They Cry Out to God

This project was planned months before the devastating earthquake hit Haiti in January 2010. We were already scheduled to visit the island in February, but the disaster delayed our arrival, so we didn't get there until six weeks later. Our original focus was on Haiti's need for a stronger Christian presence—it's estimated that over 80 percent of Haitians practice voodoo. The story took on a whole new meaning after the earthquake.

My perception was that despite the horrible loss of life, and the utter devastation of the world as they knew it, the Haitian people were thankful that their lives had been spared. They were ready to move on with life. They were very positive.

The schedule was extremely tight, and we were always behind. We arrived late at night and drove three hours to our lodgings, which even by American standards would have been considered resort-like. I woke up before dawn to what I thought was a rhythmic wind gusting through the trees. I walked onto the porch, and through the moonlight I could see that we were staying in an oceanside group of huts. It was beautiful. But from there it all changed. We would drive three hours to a location, shoot for a couple of hours, then drive three more hours to the next location and shoot for a couple of hours. This went on, sometimes for 16 or 18 hours each day. We'd arrive at someone's house and sleep for anywhere from three to six hours and get up the next morning before dawn and drive or fly again.

We shot in Port-au-Prince near the epicenter of the earthquake. Then we traveled to Jacmel, Les Cayes, and finally Cap-Haiten. I wanted to stop to shoot the effects of the earthquake on the people and the country, but the drivers were on a schedule and wouldn't stop unless we insisted. A lot of my behind-the-scenes footage is from a moving vehicle.

The documentary team comprised the producer, a still photographer, a structural engineer (to evaluate the housing needs of the survivors), and me. I would have liked to have shot this on the RED One, but we wanted to go in as low-profile as possible. White people there are quite a curiosity alone, and often mistrusted. We drew significant attention as it was, without my going in with a Hollywood camera on my shoulder. We never went anywhere without our escorts. Over time, I came to suspect our escorts were more likely bodyguards. The children were extremely curious and open to communicating with us. But the adults looked at us with open mistrust. At one point during the trip, we were driving along a mountain road and came upon a man who had wrecked his motorcycle and was lying in the road injured. Our producer demanded that the car stop, and he got out to help the injured man. Our two bodyguards about freaked out. You could tell they were very nervous about a white person leaving the vehicle, and they were on edge until we were all safely back in the car.