SolarAid | A Long Wait
Filmed on Chole Island, Tanzania, SolarAid’s latest film tells the story of Sele, who has woken up in a new era… the solar era.
A very musical promo about SolarAid’s big, audacious, almost impossible goal of replacing every kerosene lamp in Africa with an affordable, sustainable, safe alternative by the end of the decade.
The film shows a day in the life of an 11 year old boy named Sele, who lives on a very remote island, on the day he gets a solar light. The lights are being distributed through the school network. The light Sele’s parents bought so he could study at night will significantly change all their lives, leaving them with more money and fewer health problems.
The film was shot in Autumn 2011. Ralph Greenland from SolarAid and I travelled to Tanzania. Chole Island was one of the most remote places I’ve shot – a small island off the coast of a slightly larger island. Thanks to solar power, we were able to charge our gear. Chole will never realistically have electricity delivered through a ‘national grid’ so their options are limited. Kerosene – or, now, solar.
Kerosene is an outdated, antiquated technology, and that’s aside from it being poisonous, dangerous, and cripplingly expensive. And it’s a sad irony that the place which receives more of the sun’s rays than any other – Africa – has had to wait so long for a replacement. Thanks to SolarAid, things are changing on Chole island, across Tanzania, and across the whole of Africa. Please watch, and share this movie to raise awareness of their mission: to eliminate kerosene lamps from Africa by the end of this decade.
Aside from Sele, whose life we were representing, there were four of us shooting, including our guide and social co-ordinator Farahani, and Irene, who was translating for us (and laughing at our social gaffs.) You can see the determination in people’s faces in this behind the scenes snapshot ;-) We are shooting at the school, taking refuge in the shade, waiting for something to happen.
Our profile is so low, that we have to casually leave tripods in behind-the-scenes shots to indicate that we are actually shooting a film. Gear consisted of a knapsack full of cameras and lenses, and a tripod with a stripped down slider on it. And a tiny knapsack with a Glidecam in it.
Preparing for the shoot I was a bit concerned about not having a lens between 50mm – too small to shoot inside a small room – and a super wide 16mm – which is not terribly flattering to people’s faces. So I picked up a Canon 28mm f2.8 lens – cheap, light, small – and ended up using it most of the time. It’s a great ‘carry around’ lens, although I now think since I used it so much I should upgrade to the faster f1.8 version. We also shot a lot of impromptu person-on-the-path interviews and it worked great. (Like a man-on-the-street interview, but without the street.)