Nobody Dies Here

Filmmaker Q&A with Director Simon Panay

Is there a particular documentary film or filmmaker that had a major influence on your career?

Raymond Depardon


What motivated you to make this film?

There was no documentary or article ever made on this gold mine, and I believe their conditions had to be shown.


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

BMPCC and Lumix GH2, with old Zeiss Lenses to bring a more cinematic look to the film. We also used a drone and a DJI Ronin.


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

I wanted to make a film, not a journalistic work. We used a wide format, 2.35/1, and shot some scenes at 50fps to make slow-motion. It creates a different vision from reality, every look is different. I wanted to bring poesy and emotions to the film.


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

We’ve been on the gold mine for nine days. The first two days were without cameras, just to talk to people. We shot then for 7 days. I wanted to stay there for more than a month, but we’ve been arrested.


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

The most rewarding experience we’ve had was certainly on our last days there. People trusted us, shared with us their life and they were very thankful to us to come all the way to spotlight their reality. It’s rewarding when you realize that your work is useful.


What advice can you give to other impact filmmakers?

Go where it’s forbidden to go. Where there is something to hide, there is something to show.


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

Certainly the editing, at the beginning, when you look at all your shots and ask yourself “How will I start the film?”. You have millions of roads opening in front of you, that’s where you build the film. That fascinates me.


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

A camera, because I told myself too many times “I wish I had a camera to capture this moment”.


Please share a personal story about your experience making this film.

I decided to go down in the mine galleries. The hole was 18 meters deep, no security, I had the camera bag, the tripod and it was really tough. Inside the galleries, the temperature was about 45 degrees and it was very humid, very hard to breath.


Can you describe any obstacles you encountered in making your film and/or in your distribution/exhibition efforts?

Like I said before, we got arrested after nine days and there was no way to go back there again. At this time, I believed I did not have enough materials to make a film. That was really depressing.


What do you want audiences to take away from your film?

I hope that the audience understands that the subject of the film is universal. It’s not only about gold miners. It’s about addiction, hope, dreams. Someone addicted to playing poker, or bets, can identify to one of them, because it’s the same argument.


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

I don’t know, The making of the film in general.


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

I don’t know much about the mine, I tried to have news but I had nothing in return. I really hope the government will take their responsibility.


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

If you want to get involved to help children who work there, you can join the UNICEF. Some organizations also try to make the gold and diamonds market cleaner, to never buy a “Blood Diamond”, but only from clean mines, where the security is provided for miners.


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


List of Awards:

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Director’s Filmography:

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