Since finishing the first draft of the Sisters For Sale documentary script six weeks ago, I’ve been working with the script and footage synchronously, to understand how the story works in practice. 

I’ve been searching for the best way to condense a complex and convoluted five-year story into a readily-accessible 90 or 100 minutes, without losing any crucial information or the audience’s attention. 

The result of my efforts is a tighter, sharper script, which is the right length and – more importantly – feels right. With the interview segments selected and sorted, the narrative is now being woven around them. These will be the bones of the story.

After living and breathing this story for so long, it’s been thrilling to see it come to life, with many of the most crucial pieces slotting into place. 

Some 15,000 video files were shot for The Human, Earth Project, copies of which now fill 10 external hard drives scattered over the face of the globe, from Newcastle to New Delhi, from Manila to Melacca to Menorca. 

The physical separation of these drives has been a necessary precaution against loss. The hard drives I’ve carried with me for the past 19 months have been gradually damaged by some 60,000 kilometres (37,000 miles) of gruelling overland travel. 

Some of these hard drives have travelled long, strange roads of their own. One in particular was conveyed across China by a stranger, departed that country with an Italian friend, and now awaits me beneath the counter of a mobile phone kiosk somewhere in the maze of a Malaysian shopping complex. 

I’ll collect that hard drive before flying home early next week. The Sisters For Sale edit will then begin in earnest, as I sculpt the flesh onto the bones.

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