These stories I’ve been sharing — and will continue to share — from the road often have very little to do with the actual subject matter of the documentary we’re filming. That’s intentional. I don’t want to give the whole story away, and I’m contractually obligated not to!
Filming here has all the highs and lows I enjoy about the roller coaster filmmaking business itself. The common wisdom among journalists is to come in wanting 100%, expect 75%, and settle for 50%. Good thing I came in wanting 200%, so now I only have to settle for 100%.
We’re filming every day, and so is a local crew we’ve hired. They are incredibly hardworking and talented, and the cameraman’s back story is fantastic. Remember when the guy hucked a couple shoes at President Bush when he visited Baghdad at the end of 2008? Yasser, our local cameraman, is the guy who captured the best video that day. Not only did he get the shoe throwing incident itself, but when security guards wrestled the size 10 journalist to the ground, Yasser jumped into the fray. A picture his brother took shows other cameramen backed up against the wall–far from the action–while Yasser stands over it. (In case you’re wondering… the shoe thrower spent nine months in jail. Even though he was tortured behind bars, he says he has no regrets. Hitting someone with a shoe in this society is one of the most degrading things you can do to them. Symbolically it says, “You are the scum of the earth.”)
Yasser and his producer brother are going places we simply can’t, returning each night with a handful of tapes for us to review and give feedback on. It’s frustrating not to be able to film everywhere we want, but it’s stupid to try.
I’m considering staying on longer not because we’re not getting what we need, but because what we are getting is so important to the film and our understanding of what is happening with those Iraqis who worked alongside American soldiers and diplomats as translators, cultural advisers and engineers.
These Iraqis – our Iraqi allies – have already suffered so much because of their ties to the U.S. And as the U.S. withdrawal gets underway, there is good reason to believe their suffering will intensify. The List Project founder, Kirk Johnson, has come out with a damning new report, Tragedy on the Horizon. His warning alarm is justified, and supported by the horrors happening on the ground.
Just yesterday a man who worked as a U.S. military translator was shot and killed by his own sons. We’re following this terrible story today -