NEW NORTH AMERICAN FILM PROJECT FOR ON-SITE EXPEDITIONS
As many of you know, we've been busy this year working on our project in Peru. But, once in a while we get the opportunity to work on another project to bring the reality of other groups of Americans to life.
We were recently contacted by an organization called the Immigration Task Force to produce a 30 minute documentary to be aired in Spanish and English on Telemundo to help inform immigrant residents of their rights under the U.S. Constitution and the services that are available on the Central Coast to help them protect those rights.
As many of you know, recent immigrants, along with long-time resident immigrants, have been demonized by the Trump administration's increasingly inhumane immigration policies.
OUR IMMIGRANT COMMUNITY IS BEING TERRORIZED
We've all heard about the ICE raids and how immigrant communities are being threatened, but during this filming we've seen the personal impact of this discriminatory policy by our own government run by Donald Trump for ourselves. Many of our film subjects have requested we blur their faces for fear of being identified, even some who are documented. Parents in particular are afraid of being "sent back" to a country they may or may not know and having to leave their American born children here. The fear these people feel has been palpable during these interviews with these HARD working people who contribute so much to our lifestyles here on the Central Coast of California. Many of these people have teared up and even cried during our interviews. It's been humbling to be able to film these people who are trusting us to ensure their stories are told without being identified. A big THANKS to our film participants who have trusted us with their lives by being filmed!!
IMMIGRANTS ARE AN INTEGRAL PART OF THE CENTRAL COAST ECONOMY
Our goal in this documentary is to show how hard our immigrant community works to ensure our local economy, based on agriculture, hospitality and construction, keeps humming along. Few of us realize how BACKBREAKING the work is that our immigrant farm workers do on a daily basis. We have been filming the field workers who harvest our broccoli, artichokes, strawberries and the lettuce that earns our area the name the "Salad Bowl of America." Without the hard work of these people our area would come to a screeching halt!
WORKING WITH A TEAM OF PROFESSIONALS FROM IMMIGRATION TASK FORCE, THE UNITED FARM WORKERS FOUNDATION AND THE CATHOLIC CHARITIES OF MONTEREY COUNTY
This project is being supported by amazing people who work everyday to help our immigrant community to understand their rights in the face of threats from the Immigration & Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE). Deb Clifford, the co-founder of the Immigration Task Force, has dedicated herself to developing programs to ensure that our local community knows their rights and takes advantage of the services that are available to defend themselves and their families against unlawful treatment. She's also in charge of raising the funds for this film project, which is about half funded at this point.
Paz Padilla, with the Immigration Services of Catholic Charities of Monterey County, is also a team member who has dedicated herself to educational workshops and meetings where immigrants can learn about their rights and reach out with questions.
Ricardo Núñez, with the United Farm Workers Foundation, is working to ensure farm workers follow in the footsteps of Ceasar Chavez (his personal hero) to get safe working conditions and a fair wage. He's been instrumental in getting us into the fields with farm workers to film what their actual working conditions look like. His personal story of rising up in our community since his immigration years ago shows how diligently immigrants work to achieve their own version of the American Dream.
Hector Azpilcueta, Secretary and Treasurer of UNITE HERE (Local 483) is also dedicated to the service and hospitality workers in our Monterey County area to ensure safe working conditions and a living wage. His personal story of rising from working in the fields, then to washing dishes to becoming a citizen and working for UNITE HERE is inspiring. His version of the American Dream is one where immigrants go beyond getting the house and car to one that includes getting the respect that they deserve as hard working Americans.
Slideshow of Dalton at working filming the documentary.
FILMING A 30 MINUTE DOCUMENTARY IN ONE WEEK
We were lucky to get our cinematographer, Dalton Gaudin, to work with us on this project for a VERY reduced fee. However, he only had a couple of weeks open, so we had to film this project over the span of a week. And, now that editing is starting, we hope to have the documentary produced by the end of September.
WHAT HAS MAREN BEEN DOING ON THIS PROJECT?
Well, I've been the formal "producer" on this project. I keep track of our interview and filming schedule (which has been crazy) and I act as Dalton's sound and camera slave. I also make sure we have releases from all the people we film as this is going to be televised and stations always want releases.
And, I've been having fun meeting these great people and seeing how our immigrant communities live and work so VERY HARD! There have been a few people we've interviewed who have two jobs just to make ends meet. I've been exhausted just learning about their lives and trying to keep up with filming their VERY long days.
And, I'm in charge of this...the BLOG! And, I've tried all week to get it done only to have to wait because of my need for sleep and the occasional trip to the gym. It's been an exhausting week of filming and my hat is off to Dalton. This week has been harder than just about any filming schedule we've had in Peru.
DRONE DAY WITH "HOWARD"
This project is the first where we've been able to use our new drone...aptly named "Howard" after Howard Jones who so generously donated the money so we could buy this amazing piece of technology. Dalton bravely piloted "Howard" on our B-Roll drone day and we managed to film many amazing scenes of our hard working migrant workers harvesting strawberries, artichokes, and celery. The drone footage is so COOL! Love this new tool and the documentary film will benefit from the overall perspective the drone gives us on the work these dedicated field workers do in our community.
Solidarity Posters All Over The Place
INSPIRATIONAL POSTERS AND SAYINGS EVERYWHERE
One of my favorite things to do when we are filming is to document the "artifacts" in people's spaces. This filming project has given me the chance to take photos of some amazing walls of posters in people's offices, homes and organizations. The common theme is solidarity with the migrant community and the desire to be treated with respect. Here are a few of my favorites that run from a wood print of a strawberry picker to the wall in the Unite Here founder's office with a "demon Trump" at the top of the wall.
DONATIONS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME
As with all our projects here at On-Site Expeditions, we are dependent upon donations. This project can be supported by donating to the Immigration Task Force by sending your tax-deductible donation to:
Action Council of Monterey County
P.O. Box 902
Monterey, CA 93942
In the memo line, be sure to write "Immigration Task Force / Video Project" so your donation is properly credited.
Or, to donate online, please go to their website https://itfmontereycounty.org/donate/#MovetheNeedle and click Donations to make your contribution.
We hope to have the finished film out by end of September. Please subscribe to our blog to receive a notice when the film is out. It will be on our website, on the Immigration Task Force website and their YouTube channel.
Special thanks to those who have already donated to this project. A full list of those people will be provided on the Immigration Task Force website in a few weeks.
Maren Elwood is a visual anthropologist and founder of On-Site Expeditions...a field school that will provide scholarships to aspiring heritage professionals. The first field school session will be in January 2020.