UWOL#25 - Boda˛ - Simon Wood at DVinfo.net

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Old April 3rd, 2013, 11:25 AM   #1
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UWOL#25 - Boda˛ - Simon Wood

I’m going to write a big blurb here; but do feel free to skip past it all and just watch the movie because this is not really relevant to the film!

I have enjoyed doing these UWOL (and DVC) films because I’m naturally apathetic, so it takes a lot to get me to leave the comfort of my home. So, when I start looking for inspiration for a UWOL movie I usually force myself to make a big effort to go out and look around in new places and meet new people.

Probably the most successful UWOL films I made were the ones where I really put in the work and went the extra mile. When making ‘The Source’ I spent a lot of time in the field filming, I hired a small crew, and we stayed in reasonably remote campsites on the banks of the Nile River for many nights until we got the job done. For ‘Mondo Safari’ we really went crazy; and my friend Jotie went above and beyond all reasonable expectations to get the shots, driving an antiquated motorbike through rough terrain and fording lakes in leaky canoes. But these 2 films were the most fun to make; all of my friends and family love ‘Mondo Safari’, and ‘The Source’ has had a whole new life after UWOL (it recently played in the Ugandan National Theatre and in a few African Film festivals).

So I was determined to go all-out for this one, and break my own personal horizons. I had 3 great ideas for 3 very different but equally exotic films, all of which would have required a lot of travel, reasonable expenses, and my favorite idea would have involved some level of calculated personal risk. However, it was not to be. All 3 stories relied on other people, and for various reasons none of them were possible due to time constraints, scheduling conflicts, and so on.

Dejected, I returned home to the city, where it suddenly struck me that there is a whole other side to the everyday places where people live. Right beneath our noses all the time, and beyond our own personal horizons. For some people it may be on the ‘other side of the tracks’, or just areas we don’t go to after dark, or perhaps a sub-culture that we don’t connect with or even know about. In 3rd World Countries the gap is probably even bigger; I realized that there were a number of slums close by that I have never been to, and nobody I know has ever been to them either. There are fundamental differences too; food, music, lifestyle, even transportation – so many things that are around me constantly, but just off my radar – or over the horizon, so to speak.

So I walked through some slums, I visited parts of town I never went to; I ate in some pathway restaurants I would normally stay away from (and rightly it turned out; I got food poisoning)! I started taking transportation I would normally not risk. There’s a lot of poverty. Street kids. Homelessness. Lots of stories worth investigating.

But for UWOL I wanted to keep it upbeat and positive. Basically, I was thinking about how do people go about crossing into a new threshold, looking at new areas, or expanding their horizons, and engaging in new experiences? Is there some organized way to do this? Someone to lead you over?

This led me to Walter, and his tours, which is the story I finally settled on. He’s a nice guy, but there’s no need for me to talk about him, or what he does for whom, as you’ll see all that in the film.

One last thing. The first UWOL film I made was ‘Unloved’, which was a relatively chirpy story about 4 insufferable creatures commonly found in Uganda. While it worked well enough in the perspective of the UWOL competition, I discovered that when other people watched it they found it a bit confusing (without having the context of the competitions theme to ground it). As a result, I decided from then on every UWOL film I make should be able to stand-alone outside of the competition; on its own merits as an individual film. For this reason, when making Boda˛ I reckoned it should firstly be a mini documentary about a company that helps expand peoples horizons and open them to new experiences that they might have had preconceptions about, but that secondly it would also work as an indirect advert for that companies services (if they wished to use it on their website for instance). Luckily, they do want to use it, so if the film feels a little bit like an advert, then that’s the reason, because essentially that’s what its going to be in its life after UWOL.

Well, that’s the story…. and I’m sticking to it!
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Old April 3rd, 2013, 11:26 AM   #2
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Re: UWOL#25 - Boda˛ - Simon Wood

For the intrepid modern day Urban explorer, African cities can be full of interesting sites and activities not mentioned in the regular tourist brochures. Something to broaden your personal horizon and open you to new experiences. Reality, not the packaged fantasy.

But you'll need an urban exploration vehicle.

You'll need a Boda-Boda!

Best to watch this in HD, and put on earphones if you're using a laptop.

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Old April 3rd, 2013, 01:52 PM   #3
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Re: UWOL#25 - Boda˛ - Simon Wood

Fantastic, as usual SImon. A mixture of seriousness, humor, accompany this inside look at Uganda from a tour business perspective. Love your ability to capture the essence of the location subject matter.
Chris J. Barcellos
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Old April 3rd, 2013, 02:51 PM   #4
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Re: UWOL#25 - Boda˛ - Simon Wood

Excellent work, Simon. I loved "The Source" and give it extra points because I use to whitewater kayak...
And now you did it again with Boda-boda.
Very nicely filmed and edited. Again, extra points because I am a motorcyclist.

The one thing you do, that so few do in these challenges, is have a subject to interview. I really think that is what makes them special.

Again, nicely done!
Bob T.
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Old April 4th, 2013, 03:35 AM   #5
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Re: UWOL#25 - Boda˛ - Simon Wood

Good job Simon, as always… I like your interview style films. I would love to go on one of thus tours.
You really bring something new to UWOL, and that is sweet. You got some nice shots from the bake, was that with a Gopro?
God and clear sound, well, I don’t know what I should tell you to “make better”. A Job well done!
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Old April 4th, 2013, 08:27 AM   #6
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Re: UWOL#25 - Boda˛ - Simon Wood

I can only agree with what has been said already.
Well done! You made a great film. Thank you for sharing.
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Old April 4th, 2013, 10:22 AM   #7
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Re: UWOL#25 - Boda˛ - Simon Wood

A very enjoyable short, Simon!
Although I've never been to Kampala, it also brought back a lot of memories of other places I have visited.

I think it captured some of the ¨Spirit of Africa ¨

Excellent - Thanks!
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Old April 5th, 2013, 07:04 AM   #8
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Re: UWOL#25 - Boda˛ - Simon Wood

Hi Simon.

Organized chaos is a good description of the experience I got from watching this movie.
Got a bit of the same feeling of claustrophobia that through the film to Markus.
A fear of being hit by a large truck or bus ;o)
Your mix of rapid film clips, calmed down by commentator plus informative approach,
has become your trademark.
That you provide enlightening information about buildings etc, through text is fine.
All together this makes the film seem longer than the 4 minutes.

Well done and thanks for sharing.
Geir Inge B. Brekke
Visit me at: www.gibbfilm.no
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Old April 5th, 2013, 09:44 AM   #9
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Re: UWOL#25 - Boda˛ - Simon Wood


you always make intersting films. you have a natuarl way about it that givces them a comfortable feel!!

Organized chaos in a labirinth of mortorcycles and people. I personally can't do crowds, I'm porbably mentally impaired in some way. Racing around on motor bikes like that would be challenging to just do, non the less get some footage as well!!!!
you did a fine job and I was glad you did this short!!!!

your guide had good character and that reall shinned in your video!!!

great job!!
Dale W. Guthormsen
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Old April 5th, 2013, 03:59 PM   #10
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Re: UWOL#25 - Boda˛ - Simon Wood

Simon, I always enjoy watching your films. You have a special talent for using the small format and you are a source for learning how to do. Thanks a lot.
How do you get the natural charm from the characters?
Much of the warm sympathetic style seems to come out of their conduct.
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Old April 5th, 2013, 09:37 PM   #11
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Re: UWOL#25 - Boda˛ - Simon Wood

Another nice Simon!
I'm on the other side of the planet but viewing it was like I was right there.
So, it is very informative and we taken on a ride on a BodaBoda, cool.
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Old April 6th, 2013, 12:25 PM   #12
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Re: UWOL#25 - Boda˛ - Simon Wood

Hi Simon. I think you were very clever to make one video serve two functions. I like that. It evoked physical responses in me twice. When I saw the long shot of the tourist coaches I groaned. When I saw the food shots I became decidedly hungry! It looks good. I think this video will be very successful for Walter. I think this because ever since I first got my motorcycle license many years ago I have never, ever, had a desire to ride in the back again. Now I do. I want to take a boda-boda tour!
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Old April 6th, 2013, 06:37 PM   #13
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Re: UWOL#25 - Boda˛ - Simon Wood

Thanks everyone for watching. In answer to some questions:

Chris: Thanks for watching. The mixture of seriousness and humor was a problem when selecting the music from my library. Basically I wanted something upbeat for the city scenes, but then I needed something tense for the scene inside the torture chambers. In the end I made my own music using Garage Band - so this was the first time I have scored my own film; because of the mixture of tones in the piece.

Bob: Thanks, looks like we have some common interests! One of my original ideas was to do a movie of about paragliding, but it didn't work out in the end. So many life threatening activities, and so little time....!

Markus: Yes the 3 Fisheye shots were taken using a GoPro camera (mounted on my helmet, on the handlebars facing Walter, on the handlebars facing forwards, and on a crash bar behind the front wheel). I also filmed some shots handholding a 5Dmk3 (the ones where that camera was facing sideways looking at other bikes). We ended up using 4 cameras on this film; the XLH1, 5Dmk3, T3i, & GoPro!

Tronde: Thanks!

Paul: Thanks; I think the spirit of Africa is something that is sorely neglected in the mainstream media with a constant barrage of stories about corruption, poverty, violence etc. Consequently I only try to focus on upbeat positive stories.

Geir: Thanks for watching! Your observation: "Your mix of rapid film clips, calmed down by commentator plus informative approach, has become your trademark" - has piqued my interest. I'm going to have to go back and see the pattern in my previous films - I don't want to get stuck in a filmmaking rut, and repeat myself over and over! I tried something a little different with the DVC movie "Loop" where I slowed everything down and had no interview...but yeah most of my UWOL films are following a trend. Time to shake it up a bit!

Dale: Thanks for watching; I did ask the drivers to take it easy (they are all good drivers). That said; it is estimated that 40% of all emergency casualties in Kampala hospitals are due to Boda-Boda accidents. This mostly comes from lack of training (in some cases no license), and speed. Also the sheer volume too I guess.

Finn: Glad you enjoyed! For these short movies I do a bit of coaching with all the interviewees, and I usually have an idea of the direction that I want the interview to go in, based on previous discussions with the interviewees. I will usually 'interview' them without any camera a few times leading up to the film so that I get to know them, and get an idea of what direction the film could be pointed in. On the filming day I kind of plan out a map of items that need to be discussed, and have a vague outline of soundbites that will be required to make editing easier. I will go over points and questions a couple of times, so that sometimes the same question will be asked in different ways until I get the soundbites I think I might need. I always try to conduct the interview in a place the person is familiar with, and it is always a laid-back and informal conversation. Thats seems to get good results for short format films; but is unnecessary with longer format films where the editing does not need to be so tight - a lot of my paying work is for NGO's and Corporations (PR and that sort of stuff) - for those I just conduct regular formal interviews.

Bill: Thanks; I might post up a slightly longer cut in the future showing more of the city by bike; you'e welcome to ride along on that trip too!

Mike: Thanks; yes, putting a sort of ad for his service in there (while still keeping it in a documentary format and not focussing on the actual sights, or prices or anything like that) meant that we both benefited from the process. I enjoyed the trip, but I have to say as a motorcyclist it was very awkward for me to not be in control of the bike - its not easy being on the pillion after all!
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Old April 7th, 2013, 11:55 AM   #14
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Re: UWOL#25 - Boda˛ - Simon Wood


That was very well done. Do you do this for a living? I like how you used someone else for your narrative. It was fun to watch. Thanks for submitting it.
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Old April 8th, 2013, 01:58 PM   #15
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Re: UWOL#25 - Boda˛ - Simon Wood

When I saw all those minibus taxis – as they are known here – it was a familiar sight but I am exceedingly glad that we don’t have that degree of traffic congestion here … yet. Our taxi drivers just find more and more creative ways of beating the rush-hour traffic – like driving on pavements (or on the wrong side of the road!) to overtake an entire queue. Anyway that’s another story …

Your ‘narrator’ , Walter, is a very personable and enterprising young man I must say. He puts across his story in such a delightful way that he makes the boda-boda seem like a really good idea and one worth taking up as a good alternative for transport in the city.

This is an original take on the theme with all the familiar Simon flair for creating a good entertaining story. It is well constructed and edited and for an all-nighter, it’s quite amazing. The title style was apt.

My only issue with your film is that visiting eateries, temples and torture chambers doesn’t quite fall into the category of nature and outdoors– the essence of the UWOL challenge – even if the biking part does, up to a point – so I think you were pushing it a little in this respect.

Otherwise a superb entry.

Last edited by Marj Atkins; April 8th, 2013 at 03:44 PM. Reason: oops
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