Filmmaker Q&A with Director Nicolás Cuellar

What motivated you to make your impact video?

The work of UNDP in the communities of PaP, Haiti.


Please provide a brief description of the work or organization featured in your video:

UNDP is the United Nations’ global development network. UNDP focuses on poverty reduction, democratic governance, energy and environment, social development, and crisis prevention and recovery. 


What have you learned about the value and impact of the project?

Thanks to this project our team has grown from a group of freelance professionals to the first generation of a group of socially responsible filmmakers engaged in Haiti’s development through entertainment.  


What do you want audiences to take away from this video?

The need for “smart help”: Help that doesn’t impose a specific way of development, but listens to the real needs of the communities and acts FOR them instead of UPON them.


Please list key points that should be covered in a post-screening discussion:

The concept of “smart help”. Understanding  / managing success based on the needs and the tools at hand. How to make a community own the development that comes from outsiders.  


Please provide information on any recent developments regarding the issue or subjects of the video. How have things changed or not changed?

The project is still ongoing, providing the same type of help to several other communities in the country. The communities portrayed in this video are now models of sustainable social development in their own areas.


What opportunities are available for those interested in getting further involved?

For purely social development, connect with UNDP/Haiti.


Please provide any additional resources (websites, links to additional videos, forms, articles, etc.) relevant to the context of the issue discussed in your video:

http://documentaires16-6.org – a series of 45 videos discussing the full scope of the project.


Is there a particular video, film, campaign or filmmaker that had a major influence on your career?

Jonathan Stack


Please tell us what camera(s) you shot with primarily – and any other special equipment that you used and why you used it.

two EX3 cameras, handheld


Please share a personal story about your experience making this impact video.

Sometimes there is an aspect of the process that is taking particularly long but is needed for the video. The most effective way of getting the project to move faster is to start showing up with cameras to every step of the process and asking for deadlines. We helped at least three of the proposed projects avoid major delays by recording the process of planning and scheduling. Moral of the story: everybody wants to look good in front of cameras, and you can use that to your advantage.


Please tell us about any special styles or techniques that you used during the production of your impact video to help tell your story.

We learned to follow our character as he walked around his neighborhood, following his daily routine. To do so, our cameramen learned to walk backwards (with a spotter) through all sorts of terrain and still maintain a smooth image.


How did your story evolve from day one, to the very last day in post? Is your story what you thought it would be?

This 16/6 video is one of several documentaries we did for an entire year living alongside these communities.


Please describe the most rewarding experience you had while making this impact video. 

Firming bonds with the people living in these communities that surpass the length of the work. We not only stay in touch, but we are now working together on creating a new social/entertainment industry in Haiti. To know more about this new project, visit: http://forestgrowsinhaiti.org


What advice can you give to other impact filmmakers?

Never engage your character with the rhythm of a production set. Engage him on his own rhythm, follow him and interact with him in his daily routines and his story will be told in its most honest way.


What’s your favorite part about the filmmaking process and why?

Directing a crew to use their technical skills to tell a story that feels natural and honest. That’s the true goal of a filmmaking team: use your knowledge to make the audience feel like there is no one in between him/her and the character.  


What’s the one item you always take with you when working out in the field and why? 

Local Cash. From getting your crew water in the middle of the sun or inviting your character for a beer, always have a couple of bills ready in your pocket.



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