Jeanette in Morocco: Behind the Scenes of Filmmaking

When I first got my camera, I said to my friends I’m excited to see where I take it, but I’m more excited to see where it takes me.

Well, I took it to Morocco, but it’s taken me to the door steps of some incredible opportunities.

I am currently working on a documentary short film to be released at the end of December and serving as the Video Editor for an online publication, Reporting Morocco.

Working as a filmmaker in Morocco hasn’t been easy. I am constantly innovating ways to combat language and cultural barriers. It seems that every time I think I have something figured out, another challenge arises that I could have never predicted. This is the nature of working in an unfamiliar place.

However, these once daunting challenges have taught me a lot. I’ve strengthened my technical skills and enhanced my creative eye, but more importantly, I’ve gained patience, resilience, and adaptability – arguably three of the most important assets for anyone in this field to have.

Here are some photos encapsulating the lessons I’ve learned as a filmmaker in Morocco!

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1) Be prepared! It’s always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared. Before every shoot, I make sure I have three sets of charged batteries, three sets of formatted SD cards, two hard-drives for back-up storage, two microphone sets (shot-gun and lavalier), and two forms of stabilization tools (tripod and gimbal). Without these fundamentals, I wouldn’t be able to achieve the shots I want!

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2) Be adventurous! Filming in a country you’ve only lived in for a short amount of time means there’s a lot you haven’t seen. If you don’t explore, you’ll never know what’s out there that could elevate your creative vision. For a video I shot last month, I grabbed my camera and explored the old medina and surrounding city aimlessly for hours. The footage I shot that day ended up being the introduction in my final cut!

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3) Be adaptable! The photo above is my print partner and I waiting for our subject who was over an hour late to our scheduled interview. Time is a very relaxed notion in Morocco. It is not considered rude to show up late or cancel last minute. Also, the concept of answering within one to three business days does not really exist. As frustrating as it is having to deal with elements out of my control, I’ve slowly come to realize that the only way to be successful here is to adapt to the norms. On my latest shoot, my subject once again showed up late. However, instead of getting flustered, I made effective use of my time by shooting b-roll (supplemental footage) of the environment while I patiently waited for him to arrive.

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4) Be inventive! The photo above shows an interview I shot next to a landfill because it was the only quiet place I could find near the tile factory I was filming. The floor was cold, so we found pieces of old leather and a brick from the landfill to sit on. Not the most conventional set you could say, but it worked! And I ended up getting amazing natural lighting and crisp, echo-less sound from the open space.

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5) Be passionate! In my opinion, this is the most important quality of them all. Technology malfunctions. People flake. Things go wrong. There have been moments where I haven’t loved what I’m doing, but I make a conscious decision to keep going because I am passionate about my work. I am passionate about using creativity as a tool to bridge communities. I am passionate about hearing and sharing meaningful stories. I am passionate about evoking emotion – laughter, tears, and everything in between. I am passionate. And if I’m being honest, without it, I’d be nothing.


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