Zen and the Art of Collaboration

I recently co-produced two pieces for Ushahidi regarding their work in Haiti shortly after the earthquake. I helped concept the stories with Sara George, Ushahidi's producer, and then we brought in Andrew Berends to direct. Andrew was already in Haiti shooting for Frontlines and had a great sense of the ground. You come into these types of projects with a particular idea of what is going to happen. You see the arch in your head. You hears the character's voices... and then you get the actual footage back from the Videographer. Andrew did an amazing job when you consider that he really had about 36 hours to pull both stories together. We got a lot of great B-roll and decent interviews.

In this sort of situation the largest hurdle to overcome is one of expectations. Sarah and I had individual ideas about how the stories should go. Andrew had his own understanding of our expectations plus an understand of how realistic those expectations where (which I will never really know). I know he had his own expectations for the projects as he sent the footage back to me, where I tried to let go of my original ideas about the story so I could find the amazing stuff Andrew found.

Lesson learned: your mind can't really be big enough in Non-Fiction story telling.


Barisal Devision, Bangladesh - A Rakhine man washes up with water from a deep-water well in the southern delta region of Bangladesh. Clean water is about more than just drinking. Parasites and chemical toxins are absorbed through the skin, often leading to long term health complications for impoverished communities.


Dhaka, near Jamuna Future Park, Bangladesh - A family bathes and washes laundry after a long day of work in Dhaka. A lack of access to safe water leaves people in both rural and urban areas exposed to disease, parasites, and chemical run off. In Urban areas these problems can concentrate because there are fewer bodies of water and denser populations. A pond like this maybe visited by hundreds of people and animals in a day.

Dhaka, near Jamuna Future Park, Bangladesh - A young man pulls a cart of plastic jugs filled with purified water. As the rivers that feed Bangladesh's water supply become more inundated with biological and industrial waist from neighboring countries upstream, Bangladesh must because more reliant on costly filtered water to for drinking.