Gold

So I thought I would update this before I left South Africa for Swaziland. That didn’t happen.

But a lot of filming for Jonathan Smith‘s incredible documentary, They Go To Die,  has happened. I’ll update the remainder of our South Africa production now, and the Swaziland part in the next update.

After shooting b-roll and having a “vacation” of sorts (I was brought to an incredible animal park just outside of Johannesburg that included playing with lion cubs), we got to earnest filming starting on Monday.

On Monday, Jonathan and I drove to Carletonville, about 45 minutes outside of Johannesburg, where all the “gold fields” lie. That’s all gold country out there – mines everywhere.We were invited to interview the director of health initiatives at one of the major mining companies, AngloGold Ashanti.We didn’t know what to expect; Jonathan told them, hey, if you don’t tell your story then others will – especially those who don’t like you. So they agreed to have us come into the mine and talk to them. We didn’t know what to expect.

I used my HVX200 and Jonathan used his Canon 5D Mark II as we were given a tour of their health facilities and their “sales pitch” of what they’re doing at their mine to combat tuberculosis and HIV transmission amongst miners. (TB in mining is the subject of Jonathan’s film.)

We did a lot of good walking and talking interviews and general shooting of their treatment facilities. Then we did a sit down interview with the health director. I had Jonathan’s 5D on a slider – using both for the first time. (He’s put a lot of misguided trust in me, you see…) First, we had to move to a room that had adequate light. But since it’s a really ugly building on the mine grounds, it didn’t have great light or a great visual backdrop for shooting.

We settled on a clinic room, which worked fine because this is a doctor who runs the health initiative for the corporation. Then, we started the interview. Turns out the slider didn’t slide smoothly and I found out that it gets stuck in the middle. Fortunately, Jonathan is forgiving and thankful that I’m even there so he’s let … slide… my terrible operating. The interview, otherwise, was good, though we got the best stuff during the walk and talks.

The strange thing is that the health director was very antsy any time I wandered off. The facility is a working hospital, and they agreed to let us film as long as we didn’t violate the privacy of their patients. Of course, we had no intention of doing that, so that was fine. But they were very nervous when I had to run back for a battery or to shoot some b-roll around the corner.

Not saying they have something to hide, but it was very … curious.

We left, and we continued our shooting-from-the-car-with-monopod as we drove off the mining grounds. We didn’t get a chance to actually go into the mine, but we did get an interview from a face of the corporate side of the equation.

Okay, next update about our work in Swaziland. It was an incredible couple of days following up this trip to AngloGold.

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