Thursday, June 11, 2015

Freethink Media Filmmakers showcasing Rocinha's best!

    Foto: Jody King

Never a boring day in Rocinha! The week of May 15-22nd was Epic (as Jody would say). Its always fun to meet people who share the same philosophies and ideas. I always and trying to show people the good the favela has to offer. So, When Clay Broga of Freethink Media contacted me about showing the best of Rocinha, I wanted to be part of it.

I think that most people can agree that the majority of media regarding favelas is negative. With our work we are trying to change that. Through films and photography people can now see people from the favela who are game changers, in the spotlight. Its about time that people can read and see more than the typical negative stereotypes.

Here is a video explaining more about Freethink Media and their objective with this film project.

This is part of the first email that Clay sent to me:
"I own a film company called Freethink, and we're developing new projects. I'm interested in challenging the popular notion of slum cities.  I'm fascinated how slums are unorthodox engines for human progress and how so many of their inhabitants are inspiring examples of human ingenuity and grit.  

Rocinha, as you know, is an amazing story, as it's in many ways farther along in its evolution as a slum than others.  I'm in the early development phase of the project and am interested in your big-picture perspective of things in Rocinha, your story and other interesting stories of people you know.

Our approach to filmmaking is very character-centric.  So many docs (especially international docs on TV) have an outside host who talks a lot, and we never get emotionally engaged with the people who really matter."

Because of them wanting this film to be about people overcoming challenges to success, I knew this would work. They want to call the film , "Shadow City Hustlers". So, we set up the opportunity for Clay and his crew of Dustin Oakley and Dan Hayes to stay in the favela and to have full access to Rocinha and its shining stars! Jody hosted the crew in his house and would act as a fixer for their stay while in Rocinha. Obi and I would act as translators for the interviews of people chosen to take part in our film. 

Here's the film crew!
                 L to R--> Dan Hayes, Clay Broga & Dustin Oakley

  L to R --> Clay, Dustin & Dan 

So our schedule went like this: 

Friday May 15th

I met Jody, Obi and the film crew and we went to meet in front of Net Rocinha at 10:30am. Our original plan was to meet a moto taxi driver and Samuel owner of Net Rocinha just to organize and set up interviews but things doesn't always go to plan. The moto taxi driver didn't arrive but I saw the owner of Net Rocinha there outside his store and asked him if we would be able to do the interview at 1pm. Samuel told us to return later to do the interview. While we were there we set up a filming on the back of the moto. The crew decided that what better way to understand the favela's twisted roads and tight alleyways, than to take a moto taxi ride from top to bottom through the community. Two of the guys decided to take the moto bikes. One guy went in front and one behind to follow and film. So, when the film comes out Im sure there will be some great footage.

The crew on the bikes filming the streets of the favela...

Samuel Silva- Owner of Net Rocinha

Paulo Bob in the white shirt and Samuel Silva

Samuel and local celebrity Kadinho Visiting Net Rocinha

Samuel being interviewed at Net Rocinha

We met Samuel around 1pm. I would be the translator for Samuel's interview. We discussed about him about his starting Net Rocinha in the favela. His start was in 2011, but now they have their own building next to their previous location. He employs about 20 people and his internet connection company is legalized through ANATEL a registered tele communications company. The internet company currently has about 1500 people customers.

After the interview with Samuel, we decided to eat Lunch next door at a restaurant above Bar do Eliseu. We also were able to talk more and organize the following days of interviews and b-roll. 

Planning out the week.

After Lunch, Jody was able to contact Jaqueline Katana who runs a radio station called Radio Katana and a Beauty Salon called Espaco Madame K. They had a interview at Jaqueline's Beauty Salon. She had just opened her salon on this day.

Jaqueline in front of her new Salon. 

Jaqueline and the crew with Obi and Jody..

Saturday May 16th

This was a big day for the crew. First to start off the days was an interview with Obi Basillio at his home and Rocinha Guesthouse.

Obi, his brother Maka and his mother run a small guest house at the top of Rocinha. His mother is a great cook who creates so of the most tasty food in the favela. They opened the Guesthouse about 3 years ago and it has been successful. Obi, who speaks English, manages the guesthouse, works as a tour guide and is a party promoter in some of Rio's top clubs.

  Obi showing the sign that shows visitors how to get to his guesthouse in Rocinha

Camera view of Obi

Saturday's second plan was an interview Jody King. Jody is a resident of Rocinha, born in the UK. He is working as a tour guide providing hiking tours in some of Rio de Janeiro's most scenic places. I first met Jody about 2 years ago when he contacted me about checking out our Dj school. Being a dj for about 10 years, Jody's interest was to see the new talent coming out of our school. His first experience was living in neighboring favela of Vidigal but after a while he was drawn to Rocinha. He still dj's periodically and enjoys working out. 

 Jody sitting on the ledge of the wall to show the back ground of Rocinha for his interview

That night the crew came by to film some students at our Dj school Spin Rocinha.

 The crew filming one of our students Joao Vitor practicing at Spin Rocinha.

After the Dj school class, the crew walked down to the bottom of the favela to film some businesses and a visit to the Pracinha de Roupa Suja to catch some kids playing football.

 Foto: Dustin Oakley

Sunday May 17th

Today started of meeting the crew and Jody at the top of Rocinha where I took them on a tour of Rocinha. I explained details of how the favela operates. I spoke about several subjects from water distribution, electricity and our unique mail system that ensures residents get access to mail delivery. We walked down through the alleyways and mail  street. The guys were able to film many different areas and caught some great grafitti on walls and sides of people's homes. As we got closer to my apartment a woman stopped me to talk. She was with her daughter. Her name was Christine Maria who is 13 years old. They agreed to talk on camera about their challenges living in the favela. Christine Maria only has her mom. Her mother very much encourages her studying and she earned a scholarship to learn English at a private school. She wants to be a doctor when she gets older. I am hoping Christine is able to accomplish her goals.

Christine Maria and her mother being interviewed (foto: Dustin Oakley)

We finally arrived to our Dj School Spin Rocinha which is in my apartment. The guys set up their equipment and we did the interview. I spoke about how we use tourism to finance our Dj School and other projects in Rocinha.

Foto: Dustin Oakley

Foto: Dustin Oakley

After I packed up our dj gear to bring it down to the Dj Meeting we would be having at the bottom of the favela. Jody, Joao Vitor and I were able to Dj for the community at the bottom of Rocinha at the Pracinha de Roupa Suja. We stayed there for a few hours and around 10pm I arrived home tired from the long day.

Foto: Dustin Oakley

After Dj'ing and getting back to the house, I was so tired that I didn't even hook the Dj equipment back up until the very next day.  I slept well that night.

Monday May 18th

I did not work with the crew that day. It was Obi's job to translate for Luciano. The interviewed Luciano and were able to get film of him moving things. His job is important as he helps people in the favela who cannot lift heavy things. I have seen him carrying anything from bricks to construction sites to sofas to peoples homes. He is also a nice guy always ready to help people.

Later in the day the crew and Jody had the opportunity to visit Obi's house to meet his mother and eat a home cooked meal. Obi's mother is a professional cook so they guys had some awesome food that night! The guys bought Obi's mother flowers bought from Luciano's dad.

Jody and Dustin at the table eating at Obi's Guesthouse with his mom.

Tuesday May 19th

One of the most amazing things about favela life is having access to so many cultural activities. One of the most popular is Capoeira. Capoeira consists of many parts, theres the "play" fight, Instrument instruction, singing, and the dance or samba part. The act of "playing" Capoeira was developed by slaves whereby they would be training martial arts by hiding it through the use of singing and instrument playing. This way, the slave owner just saw people who appeared to be singing and "dancing". 

The Capoeira Group is called Acorda Capoeira run by Mestre Manel who has been practicing Capoeira for over 30 years. Acorda his group has existed in Rocinha for about 10 years. With over 300 students Acorda Capoeira is well known for not only their Capoeira activity but community work as well.

The film crew wanted to get some of the Acorda Capoeira Show group to perform and they would standard film and also get drone shots from overhead.

Here are some awesome shots below!

After filming the Capoeira group. The film crew went down to the footbridge or "Pasarella" to do more filming with the drone from a different view. They caught some great overhead view of the favela!

The drone batteries were running out so they decided to see if they could catch Jaqueline Katana at the Radio Station that she owns with her father. They got a few shots of her on air.

The final interview of the week was Marcos Braz. Marcos is born and raised in Rocinha. A father of two children. He works as a web designer but received a scholarship to further his education in journalism at PUC in Gavea, a private University. He is part of a plan to map the favela's streets and alleyways. The idea is to create a cel phone app that can help businesses promote themselves in the community. Almost like a online yellow pages for Rocinha residents or people who can access the app.

This is something that would be revolutionary for a place like Rocinha that boasts over 6500 businesses in the community. The crew decided to shoot Marcos in a tight alleyway which was fitting considering the work with app creating of mapping the alleyways. In Rocinha there are over 500 of these alleyways which give 80% of the residents access to their homes!

Wednesday May 20th

This morning turned out to be an early one of trying to film the sunrise showing the Gavea side of the favela which off in the distance you can see the Lagoa, Christ statue and surrounding wealthy neighborhoods.

Showing some kids the drone camera view. Foto: Dustin Oakley

 A kitty watching the drone from a rooftop

Another Kitty ignoring and catching some sleep.

Foto: Dustin Oakley

Later in the day we decided to have a BBQ get together after getting so much work done. Here are some pics of the crew relaxing in Jody's rooftop.

Thursday May 21th 

Jody took the crew up through Vidigal to the top of Dois Irmaos (Two Brothers) which are the two mountain peaks which you can see from the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana. They wanted to get arial views and filming of Rocinha and the surrounding area.

After Filming they walked down through Vidigal to catch some shots of the favela.

They grabbed lunch and headed back to Rocinha to prepare to move to their hotel in Ipanema for their last night in Rio de Janeiro. Jody helped them to move all 7 bags of photography equipment and personal belongings to their hotel. Here are some fotos of them waiting for the van to take them to Ipanema. One last shot of Jody with the crew, Dustin, Dan and Clay. It was sad to see them leave and we hope they can return.

Jam packed in the van heading to Ipanema.

It was a time of rest for the guys as they got everything to the hotel and decided to use the rooftop pool. The whole week they spent inside the favela not really having much chance to go outside the community. Now was their time to see the upper class side of Rio with the infinity pool.

Later they contacted me saying they wanted to eat. I suggested that since you are in Rio you need to go to a real Steakhouse or a "Rodizio Churrascaria", so we went to "Porcao". This is one of the best steakhouses in Rio. Located in Ipanema, it was expensive but I think the crew was enjoying the food. Jody and I taught them about the red and green round disks that indicate to the servers to keep the meat coming or to stop.

The following day Jody helped get the guys and their bags off to the airport for a safe trip home. I want to thank Freethink Media team of Clay Broga, Dustin Oakley and Dan Hayes for trusting us (Jody, Obi, I and all the participants) to provide them with a worthwhile experience. I hope they enjoyed their stay and now have a totally different idea of what favelas are like now. Maybe they can help to change other people's perspectives too. We can't wait for the release of this documentary!

Love ROCINHA!!!! Please come back anytime!

For those interested in wanting to do some kind of project, send us your proposal, and we can facilitate and connect you with the right people who can help you. Please contact us at:  THANK YOU! As Jody would say "This was EPIC!"  :)