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Amy Helene Johansson August 17, 2012

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Bangladesh, Multimedia.
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Editor’s Note: When the Bombay Flying Club teamed up with Amy Helene Johansson to produce a video about the Garment Workers in Dhaka, Bangladesh I knew that it would be worth seeing. They consistently produce outstanding work, and so included here is an overview from Poul Madsen about their collaborative process. It is effective the way the video opens in the shopping district of Stockholm and then cuts to the girls walking along the railroad tracks on their way to work in the sewing factories. A Lost Revolution? is an excellent example of the power of multimedia storytelling.

Amy Helene Johansson (b. 1973, Sweden) studied film and theater theory before earning a BA in fashion design.  In 2006 she moved to Bangladesh to work for a multinational fashion company, and her interest for photography grew rapidly.  Amy’s work has been published in leading broadsheets and magazines in the UK and Sweden, including the Sunday Times UK, Dagens Nyheter and Sydsvenska Dagbladet. Her work has been awarded Asian Geographic Magazine ‘Faces of Asia Award’, the Foundry Emerging Photojournalist Award and the Swedish Picture Of the Year ‘Multimedia Category’ and been shortlisted for ELLE commission award and a National Geographic award. Her work has been displayed in solo and collaborative exhibitions in Bangladesh, the Czech Republic, Sweden and the UAE, as well as the National Portrait Gallery in London, UK. Amy is currently based in Sweden.

About the Project:

“For this project I had the opportunity to spend three months in the slums of Dhaka where the garment workers live, together with a researcher from the Swedish organization Swedwatch. Two women Shapla and Mahfuza bravely agreed  to share their stories for the film. After four years in the fashion industry in Bangladesh I thought I had a good picture of the situation, I saw factories improving day by day, and felt the situation was getting better. I did not realize just how far behind the situation was for these women when they leave the factory. The media and companies have been focusing on the factories but the real life of the workers has not been highlighted. I was appalled to see the situation.

“Filming in these areas in monsoon rain was among the most challenging work I have done, and I will never forget the women I met and who still are there. I particularly remember a woman, Popy, telling me she has to lock her son in a room during the days while she works and her fear that if a fire would break out he could get burned alive.”

Comments from Poul Madsen, producer at Bombay Flying Club on the process of making “A Lost Revolution?”

“Amy approached us in early spring 2011 about her project in Bangladesh and we decided to collaborate with her on the story. We knew Amy beforehand as she had been one of our workshop participants at the Danish School of Media and Journalism in the Fall of of 2010. For about three months we Skyped and corresponded about her project. Amy would call me up when she had found new possible characters or when she had visited the various slums of Dhaka. Basically I tried to coach her during the entire process and I also provide technical advice along the way. We were looking for characters who would have strong personal stories and who would fit some of the criteria s and keywords that had been setup for the project. Themes and concepts such access to sanitation, domestic violence, family and children.

“In August 2011 we met for a week in Denmark. The idea was basically to storyboard the story, come up with a script and do a rough edit. She brought us complete interview transcripts from the two characters she had selected along with a storyboard idea and a hard drive containing all her raw material. We spent a whole day going through the interviews, sorting quotes out and editing the storyboard. We used a scissor, some tape and a whiteboard for this. Then we started to throw stuff down on the timeline. Gradually the story took shape. After a week we had a complete rough and Amy brought it back to the Swedwatch headquarters in Stockholm. After a few months they decided to re-edit a few things and to use another speaker for the story. Our job was basically to coach Amy, help her set up a storyboard and cut a complete rough edit.”

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