CFDb Interviews David Trotter ~ Director/Writer/Producer
How did you get involved in the film industry?
In the fall of 2011 while I was in town on business, I was hanging out at Shawn’s home in Georgia – talking about our love for the people of India. We met on a humanitarian trip to India years before and had both gone back many times. After coming across a UNICEF statistic indicating that there are over 31 million orphans in India, we started talking about ways to put a face on this issue and challenge people in the western world to take action. After coming up with numerous ways that would have freaked out our wives (i.e., riding rickety scooters across India to raise money), we started thinking about more sensible options – like making a film.
Please tell us what led to your current film, ‘Mother India: Life Through the Eyes of the Orphan’?
Even though neither of us had ever made a documentary before, we didn’t let that small issue stand in our way. We wondered…what would happen if we just showed up in India and started looking for a group of orphans living alone on the streets? We thought to ourselves…if there really are 31 million orphans living in India, surely they have to be living in groups or families somehow. What would happen if we just showed up, found a group, started shooting, and did our best to tell their stories?
Within days, we contacted Noah Lamberth (a friend with extensive cinematography experience) to see if he would be interested in shooting and editing the film, and he soon joined the team. Within a matter of a few weeks, we named the film, arranged for a translator, started to raise money from friends and family, and purchased our plane tickets.
What was the most memorable experience you had throughout this filmmaking process?
Beyond the amazement of hearing the life-story of a Polayya and Koteswari (3 and 7 year old siblings who were living on the train platform), my most memorable experience was actually sleeping on the streets with the group of abandoned kids. We didn’t want to be patronizing in any way, but we felt like sleeping where they sleep may just give us a minuscule glimpse of what life is like for them. When we first broached the subject with them, they were ecstatic. They kept asking when we were going to spend the night where they sleep…over and over again they asked.
Let’s just say that it was one of the worst nights of my life. Between the excessive heat, swarming mosquitos, howling animals, and the monkey curled up in a child’s arms a few feet away, I was miserable….and it only paled in comparison to what these kids go through on a daily basis.
What are the ways that others can help the orphans in India?
There are three main ways to help:
1. Sponsor a child.
I know it feels like a small way to get involved, but not to a child who is getting the support. For only $35 a month, a children’s home will have space for one more orphaned or abandoned child to have shelter, quality food, medical care, clothes, education, and loving support. Unfortunately, adoption is almost impossible for non-Indians, and it’s not a popular option within the country itself. A high-quality children’s home is the child’s best option in most cases. The organization we recommend is called Harvest India (www.harvestindia.org), and they have over 1,300 children in multiple homes. The challenge is that so many children need a space to live, and there is a need for sponsors to step up to provide the money to cover the cost for that child.
2. Spread the word.
Help us raise awareness of the 31 million orphans in India. Every child has a name, a face, and a story. Watch the film, share the trailer, and tell your friends.
3. Serve with organizations who are helping orphans in India.
In fact, go to India with one of these organizations for a week or two, and see how they are making a difference. I’ve been to India 8 times in the last 8 years in order to work with Harvest India, and I’m blown away by how far a US dollar can go toward making a difference in the beautiful nation of India.
How can others learn more about you and your work?
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