2011 - Start With Us looks at HIV and AIDS in the Kingdom of Lesotho through the eyes of teenagers. This film has screened in cities across Canada, in the Bay Street Film Festival, the Reel to Real International Film Festival for Youth, and the Youth Media Festival. Co-Directed by Jake Chirico and Produced by Prionnsias James Murphy.
Start With Us was my first film and I hadn't intended to be so involved. Three days into production, Jake and Pronch suggested that I take on the role of Director and the steep learning curve began.
I loved every minute of it, even waking up at the weening hours of a morning to climb a mountain to get the right shot.
Jake joined the project last minute, after we sold the camera we were going to shoot on so that we could pay for his flight.
We worked with twelve Canadian students for eighteen months leading up to the trip and it really open the door to frame great stories, though not all of their stories could be told. That was the hardest part of this project.
We had a strong notion as to what we didn't want to do, which was to use guilt imagery so that an audience would care. We wanted people to love our characters.
Our team was big and diverse, from age to nationality to interests to passion, we tried to consider many voices while staying focused on the goal.
Pronch was our masterful producer, keeping us focused, building a team, and never wavering in his energy.
He also loved these puppies.
Jake loved these puppies.
I rather loved this horse, which I hope felt no pain in the double-seated scene.
Our dorm room was also our production room. Ants were rampant, heat was an on and off concept, and yet it was all we needed. A single plug, a network, hard drives, and passion. We also had a box of wine.
Christy joined last minute like Jake, in the role of a production assistant. She really did anything that was needed.
Jake's shooting and direction brought out the beauty of Lesotho, creating a real sense of intimacy in characters and contextualizing them in a beautiful place. He did it with a broken lens and a broken shoulder rig.
This was the full team on the last day. Students, educators, organizers, and crew. A first film shot and ready for post.