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Solar Updates & Projects

Guest Blogger: Filmmaker - Gabriel C. Taylor

Posted: Dec 4th, 2012    |    Categories: Project Updates    |    « Back To Blog

Gabriel's pic

Allow me to introduce myself- my name is Gabriel C. Taylor. I am a filmmaker from the Seattle area, a recent graduate from the Seattle Film Institute's MFA program, and the editor for NuSol's documentary detailing their work in Selva Alegre, Peru.

Recently, I was asked to write a blog post for NuSol’s website and since then I've been thinking about what I could say since I wasn't in Peru facing the daily challenges and hardships associated with this project; I didn’t witness first hand the difficulties associated with transporting equipment and personnel from Washington all the way to the Amazon Jungle, I wasn't there when sections of the village began eroding into the river due to severe flooding, I didn't get to sit in on the workshops with village leaders as they learned about solar power and, in turn, taught their fellow residents. However, I have spent much time speaking with both Stuart Metler and Dustin Welch and examining video footage as they overcame each obstacle and to see the strength and unity of the citizens of Selva Alegre. They constructed the NuSol Central Charging Station that is, at this very moment, providing the village with the electricity they lacked before. As a result, their schools have access to power, their main street has public lighting, their homes have LED lights instead of harmful kerosene lamps and their children can study more effectively at night.

Crafting the specific narrative for this documentary has been an intriguing process. I couldn't tell every story and show every struggle. If I had, the documentary would have ended up running well over three hours. But in editing a documentary film, you need to be able to focus on the main thrust. You must determine what is of interest to people with little or no knowledge of a given subject, and what do you wish to convey to them by introducing them to these people, this project and this part of the world. Secondary plots are fine, but they must be woven together carefully otherwise you end up confusing the audience. As it was for this film, I had to cut some side stories as they distracted from the main narrative of bringing power to Selva Alegre.

As it stands right now the film is in the ‘rough cut’ phase, which means the story is in place but the audio is still out of balance and some of the cuts, scene changes, etc. are a bit rough. This is one of my favorite parts in the editing process because it's when everything is solidifying and it's looking more and more like a film as opposed to a collection of mildly associated clips. It's also the time when the film makes the most rapid growth. A week ago, the film was over three hours long with all the side stories and redundant clips, not to mention a complete lack of grace or continuity as it cut from shot to shot. And by the end of the week it'll be under 20 minutes with smooth transitions and a polished story.

So, what's the point of these endeavors? Why this blog post? Why the documentary? Why all of NuSol’s efforts to bring solar power to families living in poverty in a far-flung part of the world, who are normally invisible to us and often invisible even to other Peruvians? Given the hardships and difficulties associated with conceiving of, carrying out and completing such an unlikely task, I myself have wondered about the motivation behind two men in such a small organization, with modest funding, undertaking such a daunting project. My work on the film about this project in Selva Alegre has had me thinking about human motivation and connectivity and about the motivation to connect with others on a human level, and it has reminded me of a quote I once read that I would like to end with:

“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”

            ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

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