Ask the Filmmaker

Erin from Washington asks: I am interested in becoming a documentary filmmaker. What is your background and how did you get to where you are today?

Esteban Uyarra:: I did study film in Sheffield University, a three year BA course. There I trained myself as an editor and did lots of free jobs to get experience and contacts that hopefully would remember me once the dollars were in place. I did some small jobs for the BBC (again for a small fee) as a cameraman and director, and then I just left everything behind and went to Iraq. The best thing is to get some overall technical knowledge and then just try for yourself. It is the only way to find out which part of filmmaking you enjoy and feel comfortable with. Otherwise, you can spend years waiting for a break while making coffee (sometimes for some untalented people). So don't wait, just go and do it. The worst that can happen is that you spend some money, but you can fool yourself that it was a holiday anyway, and remember, the things you see and the people you meet just because you have a camera are more fascinating than anything you can get from a travel agent. Good luck!

Roger from Washington D.C. asks: What does it take become a freelance cameraman (if such thing exists)? Any special skills, education, equipment, connections, luck?

Uyarra: Such a job definitely exists! To be honest, in this industry the main thing is the trust factor. If you can do some jobs for free or for a small amount, and they like your attitude and the way you doing things, they will call you the next time when there is money. I think that's the best way in. Also, make sure you own your own kit, at least a Sony PD150 or Canon XL. Good luck!

Meredith from Texas asks: Would you want to return to Kuwait and Iraq in the near future to follow up on some of the people/situations your film depicts, or follow-up with some of the journalists that you followed and see how the war and its effects on the Iraqi people has affected the journalists personally and professionally?

Uyarra: To be honest, I do follow the news, but I'm not personally interested in going back. The situation is deteriorating by the day and it's extremely difficult to do any filming at the moment. I keep in touch with Stephanie and the rest of the people in the film. Stephanie is still working in Iraq but based in Beirut for safety reasons.