Forest, Indigenous People, and Industry

Filmmaker Q&A with Director Mochammad Fikri

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

Yes, documentaries from Sir David Attenborough.

What motivated you to make your impact video?

I have met and learn much about local wisdoms and customs from my field of work in the last five years. I hope to sum those stories in 1 package and hopefully could echo the voice of indigenous people I met along the way and give some impact for their efforts. When the news break about legal lawsuits over the customary land, II was moved to compile it into 1 story. This particular piece was also part of content project for our organization, EcoNusa Foundation.

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

Sony A7 III, drone DJI Phantom, stabilizer DJI Ronin, lenses 50mm/24-70mm/80mm/100-400mm/17-40mm, Go Pro, Sennheiser sound set. The camera has the ability to capture lowlights, so far it delivers the best for shooting in the field with uncertainty in lights; also these are my regular tools and I am comfortable using it.

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

I often build deep talks and conversations with my subjects (the locals and indigenous people) in order to make them comfortable and gain their trust. Through this approach they get more comfortable with me and they could share more stories and get directed. It’s not easy to speak with a camera around or speaking directly to the camera.

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

No, at first the piece was not like this at all. At first I was shooting the story about Tam Sini, local wisdom of the Moi people. The condition evolves as there are legal lawsuits happening and disputes in the process. So I combine the stories into one piece.

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

I gain so much knowledge about the connection of forest, nature and the people living in the area, especially in Malaumkarta, the Moi people. I have heard stories, but not experienced it myself as I am not from there and not living in the forest. I came to understand that the existence of healthy intact forest is a necessity for these people as their livelihood depends on it.

What advice can you give to other impact filmmakers?

Never stop learning and trying. Find yourselves with more references for visual styles and techniques. Look for ideas and break the idea-block if you are facing one.

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

It’s always a pleasure and delighting to shoot inside the forest, especially in Papua. The air is cool, calming to my mind. I could hear bird songs and chirps. I can get more productive as there are so many unique things that can be obtained suddenly while inside the forest.

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

Small folding chair; I could rest anywhere and get comfortable, as there may be no space to sit or not suitable to sit down on.

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

EcoNusa Foundation (EcoNusa) has been focusing on sustainable natural resource management in Eastern Indonesia (Maluku and Papua) for years, and working closely with the local community. EcoNusa values sovereignty, sustainability, conservation, and collaboration, as we work with stakeholders of many levels, whether on the ground or in government, ranging from local, national, up to international levels to promote the conservation of our nature and culture.

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

It delivers stories to so many audiences and raises awareness.

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

When I shot the footage inside the forest, I could hear songs from birds-of-paradise. The forest is their home. It’s very beautiful and calming.

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

I hope the audience is aware of the importance of healthy forest for the livelihood of the locals/indigenous people in Tanah Papua.

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

– approach to the community / locals is the main point in building stories, because they are the ones who always defend the forest

– approach is essential to building a story from the subjects/source and for the retelling it on camera

– forests are very important for indigenous peoples who are living in the forest areas, their lives are totally dependent on the forests

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

The lawsuit is still on trial. The Sorong Regent defeated in legal action, but I believe is still on process.

Please provide any additional resources (websites, links to additional videos, forms, articles, etc.):

Jayapura Administrative Court Turned Down PT ASI and PT PUA Lawsuits

Legal defeats pile up for palm oil companies stripped of permits in Papua

Papua Barat: KPK dan Komnas HAM Dukung Kasasi Bupati Sorong



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