All posts by kieraandrews

Filming Week Complete

Last week was our third week here in Cuenca and was our designated “filming week.” The TECHO group faced a good amount of setbacks last week (which I will explain) but we kept on trekking and still had a great time.

First, on Monday, we were supposed to start our week off by shooting our main character at her university. She had gained permission from her professor for us to shoot about 10 minutes of her class and then use the classroom for an interview afterwards. Everything started off great, we arrived early and got started shooting some great establishing shots but things took a turn for the worse when we were waiting for Gaby (our main character) to come meet us outside of her classroom building. Apparently our camera equipment caught the attention of some nosy teachers who were wondering what we were doing and then questioned if we had the permission of the Dean. Apparently, the permission of the teacher was not enough and after much negotiation and paperwork we were eventually banned from the campus. We spent the rest of the afternoon shooting some really cool time lapses though, so the whole day was not lost.

Tuesday, we were really excited to get filming again. We were going to spend the morning getting some establishing shots of the city and then spend the afternoon filming a TECHO volunteer event at our main character’s house. Early Tuesday morning the other group, FCT, left for an overnight trip up to the mountains. When we arrived to our first location to shoot we realized as we were setting up our gear that FCT had actually took our tripod with our camera’s baseplate attachment with them and left us their tripod with no baseplate for us to connect our camera to (thanks FCT!!) This meant that we could not shoot anything that needed a tripod, which was the majority of our shots planned for the morning and the afternoon. We tried to make the best of the morning situation and get some audio of the city to use but there was a cab strike going on and they were driving around the center in circles honking their horns non stop….not the best for extra sound clips. We ended up having to buy another tripod during lunch because no store would sell is just a baseplate, but again it ended up working out and we got some really nice shots from our afternoon session.

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Wednesday was another extremely interesting day. We were finally heading out to one of the communities that TECHO built houses in, Quingeo, which is about an hour outside of Cuenca. How did we get to Quingeo you ask? We fit 8 people in to a car meant for 5 and drove very fast through the mountains and sort roads; definitely not the most enjoyable ride of our lives. But once up on Quingeo we were able to see first hand what TECHO was all about and talk to some owners of TECHO houses.

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Thursday, shooting was going smoothly other than us starting about 1 1/2 hours behind schedule because our character was stuck in class a little later than planned. We got some great shots of her at a library (to replace the school shots we could not film Monday,) shots of her walking around the city and a really great interview at her house. Things became interesting after we finished her interview in her room and she told us we couldn’t leave because her parents were downstairs. Our character has a complicated relationship with her parents and they obviously did not know that we were going to be there and she didn’t want them to see us. So after about 15 minutes of seeing if they would leave we decided to hide our film equipment as best we could and make a run for it, one of our professors may or may not have stuck a boom poll down his pant leg.

Saturday, our final day of shooting, we returned to Quingeo for a TECHO community event where TECHO volunteers spent time with the local kids. We went to some of the TECHO houses further away from the town center and again met with a couple of families who had their lives changed because of TECHO. We got a lot of great footage and it was an excellent way to wrap up the week of filming.

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Piedra de Agua

On Sunday we did a group excursion ziplining followed by a very nice trip to a spa with mud baths, steam rooms and contrasting pools. I’m going to let someone with video tell you about our ziplining adventure, so I’m going to focus on Piedra de Agua, the spa located right outside of Cuenca that we went to.
First off, while our hostel is nice, there seems to be a problem with hot water most of the time; so we were extremely excited for warm water at the spa. Not only did they have multiple contrasting temperature pools with extremely hot water but they also had huge rain shower heads that gave us nice warm water as well and was by far the best shower I’ve had since leaving the U.S.
While some people in our group decided to just do the basic spa package which included the outdoor contrasting pools and steam rooms, a few of us opted for the upgraded spa package. The upgraded spa package included red and blue mud baths which exfoliated skin and helped with wrinkles, frown lines, etc. Needless to say, our skin was left feeling like a baby’s bottom.

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In addition to the mud baths we also had access to underground contrasting pools and then torture chamber-like steam boxes. While the steam boxes were nice, we definitely couldn’t stay in them longer than 5 minutes.

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It was a great day all around; a nice break from working on our documentaries and getting to spend time with the whole crew.

Starting work with TECHO

On Monday our group was able to sit down with contacts from TECHO, the organization we will be working with, for the first time. Since then we have had two more meetings and have learned so much about the organization, it’s goals and the volunteers that make it all possible. One of the main themes that was stressed to us about TECHO is that it is not just about building houses, it is about building a lasting a community. Through our meetings we have met a variety of volunteers that participate at different levels but they all seem to have one thing in common; they are enthusiastic and supportive about what TECHO does and they want others to feel the same way. A huge problem in Ecuador is that people are skeptical of donating time and money to organizations because of previous organizations who have made empty promises. Tomorrow we will be filming at the annual Colecta event, their main fundraising event for the year, and are excited to see hundreds of volunteers in action.

Basílica del Voto Nacional in Quito

One of the first thing Dr. Boulton told us about our trip was that we were going to have to be “flexibilidad” and that things were not always going to go as planned. We learned this lesson very quickly, before we even made it to Quenca. Due to a flight delay in Panama City and a change of flight time (that we weren’t notified about) from Quito to Cuenca, we missed our connecting flight to Cuenca. However, it all turned out for the best and we were able to stay in Cuenca for the night (thanks to Copa Airlines) and spend the day exploring Quito before catching a 7pm flight to Cuenca.

We decided as a group to do the Quito Tour Bus which is one of the double decker hop on, hop off buses found in many cities. The bus stopped at many of the main attractions in Quito and we all agreed on getting off at the Basílica del Voto Nacional. The church itself was an absolutely beautiful neo-gothic style with amazing stained glass windows throughout. Even more stunning to look at, for me personally, was the views from the towers of the church. After a series of very steep stairs/ladders the panoramic views of all of Quito were definitely worth it and definitely something I would recommend to anyone visiting Quito.

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