Filming for Kiva, Philippines Take THREE

If I could sum up this day in a couple words, I would say "emotional rollercoaster". The day just seemed like a series of good and bad news that resulted in phenomenal footage. And so it began...

Hopped onto a fishing boat to do a time -lapse. Photo credit: Yungkit
Our original plan for this day was to get on a fishing boat at 4 or 5 in the morning so that we could shoot the client and her crew fishing through the sunrise -Picturesque? Very. Practical? Not at all. High tide occurs at that time so it made it impossible to go out to sea. Our only options were at 1am and 1pm - we opted for the afternoon since we would at least be able to see what we were shooting...and what a good choice it was!
When we arrived around noon to the borrower's village, we were greeted with a large seafood feast. 
Delicious seafood lunch. Photo credit: Yungkit
Flordeliza had prepared her best seafood (shrimp, crabs, fish and oysters) for us to try before our day out on the open water. The food was delicious. So delicious that I seemed to gain a considerable number of pounds during the meal and broke the chair I was sitting on, fell backwards into the rocky garden and cut my leg. 
I've been eating way too much. Broke the chair. Photo credit: Yungkit
After everyone's laughing subsided, Flordeliza came to the rescue with some garden herbs that made the pain and bleeding immediately stop. Home remedies are the best.
Getting mended with locally grown herbs. Photo credit: Yungkit
This day was by far the HOTTEST day we had experienced since I arrived in the Philippines. No movement at all was required for me to start breaking a sweat. The clouds were few and far between, the sun was blazing and humidity was once again at 100%. I went through what felt like a car wash of sunscreen to make sure my pale and fragile skin did not get burned. The most hardcore out of all of us was Pach, who sported a black fleece coat to cover his arms so as to protect his skin from the sunlight. We love our skin in the US, but apparently not as much as him.
Ramil, our awesome driver. Photo credit: Yungkit

Directing.Photo credit: Yungkit
When Pach, our NWTF coordinator, told us that we were going to go out on a 10 person boat, I didn't realize he meant 10 people crammed in side by side next to each on a boat that was made for 4 people. When I finally saw the boats that we were going out in, my heart skipped a beat or two. A bit of panic went through my mind when I imagined what would happen to my gear if it got knocked over the edge of the boat. Furthermore, if there were 10 people on the boat bumping heads with one another it would be near impossible to capture compelling footage of the client in her element. A small moment of relief came when I was told there were three boats going out and we would be seated in the first of the three. 
Standing on the fishing boat filming - incredibly unstable! Photo credit: Yungkit
Out of all of my years of filming, I could honestly say that I never never put my gear in more danger than I did on this day. I was standing on top of an old piece of vibrating plywood in between two of the fisherman, right on top of the roaring engine. Every time the boat rocked, I thought to myself, "Mike, you are being stupid and insanely reckless with your gear". But then I would look through the view finder, saw what I saw, and said to myself, "This is completely worth the risk". 
Filming boat captain. Photo credit: Yungkit

The boat captain. Camera shy. Photo credit: Yungkit
As the three boats whizzed through the river on the way out to the ocean, I filmed Flordeliza at the front of her boat, looking proudly at the body of water ahead. Around every corner the third boat would break into frame coming around the bend in an "Apocalypse Now" type fashion. This may not mean much to most people, but for the film makers out there, this is footage that would be really difficult to stage, let alone capture organically.
The client and her boat. Photo credit: Yungkit
The next onset of fear came when we reached the ocean. I was expecting to spend three hours on the small boat fishing with the client but this turned out to also not be the case. When we left the river and arrived in the open ocean we all got off our boats, waist deep in water, ankle deep in sea mud and started to walk towards an island in the middle of the sea. Now THIS was out of a movie. My apprehension immediately gave way to awe when I started to see the immaculate landscape around me. This feeling multiplied exponentially when I first saw it through my lens.
A gorgeous uninhabited beach. Photo credit: Yungkit
It was a completely uninhabited island used by fisherman in the nearby villages as a stopping point to do their fishing. The island was easily the most beautiful thing we saw on our trip thus far. It was untouched by man, and ruled by nature. When we stepped foot onto the island we saw these oddly shaped waves rushing across the shore. As we walked closer, we realized that they were not waves, but rather a million little hermit crabs running across the beach. It felt like a scene straight out of Planet Earth.
Little crabs crawling across the sand. Millions! Photo credit: Yungkit

Close up of crabs crawling away from us. Photo credit: Yungkit
Walking along the beach with the client, I had a moment. A moment of inspiration, a moment of clarity hit me. I knew I had the exact shot for the opening scene of my Kiva commercial. The beach looked pristine, the sun was in the perfect position in the sky, I couldn't tell where the heavens ended and the water began - it was the perfect shot. 
Flordeliza, beautiful scene. Photo credit: Mike Mazur
The scenery took my breath away. I can honestly say that never in my life have I captured such incredible footage in such a natural and effortless environment. After finishing that shot the client marched on towards the fishing nets her crew were tending to 10 minutes away from the shore. The trek there was no easy task, especially when each of us were carrying several kilos of camera gear and walking through mud that suctioned on to your feet. The journey was rough but it was worth it. Flordeliza and her crew set up nets so that when high tide comes in the fish would swim in. Then during low tide, they would be able to scoop out the fish who were caught in the nets. These nets caught a variety of sea creatures including crabs, fish, eels, and tons of shrimp. 
Client's crew fishing in the distance. Photo credit: Yungkit
You might also notice that I have some torture-device-looking item on my head in some of the photos. As much as I absolutely love my new camera, it is almost impossible to see the screen in the sunlight. Luckily the night before, Yungkit kindly offered her tube top to act as my camera screen hood. It's basic, it's crude, but it works. It just doesn't make for very flattering photos of me.
There's that hood again. Photo credit: Yungkit
Attaching the GoPro to film client. Photo credit: Yungkit
It was a miracle that none of my gear got wet or ruined, and that is certainly to the credit of Pach and the other NWTF coordinators who helped me carry all of the gear while  trekking through the mud. 
The great crew that went fishing with us. Photo credit: Yungkit

It was at the end of the shoot that I felt the most fortunate. Literally 5 minutes after we got under the roof of Flordeliza's home a torrential downpour of rain began which did not let up for almost an hour. Had our group been caught out on the island or boat in that situation, it would have been the end of my gear. This finished the shoot on a positive note that was hard to ignore and I found myself immensely grateful for the day we had been given.

Filming a cloud. Photo credit: Yungkit
After an emotional rollercoaster of a day, I can't even express how happy I am with the footage I shot. Filming for Kiva gets better every day and I truly cannot wait to share this work with the world! Thank you again for all those who made today possible 

Mike. Photo credit: Yungkit

Kiva!!! Photo credit: Yungkit

About the author

Mike Mazur

After many years working as a producer and director at a Manhattan creative agency, Michael decided to make a change and put his skill-set to use creating meaningful content for causes he believed in. While in Guatemala on a video shoot, he had a chance encounter with a Kiva Fellow that resulted in a successful experience producing videos for Kiva's Women-Owned Businesses initiative. He profiled indigenous women and their businesses around Lake Atitlan and produced a best practices video for the local field partner, Friendship Bridge. These experiences in Central America helped him grow as a filmmaker and instilled a newfound desire to apply his craft telling the stories of the people around the world who have used microfinancing to change their lives. Michael is elated to be continuing his work with Kiva in Southeast Asia this fall. He will be tackling a new Media Fellowship, searching for the borrowers that best exemplify the power of Kiva to give people the resources to lift themselves out of poverty. This Kiva Fellowship is Michael's calling and was the opportunity he was looking for to make a difference.