Week Two! The Calm Before the Storm

I can’t believe I’m already half-way through my time in Peru. I truly feel so at-home here, and I’m so saddened at the thought of leaving in 2 weeks. Honestly, this experience couldn’t have turned out any better so far. I feel like I’m exactly where I should be—and my faith in becoming a filmmaker has been lifted.

This past week was spent researching CooperarPeru a little more in depth. We went to the site almost every day to scope out potential shots and interview Eduardo—our main subject. We got to know his story better, and he continues to inspire me whenever we spend time with him. He’s the driving force behind this organization—he facilitates the kids at CP, maintains the hostel that profits CP, maintains their website, and even works another job on the side. We’ve nicknamed him “The Renaissance Man.” Actually, it really helps that all of our primary film subjects either live or work at the hostel we’re staying at! It’s been really helping in building comfortable friendships with them. We’ve gone out with them a few times to salsa—it’s been a blast.

I definitely like producing. Because our director (Joshy Marks, as we call him) wasn’t available to begin the project on time, the roles have become more collaborative. Speaking of, Joshy Marks is an entertaining and helpful addition to our team. He’s from London, and he’s worked on a few feature-film movie sets before, so his insight has been incredibly useful. Linnea, our supervisor, explained that I have more of a creative role as a producer since I designed the basis of the storyline with Delaney. So this week, I created a bit of a tedious production schedule for shooting week (which starts tomorrow). I’ve been in charge of logistics as well, like managing the budget, transportation, release forms, translation, organizing meetings with subjects, and assisting with the creation of the story outline and shot list.

We did indeed face our first challenge this week. We structured interview questions for the director of the school to explain the traditional Peruano educational structure in education. From the research and interviews conducted earlier this week, we had the impression that the main school in Tankaparta doesn’t focus on liberal arts education. However, when we interviewed the director of the school, he explained that the school likes to focus on both liberal arts and the hard subjects. We definitely weren’t expecting that answer! So, now we will be adjusting our storyline a bit, focusing less on tension between the school and CooperarPeru. Our story will now be focused more on Eduardo as a character—how his exploration in the liberal arts turned him into this leader of community. He’s even created a water tank to distribute clean drinking water for the whole community. Now, his own life story is being reflected upon the kids of Tankparta. Specifically, we are going to focus on the community’s environmental and health issues, and how Eduardo is prepping the kids to ultimately combat these issues.

In order to explore Incan culture a bit more, our crew took the train to Machu Picchu last weekend! It was an unreal experience. Our amazing guide, William, showed us all the well-preserved spots—those of which demonstrate just how innovative the Incans were. We saw rock formations, designed to decipher the time/weather. He even showed us ground pathways and pipelines for water distribution. But, one of my favorite parts was seeing the “proof” that the Incans fled Machu Picchu before the Spanish colonizers could find it. On one wall, the bricks were smoothed out and essentially re-designed from their original structure. But, on the adjacent wall, the original, outdated structure still stood. It was left unfinished before they abandoned their land.

I’m surprised at how quickly I’ve been able to develop such great friendships with my film crew in such little time. It makes this experience all the more valuable.

Gretchen A

Hey! My name’s Gretchen, and I’m studying Screen Arts & Cultures and Psychology at UMich! Thanks to the LSA Internship committee, I’m able to intern for "Agents of Ishq" in Mumbai, India. Here, I have the opportunity to create multimedia (videos, podcasts, and article), surrounding topics like love, gender, relationships, and sexuality. The goal is to make these conversations less taboo, and more comfortable!

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