Sisters For Sale

Posted March 03

The search

Scroll down to see the most recent posts, or click here to see the complete list of blog entries. For her protection, all media links with M's name and image have been temporarily removed.

Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Jellybaby



A well-kept secret

Posted June 26

It's an exciting time for 'The Human, Earth Project' - we're approaching a huge milestone with the release of our feature documentary, 'Sisters For Sale', and today I'll be raising the curtains on where our journey will be leading us beyond the film! 

First things first... 

'Sisters For Sale' will give a powerful and very personal glimpse into the global human trafficking crisis. It's now four years since I began planning the film. It's three years since we were filming in Vietnam and China, and two years since editing began. 

I keep a tally of the hours I work each day. This month, with the editing of the film approaching completion, my work hours will be literally off the charts. 

I describe 'Sisters For Sale' as a "feature film" - but what does that mean, exactly? 

Technically, it could be anything over 40 minutes. To an audience, it often means 90 minutes or more. This is the length many feature documentaries aspire to - and many seem stretched to fit that length. 

'Sisters For Sale' is a complex story, and I wanted to tell properly. I imagined the final running time would be around 100 minutes - but it has grown beyond that, and now stands at just on two hours. 

While that might sound like a lot to you, it still seems barely enough to me, knowing how much great material I had to work with, and how many gems I've left on the cutting room floor. 

I haven't had a day off in weeks, and haven't been sleeping nearly as much as I should have. Yesterday, while exporting a copy of the film, I left the house for the first time in 11 days. When I came home, I poured myself a glass of wine, and sat down to watch it. 

I've been looking at this film every day for months. I can't tell you how many times I've seen it - but this was the first time I've sat down to watch a full version from beginning to end. 

Like many creative people, I'm very critical of my own work. It's a mindset that means you're rarely, if ever, satisfied - so it keeps pushing you to improve your game, to make your work the best it can possibly be. 

I watch a lot of documentaries, and keep a list of my favourite documentaries of all time (there are currently 49 of them). These films represent more than just fascinating true stories - each contains powerful ideas that have changed the way I see the world. 

My aim, in producing 'Sisters For Sale', has been to make a film worthy of inclusion on that list. 

And is it? 

Well, I'm a little biased, of course - but yes, it is. And it will be even better in September, when the music and animations have been added, the colours have been corrected, and the sound has been mixed. 

It's not quite the final cut - there are still some tweaks to be made - but it's getting very close. I want to send out a huge THANK YOU to all of you who have helped make this possible - and especially to Tracey Smith, for her amazing support over these past weeks (and years)! 

Everything 'The Human, Earth Project' has achieved has been thanks to the support of individuals from all around the world. 

One of the wonderful things about having an organisation that relies on the support of individuals is they can take it in some truly unexpected directions. In the past year, amongst other things, our work has been supported by a full-day yoga event, a trivia night, and the sale of Xmas puddings. 

My good friend Ben Guilding and his friend Kaan Hills have just completed an epic 10-day, 1,300-kilometre return journey from their English hometown of Swindon to Amsterdam - on a 90-year old tandem bicycle. 

Check it out right here:


Ben wanted to use their ride to raise money for 'Sisters For Sale'. I thanked him, but told him 'Sisters For Sale' was already funded last year - at least, the documentary was. 

It's been a well-kept secret, but for the past six months, 'Sisters For Sale' has been more than just a documentary. 

Remember all those gems I left on the cutting-room floor? 

By compressing a five-year story into a two-hour film, I was forced to cut many fascinating facets of the story. I felt it was important material that should be made public, but didn't know how - and then Claire came along. 

Who's Claire? 

"Claire Harris was once called a renaissance woman; she studied performance and post-modern Japanese dance, but (obviously) couldn’t get a job, so six years in Japan and another Masters in Japanese later, her natural nosiness lead her to investigative journalism. Her work has won awards, and she’s passionate about podcasts and radio and all things audio. She lives with her family on the west coast of Scotland where she doesn’t let the weather put her off hiking. Her family knows better though, and they stay at home..."

Claire produces TV and radio documentaries with the BBC. She was impressed by the 40-minute 'Sisters For Sale' teaser I'd released last year, and wanted to work with me on the story. 

Claire is now producing a 10-episode podcast on 'Sisters For Sale', which will be made available after the release of the documentary. 

The podcast will use a serialised, audio-only format to give a more thorough exploration of the story. Where the documentary skims the surface, the podcast will dive right in. I'm excited to hear it myself, and will be sharing more details over the coming months. 

(If you're not familiar with podcasts, they're like radio shows you can download to your phone, so you can listen to them whenever you like. They're perfect for commutes or long drives - I listen to them when I'm out walking or buying groceries!) 

Ben and Kaan's epic ride has now raised over $500 to help Claire bring this story to the world, which is amazing - thank you! 

On another note... 

It's no longer possible to get your name in the credits of 'Sisters For Sale' - the final list has now been compiled, and that option has been removed from our website. 

Some people have had issues pre-ordering the documentary, so I've kept that option open for now. This is still the only guaranteed way to see the film - if you'd like to pre-order 'Sisters For Sale' and haven't yet, you can do so here

If you've contributed lately, you should have received an email response from me - if you didn't, please let me know!

To keep up with all the news on 'Sisters For Sale' and 'The Human, Earth Project', subscribe here

Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Jellybaby



Checking it twice

Posted June 01

I've now spent some 50-odd months working on 'Sisters For Sale' and 'The Human, Earth Project'. 

For much of that time, I've been working alone - but I don't like to refer to 'Sisters For Sale' as "my" documentary, or 'The Human, Earth Project' as "my" project, because they're not. 

Thousands of people from sixty-odd countries on six continents have contributed their time, energy and money to help me raise awareness of the global human trafficking crisis. 

'The Human, Earth Project' is a truly global, grassroots movement, a very exciting new kind of movement made possible only by the reach of the Internet. 

You need only to scan the incredible diversity of names in the credits to see how far our work has reached. 

Since last year's fundraising campaign, six months ago, I've mostly been working alone on the post-production of 'Sisters For Sale', our feature documentary. 

Over the next four months, a team of professionals from around the world will be coming together to help me finish the documentary, and move forward with 'The Human, Earth Project'. 

I'll be introducing them soon, along with some other exciting news. Today's post is a more practical one, for those of you who have contributed to our work over the past four years, or intend to in the coming months. 

Seeing 'Sisters For Sale'

If you've given over $25 to 'The Human, Earth Project', or assisted our work in other ways, you'll be able to watch 'Sisters For Sale' online when it is finished this September. 

For the rest of you, 'Sisters For Sale' will be available to pre-order only until Wednesday 14th June (that's only two more weeks!) and only through our website. For now, this is the only guaranteed way of seeing the documentary. 

When it is completed, 'Sisters For Sale' will be submitted to film festivals across Europe, North America and beyond. If the film is picked up by a distributor, I will have little control over where and when it will be made available. 

Getting your name in the documentary

If you've given over $50 to 'The Human, Earth Project', or assisted our work in other ways, not only will you receive access to 'Sisters For Sale', you'll also receive a personal thank-you in the film credits.

I've put together a list of your names below. 

The list has been compiled from our fundraising campaigns, from the years between, and from memory. The names have been cut and pasted, and run through automated filters, so there may be errors. 

If you've been involved with our work, please check that your name appears as it should, and let me know of any names that should be added in, taken out, or altered. 

Many of these names will be given particular credits in the documentary; for the moment, for the sake of simplicity, they all appear as one list. Musicians and film-makers have not yet been included on the list. 

The names are given in alphabetical order (which is complicated somewhat by names that include multiple surnames, or naming systems where surnames appear first). 

Only real names appear. Those of you who have contributed under other names have an opportunity to change them. The only organisation names included are those which have been directly involved with our work. 

All names are shown here in lowercase, and will appear in capitals in the documentary. 

If you'd like to get your name in the credits, this is your last chance - the final list will be compiled on Wednesday 14th June: 

dr. aamir bini akbar, noor syuhada abdul ghani, danielle abeyta, sue abla, adra, samata agrawal, roddy al ghazali, angela & ryan, marco agner, mirza ahmed, sebastian aker, vance akins, yasi alamdari, jenny aldag, jim aldag, jamil aljasir, danielle allen, alliance anti-trafic, omar alzayed, amaia, jaen nieto amat, paul amechi, chiara andolina, sandra & marc andre, carlin  aylsworth, leila azul, mitchell backhausen, lucas baethke, arash bahremand, taraneh bahremand, claire bannerman-mott, ellen bard, mary bard, john & motoko bardos, maximillian baria, jo barker, jeremy  baron, corbett barr, belinda bauer, vincent baumont, rachael baugh, amy  baum, carolyn beckett, tegan bedford, gretchen beerline, gal begun, debbie bender, carole bennett, markus bernsteiner, paul bevan, nicholas bianchi, carolyn bird, maider birrett, dante bisutti, georges blanchard, este-mari bloem, blue dragon children's foundation, lola boatwright, jennifer boatz, nanci bolas, jessica bolton, luca borney, natalie bowman, seth bradley, bob & toni brewer, michael brosowski, greg brousseau, stacey brown, jacqui brunkhorst, michael  brunner, lydian brunsting, mary burns, adam burton, eric butler, sara butler, sarah  buttery, josh byrne, david byrnes, gustaf byström, nicole cain, felicity callander, jeffrey camp, lauren canova, anne capararo, mark carle, lisa carlsson, lacey carroll, simone casu, christopher chan, paul chan, nektaria charitaki, pui che, christine cheung, francoise chevalier, renaud cheyrou, sovet chheang, mickey choothesa, lisa christian, isaac christian, anna chrystie, michael  clarke, timothy collins, hugh thorne compton, nick conneff, brenton conner, mark connors, taylor conroy, keith conway, jude & ted cooper, ron cooper, tara cooper, carl copley, mike corbera, lillian cordingley, derek cox, cory crabtree, kathy craigie, daniel  cromidas, adam crownoble, adrian cullen, luca cunia, matteo damiani, nam dang, ade darma, brandon davidson, natalie davis, susan davis, roxanne de bruyn, steven de leeuw, hubert  de murard, sebastian de valcourt, charles de vos, jeremy  delaplane, kayly deneron, william dew, kayla dickinson, do dieu thuy, kevin dinn, toan do quoc, romana dockalova, documentary arts asia, alan doherty, colm doherty, james doherty, mary doherty, niall doherty, tabea donauer, josh doran, jen dossetti, lukas drzymalla, clare duggan, lacie dull, matt dunfee, nora dunn, holly dunye, andreas dzung, dominic edwards, janet edwards, jess edwards, darin eisenzimmer, rino esposito, ethos, erin ewer, monica faberman, elise fabius, danielle fagerstrom-girgis, ashton falk, leanne falkowsky, daniel fallon, marta farina, donnie featherston, charly feldman, dorothy ferguson, giacomo ferraris, jonathan finch, nathan fish, amy  flaherty, gaelan flaherty, focus/trafcord, milandon foley, amara fonseca, ingrid fossum, marisa fox, josh freed, hideko fukumizu, stephen furlani, jana gabrhelova, manuel gaißer, walter gaißer, john gamble, jane gapinski, viviana garcia, ca gardner, christine gardner, adam gardnir, stephane gelinotte, simon germain, nadia gerweck, dev ghai, eric ghiandoni, giang thi bao, giang thi chan, giang thi chu, giang thi vu, catherine gibson, greg gillham, matthew glen, global alms, thomas gobeaux, timothy goble, amy  goerwitz, ly-jia goldstein, ana goncalves, anjani goparaju, cat gorman, rachel grace, heather graham, simone gribble, benjamin george griffin, renee griffin, rieneke groteboer, david grubbs, qiuda guo, tal gur, zach gurlukovich, babita gurung, adriaan gussekloo, andré gussekloo, gustaf, kacee hall, moe thet han, suzie hanlan, kristin harder, michael  harkins, christina harper, katie harrison, nguyet hat tieu, holly hayhurst, dennis hazell, elaine head, mike hedlund, cole hennen, jacqueline hennessey, neng her, stacey herbert, paul higby, joy higgins, amy hilburger, ella hindmarsh, geoffrey hindmarsh, lewis hing, devan hite, hanh hoang, astrid hofer, susannah hohensee, lisa holland, raymond holley, carin holroyd, christine hoolihan, jane hoolihan, phil & hoa hoolihan, matthew hopp, karen hoppe, grace hosegood, yedda hsu, jinnrong hu, lucius hu, pin-lung huang, steven hunt, charlotte hussey, kate huynh, daniel ibanez, dianne imison, jana & david imison, dr. michelle imison, k. inozemtsev, ella  ireland, tia irma, carola irvine, kiana irvine, trix & daan irvine, ben iwaszewicz, philip  ivanov, ina ivanova, yoan jacquemin, kathryn james, erin jane, natalie jane, jeremy janeczko, leif jansson, jason, abhi jeet, leila jenkins, rhanic jenonk, leffe johansson, aju john, katherine johnson, fada & ken jones, vincent  jongens, lisa-marie  jordan, ashley juricek, alex jurlina, andre kack, zach kalatsky, erin kamler, daniya kamran-morley, medok & dawa kamsung, thristina kanka, karthik kappaganthu, timber kataigida, kate, hannah kavanagh, orla keane, doug  keast, richard keegan, julie kelley, natasha  kemp, joseph kennedy, michael kennedy, christie kermeen, nalee khamphaphongvixay, don  kiely, randy kiessig, joanne king, ronnie kirby, april kirk, henrik kirkeby, beata kis, justin kissell, laura klaming, pavel klimakov, tatum knight, joni koch, liza koch, martin kogan, ans koopt, niranjan kumar, harish kumar, ben  lackey, habibi lalu, james lane, danielle laperriere, myste laquinta, laura navarro lara,  mark lashta, gwen läufer, julie laurin, naomi lawson, madeline layton, peter le, daniel le, minh le, mike le grice,  céline le maitre, david leder, deb lee, tinja lee, brenna leech, johanna leiner, amy  leonard, hayson leung, amy  lewis, elspeth liberty, ryan libre, amber liewald, yoni lifshitz, men limacher, peter limacher, daniela limacher-lehner, torben lindström, nathanael little, kathryn livingstone, antoine lobry, jonathan loon, rosie louey-gung, mary loufek, pauliina lunde, sara lundström, steven luscinski, tuan luu, romain ly, tina ly, ly thi sho, ben lybarger, emily magnotta loder, mathew magnay, emily magnotta, mireille maheu, suong mai, dustin main, alex malcor, clementine malim, lori mallini, nora manaf, shubhang mani, dorian martin, brian martinez, sarah masters, vinay mathew, natasha  mathews, davide mattiello, sammantha j mavin, zachary maw, may, margaret maya, kristi mcalister, tw mcauliffe, michelle mccombs, peter mcconnell, allison mcgarry, laura mcginn, shanna mcintyre, sarah mckinnon, duncan mcleod, erin mcneaney, william mcnicol, charlie mcrae, jimmie meader, sarah meaney, sam meas, chris meddings, patrick meegan, ricky meleschi, jeff menezes, asma merchant, matt meyer, sina miakhail, allison miettunen, laurisa milici, jessica miller, rachel miller, tom mills, sarah mint, daniel mireault, aaron mitchell, mina modalsli, matthias moeser, kunaal mohan, anthony molyneaux, tyler montbriand, robyn monteleone, oscar monteon, jake moore, molly moore, moreno, mathieu morfin, luc morin, annalena moritz, vito mortillaro, layne mostyn, josh mott, yer moua-lor, mark moulden, andrew muller, franz muller, c.a. nellen, jose neto, jessica neveu, new life center foundation, kate newick, angela ng, wei yoong ng, luu tuan nghia, duy nguyen, bien nguyen, stephanie niave, andrew nicholls, simon nielsen, dyce norkus, kao nou ning, barry o'kane, adam o'neill, julien olivier, jonathan olsen, christina ong, rebecca osmond, karl ostroski, remco oudhoff, kavitha padmanabhan, david palmer, patsy & arnold palmer, pang, florence pani, sahil pardeshi, amy  parker, natalie patch, lauren pate, himesh patel, harsh patel, rebecca paterson, alexander patterson, matt patterson, rosalie pawlik, hagai peled, kevin peng, kimberly pertuz, istvan poedoer, emilie porry, giselle portenier, george powell, ppk, portia predny, joshua price, mary pritts, paul quarter, shannon quirk, dr. yvonne rafferty, ashwin raghunathan, kerstin raitl, peter rakmanyi, sundaramurthy ramachandran, karen ramlogan, brian & linda randall, katie randall, keith randall, nick randall, susan randall, dr. will m. randall, emie rathikoun, danica ratte, maria julia ravera, katharina ray, johanna read, rebecca regalo, brandon rego, kyra rehard, franziska riechert, cozy requio, anouk reusken, ymke reymakers, thor richardson, gifny richata, carla  rijnders, dave  rima, stephen roberts, amanda robertson, lee rodriguez, gunumaya & laksman roka, riccardo romano, tiphanie roquette, victoria rose, adam rosenberg, sarah rosenstein, barni rothman, rownolds, nehemiah rubio, jose baena ruiz, sasha ruiz, alessia ryan, chris ryman, lucas salazar, tristan salcido, eerik salonen, oda sandi, sónia saude, russell savige, tomasz sawicki, rita schaad, sarah schaaf, joseph schmidt,  erin schmiedl, connor schoen, michael  schupbach, cheyenne scown, martin sečkár, ashley senske, rami & ivana shaafi, vidhi shah, tal shahar, tamar shahar, bronwyn sharman, ben shearon, andrew sheldon, dr. rebecca shugg, anu virtanen os sinkkonen, rowan sloan, hannah slomianyj, tracey smith, zach smith, laura snape, steven snodgrass, samuel snow, eugene so, sharlene sobrepeña, benjamin soto, kerry & malcolm souter, dr. gina spatafora, allison spencer, julie steinbach, trish stokes, james storer, david stroe, bettina stübner, jason suhy, jules suzdaltsev, veronica swanson, chelsea swegman, tal swissa, erik tarrodi, fabrizio tatti, kae tay, adam taylor, d taylor, finn michael james hunter taylor, mike taylor, tom & di taylor, dr. aart teunissen, lucas thacker, caspian thackeray-taylor, jasmine thanh, sean thomas, ashleigh thomson, carter thornton, richard thornton iii, alex thurber, rob tierney, kari tontarski, camille touanen, todd tracey, ann tran, quan tran, tri tran, nicole tran, lorraine triolo, anne truong, harry truong, dwight turner jr, david ty, emily tyler, kaitlyn tylor, pal ujvarosi, mark urban, jerome vallet, jeroen van der werven, ein vang, natasha velasquez, annelies vercruysse, thais vidal, erik vilela, frederik voss, nguyen vu, leanne wagner,  cass walker, elizabeth walker, kathrin wallwitz, anja wälty, belinda warfield, ben warren, tom watson, ellie webb, brandon wells, sheri westerman, anemi wick, claire wilkinson, landon williams, chris willis, kate wilson, thomas wilson, kae-lynn wilson, morag winona, serena wong, j.w. wolterman, hilary wong, shannon woodhall, caitlin writes, noah wu, jimmy wu, amesia xiong, khou xiong, emi yang, lawrence yeh, amber yourman, victor yuan, jesse zagorsky, bishoy zakhary, allison zarach, betheny zolt, and eli zubiria

Thanks!

To keep up with all the news on 'Sisters For Sale' and 'The Human, Earth Project', subscribe here


Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Jellybaby



Like clockwork

Posted May 04

To the audience, a good film seems to flow uninterrupted from beginning to end. 

The images and sound seem to blend together to create a single continuous piece, a river of light streaming from one scene, one shot, one idea, to the next. 

Behind the scenes, it's a very different experience. It's said that an editor's work is best when it is invisible. 

To the editor, the film is not a single unit, but a precise clockwork mechanism composed of thousands of dynamic interlocking pieces, each just the right size and shape and colour to fit with all the rest. 

You first begin with vast boxes filled with countless complex little pieces which do very little on their own. Then begins the tedious process of sorting the pieces from one another, to see which will work together, and what they will do. 

Some of the pieces are very similar. Others are wildly different. 

For every piece that finds its way into the finished mechanism, ten or twenty are thrown away. Some are thrown away for good reason. Others are beautiful pieces that simply won't fit with the rest, and it can be hard to let them go. 

If you don't begin with a clear idea of what you're trying to build, if you don't know exactly what it's supposed to do, and how, then the pieces themselves can lead you astray. You might find yourself building something beautiful and utterly useless. 

You'll need complex tools to fit all those complex little pieces together. You'll need to bend some, compress others, shave away the edges. Each piece will need to be painted, and smoothed down. 

At first, the thing you're building won't work. You'll need to tinker with it, to meet a thousand little technical challenges, to bridge the tiny gaps. Sometimes it's a matter of skill and knowledge. At other times, there is no clear answer - it's just a matter of trial and error, patience and persistence. 

It starts to move - slowly at first. It rattles, and gets stuck in places. You stick with it. You find yourself thinking about it at all hours, puzzling out the tiniest little pieces, coming back to it when you should be doing other things. 

Finally, the gears mesh. The wheels spin smoothly. Everything sounds right, and does what you want it to do. 

It runs like clockwork - but this mechanism doesn't do anything so tangible as moving a pair of hands across a face to tell the time. 

It deals with black and white facts, yes. It works with hard edges and measurable increments. But it also deals with more nebulous things, with liquids and gases, with subtle shades of grey. 

This mechanism is designed to tell a story, to explain a series of factual events in the simplest possible way. But what if the very purpose of the story is to show the incredible complexity of an issue - human trafficking, for example? 

This mechanism is designed to change the way people think, feel and act. It is designed to reach into their innermost selves, to touch their hopes and dreams, their fears and beliefs. 

A successful film is not simply a monologue, but an interaction between the filmmaker and the audience. The filmmaker raises an idea, and leaves space for the audience to gasp, to laugh, to breathe and reflect, before the stream flows on. 

The filmmaker dedicates years of his life to shaping an hour or two of yours - but if he does his work well, it will not be easily forgotten.  A good film can reach far beyond a screen. 

'Sisters For Sale' is on target to be completed in September. 

For four more months, I'll be tinkering away - fitting little pieces together, bridging gaps, smoothing out the motion until it all flows together. If I do my work well, you'll never even notice. 

Soon, others will be joining me in the workshop, to do some tinkering of their own - on the sounds, music, colours and animations. 

Then it will be your turn, to come and see what we've built, to flip the switch and see it run. 

I can hardly wait. 

To keep up with all the news on 'Sisters For Sale' and 'The Human, Earth Project', subscribe here

Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Jellybaby



Continuity

Posted April 13

Since my work against human trafficking began four years ago, there has been a high level of uncertainty in my life.

I didn't know what had happened to my kidnapped friends, or how to find them. 

I didn't know what would happen to my friends - or their children - after I found them. 

I didn't know if I would be able to continue my work, or complete the documentary, at all. 

I didn't have the equipment I needed, and didn't even have enough funds left to live in my own country. 

Now - for the first time in four years - I have certainty, and continuity. I have the time and funds needed to finish 'Sisters For Sale'. 

It has made an incredible difference to be living a simple, clean life on a steady rhythm. 

To wake up in the same place every day, and have a good idea of what the day holds in store. 

To have a sense of control, to be making this documentary out of something more than desperation. 

To be able to listen to the rhythm of the story, not just the ticking of the clock. 

I still spend far too much time on the computer, but now it's a choice. 

There are many people who know me as a nomad, a risk-taker, a perpetual wanderer. 

They might be surprised to know how easily I've slipped into a more stable life, a comfortable cycle of editing, writing, and reading. 

'Sisters For Sale' is progressing even better than I'd hoped, as it grows ever longer and gains new depth. It's right on time, too - on schedule for September. 

In about six weeks, I expect to have a complete edit of the documentary, and will start collaborating with the rest of the team to finish the sound, colours, music and animations. 

You might not hear from me until then. That's a good thing. 

...

In 2015, Belinda Bauer - one of the world's best crime writers - released 'The Shut Eye', a novel inspired by our work in Vietnam. 

'The Shut Eye' was shortlisted for the prestigious Golden Dagger - an award Belinda has won previously - competing against both Stephen King and J.K. Rowling. 

I've finally had a chance to get my hands on a copy, and it's not hard to see why Belinda's recognised as one of the best in the game. 

Knowing the inspiration for the book, I thought I had an unfair advantage - and Belinda still managed to fool me at every turn. 

If you've been following our work and are looking for some weekend reading, I'm sure you'll enjoy it!

To keep up with all the news on 'Sisters For Sale' and 'The Human, Earth Project', subscribe here

Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Jellybaby