Hi everyone who was running, rooting, and supporting us thus far.
This is Eugenia.
You were probably wondering why we were off the radar for the past few months, and curious about what happened to the film production process. A lot has happened. Oh man. Where to even begin.
To be honest, I didn't have the strength left in me to be able to write or update everyone with the current state of the project. It was only recently like, two weeks ago, where I hit rock bottom then found a small inkling of hope to get up again.
Back in October, we were all running hard to get the production rolling. Every single person on the team was pouring out their heart and energy. But we hit three big walls, where we had no choice but to stop the progress of the film.
Wall 1: We probably auditioned close to 80 people for the main character’s role. Even till the last minute we could not find the right fit. The progress of the film project kept getting postponed because of this.
Wall 2: The most most important scene in the film is in a golden harvest field. Winter was creeping around the corner and it was impossible to find a field that was not cut down. Miraculously, we were able to find one last field that still had some time before it’s harvesting. But three days before the scheduled shoot date, the owner of the field called us and said… he had cut it down because it was getting too cold. So we lost our most key location.
Wall 3: The next day, our team found out that funding was not going to come in, and we had not enough to continue.
It felt like everything was crumbling like a domino effect and all the doors were closing. But there was nothing we could do about it. With a heavy heart, I had to gather everyone on the team and tell them all that had happened and that we had to postpone the project to next year.
It was one of the hardest thing I had to do. I couldn’t look at everyone in the eye but just look down in defeat and sorry-ness. But instead of receiving waves of negativity or discouragement, everyone on the team was so supportive and hopeful. Everyone was speaking words of encouragement saying “We can still make this happen.” Seriously, we have an amazing cast, crew, and team. I cannot ask for anything better than this. We all departed one another with goodbyes of “We will wait till next year.”
With that note of hope, Esther and I still stayed in Kyrgyzstan to figure out the next steps for the project. Honestly, it wasn't easy. We had no budget left because we paid everyone their rightful wages, so Esther and I barely had enough to pay for 2 months of rent and only around $100 left for groceries. We had to find a way to survive.
Thankfully, three days later we got an opportunity to help out in marketing for a small company. So for three months we were producing marketing materials and surviving off of the money we made from there and still continuing to run for the project on the side. The thought of going back home did pop up in my mind, but we knew we had to stay and still try.
In December we got a chance to visit Korea for about a month to raise funds during a few events and gathered around 15K to save up for preproduction. But more than that, we were really able to raise awareness about the message of the film and about Kyrgyzstan. It was amazing to see the response of people and how many people wanted to help. It all seemed like everything was going somewhat smoothly.
Then, a turn of events happened.
It was a normal cold winter Tuesday afternoon after a week since we came back to Kyrgyzstan from Korea. I was walking back home with Esther and a friend from some grocery shopping. The streets were all covered from the frozen snow, now turned ice. It was literally just a block away from home… then I slipped on the ice, fell hard on the ground with a loud thump and broke my right ankle. How bad was it? Two bone fractures, one broken bone, and torn ligaments. Oh yea.. it was pretty darn painful.
The next thing I know, I’m crippled and bed ridden for the next 6 weeks. Poor Esther had to make food for me all the time and take over my workload as well. The first three weeks was hard to even go to the bathroom, because every time my leg was lowered, the blood flow pulsed so much it was excruciatingly painful. Had to stay in bed with my leg elevated all day long.
Many thoughts go through your mind when all you do is stay home in stillness. It was like I was forced to rest. Being bed ridden and lying all day in mundaneness wasn't all that bad. But I think the hardest thing for me was that I felt like I was letting everyone down. The cast, the crew, the team.. Everyone was waiting and hoping that the project would start again. There is so much I need to do for the project to continue, and even if I run all day long there is such a small chance where things could work out. But I couldn’t even do anything about it. The uncertainty of the next steps and the helpless state I was at was slowly eating me alive. I guess you can say, I was loosing hope.
Then just about two weeks ago, I hit rock bottom of my downward spiral, and I was ready to just drop everything and leave. The hopelessness was growing in me so much that I was convinced that there is no way this was going to work, and it would be better to go back home.
Yes, I was in a pretty low state..
But then something so simple, but something so profound just popped up in my face. I was sitting at a café with Esther and a friend whose been helping us out from the beginning. I was sharing how I lost hope and was on the verge of giving up. He just listened nodding to every word I was venting out. Then he shared how hard it was for him to pursue after his dream of being an artist as well. He submitted his painting to 55 galleries in New York City, and getting rejected to every single one of them. It was hard, but he didn't give up. Now he is one of the most recognized artists in Bishkek.
“I know how hard it must be. It was for me too. But don’t give up. Let’s try to figure out what we can do to make it work. There’s still hope.”
That was it. That's all he said, so simple and so short. But something about it made me alive again. Something in my heart felt warm again. It was a familiar feeling, this small inkling warm sense of… hope.
Honestly, I still haven’t fully comprehended what happened in that moment. Literally that’s all that it took for hope to come alive again. All that was spoken was this empathetic affirmation through a story he went through. Then an initiation to try and solve this problem, “together”.
It made me think a lot about what “hope” is or I guess more like how it forms. I’m still in the process of understanding it… but so far what I’ve realized is, it has something to do with stories and knowing that someone is willing to help.
The powerful thing about stories, especially “testimonies,” are that it connects your heart to that exact moment of the person’s heart; a connection that is beyond time, realm, and location. And somehow in the “relating” process of it, you suddenly realize you’re not alone, you find encouragement, and you find affirmation. It seems like that is the beginning process of feeling a sudden sense of ease or comfort. It’s so strange how the sharing of stories is so powerful. Nothing circumstantially or physically changes, but somehow stories are able to alter the condition of one’s heart to shift from one realm to another.
And with that, when you realize a hand is offered to give help, it seems like this formation of hope solidifies. When someone is showing their heart to help, it gives you the sense of “togetherness,” and the burdens seems to feel lighter. I feel like, this is the exact moment when hope comes to it’s fullest. Which made me think, wow, all of us are just in search of a helper, a companion, a savior.
So hope is found in the communion of people sharing their stories, heart, and helping one another. In other words, Hope is found where there is a love of a community.
They say that humans can survive up to 3 days without water and 30 days without food, but cannot survive 3 seconds without hope. I guess in a sense; hope is one of the most vital life sources we have that keeps us alive. Every day when we wake up till the moment we sleep, whether we know it or not, we’re all in search of hope in one form or another.
This project is really ironic. Here we are, a few young peeps trying to make a film that will bring hope to people, but in actuality we ourselves are also learning to find hope in the entire process of making this film in itself. And during this short period of my down season, I realize that hope is found in love. It may not be a superb revelation, but this is so far where I’m at.
I wanted to be raw and honest to you all about what I had gone through, what I learned, and where I am at now. I hope somehow by me sharing this story will be an encouragement to someone out there that's at the brink of giving up on something. And I just want to say, “Youre not alone. Don't give up. There is still hope.”
So. After I renewed my hope and with the cast finally off, we’re running again for the project to continue. We’re trying to fundraise in Korea, find volunteers in America, raise awareness in Kyrgyzstan, and hope for the best. Here’s to a new start. I have re-committed myself again to run full force for this film, this story of hope, to be shared to the people of Kyrgyzstan. Let’s try this one more time.