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Old November 27th, 2009, 05:23 AM   #1
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taking my EX1 to Nigeria

Hi all,

I'm going to Nigeria for 10 days for a doc I've been shooting the last year. I"ll be shooting alone and travelling with the main character of the film, a Nigerian and his Dutch trainer. The Nigerian is somewhat of a national hero there and is taking care of all security measures.
Just wondered if you could give me some (equipment) advice on traveling out there. I try to travel as light as possible: it's basically my EX1, Sennheiser G2 wireless set, AKG camera mic, Manfrotto 525 tripod kit and of course a MB Pro to dump my material to. 2x M&R/16GB Sandisk and 2x 8gb S&S, 2 x 500 GB portable harddrives. One as a backup copy. (does it make any difference what kind of 2'5 drives I buy? Should I get FW drives and/or rugged ones like the ones LaCie offers?)

My LowePro Computrekker AW backpack will hold everything- except my tripod- and will not leave my side. I'm most worried about not being able to carry my tripod as handluggage- the airline I'm flying does not have an immaculate track record as far as checked baggage is concerned. Took the head off but the sticks alone are still about a meter long. I'm afraid that's too much to carry on... (I do have the option to give my fellow traveller the sticks/head so I won't have a weight problem)

I have concerns about heat, dust, sand. Do I need extra filters for the sunlight? Camera jacket? (I really resent working with them) Also, I have the sockloupe- good for tripod shots but I find it very hard to follow someone around and look thru the sock at the same time... Just a matter of getting used to?

Any experience you care to share?

thanks,

Jeroen
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Old November 27th, 2009, 08:12 AM   #2
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I have plenty of experience of Nigeria, but not filming there I'm afraid. You don't say which bit you are visiting, and it is a country of two halves - the north (which I have never visited) which is very dry, and the south (too many visits) which is very wet. If you end up in the south you may well get some fearfully sunny hours, but you may also get many millimetres of rain. Make sure your stuff can be kept dry. Harmattan can be a problem - a dirty wind off the sahara that gets everywhere and can stop helicopters.

Power is notoriously intermittent, charge while you can. It shouldn't trip out for long, but you can be sure it will trip out.

Aircon might be a problem for you, going from very hot humid air into airconditioned rooms (or cars/busses) will give a condensation issue I expect.

Whilst travelling by car keep your doors locked. If possible have an armed escort with AK47's (and bullets if they can afford them). Make sure the excort travels behind not in front. If you are going to the delta be careful, MEND has apparently signed up for peace, but that wont stop private individuals (or indeed their uniformed equivalents) from wanting to take a piece of you.

Film was big business in Nigeria once upon a time, but the major players used it as a cover to make more cash running drugs and it has suffered as a result. You may attract some extra attention because of that.

I am slightly concerned as to your airline, when you say that they do not have a good record I hope you just mean baggage, by which I deduce you are flying Air France/KLM? I hope so, the only local airline I would recommend are AeroContractors.

Good luck, I hope you don't have a big wahalla.
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Old November 27th, 2009, 09:40 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Morrow;1452853 You don't say which bit you are visiting, and it is a country of two halves - the north (which I have never visited) which is very dry, and the south (too many visits) which is very wet.

Power is notoriously intermittent, charge while you can. It shouldn't trip out for long, but you can be sure it will trip out.

Aircon might be a problem for you, going from very hot humid air into airconditioned rooms (or cars/busses) will give a condensation issue I expect.

Whilst travelling by car keep your doors locked. If possible have an armed escort with AK47's (and bullets if they can afford them).

I am slightly concerned as to your airline, when you say that they do not have a good record I hope you just mean baggage, by which I deduce you are flying Air France/KLM? I hope so, the [B
only [/B]local airline I would recommend are AeroContractors.
Thanks for the response, Jonathan. (what DID you in Nigeria, if I may ask so?)
Going South, to a town called Owerri- I'll bring my cam jacket for rain and sand storms.

I'll be staying at the Nigerian's family house. There is airco and a generator. He told me he had ordered 50 liters of diesel so I can charge anytime.

Security is taken care of, at least from the moment we are driving a private car. We are driving a public bus from Lagos to his state, which he says is safe. I trust him.

So we are not flying within the country. And yes, I referred only to the bagage when I mentioned the track record.

Condensation- good point. How was it: place camera in plastic garbage bag when moving from in to out or vice versa and acclimatize for a few minutes?
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Old November 27th, 2009, 10:30 AM   #4
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Hi Jeroen

I was there for the oil industry on and off over 9 years, I'm a high value target as far as locals are concerned, but any non-Nigerian is going to raise interest. I had a look on the map, Lagos to Owerri is a very long haul by bus. Does the guy not have private transport for that leg? Failing that I would take an AeroContractors flight to Port Harcourt and travel from there (you will still have to transfer from international to domestic airports in Lagos, not a simple thing to do). I have never done the overland route, and I dont fancy it, personally. Though it may be safe enough - just make sure you have paperwork in order for your equipment, otherwise it may be removed from you as part of "police enquiries".

Condensation, I guess, is a matter of aclimatization. Others on the forum will be better be able to advise you on what to do, (I dont actually own a camera).

I don't want to put you off, but be careful, Nigeria is the worlds most corrupt country. I experienced it from the oil industry side with good support and I have been lucky so far. Poverty is endemic, and the culture is one of making do by whatever means possible...
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Old December 22nd, 2009, 07:21 AM   #5
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I've returned safely from Nigeria and wanted to share a quick report. Anyone going to Nigeria may contact me for info.

Flew with Afriqiyah Airlines: Amsterdam-Tripoli-Lagos. I was sceptical about this Libyan company (why? because it's unknown? African?) but I was pleasantly surprised and would recommend this airline to anyone flying in Africa. New planes, more legroom than KLM, for instance, good food and service. My fellow traveller also told me that the planes are rarely full so there's always extra chairs for sleeping. KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines) asks 1400 euro's for a roundtrip ticket; I paid 650,- to Afriqiyah!
No issues with Nigerian customs, in or out. All my luggage arrived safely. Drove from Lagos to Owerri in the southwest in an old Toyota van. 500 kilometers of sheer hell. Speeding madmen in old, unreliable vehicles on unreliable roads. Potholes a foot or more deep, whirling around them. Passing left and right, honking like crazy. Not keeping distance, often driving at a foot from the next bus at 100 km/hour.
There were roadblocks every 5 km or so with police demanding 'toll'. As we were 'public transportation', we were excempt from this toll but not from the traffic jams caused by the trees and tires police threw on the road. Our chauffeur decided to avoid the roadblocks by doing the unbelievable. There was a hole in the wall of big concrete blocks that separated our road from traffic going the other direction and our chauffeur decided to cross over and drive into oncoming traffic. (There were far fewer cars driving the other way.) Not carefully but at the same pace of 100 km/hr and not stopping or slowing down when his view was limited to 50 feet because of a hill or turn in the road. It was suicide -and murder. With light signals he warned oncoming traffic and one could only pray that everyone driving our way was paying attention. After a few km we were nearing a truck that was doing the same thing we were doing and I was sure our driver would try to overtake him, which would allow room for only one car coming our way. But thank god he didn't and after a few km we were ordered by police to go back to our proper road.

Our Nigerian guy arranged police security during the duration of my stay. We had a police officer armed with a machinegun wherever we went. I never felt unsafe but I was always told to make my shots quickly, could hardly set up my tripod because of the attention I attracted with my camera. Poverty promotes crime. Only in the more rural areas, where my Nigerian guy is somewhat of a local hero, could we relax somewhat and did I take time to make my shots.

The heat is devastating and my body took 2 days to adjust, also due to lack of sleep. Electricity was a problem, unreliable. (few hours a day at the most) Luckily I was in a place with a generator, even though i had to 'beg' for the thing to be turned on so I could charge my batteries/laptop. Diesel=money.

Overall, it was well worth it and we wouldn't have a documentary without this trip. It was hard doing camera, sound, everything under such circimstances but I was able to get some great material.

@Jonathan: forgot to mention that I decided NOT to drive back to Lagos. It was not an option, as you well understand. I flew from Owerri to Lagos with Virgin Nigeria, nice reliable (co-)British company. One hour of smooth airtravel and we were in Lagos! (why didn't we do that 9 days earlier...)
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Old December 24th, 2009, 10:17 AM   #6
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Welcome back to relative sanity

Hi Jeroen

Good to hear you got home safely, eventually. I didn't actually mention the traffic did I? Sorry, that was one of the reasons I didn't fancy the overland trip. I guess I must have got used to it to some extent. Aren't you impressed, though, how much Nigerians manage to raise their game when they drive in Europe? Yes, the heat is fierce there, did you get no rain? I guess not otherwise you would have commented on the floods - it's no country for old men...

Merry Xmas, Jon
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