Tristan Stoch, Videographer
Clarity Screening in Quilcene

Last night, Clarity was screened at the Community Center in Quilcene, a small town in Jefferson County, WA. Quilcene is a few miles south of Chimacum, my hometown, and is also a community similar to the one that Clarity takes place in. The issues the film presents hit close to home here and it was wonderful to hear the community’s reactions. The screening started a great discussion and showed me that people in Jefferson County can really relate to the film. It was a real honor to be part of the discussion and hear the stories that people told afterwards. This experience has proved to me that venues like this are where I really want Clarity to be shown.

Thank you, Kathleen Kler, Janette Force, Bob Rosen and the entire town of Quilcene for this great experience!

Also, here is a “Making of” timelapse of the Lego Antikythera stop motion. You can see me pop in out during the set up and tear down. This was shot over 40 days and the animator, Misha Klein, worked on it, brick by brick, for the majority of that time. Really great.  

This stop motion video was made at the Stage 13 Studio in Portland, OR. I was interning there at the time this video was made and it is really cool to see it finished. Dan Ackerman has been a great teacher to me and he, Misha, Paul and the rest did a really spectacular job.

Clarity DVDs Completed

A little over a year ago several carloads of tired student filmmakers returned to Oregon after a long, grueling shoot on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. They went there to help on my senior project, a short narrative called Clarity. The film was inspired by events I experienced while growing up in a small town in the Pacific Northwest and was made to capture the feeling of that place and time. Watching it a year later, I can say I’m still proud of it and grateful to everyone who helped.

I finally completed the DVDs, so now everyone who helped on this production can show off their hard work. The film was accepted into the 2011 Port Townsend Film Festival, and now that I actually have DVDs, I can begin submitting it to more festivals! Clarity moves forward. 

A clip from my short film Clarity can be viewed on Vimeo.

Reflections

I now have been back in the States for several weeks. The first night back I ate Carls Jr, drank Black Butte and listened to bass music at full volume. It was strange being back, seeing paved roads and infrastructure. I was so disoriented by jet lag, Portland fog, and the complete lack of garbage burning in the streets that I missed my exit driving home.

 I wasn’t home for long because I had to begin my road trip to Indiana. This trip was a beautiful reintroduction to America, although I’ll admit that driving through Nebraska less than 48 hours after returning home was insanely surreal.

 Admittedly, it has been a rough couple of weeks, but I am thankful for the time I got to spend with my family and everything I got to see during my drive across the country. I returned from Nepal with a feeling of being present and I have been riding it ever since. It is a wonderful feeling and I am thankful for every second of it. I wonder how long it will last and I hope its forever.

 Still, it easy to get lost in the present and forget the big picture. I find myself stressing over “First World problems” again, such as slow internet connections and low water pressure, and it is amazing how far away the other side of the world can seem. People rummaging through trash, sacred cows, stray dogs and stroke sequelae patients are no longer part of my day-to-day routine and it feels odd.

 Its amazing how much Nepal felt like my home while I was there. The reality of people’s lives there greatly touched me and I would like to share that feeling with other people. Huston Smith wrote that, “We can be homesick for the world, even places that we have never been.” I hope that when people watch the finished film, they will feel like the people in the film are their neighbors, that we have the same home. In the editing bay I believe I can show the essential humanity that makes Nepalis and Westerners one and the same.

 I am excited to begin editing and find that connection, and honestly, I love that I am doing this work for a living. I got a job that allows me to travel the world, make art and grow as a person. And hey, if you can do what you love, you got everything right? 

Going Home

Bags are packed. After a month working in Nepal it is already time to go home. Two 2 TB hard drives are full of footage, photos and timelapses. I’ve experienced so much in this short time and I cant fully process it. I have the occasional realization that I am leaving; these moments when I realize that this is my last cup of tea at Leila-Didi’s café or my last time I will look down at the Kathmandu valley from Godavari.

I have met some incredible people: monks who play soccer, people who build temples, talented interpreters, and practitioners who are providing a great service to hundreds of local people. Pain is unbelievably strong and real in peoples’ lives here. I am honored that I got to witness its treatment. The clinic provides emotional and physical relief to some of the most underprivileged people on the planet and it was beautiful to see compassion on this level.

Outward journeys are also inward journeys. My time out here, immersed in documenting the lives of others, has made me realize so much about myself and my life back home. While I have been on the other end of the world, it has been the similarities that have affected me the most. Many of my experiences here have reminded me of my friends, family, and other places I have lived. My time in Nepal, surrounded by wonderful people, gave me an appreciation of all the wonderful people back home. I am returning home to go directly to a funeral, and while I am incredibly sad, I am thankful I am taking this realization back with me.

I will miss Chapagaun. I will miss the clinic, the mountains, the monks and the locals. I will miss Buff Chow Mein and Momos at Leila-Didi’s. I will miss the interpreters playing the guitar. I will miss the borderline suicidal motorcycle rides.  I will miss the tea. I will even miss the dhall bhaat we have for lunch every day. The future is unforeseeable, but I hope that one day I can return Vajra Varahi clinic and look at the Himalaya from the roof.

So ends another chapter. In 24 hours I will back in Portland and begin a roadtrip to the Midwest to be with my family in this tough time.

3 months of editing lies ahead of me, and while the task is daunting, I am not worried because there is a beautiful story resting in the footage.

Thank you Nepal and ARP. Its time to go home.

The Tamang Village

It is amazing how quickly one’s perspective of the world can change. It doesn’t take much. It can be a glance from a stranger, something witnessed out of a car window, or a day spent walking in someone else’s shoes. My time visiting the Tamang women in their village was one such perspective-changing experience. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamang_people)

 

Kanshi Maya Tamang’s house.

Kanshi Maya, Phul Maya and Maile Maya Tamang.

I knew, thanks to magazine articles and documentary films, that people live differently in the Third World, and I was arrogant enough to believe that I actually understood it; that I had some idea how people lived here. Even in my first weeks in Nepal, seeing patients treated in the clinic and seeing their homes fly by on motorbike, I believed that I comprehended it. It wasn’t until I took the trip into their homes that I realized I had no idea.

 

The three Tamang women that come to the clinic are Phul Maya Tamang, Kanshi Maya Tamang, and Maile Maya Tamang (All Tamang people have their race tagged at the end of their name). They live two valleys over, so two giant ridges lie between their village and the clinic. Their native language is not Nepali, so they can chat amongst themselves and our interpreters will be baffled. The three women distill rakshi, the Nepali equivalent of moonshine, and sell it in plastic bottles when they come into town.

 The livestock live on the first floor of their houses and the women do all their cooking on an open fire. There are no chimneys in their homes, so the entire building fills up with smoke and particulate. It’s no surprise the majority of women here have breathing problems.

The bus ride they take into the clinic is long and bumpy. I rode on top with them into the clinic this morning. Teenage conductors climbed around the bus like monkeys and collected fare.

26 people were on the top of the bus and this was because the inside was packed to capacity (much more than 26 were inside). However, riding on the top is a blessing because you can avoid motion sickness on the windy roads and get a view of the valleys far below.

Riding this bus for over 2 hours was an exhilarating and exhausting experience and these women do it every week. Could you imagine doing this to see your doctor?

 

The fact that the women make this long trip to the clinic shows what it means to them. It’s the only health care regularly available to them and it is fixing their problems, ranging from knee pain to painful menstruation. The time they get in the clinic helps them get relief and function for the rest of the week and it makes the 4-5 hours on top of a bus, precariously maneuvering around landslides, worth it.

I mentioned at the beginning of this blog that my time out in the village changed my perspective, but not in the way you may think. Yes, experiencing these women’s daily trials and living conditions humbled me (clean water, chimneys, seatbelts and trash collection are comforts ingrained in my First World DNA). And many things I have experienced here have saddened me so much that I couldn’t bring myself to point a camera at them; a leper with no feet crawling up a hill with her hands and a man with a stroke-damaged brain seizing while his wife held him down, for example. Moments like these have affected me in a way that I cannot put into words.

However, my experience here has not been all grim. There was a beauty in that Tamang village that I have not experienced elsewhere. Many people have mythisized these so-called “primitive” lifestyles, so I will not beat the idea in too much, but just know that amongst the women, their families and their village I found an extremely strong sense of community.  Everyone in the village works together and their love for one another was so obvious that I, as a complete outsider, was heated by it, campfire style, from a distance.

It was so beautiful, and this love, more than any other part of my trip, has affected me the most.

That’s all I can say about it.

I am still trying to raise funds to finish this documentary, please check out my kickstarter page at  http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1460094743/compassion-connects-acupuncture-and-primary-care-i if you are interested in ARP and this film.


People and Cameras

Unfortunately a wrist sprain is forcing me to type left handed, so I wont be able to write that much in this blog post. I will instead include a lot of stills from the footage I’ve been shooting and some brief captions. I’ll post more when my wrist heals (fortunately, I got acupuncturists and a massage therapist on hand).

Sunrise over the monastery.

A local woman gives the practitioners Nepali lessons.

ARP practitioner Jennifer Walker treats a 5 year old at the Godavari clinic.

The three Tamang women. I will be visiting their village on Saturday and taking the 2 hour journey to the clinic with them on Monday.

A Newari village.

A very nice family invited us over to their house for some “questionable” sour milk. Their kids couldn’t stay away from my camera once they realized it recorded video.

We got a ride back to town on the top of a gravel truck.

A frame from a star timelapse I shot of the monastery.

I am still trying to raise funds to finish this documentary, please check out my kickstarter page at  http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1460094743/compassion-connects-acupuncture-and-primary-care-i if you are interested in ARP and this film.

Puja

Last night, I was in the kitchen filming a training session, when a loud drone filled the room. At first we thought it was just the usual puja that the monks next door do twice a day, but as the droning continued we realized that this was different. We ran outside and saw that the monks were on the roof with their horns. I grabbed my camera, ran up the monastery stairs, quickly asked for permission and began filming. These are stills from the footage I shot.

 

I jumped over this railing and set my tripod up on a narrow ledge with a long drop to concrete behind me to get some front shots. Footage looks great,but not such a bright idea in hindsight…

 

Panned and rack-focused up a Dungchen. Life goal accomplished, even if it only took about 20 tries to get it smooth and perfect.

The sound while filming this was indescribable. It gets in every crevice of your brain and shakes your soul. I found this quote on the Dungchen’s Wikipedia page from Tsultrim Allione:

It is a long, deep, whirring, haunting wail that takes you out somewhere beyond the highest Himalaya peaks and at the same time back into your mother’s womb.

 

I had to crank up the ISO on these because the only light source was a single bulb on the balcony. I’ll also need to do some color correction in post. But still, big shout out to my f/1.4 lens for making this possible without too much grain.


Sometimes life just gives you unnecessary rack focusing opportunities.

 


 This is Ratna, one of the monks. He told me afterwards that nothing in life made him happier than playing the kangling horn

My friend at the clinic has a Mac, so I plan to throw together a quick reel of select footage that I have shot so far this weekend. I will definitely include footage of the monks performing this special puja, it is one of the most incredible things I have ever witnessed or filmed.

 I sat talking with the monks afterwards and thanked them for the incredible opportunity. Ratna, who speaks very good English, told me what they were celebrating. Today was the day that Buddha returned from heaven after he went there to visit his dead mother (who had died while he was a baby) and teach her the Dharma. I asked him and his friends about life as a monk and daily life in the monastery. You see very little job satisfaction in this world, but I can honestly say that Ratna and his friends have it.

 

I am still trying to raise funds to finish this documentary, please check out my kickstarter page at  http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1460094743/compassion-connects-acupuncture-and-primary-care-i if you are interested in ARP and this film.