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Bright Award 2018
For the past few years, Stanford Law School annually gives out the Bright Award and seeks an “individual who has made significant contributions in the environmental preservation and sustainability area and is awarded to an individual from one of ten rotating regions. This year, Stanford Law School focused on the Middle East and awarded two environmental leaders—Gidon Bromberg and Munqeth Mehyar.
Together, they have devoted their lives to the issues of water security through environmental peacebuilding. Their organization, EcoPeace Middle East, is the only one of its kind—a collaboration between Israelis, Palestinians, and Jordanians
Storytelling is an essential part of the Stanford Video DNA. Whether it’s a group of researchers ready to share their impactful findings or a talented violinist showcasing their compositions live on stage, we thrive on capturing narratives of all kinds. So, with this opportunity to exercise this passion through incredibly talented and influential environmentalists, we were grateful to be able to bring such a powerful story to life.
The pre-production process played the key role in order to ensure we would be able to accurately profile Gidon and Munqeth. Entering with a posture of great humility to learn from and understand the story to its fullest, we had to do so exercising cross-cultural skills. In the end, we wanted to make sure we honor the story at hand and be able to still tell it in a captivating way. Gidon and Munqeth are from two different countries (Israel and Jordan), so we spoke the common language of English in our planning as we talked through many logistics. We had already received plenty of background information from the Law School and did our own research on EcoPeace, and so the key here in planning with Gidon and Munqeth was seeking opportunities for b-roll capture and scheduling interview times. We found the perfect dates to go, as they informed us about a two-day workshop located at SHE EcoPark, a community-based ecological preservation they founded. That was going to be a key time to film as it supported the thesis of our video—Gidon and Munqeth are impactful environmentalists who seek to restore communities through both a top-down and bottom-up approach.
Packing gear required some extra effort as the key was to pack lightly and hire local help for larger needs, such as lighting and a slider. Crossing borders without such equipment is already complicated enough in the Middle East. I brought a C100 with only a 50mm and 24-105mm, as well as pairing it with a smaller FujiXT2 with an 18-55mm lens for situations where I needed to be less noticed (especially for city and people shots in public, as well as driving shots).
I spent time in both Jordan and Israel where I was able to get to know both Munqeth and Gidon and their team. That was the absolute highlight of the whole shoot—being at the feet of such wonderful and inspiring people. Their hospitality and care allowed me to not only capture what we needed but helped me to really connect with the work I was producing. I practiced the balance of knowing when to turn on the camera and when to engage with the moment at hand as a participant. Such rapport built was necessary for others to feel comfortable around me and authenticity to come forth.
Some key moments and places to film included a two-day workshop at SHE EcoPark in Jordan (EcoPeace’s impressive ecological preservation) that focused on bringing affordable plumbing to the local community, visiting the site where they had restored the Jordan River and seeing where it flowed into the dangerously-receding Sea of Galilee, as well as driving all over Jordan and Israel to capture the varying terrain and experiencing truly how borders don’t respect nature.
During the interviews (which I was able to schedule for the middle portion of my trip), I took mental notes in my head of what potential b-roll would match what was said. One key clip of the video was reflecting on how beautifully and powerfully both Munqeth and Gidon speak on the vitality of water. That meant I did everything I could to capture how the region used water and especially lacked it. As I researched water sites, I came across a park in Jerusalem that had a water fountain for kids to play with—I knew then that I wanted to capture families together enjoying water as a potentially hopeful ending clip.
Yoav, a local Israeli freelancer, was hired as a second camera for us. Here he is getting ready to film the water moment.
Coming back with over 200 GB of footage to create a five-minute video is never an easy task. As with any documentary piece, the key part of it was really deciding what elements of the story really supported our thesis and the goals that the Law School had for the video. What would honor and best represent EcoPeace, our client, and our work as Stanford Video? How could we tell such a rich story in the time allotted? After many rounds of edits with our Senior Producer, Chandra and approval from our client–the final piece was finished. The story we were gifted with came to life and we are grateful for the opportunity.