Naaaah, we’re ok. Haven’t been in Indo since the 6th, sadly, and it seems Bali wasn’t really hit anyhow. Thanks for all of your concern though!
Made our way through the rabbit hole and out the other side to Norcal for a wedding this Sunday and can’t say much more than that cause we’re a bit…ummmm…confused…
Back in blogtouch soon!
Here’s part 2 of Ian’s Bali catch-up guestpost:
Behind the scenes Drifting, with Rob Machado and Taylor Steele
When I caught up with these guys for the Hurley shoot a few weeks back they were in the final throws of production for a couple of different projects. To be honest the Hurley thing probably couldn’t have come at a worse time as far as their productions went. Nonetheless everyone pulled together to make both shoots happen in a very effiicient and effective way. Taylor’s house is production central with a full edit suite and one of each of the top 30 guys’ boards on the wall . Story boards and story archs on erase a boards everywhere, plane tickets and helicopter bookings, timing swells and timing pro surfers schedules, it was like watching a surf version of Peter Jackson filming multiple Lord of the Rings movies all at once.
The day before was spent shooting a much needed scene in the Denpasar airport. The scene was somewhat involved as it called for a long dolly shot and some shots of Rob cruising through airport security. This was all done without permits of course and in classic surfer style they said they were filming a PSA on airport security to show American tourists how safe Bali is now. The whole thing went off without a hitch and with the blessings of the Indonesian TSA. Much of the film was shot this way.
The filming at the warungs of Uluwatu were the final shots needed before Rob hopped on a plane and went straight to the California contests and the ASR circus. The contrast between the two places and vibes couldn’t be more opposite.
I look forward to seeing how they piece this together. It’ll be great to see that airport scene.
Back in Oz now, awaiting our fate in the form of a flight back to the States on the 10th. But our hearts and minds are still firmly implanted in Bali, even if our rain-soaked goosefleshed skin tells us otherwise. Both Ian and I have some more (and more) to say about that magic leg of the trip so we’ve decided to do a big giant catch-up post that goes back through some more highlights of our island life of bliss.
For my part, there is just one last memory I wanted to relay, the rest would be too tough to capture, hopefully you’ve gotten enough of an idea to hop on a plane when you can and see the magic for yourself:
•Something I never got to a chance to describe is the endless game of ATM roulette we played the whole time we were in Bali. See, the Indonesian rupiah is so inflated by now that 5 dollars US is something like 50,000 of their currency. Thus, if you spend any time in a Balinese bank, you will see people carrying in backpacks containing brick upon brick of rupiah. They look like some sort of criminal, but are more than likely just a vendor trying to exchange their day’s earnings from the store. Because of this inflation and because it was high season when we were there, the ATMs on the island regularly ran out of money, only they don’t say this, they give you an error message that makes you think there is something wrong with your card so you’ll spend loads of time and money trying to reach your bank back home.
But pretty soon, we got in the swing of things and learned to play the game.It goes like this: get in line, watch the people in front of you for the nod or the shake when they come out of the booth, think you can do better anyway and try it, futiley, for yourself, drive on until you find one that works which could take days.During that time you ration your supplies and hope for places that take credit cards, which most do not. Things could get so bad that it was not uncommon to hear a young Chinese couple exclaiming with such glee at getting the equivalent of $50.00 out that you’d think they were playing a slot machine. In fact, one day a group of us got very angry as we qued behind a Frenchman who just kept sticking his card back in to get more until we were all sure he’d cleaned the machine out. At the dirty looks he received upon exiting, he grinned and said, “I kipt on weenning zo I kipt on playing.”
Now for Ian’s part, see the guestpost below plus the next one (“Loose Ends 2”)
Phantom the Menace
So I get the call in Austrailia a week before we split for Bali that there may be a possibility of doing a commercial for Hurley’s new Nike-lab inspired high tech fabric “Phantom” boardshort. Ironically enough, the local surf shop that’s a few minutes from where we stayed in the ritzy area of Whale Beach (Northern beaches , Sydney) happened to be the #1 seller in the world of the previous model. I had just heard that info a day before, now I’m being contracted to do a commercial for them…weird.
1st question from my agent/co-producer is “Ian, can you pull this off over there?” This was a very slick ad campaign combining 3d effects , CG environments and live action greenscreen. This is my specialty…in America, but in Bali? Going through the normal channels of filming in another country proved fruitless and would have crippled our limited timeframe and budget with bureaucracy and bribes.
Just a week before we left for this trip I went to the premier of Taylor Steele’s new kick ass and take no prisoners surf flick: “Stranger than Fiction”. Aside from all the bleeding edge surfing, high energy music, and rapid fire editing, was a lot of greenscreen work. “Aha!”I thought, Steele’s been living in Bali with his family for several years, and hes got a greenscreen. I made one phone call to Rob and it was magic. The next day I took a ride from the mountains of Ubud where we were staying and made my way to the villas amongst the rice paddys of Caangu. My last time here there was one bombed out looking cinderblock of a restaurant and that was it, now…quite a bit more development, but no addresses, no street names and no villa names makes finding someone really challenging. After taking every single dirt-track, and sideroad, I finally made it. It was like a scene out of Scarface
when my driver pulled me up to the massive villa amongst the paddies. On the second floor deck looking down at me and my driver stood Rob, bronzed, backlit, rocking some gold rimmed Dragon glasses and looking comfortably feral after having been embedded in Bali from our shire of Cardiff for the past year filming with Taylor. His entourage of editor Sebastian, shooter Yvonne Tangung (Rizals brother), Sipping Jetstream’s DP legend; Todd Heater and of course Mr. Steele. So after two weeks of coming up “bupkas”, in a day I had the whole deal sorted out…sort of.
Aside from having a killer co-dp/producer and Steele’s Red Camera we didn’t really have much. Even up to the morning of the day of production we got a call saying we had to move to a different facility. No problem right? Oh, by the way , the place were moving you to is a professional badmitten warehouse on the outskirts of the rice fields, and guess what? the annual Bali Island badmitten championships are happening at the same time our talent ; Mr Machado shows up for his greenscreen work. So we go with the flow like bamboo and flex and say yeah. And it works out. Producer Mavis flies in from the OC with his driver Ben and …Bada boom, bada bing! We get our shots.
Although the week leading up to the production was a little hairy, the day’s events unfolded like many chaotic motorcycle filled intersections of this island; at once it seems like despair and that there is no way out, but miraculously, every time, all the elements come together , everyone works together to create art and in the end, survive…That’s what everything’s about, right?!?
Saturday, August 30 was Ginger Rain’s 2nd birthday. We awoke on the day to an island in full celebration. Everyone was wearing their best ceremonial garb, such as kubayas– Balinese “jackets” with sashes over special sarongs, headdressses, rice on foreheads, etc. The streets were lined with arching bamboo poles with oragami palm leaves hanging down, and everywhere we went people were abuzz. They zipped from here to there on motorbikes with mini versions of the palm leaf oragmai swinging from the handlebars. The bikes were loaded five family-members full and stacked with colorful basket upon basket of food for the feasts. Streets were clogged with parades of barong dragons the length of the 5 or 6 people it took to hold up these costumes and gongs and gamelan instruments rang out as the processions passed.
Of course, we told Ginger that all of Bali was celebrating her big day! The “alternate” explanation is that it was actually the Hindu holiday of Kuningan, clearly a very big deal around here. This is why, when we asked if a priest could come do a blessing at Ginger’s b-day party, they first checked the Hindu calendar and then told us, yes- it was a very auspicious day to have such a ceremony. “Bagus!” the Balinese exclaimed when they heard of her lucky date, “Good!”
The party was held at a place called Desa Seni, which means “Art Village”. Check it out if you have a chance, it is amazing: http://www.desaseni.com/. You can visit Desa Seni for a day and enjoy the pool, yoga and food from their organic gardens, or spend the night (or 2 or 3!) in their traditional Indonesian structures moved here from other parts of the country and fully equipped with internet and DVD players. Even better, the whole place is a green operation and they do an enormous amount to help out the local village in which they’re situated. It’s probably these last traits which enticed Oprah to do a story on Desa Seni, although it was surely the stunning design of the place that attracted her resident interior design guru to come along.
We had the little gathering in the late afternoon, according to the priest’s busy Kuningan schedule and after the ceremony, had drinks and food by, and in, the pool. Just after sunset, we sang Happy Birthday in English and Bahasa over a gorgeous carrot cake to close the day. For some reason, G had it in her head that a birthday party meant balloons and kids, so we made sure we had both on hand and we were thrilled that some of our new friends on the island could come. Taylor and Sybil Steele and their little girls were one group. They are a lovely family with whom we’ve become better acquainted since coming over here (local Cardiff family and friends of our neighbors, the Machados). Anne-Marie and Paul and their little ones were there too. They were our neighbors when we stayed in the Seminyak area and since they are formerly Aussie but now locals, their kids enjoyed showing Ginger how to run wild island style while we got to know them all and surely made lifelong friends. While we really missed the presence of friends and family back home, we felt truly blessed to have such caring, fun people with which to share this special day.
Actually, it was after hearing about the Steele’s experience with a birthday blessing for their daughter’s 1st birthday at Desa Seni, that we decided to do the same thing for Ginger. The ceremony is like a naming, or a general blessing that is done for children early on in their lives on an important birthday. Apparently similar blessings are also done for people’s animals and even cars! We do not understand all that was involved, but from the moment the Hindu priest and his assistants showed up at Desa Seni, the calm feeling that we were involved in a happy and significant event crept over our entire party. We watched as they set out various baskets and bowls with offerings of fruit, rice, cake and even a whole chicken, head and all. There was also a dish of holy water and some dried herbs with pieces of cotton string in another basket for the rituals to come. The blessing began with much chanting and bell ringing by the priest which kept all of us pretty captivated, even our little toddler. This chanting threaded throughout the ceremony, lacing together rituals for Ian, Ginger and I involving holy water, binding our wrists with strings, placing dried herbs in our hands, fixing rice to our foreheads and my favorite, rubbing a plumeria flower between our palms and then holding it up to our third eye. This was done three times, once for Ginger, once for ourselves, and once for our parents. I especially loved involving G’s grandparents in this way since they could not be there themselves and they are, through us, the stuff that makes up our daughter.
After the ceremony was over, we all partook of some of the offerings on the table and thanked the priest and his assistants for blessing us all with such a reverent and rich tradition. We urged them to join us for the swimming and consumption that followed, but after a polite soft drink, they seemed ready to get on their way. All we could do was continue to say “terima kasih,” or “thank you,” over and over. No matter what your faith, it is hard not to be affected when someone of such intense personal power focuses an age-old ritual on you, allowing all involved to spend time thinking and feeling in the same, positive direction. We are so grateful to be in a position to have had this powerful experience, it is something Ian and I know we will never forget. As for Ginger Rain, as we said from the start, even if her mind does not remember, we know that her soul will.