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Apr 7, 2017 // 8:24 AM

Foster Visuals: The One Passion Project Every Creative Should Make Time For

Written by Meg Tetrault

Have you ever stopped to think about how many people there are in the world you know nothing about? What it would be like to live someone elses life who resides on the other side of earth from you? Ever wondered if there was someone else doing the same exact thing as you at the same moment? If someone who has the same name as you shares any other similarities?  

The world is a big place and there is no way one person could possibly meet everyone. For Foster Visuals it's become not just a passion project but a committment to meet and tell the story of people you probably wouldn't even know existed.

It all started with a story Brent, of Foster Visuals, missed the chance to tell; the story of a man who dedicated his life to helping others. That man, Frank Dymock, sharpened skates out of his garage, free of charge, where Brent grew up. Before he had the chance to tell his story, Frank passed away.

Because of Frank, While I'm Here | The Legacy Project was created.

In their latest Legacy Project, Foster Visuals introduces us to Nalongo, a midwife who, though retired, set up a clinic in her own home in the rural area of Lutengo, Uganda. Here she cares for two people, the mother and the baby, for months on end while also educating the women she lives amongst. Her dream is not only to shape the future of her village but to one day build a permanent clinic near her home.

You can watch her story below then continue reading as we interview Foster Visuals about the creation of this film.

Nalongo from Brent Foster on Vimeo.

WHY ARE THESE STORIES IMPORTANT TO YOU?

This project mean the world to us. They’re important because we learned the hard way what happens when you put story ideas aside. This project started for that very reason and continues to be what drives us. Time won’t wait, so get out there and tell the stories you’ve been putting off.

HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHAT STORY YOU ARE GOING TO TELL?

It’s been challenging because the people we’re trying to find are typically humble in their nature. They’re the type of people who are doing what they’re doing whether someone is observing or not.  At this point, we’ve researched what feels like a million potential characters for this project. Ultimately, it comes down to feeling connected and passionate about the lives their leading and the legacy they’ll one day leave behind. 

IN SOME OF YOUR RECENT LEGACY PROJECTS, YOU TELL THE STORY OF PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN REMOTE VILLAGES. HOW DO YOU FIND THEM?

For our story in the Philippines, we had an amazing fixer (translator) named Guill Ramos nominate Whang Od through our project website. We ended up deciding to have Guill take the 18 or so hour journey from Manilla to the village where Whang Od lives in advance of us arriving to establish a relationship with her and to thoroughly explain our hopes for the project and the time commitment needed. Thankfully Guill had the perfect personality to become friends with Whang Od and her granddaughter Grace to the point that we were welcomed with open arms upon arrival. It made our jobs so much easier and I can’t stress the importance of a great fixer enough.

During our most recent project, we were able to arrive and spend some time with Nalongo before beginning to film, which really helped establish a comfortable relationship before cameras were pulled out. In advance of the trip, one of our fixers, Jackson, was able to visit Nalongo as well and take location photos for us to give a better sense of what to expect upon arrival. 

HOW DID YOU COMMUNICATE WITH NALONGO WHILE PLANNING THE SHOOT?

Our producer Tammy was able to set up a meeting with Nalongo and Skype with her. Our fixers shared some of our past Legacy Projects with her and explain the purpose of the project. Because this is a passion project, we weren’t able to take a trip in advance to scout and do pre-pro, so we had to work with the time we had upon arrival and communicate through our fixers in advance of the trip to make sure Nalongo was comfortable with our filming schedule and fully understood the purpose of the project. 

FOR MOST PEOPLE, WE'D IMAGINE THAT THE LANGUAGE BARRIER 'ON SET' WOULD BE SCARY. HOW DO YOU HANDLE THIS?

At this point, almost half of the stories I’ve worked on are not in English so it becomes something you adjust to. It’s amazing how far body language and a genuine smile can go. Of course, working with fixers/translators you trust is key. They can literally make or break a project for you. The type of stories we typically tell are very intimate and building a trusting relationship with the subject of the story is paramount to the project’s success. People know if you truly care and you need to show them you do.

HOW LONG DID FILMING NALONGO'S STORY TAKE?

We would have loved to stay for a month, but we budgeted for about four days with Nalongo and one scout day upon arrival. 

HOW MANY PEOPLE DID YOU TAKE WITH YOU TO UGANDA? DO YOU ALL DO EVERYTHING OR ARE THEIR SPECIFIC ROLES?

We traveled as a crew of three to Uganda; myself as director, Tammy as producer and Pawel as director of photography. We all fill multiple rolls. Pawel and I often traded off operating the camera and pulling focus. Tammy captured audio while also filming behind the scenes and producing. Basically, you always have to be ready to jump into a different role at any given time to keep things running smoothly. 

Gear Foster Visuals Used in creating Nalongo 

KNOWING THAT THESE FILMS ARE PERSONAL PROJECTS, GETTING AN ENTIRE CREW OVERSEAS WITH ALL OF YOUR GEAR CAN'T BE EASY OR CHEAP. HOW DO YOU PLAN FOR THIS?

When we started this project, we had the plan to stay in North America considering this has been a personally funded passion project. Our goal was to tell these stories in between our paid commercial work and to take a percentage of what we’re making in the commercial world and directly apply it to our passion project. As we began to research and receive nominations, we felt we needed to expand. 

While we’re still covering the hard costs, we’ve been very fortunate to have some incredible supporters come on to help with gear such as Kessler, Zylight, RODE, Tenba, Benro, FilmConvert, Convergent Design, CORE SWX, and LensProToGo, of course! We’ve also had talented collaborators like Defacto Sound, and Reactiv join the team to help up the production value of the films.  They’ve all helped to share the project and create an audience for the films and we are beyond grateful for that!  It hasn’t been easy for us to continue the project this way, but telling these stories has made it worth every penny invested. The project has also served as an incredible way to showcase the type of work we love to do and has directly led to paid commercial work that remains in line with the branded storytelling we love.

On top of that, it’s allowed us to grow, learn, and build an amazing team of collaborators who love filmmaking as much as we do! 

WHAT DO YOU HOPE VIEWERS TO GET OUT OF WATCHING YOUR LEGACY PROJECTS?

We hope that viewers have the chance to be inspired, and perhaps consider what legacy and message they are creating and will one day leave behind.  We also hope that the project inspires filmmakers to take action and create the passion projects they’ve had sitting on the back burner. It’s really easy to let ideas slide and to let life get in the way. We hope this project ignites them again. 

WHERE DO YOU PLAN ON HEADING NEXT?

Our goal is to tell our next story later this year in northern Canada. Of course, there’s always the chance that another amazing candidate comes up between now and then!  



HELP NALONGO OPEN HER CLINIC

Nalongo's Dream from Brent Foster on Vimeo.

Foster Visuals has set up a GoFundMe page in hopes to raise money to support Nalongo's dream. Benefits of this clinic include:

  • Being able to test for STDs and viruses
  • Providing a cleaner, safer, environment to delivery babies
  • Having a place to mentor and teach the next generation of nurses and midwives
  • Easy access to family planning
  • Multiple beds for expecting mothers. 

... all things that are quite accessible to most of us on a daily basis! Interested in helping make Nalongo's dream come true? Visit the donation page to learn how you can help! 

Topics: Filmmaker Filmmaking Tips


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