filmmaking – albeit a necessary one, and one I am striving towards mastering, or at least improving on. Six years of Kraft Dinners have inspired me to do better.
Got up bright and early this morning to head to Ignite to get some wireless access. A normally 10 minute drive became an hour of bumper to bumper traffic filled with cars cutting each other off, triple passing on a single lane road. A matatu with the name painted on the rear windscreen “Everything is in God’s Hands” accelerated madly uphill into oncoming traffic. Perhaps miraculously, no casualties ensued. The lord works in mysterious ways, after all.
Made it to the office only to discover the power is down (another notorious outage). Three hours later and still nothing. Fired up the blackmarket Ipod (purchased on the streets of Nairobi for $20) and tuned into “homeboyz radio” on 91.5 FM, for a great old school classics show. In Nairobi they play good hip hop. Because of the lack of advertisers, DJs play what they want to hear, or what the audience tells them to play, not the top 40 shoddy generic tunes the record companies think you want to hear. Six hours later still no power. I shrug. I no longer care. I have Biggie, Tupac, Ice Cube and lil’ Kim to keep me company.
I head home by foot this time, past the vast coffee fields under the hot sun in a perfect, cloudless aqua blue sky. It’s a half hour walk, but it feels good. It’s downhill. Back home now, I grab a cold Tusker from the fridge. I laugh as one of the dogs jumps on the patio table and licks my hand trying to console me. I can’t help but remember my favourite line uttered by DiCaprio in Blood Diamond.
“This is Africa.”

Monday, February 1, 2010

Journey Into Kibera


My first day of location scouting in Kibera went extremely well. My guide Peter, a longtime resident, gave a great initial tour. I put up some video of it on matatu express. Click here to watch the new clips. Bear in mind, they are compressed from 24P for the web, so it's normal there is slight choppiness. Also click here to check out some new pictures. This upcoming week is all about research and casting potential interview subjects. To say that I am pleased and excited would be a great understatement. I'm just really grateful for all the help I'm getting from everyone involved. More soon.

We have Ignition.


Just thought I would give a shout out to the good folks at Ignite Consulting. They have been kind enough to provide equipment and wireless internet service for Matatu Express. As I've mentioned before, the signal I have where I am staying is too low for uploading files, so I make the journey into Ignite every day or so.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

On Reclusiveness and Rockets

"What really knocks me out is a book, when you're all done reading it, you wished the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it."
-Holden Caufield, Catcher In The Rye.


We have contact.....Initiate starting sequence....we have ignition.....Liftoff in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.......
I have just made contact with someone who is a former resident and presently works with several youth organizations with Kibera links. I am extremely happy to say that I have just hired her as Matatu Express's Unit Production Manager. Welcome to the team Christabell! Heading into Kibera tomorrow afternoon to do some location scouting for exteriors, probably shoot some video and definitely some stills. It will also be an opportunity to meet my "fixer" or "point man" Peter, who will be my guide to Kibera. Can`t wait. Matatu Express is finally taking off.
The above quote is in honour of J.D. Salinger, who passed away today. I came across that quote today. It's ironic considering he became such a recluse, refusing to speak with any of his fans. Anyhow, R.I.P buddy, Catcher In the Rye will always remain a classic in my books.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Private Life of Giraffes



My brother and I took a road trip to Lake Naivasha, where we took my niece sailing. It was great to get out of the city for a change, and it was a beautiful day, although the weather almost looked like it was going to take a turn for the worse a couple of times. I grew up sailing and retain a deep fondness for it. There is nothing like the feeling of leaving the world behind and escaping to the serenity of the wind carrying you into the calmness of deep blue water. Try as I might, I have never been able to capture that same kind of peace on land. On the way back, we ran into a few giraffes making their way to happy hour, or whatever it is that giraffes do. I've always been suspicious of giraffes. But in a good way. Like, they know something I don't and they're having a private joke amongst themselves. Kind of like squirrels - although I've never trusted those things. Have you ever looked a squirrel in the eye? It's scary, believe me. Anyhow, after driving back through a very curvy road filled with trucks, matatus and several near misses, we made it back to Nairobi in one piece. I had an early evening meeting with somebody who had several contacts with youth agencies in Kibera. The meeting was a good one, and was followed by a delicious dinner cooked by my very culinary gifted brother. More meetings scheduled this week...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Mayhem of Matatus


Although the title of the doc is Matatu Express, and some of the photos I've been taking recently are of matatus, the film is not specifically about matatus. It remains a film about slum life in Kibera. An explanation is probably called for. In Kenya the main source of transportation for economically challenged Kenyans is the matatu. They are both cheap and plentiful. With names like "Jagged Edge" they recklessly crisscross the roads in Nairobi, breaking every rule imaginable, and sometimes inventing new rules you never thought could be broken. Many of them are colourfully decked or "pimped" out. They drive like maniacs and the police can hardly contain or control them despite new rules implemented about a year ago. But as much as they frustrate, antagonize and often endanger other motorists, you can't help but feel they symbolize the unpredictable, dangerous and chaotic energy of Kenya. They are the conduit that connects the country together, and if that means breaking a few rules along the way, then so be it. That's why when I tried to think of a title that was synonymous with the spirit of Nairobi and the essence of Kenya, I had to look at the matatu.
Besides, it sounds kind of cool.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Photos Are Up


The photos I took in and around Nairobi a few days ago are now up on matatuexpress.com. Some of them were taken from inside a moving car, some from a second floor vantage point inside a mall and a few were taken ground level in the middle of a busy street. I used the zoom on my still camera a couple of times in sports mode, and considering the limitations of the Fuji, I am relatively pleased with the results. I shot off about 35 rounds, and saved 7 for your viewing pleasure. Here is a direct link to the photo page.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Gear.





Just thought I'd give the lowdown on the gear I brought with me to shoot Matatu. The biggest priorities for me were budget, size/weight, and most importantly, quality.
The Bag
Camera bags are often overlooked, but I wanted to highlight this one. It was lent to me from a friend, but I know I'll have to pick one up for myself. Made by Optex, it is a backpack which is crucial for quick getaways in a hostile urban environment (some Kiberans have been known to be unfriendly towards media), or if you're climbing in the rough. It is low profile and extremely well made with seperate compartments for everything you need.
The Microphone
I picked up the Rode mini-shotgun with shockmount on sale at dvshop for $160. The staff at dvshop are very knowledgeable and helpful, and it's a small store so you get their full attention. This mike is pretty awesome in terms of pricing and quality, and the shockmount is totally sweet.
The Video Camera
I was really lucky finding this camera. It's a Canon Vixia HV30, and it is one of the best HD cameras to find for under $1000. I found a used one on craiglist for $600. I will be shooting in hv24P cinema mode, which means 24 frames per second to give it a film look.
To watch a few movies shot with the same camera click here.
The Tripod
I picked up this tripod at Henry's for $150 about 10 years ago. Made by Velbon it is super lightweight, but very solid. I have never had a problem with it.
The Stills Camera
I picked up the Fuji Finepix S3000 six years ago. Priced at around $270, the images have a max of 3MB, which is fine. Unfortunately, it is not the greatest at fast moving objects, and the zoom lens is only 10X. In other words, if I had it in my budget, I would have gone for an SLR. I probably should not complain though, as this camera has served me well for portraits and the like. All images on this blog are taken with this camera. It also has a great body for holding and shooting, much like an old school 35mm, or the new SLRs. To see some other pix taken with the finepix 3000, click here.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

There Is Truth in Innocence


My brother had a UN trip to Bahrain scheduled this afternoon, so we spent the morning going into town taking care of some business. We went into Westlands, a division of Nairobi to pick up groceries and filled up the SIM card for internet usage. Along the way I took the opportunity to take some pictures of Matatus. I've made contact with a Kibera organization that will hopefully provide me with safe passage and hook me up with some local Kiberans. I'll have an update on that late next week. After dinner tonight I watched "Sarafina" with my 8 year old Kenyan niece. Probably the only cool musical I've ever seen. If you haven't seen it yet, check it out. It's about a 1976 school uprising in Soweto during the Apartheid years in South Africa. Near the end my niece said; "Why do they hurt each other? We are all the same family." What else needs to be said?
Sometimes kids just speak the truth.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Kenyan police fire tear gas to disperse protest


NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenyan security forces shot in the air and fired tear gas at hundreds of people protesting in the capital on Friday against the detention of a Jamaican Muslim cleric.

Stone-throwing protesters, some waving the flag of Somali rebel group al Shabaab, were driven back as they tried to march through the heart of the capital after prayers at Nairobi's downtown mosque.


Please Note::::I am currently residing 30 minutes outside central Nairobi in a very secure neighborhood, so nothing to worry about!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Express Online


The website for Matatu Express is now online. Please bear in mind, although I'm on location, I'm still in pre-production mode. As soon as I move into production phase (within the next few weeks) I will have more content. You can check out the site here.NOTE: I am having connectivity problems, trying to resolve an error with the index page. (I am situated in a valley, and my speed averages 5K a second, and it drops frequently. The index page should be fixed in a few hours, so check back later. thanks.

Hurry Up, Wait and Leave Those Hookers Alone


Anyone working in film knows the term “hurry up and wait”. It generally refers to the inevitable delays in the director setting up shots and the director of photography tweaking lights. Or, in my case it can apply to pre-production delays. Waiting for people to get back to me. Waiting for an internet signal. Waiting for transportation to happen for scouting and stills. Waiting. Ugh.
In the meantime it was my sister-in law’s birthday yesterday. We celebrated it at a really nice sushi restaurant that was designed in minimal traditional Japanese style. They had a smoking room in the back which of course I explored several times over the course of the evening. I met a cute girl from Markham, Ontario of all places. She was in Nairobi on contract for the UN. She had been here for 2 months for her first time, so I was curious about her first impressions.
She said one of her biggest peeves was the prevalence of prostitution in Kenya. I always think it’s funny that some people are bothered with what other people choose to do in the privacy of their bedrooms, whether its gays, transexuals, or prostitutes. Personally, I share the same philosophy as Pierre Trudeau – that the government should stay out of the bedroom - its nobody’s business but their own, as long as it’s consensual and between adults. It’s called the world’s oldest profession for a very good reason. People will always require both sex and money. I think that perhaps, the only difference between Kenya and North America in this respect is that while Canada or the US hides prostitution behind escort websites and phone numbers, Kenya is a little more open about it. That means as a man(or in some cases, a woman) going to a restaurant or a club, you are sometimes approached by working girls/boys. I learned this rather quickly in Mombasa several years ago. My only complaint is that it’s not my charm, wit or personality they are after, but rather the contents of my wallet.....I have since learned to keep my distance, as that is not my particular cup of tea, but I have learned not to judge others for their addictions or weaknesses. God knows, we all have them.
Except me of course.
Now where did I put those cigarettes?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Security Check


There are a few ground rules in Nairobi. You rarely go out at night. Lock your car doors and keep your windows up in traffic. Guard dogs, panic buttons, panic rooms, barbed wire and electric fences are as common a feature in houses as an inground swimming pool. It kind of freaks you out the first time you see all of this, but like anything else – you adapt and get used to it. The thing is, most peope are great all over Kenya. Crime is just like terrorism in that way, the actions of a few have dire consequences for the majority. I was thinking this as my carry-on Samsonite was tested for explosives in Frankfurt. I mention all of this because security is one of the major issues filming in Kibera, and I am in meetings this week to resolve them.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Paradise Found


I arrived in Nairobi yesterday afternoon. My brother picked me up in his old faithful cherry red Isuzu Trooper and we sailed off into the chaotic cacophony of rush hour Nairobi. It is a sea of motorbikes, matatus, bicycles, and people either walking on the side of the roads or running out in front of you. And when you inevitably become stuck in traffic, people approach you trying to sell newspapers, maps, nuts, anything. Like many other developing countries, there is a whole economy built on traffic jams. When we pulled into his new pad with an amber teracotta roof, three dogs greeted us, that I have dubbed Zeus, Appolo and Ricky Ricardo. I realized that his well manicured lawn of palm trees, the red car, the dogs, and the terracotta roof, that I was staying at Robin Masters estate. I remarked this while sipping my wine and stroking my moustache in my hawaiian shirt.
At the end of the night, I read a story and put my niece to bed. Life doesn't get much better than this, I thought to myself. A bed feels so good after 26 hrs of travelling.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Final Frontier


Despite a bit of a rocky start, where my plane from Toronto to Warsaw was delayed about an hour and a half, I have survived the journey so far. I have made it to Dubai, which is really hard to describe unless you've been there. It reminds me of a final outpost on some alien homeworld in a Star Trek film. I got here at about 6 Am, and did the only sensible thing one would do in such an environment.
I found the nearest Irish pub.
As I enjoyed my first well earned pint of the day along with my final Belmont Mild, I took in my surroundings. The pub was filled with American and British Soldiers, Russian Hookers, Professional Chinese Gamblers and Ukranian gangsters. Exactly my kind of place. I found it fitting the song playing in the background was "As Time Goes By". Another Rick's Cafe, filled with lost souls.
L'aventure commence!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Sailing Into The Unknown



I leave today in T minus 3 hours. I packed the rest of my stuff in storage yesterday which finally gave me a sense of ease. (Thank you Roger and Carrie!) Picked up the rest of my equipment including an awesome backup camera battery (Thanks Buck!). And despite my best intentions, made it to bed just shy of midnight, which is probably a good thing, considering my itinerary includes a flight to Warsaw, then Frankfurt with a 6 hr layover, then Dubai, then finally Nairobi.
Hopefully all will go well, and my bags arrive safely, what with all the new crazy security processes coming into air travel in this day and age. See you from Africa soon!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Pre-Trip Heebeegeebies

I've decided to start this blog to chart my progress to work on my next documentary film.
The working title is "Matatu Express". It tells the story of several young people's lives in Kibera,
one of Africa's largest slums just outside Nairobi, Kenya.
A Matatu is a mini-bus taxi that ferries people to and from work. This is the working idea for the film, but as I learned in my previous film "Sketched Out", I am anticipating the idea may evolve in some capacity.
I leave in 3 days time, and although this will be my fourth trip to Kenya, but when people ask me if I am "excited" to be going, I am truthfully filled with anxiety. Am I right in making this decision a go? Will the film be a success? Will I remember to pack my toothbrush? Only time will tell! In the meantime all I can do is plan, compile and follow checklists for my pre-trip prepping, make my flights on time (I have 3 connecting flights to make!), hope for the best, and of course, remember to pack my toothbrush!