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by Michael Rose (Deek) - Thailand

Always a River to Cross

It is a collection of video images which I shot in Bangladesh in the late 1990's. It shows the rich diversity of boat life there, including a short sequence of boat building and repair, an alarming visit to a ship breaking yard, a trip on a paddle ferryboat and a varied collection of sail, motor and human powered craft - some of which I think will make Duckworkers sit up and be amazed.

The story behind the video is this: In early 1996 I was working in India, covering the Cricket World Cup as a cameraman on the world live coverage. On a rare day off I found myself in Patna in the state of Bihar. This region is somewhat devoid of tourist attractions so I decided to take a walk along the banks of the River Ganges. I got terribly excited when I saw some of the boats working on the river. They were positively mediaeval looking and loaded down to the gunnels with mud or silt - part of a dredging operation. I got the idea of making a video about these and other boats working the river. On my return to New Zealand, where I was living at the time, I did some research in Auckland public library (the internet was young then and I wasn't connected) and found that Bangladesh was the place to go to see similar boats. I am no entrepreneur and didn't want to get involved with raising lots of money to make a broadcast quality product, so bought a second hand Hi8 camera, which was state of the art amateur or semi pro technology at the time. Just before Christmas 1996 I set off for a month's wandering around a country about which I knew very little (who does?). I'll spare you the travelogue, suffice to say that I did a lot of traveling, much of it on the water, saw some wonderful things, had some great adventures and came back with some footage which, if not unique, was quite rare.

I edited together some of the material into a 12 minute package with a rather cheesy voice over. I sent a copy to my sister, and she happened to have a house guest at the time who was a university professor, social environmentalist and keen surfer. He was about to embark on a project making a video for the UK Government's Department of Overseas Development about life in rural Bangladesh, and needed a cameraman. Over the course of the next year I visited the country several times, working on one of the most rewarding assignments of my career. During the job I took quite a few shots of boats, boatmen and fishermen.

For a few years now, since discovering home boat building and Duckworks, I have been thinking about this and have now spliced shots from these two projects into this little piece (and the observant viewer will spot the difference in picture quality between the two sources).

After months of battling with slow internet connections, technical incompatibility, ignorance (my own) and the interruptions of work, family life and boat building, I have finally managed to upload the result onto YouTube.

The piece is entitled 'Always a river to cross' and my username is oncealayman. Here it is:


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