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Old October 3rd, 2009, 11:00 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Honolulu Hawaii
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mini35 as ENG gear in Samoa Disaster

Aloha friends,

I just got back from American Samoa, where I went to start work on a documentary about the closing of the Chicken of the Sea/Somoa Packing tuna canneries. *Well, you know what happened next: on Tuesday morning the earthquake and tsunami hit. Realizing that I was probably the only professional video journalist on the island, I grabbed my camera and started shooting. *This was made difficult by the rig I was using, a Canon XLH1 with a P+S mini35. *I did not take my Canon 20x or 6x with me; this was supposed to be a controlled shoot, with the mini35 along to allow greater control of the image. I was using a set of Nikon 35mm lenses, with a Sigma 17-35 vari focal. Add to this the Anton Bauer Dionic 90 and a Firestore FS-C, and you can imagine how big and heavy this beast was to carry. I shot virtually all of the disaster footage handheld.

But, who can complain about such trivial things when people are dying?

That afternoon, on the wharf in Pago Pago, I met an old man. *He saw what I was doing and approached me. *He told me: "You are the witness. *You make sure that people know what happpened here." *I finished up shooting the destruction there, and went home to start editing and uploading. *After making contact with the assignment desk at CNN International, the video started appearing around the world.

The next day, we went to Leone and Amanave villages. *They were hit hard! *I talked to Ropati Opa. *Despite losing everything, he said "I don't have a house. I don't have a car. I don't have money. I lost everything yesterday. But thank God I am alive."

I have posted some raw, unedited scenes of what I saw in American Samoa. *You can see these videos at:

Jeff DePonte's videos on Vimeo

All, I can say is, hug your kids, kiss your loved ones, live for the moment. You never know what may happen tomorrow.

Jeff DePonte
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Old October 4th, 2009, 02:23 AM   #2
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Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Echuca, Victoria, Australiamate
Posts: 179
Thank goodness you were there, at the right time and in the right place so the message could get out to the world that Samoa and American Samoa need help, and they need it NOW.

This is the positive power we have as news camera operators. We can help the victims simply by getting their story out.

We have a huge Samoan community in Australia, and from what we have been told, these folks need all the help they can get. (cash donations to Red Cross has been suggested)

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