67/365 Filming in Kathmandu

The past 48 hours have been a whirlwind.

Heathrow on Thursday night, Qatar early on Friday morning, and Kathmandu late afternoon the same day.

The morning after arrival at the hotel I’m staying at, a meeting to discuss the week’s filming for the video I’m producing for a charity supporting disabled children out here. The plan includes six interviews, a day out of Kathmandu visiting families in an outlying village, plus a few tourist visits for a few colourful inserts into the final product.

In unfamiliar circumstances my heart can race. At those times I suspect it’s the lack of a plan which sends me a little awry. Once we’d got the week ahead mapped out I suddenly felt a little calmer and then eager to get cracking.

The first shoot was at a local care home for disabled children. I found it an emotionally challenging experience.

Bright eyes, wide smiles and an unequivocally welcoming atmosphere made it appear as though any disabilities the children had were to them incidental to their main priority, enjoying life.

On at least two occasions — one when a young girl was persuaded by her ‘brothers and sisters’ at the home to sing ‘her song’ — I had to turn away from the camera. Utterly beautiful. Utterly heartbreaking.

What lingered the most was one club-footed teenager coming up to me after the filming was complete and putting his arm around me. He smiled at me and thanked me for coming to his home. I complimented him on his English. I learnt later that he arrived at the home following a psychotic episode that occurred after he was caught up in the Nepali earthquake in 2015. Untreated for months, he was in a poor way when he arrived at the home. Nearly two years later he appeared to be back on track.

In situations like these interactions with other human beings are primarily based on non-verbal communications. Sparkling eyes and warm smiles are a distraction from the plight which surrounds you here. Such interactions hold up a mirror to my own inadequacies as a human being, at the same time as reminding me how ridiculously helpless I feel. The generosity of spirit forms an unshakeable lump in the throat.

Yesterday’s interview (Saturday) went well — short but beautifully lit (see image above). It amazes me how a small amount of light cast onto a subject and his/her surrounding can transform things.

I’m reminded of how spoilt I am when interviewing contributors at the BBC. There, interviewees have been media trained, understand instinctively how long a response needs to be, and make allowances for poorly phrased or garbled questions. I need to slow, simplify and pre-brief a lot more here.

Today we’re back to the care home to get some slow motion shots of the kids playing football and throwing paint dye (more on that story in a later post), and this afternoon to time-lapse a massive temple in Kathmandu.

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