The second day of production involved the island tour trip we had organised prior to travelling, it had cost a significant amount of money from the budget as the co-director and I had high hopes for the selection of shots and unique but highly relevant backdrop it would have for the film. It would prove a highly eventful day indeed.
The first problem we faced when we arrived was the worrying walk into the ocean with the film equipment to get on the boat. Worryingly and calmly the crew were reminded that if any of the equipment was to be dropped in the knee-high water waddle the film would be more or less over. Fortunately the boat crew were more than stable enough to carry the equipment out for us and we were soon travelling out to sea. (P.S the image below was the shallow water when we arrived at the island but the worryingly thin plank of wood was genuine!)
The trip out to the island was a great chance to get the camera up and running and ease us into the production as well as easing the contributors into life in front of the camera. I was surprised by the easy nature of Gab and Jet who had joined us for the day, talking about Arsenal obviously broke a lot of the ice and always became the fall back conversation for me.
Once lunch and a brief recce had passed it was time to set-up for our first interview with Gab about the Arsenal Philippines supporters group he had founded. We were just about to begin rolling when a man from the island approached us about our actions and equipment on the island. He told us that we couldn’t film here and to pack up and move on.
With the sun beating down at a high noon sky we felt like this shouldn’t be happening. Dave, our photographer/guide/fixer/local kindly explained that we had agreed permission with the boat trip organisers that we were going to film and that we wouldn’t have booked the trip if this wasn’t possible. After a five-minute phone call and a long discussion we were told to head back and wait until it had been cleared.
It’s at this point we had to keep heads cool and tempers down. It could have been said that he wanted a bribe to allow us on – something not uncommon in a historically corrupt country. This we wasn’t going to allow as we had agreed via email that this was what we were going to do and even so the island shouldn’t really be anyone’s property. Also, its worth noting that getting permission for locations is notoriously difficult in the Philippines as tracking down people who want to bothered in a supposedly lenient and laid back country is very hard to do. Emails, phone numbers and websites are also hard to come by for certain things, especially in a developing country such as this – a difficult balance to handle for anyone inexperienced in the Philippine language and surroundings to handle.
Ultimately it was left in fate’s hand to decided what was going to happen for our remaining time on the island. The crew, Jet and Gab were all in good spirits surprisingly, something that if during a UK shoot would have become a bit of a damp squib to endure. We had good conversation, good food and good company to keep us steady until we got the all clear to film again that day.