Changing Planet

Editing Begins!

For the past several weeks, I’ve been living in New Xade without internet access, so I haven’t been able to update my blog. But in the relative quiet of village life, I’ve made the important transition into postproduction.

Kebabonye, my field producer and translator, and I have been working nonstop on the edit – watching footage, transcribing it, and assembling the pieces into a coherent story. Here’s our humble workstation, tucked into the corner of my room.

Our workstation

Armed with two laptops and a pair of headphones, we’re working our way through the 300-plus-hours of footage we shot over the last eight months. I’m thrilled and relieved to watch the story come together.

As I head back to the States this week for the Pre-Departure Orientation of the next cohort of Fulbright National Geographic Fellows, I’m reminded of our orientation a year ago and reflect on what’s happened since.

I’ve built friendships with Ketelelo, Kitsiso, Opaletswe, and many others, and have been welcomed into San communities across Botswana. I’ve been honored by people’s trust and feel fortunate to participate in as well as to document their lives.

I’ve shared in new experiences, whether learningto drive on the left side of the road, throwing out my back while digging a grave, or trekking 45 kilometers through the Central Kalahari Game Reserve to fetch help for our broken-down truck.

And finally, I’ve enjoyed the challenge of working on a new film, which now stands at a 45-minute rough cut.

Timeline of the rough cut

I’ve faced many challenges along the way – sometimes significant enough to make me feel like giving up – but I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had, and I hope the next round of Fellows feel the same way when their grants come to a close next year.

After this Pre-Departure Orientation, I’m returning to Botswana for two months to finish my project. As Kebabonye and I continue editing, keep an eye out for the film’s new Facebook page as well as an update video with some footage from the documentary!

Daniel Koehler, of New York City, is one of five grantees selected from among 864 applicants for a Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, which is the first of its kind. He will film a documentary on the San living near the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana, focusing on the loss and change of their culture.

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