Filmed and directed by Mike Paterson in Northern India for the 94 Elements project. Become part of the project now at indiegogo.com/94elements
94 Elements is a new web-based global filmmaking project, exploring our lives through the lens of the elements. There are 94 naturally occurring elements, from Hydrogen to Plutonium. Together they make up everything in the world. The stories of the elements are intimately connected to the stories of our own lives. Everything we use and create is made from them. Our own bodies are mostly made from just 6 of the elements. They affect our lives in countless ways, and their stories reveal our relationship with our resources and the patterns of our economies. They are the untold stories of our physical existence.
The project is creating a collection of unique human stories by award-winning filmmakers and the best emerging filmmaking talent about the endless ways the elements touch our daily lives. Each filmmaker will create an authored 4-7 minute film around a way we extract or use one element. The films are surprising and moving human stories involving the elements – this is not about science, but about our human relationships with our natural resources. Visit the project website at 94elements.com
MAKING THE FILM
"This was quite a difficult shoot. For fairly obvious health and environmental reasons, Sanjay's work is illegal in India. The police and authorities turn a blind eye to the activity in return for bribes, and the compounds where Sanjay and his friends work with the acid (Sanjay called it his 'hole') are rented from some fairly unpleasant gangster types who weren't keen on having someone with a camera hanging around.
It took a long time to get access to the area and for the workers to begin to trust us enough to talk about their work and allow us to film them. Just as Sanjay and his friends began to trust us, the landlords started threatening them with violence and eviction if they continued to have any involvement with us. We had no choice but to leave to avoid causing trouble for them.
So I have mixed feelings about this film, knowing that we had to stop filming right when I felt we were just beginning to make something quite special with Sanjay. The workers in each compound usually all come from the same village, most having migrated from rural Bihar State, India's poorest province. I was struck by the similarities between their new work with the copper and the agricultural labour they had left behind. The unhappy irony being that their work now poisons the same land which used to grow their crops."
Mike Paterson - Filmmaker