Producing Sarawak Gone

SARAWAK-GONE.jpgSARAWAK-GONE.jpg Sarawak Gone is a micro-docs video series exploring four remote Bidayuh communities accessible by foot within an hour’s drive from Kuching, capital city of Sarawak, Malaysia.’s Andrew Garton provides an overview of the process of gathering material for this series currently in the making.

A small team left Kuching for what turned out to be an 18 km trek visiting four remote Bidayuh communities. It was epic! We were shooting material for the micro-docs series, Sarawak Gone.

Sarawak Gone explores four remote Bidayuh communities accessible by foot within an hour’s drive from Kuching, capital city of Sarawak, Malaysia. They will lose their livelihood, traditional lands and culture, their rights and heritage with the development of the controversial Bengoh Dam project.

I’d not taken many notes on the trek itself, spending much of my time behind a video camera… and given the context of the trip, there are several stories I could tell.

Should I attempt to recount the forest soon to be drowned, walking into the heart of this region, opening out to me as if I were on a planet best described in detail by the author, Iain M Banks? Or the Kampongs (villages), which, to my urban eyes, were much like an apparition, the first of which could have come from J. G. Ballard’s, The Drowned World.

The Kampongs and the stories inherited there could consume a tome of works unto themselves, but I had little time for listening and with few people around and the focus of our mission being about land rights, it was not possible to absorb at length what will soon be lost.

To give you an idea, a very scant idea of where I’d been, peruse the photos and these few posts:

Producing the series on a miniDV cam (thanks Paul Wilson for loan of an additional camera) has helped immensely, however, I can see the value in recording straight to disk or memory card for these kinds of projects. One needs to be discrete when working with communities who need to feel comfortable with the idea of a person with a video camera around, that isn’t going to sell the footage nor take advantage of the opportunities afforded to them.

Either way, little to no budget DIY (do it yourself) projects are based on the notion that you use what you’ve got and make the most of it. I think you’ll find the results pretty good… at least I’m happy with the material I came back with and now with editing in full swing, the results are starting to talk for themselves.

For information on the series:

Sarawak Gone is a micro docs series intended to raise awareness to the denigration of the rapidly dwindling societies on the island of Borneo, the native land titles at stake and the rapidly decreasing habitats for protected and endangered flora and fauna.

Micro-docs are short, 5 – 10 minute documentaries designed for online distribution, portable media devices and laptop screening events.