Dear Friends,

We have raised, fantastically, up to $10,136 for my film “Somos Buzos.” See description below. We need $15,000 total, so we’re missing $4864. Kickstarter will not take a cent out of your account, nor give me one cent, if I do not reach my goal. Seriously. Help me make some magic in the next two hours.

Please, lets do one FINAL push in the next two hours. Please send, email, share, this link to anyone who might be sympathetic, want a cool reward, would like to learn filmmaking, free DVDs, a trip to the Dominican Republic and more. Thank you SO MUCH.

Thank you to EACH AND EVERYONE OF YOU to donated, shared, posted, linked, talked, you are absolutely amazing.


and then click on the green button on the right called  “BACK THIS PROJECT” and enter your information.

SOMOS BUZOS is a documentary about a community of people who live, breathe, eat, and die out of the trash in Cienfuegos, Santiago, Dominican Republic. It follows one buzo (their term for trash diver) who taught himself how to read and write at the age of 20 and considers the education for his kids as their way out. The last stages of production are very expensive and I just don’t have the funds or resources to cover what it takes. This started grass-roots and will end grass-roots. I’m determined to get the story of the buzos out there effectively and loudly. They deserve it the world over.




The best part is that along with your donation, you get to pick a cool reward: Film DVD, film poster, original song, framed art, filmmaking lessons, industry credit, or even a trip to the Dominican Republic. Back me up. Chip in. Become part of my team. Spread the word!

Photo of the Day: Chest Deep in “Semi-Sorted” Garbage


18 Days To Go: $1650 out of … $15,000

Wow. Who knew that fundraising was so hard?

I just got one mantra: for the buzos. For the buzos. For the buzos.

Here’s some more behind the scenes:

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UP TO $1560, official 10% of the project is funded!!! EXCITING!

I’m getting my panties all up in a twist. Seriously. Every backer that gets on board makes me smile uncontrollably. Support, even in the smallest doses, can me so much in the big lonely underfunded world of documentary filmmaking. THANK YOU!

I will be posting another behind the scenes tonight about me in the trash, filmming, looking v. dirty

*DAY 7* of KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN $1090… behind the scenes time

Kids were crawling over me all the time when I was shooting… I just tried to incorporate them after a while otherwise I just couldn’t work. I realized after a while that incorprating them in this way was involving them in the process. I was letting them “inside” my camera and letting them own a part of the picture… a camera can be a powerful gun you aim at people unless you let them in behind it. Anyways, there is a caveat to doing that… kids touch everything. So I did have to balance letting them near me and keeping them engaged in front of the camera away from me.

Isabelle with AlbaIris

*DAY 5* 100 Fires: Living from a Landfill KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN

We got $945 so far!

THANK YOU SO MUCH for all the backers so far on the project. We’ve reached almost $1000 and counting.

Thank you so much for forwarding onto friends and family and whatever outreach you’ve been able to give me beyond your direct contributions which mean the world to me (and more so, to the buzos).

Abrazos de mi corazon


*DAY 1* 100 Fires: Living from a Landfill KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN

Short of it: New Trailer and a Kickstarter Campaign. CHECK IT:

Sequence 1

Life is raw. Imagine that you can’t read or write. The only job you can find is picking through other people’s garbage. Your life depends on what you find: whether it’s plastic bottles or cans, old shoes, or salami covered in flies. Along the way you get infected from hospital needles, burned by trash that’s caught fire, cut from shards of metal, and poisoned with constant diarrhea from rotten food. You even find amputated arms and legs. You continue because everything you come across has the potential for pennies, and you build your dollar a day piece by piece.

100 Fires: Living From a Landfill is a feature length documentary about the smoking dump that crouches outside the city of Santiago in the Dominican Republic. The film follows the buzos, or trash divers, who support themselves solely off what they can scavenge from the dump. They build their houses out of trash, feed their children with rotten food, and make less than a dollar a day by finding and selling piles of metal, plastic, cardboard, and anything else people will buy. We want to give voices to this community; ignored by their own government, invisible to society, and threatened by the toxic dump upon which they rely for survival.

What we need:
Filming for 100 Fires is complete. We now need your help for post-production. Funds will be used for offline/online editing, coloring, and sound composing, engineering, and mixing. We will also use the funds for DVD graphic art, DVD printing, and film festival submission fees.

Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Qatar, Dubai, and Kazakhstan

For those of you who are not new, major things have been happening since last I wrote. In terms of travel, I went to Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Qatar, Dubai, and Kazakhstan. In retrospect this sounds crazy, but it wasn’t.

Most recently I went to Kazakhstan to do some ethnographic work for an educational company. Kazakhstan blew me away – talk about undiscovered. It’s the 9th largest country in the world, larger than Western Europe!, and almost no ones knows about it beyond the asinine impressions of one movie (to remain unnamed). If I get a look of recognition it’s usually because they’re thinking of another ‘stan (Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan…). “Stan,” actually, means, “land of.” Kazakh, means, “the free” so literally, Kazakhstan means “Land of the Free.”

It’s a wide, open expanse of steppes, my new personal definition for infinity. The south backs up to breathtakingly beautiful snow-capped mountains… the northwest has a canyon as big as our Grand Canyon, and in between… more steppe.

Back to working on the film now.

Trash, Buzos, and a battle of political wills

A grand return, but nothing has changed.

It was early in May and I was trying to edit the documentary I started last summer about people living from a landfill in the Dominican Republic. Some of you may know more about this project than others. I realized I needed more footage, the kind which I had just not been able to get the year before because of a lack of connections, and a lack of trust from the community. The year that had elapsed since I went had opened more doors, however, and I decided to go back and see what I could get.

I have been keeping up with events in the area by calling a few contacts and asking for any updates or news they had. My best source does not own a telephone, and I have to call the colmado (small neighborhood store) across the street from his house. They shout his name across the street until he comes for the phone. Apparently the government filled in the dump with dirt to abate the smoke, and they bought some new trash trucks. “They are bright green and orange,” Jose said. So some of the smoke is gone, but not much else has changed. “Are you sure?” I asked, aware of all the plans the government had told me were going into action this year. It didn’t sound right. But I wanted to document how this had effected the lives of the people.

Upon my arrival, I indeed noticed how much better the smoke was. My arms and face didn’t go black anymore when I walked through the dump. But the essential problem of the dump hasn’t been addressed: there is a lot of trash, it’s not going away, and they need a place to put it… and these people are still as poor, powerless, and disadvantaged (not to mention illiterate) as ever. The trashflow is not being tackled on the front end: for example, reducing packaging materials, or, say, consumer recycling in homes. The buzos have NO opportunities. There has been a lot of money thrown at the situation and very, very little has been done that can be accounted for. The money the sindico (mayor) has supposedly allotted for the project (75 million pesos) has produced green-and-orange trucks and one-time-dirt-fill. That’s about it. It’s a fascinating case study of politics, and also incredibly frustrating.

The situation stinks. The trash is putrid. Kids dirty with slime and black ash from head to toe still work in the dump. If the buzos find any food worth eating, they stuff their mouths straight from the ground. Poverty abounds, multiplying with every child born, misery in every nook and cranny. At a political level, the situation is also rotten. It has become a political battleground of wills, possible (definite) corruption, with the buzos lost somewhere in the middle. In fact, almost no one think about the buzos. They are nonexistent. Undocumented, illiterate, unskilled, they have no political power. They are ghosts in a system of grand corruption. Hey, guess what? I made a documentary about ghosts.

But I really enjoyed my stay there – I got to reconnect with all the different characters I had interviewed last year (Santos, Ignacio, Bedona, Diego, Ramon, Chivito, Pablo Esteben, etc…) and I also interviewed a host of more official characters such as the mayor himself (Jose Sued), the subsecretary of the environment (Ernesto Rayna), two doctors who have done health studies on the population surrounding the dump (Arsenio Estevez, Juan Rosario), two journalists (Maximo Laureano, Miguel Ponce) and more.

I feel like I really have a complete set of tools to develop the documentary now, a lot more information, and a better grasp on the situation. I also have some exceedingly juicy footage of the dump… I got right into the trash along with them.

It’s a scandal, what’s happening. I don’t have a lot of power to change any of it, but I hope I can make some waves. Now comes the editing.

Oh and a big shout out to Ernesto, who was my translator. I can speak Spanish well, but when it comes to communicating complex ideas (”What do you think of the cycle of poverty that is perpetuated by the illiteracy and lack of political will from the state?”) I need a lot of help. He really enabled the trip and made all the interviews come alive.

More soon. Photos will be up shortly.