“Landfill Harvest” is a short documentary we self-funded and produced with an international crew in Cebu, Philippines, while visiting Mandaue Landfill with some charity workers who were helping the families that live there.
Mandaue Landfill was like nothing we had ever seen; a twelve acre stretch of a giant city’s waste, delivered at a rate of 700 cubic metres per day from the nearby sprawl of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu City. Unbelievably this was home (at the time of filming) to over fifty families. These were the people at the very bottom of their society; the lowest of the low, scratching a living selling anything they could find by ‘harvesting’ the landfill. We were told they earned around 47 pesos (97 cents) per day. But material wealth is not the only kind of riches, and where there is hope and resourcefulness there is always the chance of a better life. After seeing how inventive the families were with what simple things they could find amongst what the rest of the city was throwing away, we decided to make this short film to remind ourselves and our audience to be thankful for what we have.
We begin the piece with establishing shots of the landfill, which we use to slowly reveal were we are – a desolate alien landscape we would not often see. Next we begin to slowly reveal people, appearing one at a time out of the blistering heat haze (degrees-wise we were filming in the high 30s Celsius). The people begin to scavenge and pick at the lonely, barren land. As a little boy looks to the horizon, a first truck appears form the dusty road. The villagers’ next harvest has arrived… and they smile. A crowd gathers as the men on the truck wave and leap down to the ground. The truck empties its riches and provides for the people. More smiles spread as the crowd gathers. They are natural improvisers, finding a use for everything, and take no day for granted. The trucks start off and the kids chase it and cling on and it leaves the landfill. We ended the film with an appropriate quote by William Blake: “The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest”.
We realised we needed to add some extra context to the piece. After our researcher Mailyne uncovered some key statistics about the landfill and its people, our motion graphics designer Terry did an amazing job integrating this as 3D text into the images. A beautiful original music track by our composer Jonathan and sound design by our audio mixer Egan brought the bar even higher. Enjoy the film!
Directed, Filmed & Edited by Steve Ramsden
Music composed by Jonathan Pedersen
Researched by Mailyne Briggs
Graphics by Terry Hahin
Sound mixed by Egan Kolb
Graded by Martin Zapanta