Field Notes #4: Alfie Fell Into a Ravine

Hello Team, and happy 2016!

Field Notes is back, and here to show you how to expertly fall into a ditch. 

We are back out in the field, this time following Dr. Marcos Adrian Ortega, a world-famous hydro-geologist and a key player in this fight for water. Yesterday, we were invited to follow him on a trek to find erionite deposits near the local communities in the central region of the watershed. For those who don't know, erionite is a fibrous rock usually found in volcanic ash (similar to asbestos) and is classified as a Class 1 Carcinogen. Large deposits of these minerals have been traced back to the water communities are tapping out of the aquifer below the Cuenca de la Independencia (Independence Watershed), where our story takes place. 

On our way to one of these deposits, walking on a (very) narrow riverbank, Alfie (our DP) took a quality tumble. Lucky for us, the camera kept rolling. Ponderosa gives him an 8 for form, and a 9 for the dismount. Let us know if you think he stuck the landing.

(He's fine, btw.)

 

Field Notes #3: Bad to the Drone

Hi Team! Field Notes is back from Thanksgiving with a holiday treat for you.

+ Cuenca is moving full-steam ahead, while the small community we have been following receives national coverage during their fight for clean water. (This isn't the treat).

+ Also, allow us to introduce you to Pondy, the Ponderosa drone. Specifically called a DJI Phantom 3, this fancy unmanned aerial vehicle is our MVP in the field (not counting our DP, of course). La Cuenca de la Independencia, where our story is set, spans a massive 7,000 sq. Km, so we are very excited to be able to cover its sweeping expanse with a literal flying robot (#thefutureisnow). It might also bear noting that looking at things from a high vantage point lets us get some good perspective when dealing with such a massive crisis. Here are a some of our drone-related hijinx.
(This is the treat.)

Not sure you can tell from the picture, but the sky is about to unleash a torrential storm right on our heads. Our Head of Production, Deanna Urciuoli, was just able to catch the face of pure joy as the drone outruns (outflies?) the rain.


Not sure you can tell from the picture, but the sky is about to unleash a torrential storm right on our heads. Our Head of Production, Deanna Urciuoli, was just able to catch the face of pure joy as the drone outruns (outflies?) the rain.

(Above) Drone flying is very serious business. (Video) We've learned that sometimes, life doesn't give you ideal landing conditions but, ever the intrepid documentarians, we adapt. 


(Above) Drone flying is very serious business.

(Video) We've learned that sometimes, life doesn't give you ideal landing conditions but, ever the intrepid documentarians, we adapt. 

Field Notes #2: Cuenca

Hi team!
As promised, please help yourself to this steaming stack of bonus Field Notes content. If you missed our first post, Field Notes is our brand new blog format where we keep you up to speed with all the happenings/comings/goings/whatnots from the field as we produce our latest feature documentary, Cuenca.

A few of you reached out to us earlier in the week asking for a bit more info on the project, which is 100% totally valid, since we haven't really shared anything official with your guys. So, in the spirit of giving, here's a bit of a rundown on Cuenca, the film.

The official synopsis:
San Miguel de Allende is neatly perched at the draining edge of the aptly named, "Cuenca de la Independencia (Watershed of Independence)." While it used to be region overflowing with natural springs, long-term abuse has left its glorious aquifer practically bone-dry. Tourists flood into the city daily as the native communities that surround it evaporate from Mexico's collective consciousness, their legacy lost forever. Cuenca carefully weaves together the personal journeys of a diverse cast of characters who are riding a wave of civil unrest to create a coalition of resistance against unbridled government corruption that places profits ahead of its people. Driven by the necessity to preserve the richness of the culture as well as that of the region's ecosystems, Cuenca focuses on the issue at hand and illustrates the steep cost of doing nothing.

The following are two excerpts from our locations and a few things we learned while we spent time getting to know the locals.  (For reference, this is where we've been spending most of our time)

You can tell this is Mexico in November because of the cempasúchil flowers and the Día de Los Muertos altars that spring up throughout the communities. This particular visit took place in the community known as La Cantera (The Quarry) at their local kindergarten, where children and their mothers set up an altar for their deceased classmates. This community has made national news recently, after the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) released studies noting that radiation levels present in the water are a staggering 300% higher than the nationally accepted norm.

A few kilometers down Highway 57, the backbone of the North American Free Trade Agreement, is a non-descript government farm, with the healthiest soil in Mexico. Meet Ramón Aguilar, a 70-year-old agronomist, who is single-handedly trying to restore the health and richness of this watershed's soils. Ramón will tell you, and show you, that even though communities are immeasurably important, sometimes you just have to go at it alone. We can't tell you all about him just yet, but our time with him has taught us that patience, diligence, and an undiluted love of your work is what we need to keep ideas alive, long after we are gone.

 

That's it for this bonus instalment of Field Notes, team. Make sure you're following Ponderosa and our tag #CuencaFilm on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter as we bring you more news from the ground. Stay excellent, people.