I was asked to direct a charity video to help the earthquake victims in Haiti. I wanted to connect the artists with the actual people of Haiti, so I designed the clapping of their hands to simulate the white rubble in all the photos. Then it was a matter of actually going to Haiti for the people to return the claps. Close after the earthquake, I flew into the Dominican Republic on my own dime. Haiti was closed off to visitors, so I bribed my way through the border and crossed into the devastation. With two friends, I carried everything I needed including a Canon 7D on my back.
You have to understand that at this point I had no idea what I was going to shoot, or what I was going to see. It was a daunting task to drop yourself in the middle of nowhere and start shooting. But I felt it was important that the video was seen through my eyes – that an actual human being would be there meeting people and getting close. The shots are close proximity to the lens – not long, safe, and impersonal like news footage. If the cameraman is distanced, so is the viewer. When you watch, I want you there with me, meeting and seeing everyone and everything, inches away from the lens. I thought that by being there, experiencing it, I would interpret whatever I felt into something more pure and personal.
Unfortunately, when I finished my edit, the label decided to splice together news reel footage anyway, demolishing my intentions. In this case, the common goal of finding money for Haiti lessoned the blow, as the cause is obviously greater than a silly edit disagreement. But here is my director’s cut for posterity.
Those couple days in Haiti were brutal and beautiful. It was dangerous in many ways, but it was a truly eye opening experience. The stories I experienced are way too much for this post, but the video ultimately speaks for itself. Everything I felt is in the video. And it is important to note Haiti still needs our help.
Tech specs: Performance on Phantom in LA/London. Haiti on 7D with standard Canon 24-85mm EF lens.