Harald Voglhuber | Photographer & Filmmaker

Werbefotografie & Werbefilme | Innsbruck, Tirol, Wien, Salzburg, Steiermark

Filming for the Chulha-Movie Teaser

Chulha low smoke stove project Laos

I just got back from Laos, where I was filming for a teaser film about the Chulha low smoke stove project of my friend Toon! You find a short film with some “making of impressions” at the bottom of this article!

The experience:
Our friends in Nong Oln have been again unbelievable welcoming! Weather was not that welcoming, it was unbelievable cold in the mountains of Laos (1500 m altitude) and most of the time quite misty. Temperatures have been round 3° Celsius I guess, which sounds not too bad, but if you never have the chance to fully warm up yourself, it feels like way less! Sometimes I needed 3 jackets and we where happy to have the opportunity to warm up ourselves occasionally at a fire place 😉

I got some really nice footage about village life and the Chulha production! Quite unexpected, we even had a chance to attend and film a real Hmong New Year’s Ceremony. Anyway, it was not alway’s easy to balance a boom pole with the microphone, simultaneously listen to barking dogs and crowing roosters in the background and still have an eye on the screen of the camera, checking if the person I’m currently capturing is still within the frame. But most of the time it worked quite well 😉

I had the chance to make interviews with:
– Toon Dewerchin, the initiator of the Chulha low smoke stove project in Laos
– Dr. Thongbai Syhalat, the head of the hospital in Muang Kham, talking about the health side of the smoke problem
– Vayeng Tse Shong Thor, who is the main Chulha entrepreneur, building the Chulhas in Nong Oln
– Vanxay Thor, the english teacher who invited Toon 2009 to his house, where he learned about the huge health problem because of the smoke
– Xeng Xong, who’s family got a new Chulha during our stay. The installation of the Chulha was filmed in the house of his family.
– Mayja Punjam, who is regularly using a Chulha since 2010 Here you see Mayja Punjam reviewing her interview :-)


My friend Xeng Xong was helping me a lot, doing the Lao translations for most of the interviews. Ms. Somphan Sysouphanthong, who is working in Muang Kham hospital, helped me to translate the interview of Dr. Thongbai Syhalat. Thank’s a lot to you two!

Lao translations with Xeng Xong

A big thank you goes to my friends Toon, who helped me out as an assistent, was patient in listening to my ideas and was my protagonist in my interview about the Chulha project in Laos and how it started.

Without the support of my friends, filming would not have been possible! You are awesome :-)

Before we left Nong Oln, our Lao friends even did a ceremony for us. For good luck, they killed a chicken, nothing helped to convince them that it would be enough to “kill” an egg …what can you do, but follow the rules of the foreign culture :-)

Best things happened on this trip:
It is absolutely awesome to me, having the opportunity to work on this project (the Chulha project itself and the film project). It was my 3rd trip to Nong Oln now and I really felt like being a part of the family, even all the other friendlies in the village have been very welcoming and made me feel like I’m in my own neighborhood in my home country. A bit adopted but with the words of Ernest “Ché” Guevara from the “Motorcycle Diaries”: “It have been one of the coldest nights (and days) of my life, but also one which made me feel closer to the human race.”

The same is true for me to Thailand, where I could thankfully spend some day’s at the place of a friend in Bangkok. The coldest nights faded away, but even in this huge city with like 14 million inhabitants, people are so enormous friendly and helpful. Even their, the neighbors tried to talk to me, even they could talk just thai and me just english :-)

I met so many inspiring, creative, open and innovative people who just give their best, trying to bring their dreams alive. This is in my opinion the beauty in Asia, you just can start up whatever you want and try if it’s working for you. If not, try something else! This spirit, at least in my opinion, is slightly fading away in our society, which is quite sad!

Equipment used for filming:
For all “gearophile” who are reading this :-) I was quite limited with my gear, only trying to take the bare minimum I’ll need. Even my beloved 70-200 f/2.8 needed to stay at home! I was quite happy again about my F-Stop Loka backpack, which handles even such demanding loads round 10-15 kg quite well. It never felt like a burden hauling around all that stuff nearly constantly for more than 2 weeks on a motorbike and on foot. Really thumbs up for F-Stop for their gorgeous bags! Only downside, the beautiful Malibu blue version of the Loka was not available at the time I bought the bag :-)

Equipment for Chulha teaser film

Cameras: Nikon D800 (main), Nikon D7000 (B-roll), Panasonic compact (for unfortunately quite rare “behind the scenes” shots)
Lenses: Nikon 16-35 f/4, Tamron 17-50 f/2.8, Nikon 24 f/2.8, Nikon 50 f/1.8 and Nikon 85  f/1.8
Filters: Cokin vario ND, Coking graduated ND and a polarizer
Audio: Rode Video Mic Pro, Rode Smart Lav Mic, Olympus Audio Recorder
Camera support: Sirui N-2004 (great to travel), some 2nd crapy tripod I better do not mention and a “homemade” microphone boom pole out of Bamboo :-)
Lighting: Well, no real space left for lighting gear. In some dark houses occasionally a simple led flashlight did a great job 😉

Currently I’m reviewing and editing nearly 100 GB of film and audio footage to make a first impression teaser film. Stay tuned (hopefully) it’s coming soon :-)

UPDATE: Meanwhile the “Chulha Low Smoke Stove” Teaser Film is public. Hope you like it and I would appreciate your feedback :-)

One Response to “Filming for the Chulha-Movie Teaser”

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