Presenting my very first short film project. Shot on location at an Orphans First children's home in Guntur, India. Their friends must have called them famous, stars for sure.
Rose with the dawn for a drive through the countryside to the tiny town of Markapur, where we would spend the day with the kids of the second Orphans First home in India.
We arrived to see another group of incredibly excited young boys and girls who took to having their photos taken quicker than I could have believed.
As the afternoon began to cool, we said our goodbyes and turned back to the road, driving another few hours to the dusty mining town of Ongole. The road from Markapur to Ongole dwindled down to a single lane as it rolled through the most deserted stretch of countryside I had yet to see in India. Kilometer after kilometer passed by; a blur of lonely mountains, and stunted trees.
Slowly, signs of humanity blended back into the landscape; straight rows of tobacco with nary a soul tending to them. It was in one such field that I saw, almost out of nowhere, a herd of goats being shepherded along by a small group of men in white. Of course, I had to stop and meet these men to worked in isolation in a land where even such a word must seem foreign.
This group of shepherds still kept to the old ways, guiding their flocks as their fathers once did. We communicated in a language of smiles and gestures...and if there's one thing I regret, it's that I couldn't give them a print!
The kilometers wore on by, and the land changed drastically with the dusk. We passed a land of granite & marble quarries; hellish places where lonely headlamps shone into the grey in a never ending storm of dust and smog. The road soon wound through rough and tumble towns that sprung up around the fringes of the quarries....a mire of seedy looking buildings catering to men made hard by necessity.
By full dark we had reached the town of Ongole, spending our last night with our splendid hosts conversing our way through a lovely meal. It was days like these that I'll remember the most from India...
Woke to see the moon setting over the mountains. It mimics the sun here, setting amber and magenta, and leaving behind an ashy blue. I rubbed the weariness from my eyes and rose to film the Grace Home kids as they left for school... their friends called them famous, stars for sure.
It's funny how each new photo I look at comes as a fresh surprise. I feel at times like an outsider looking in, each scene showing up in emulsion and pixel in a subtly different way, tugging at the seams of reality in a sense, and yet still truer than the warping of memory.
I think we as people don't want to admit that maybe, quite possibly, we aren't seeing things clearly That... if our view present is skewed, how much more variation from fact must grow in the mind?
How will I see things, looking back upon these moments in time I've captured?
Will I remember....I mean truly remember? ...the smiles and the sighs, the aches in my head and the aches in my heart.. I feel as though I leave the part of myself that will best comprehend this adventure in India, perhaps never to return.
Evening found us taking all 21 of the Guntur home kids to, ironically enough, Domino's Pizza.... which was right next to the town KFC. Globalization never ceases to amaze me. Anyways, great quantities of pizza were consumed (after being liberally coated in chili powder & hot sauce, of course),
The evenings' success was lauded with celebratory toasts of orange soda and group photos of most of the group (missing a few key conspirators unfortunately).
....Woken by birds and undulating voices calling worshipers to services as the Sunday sun bathed my bed in a shaft of gold..
I rode out to a small church in a village just outside of Hyderabad, listening to gentle voices rising and falling, a moment or and hour passing to reach a final crescendo of song.
This was a reunion of sorts, as a number of men and women who had grown up the children's home which had once been housed within the church came to see my traveling companions, Janey & Louis DeMeo, the founders of Orphans First.
The reunion stretched into the afternoon, and I ended up filming interviews with each and every one of the alumni.
As the afternoon wore on, people filtered away, leaving behind the building many had grown up in. The old home had been empty for some time, but the lightest of impressions of the life once held within remained.