Genghis Blues
The Filmmakers Behind Paul Pena's Journey Speak
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• Part 1: Back to the Beginning
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Paula: What do you hope to accomplish with Genghis Blues?

Roko: Interesting question...since for four years I didn't think about accomplishing much more than finishing a film I would feel good about. What the film would accomplish is another story. Well, seeing that there are more than a handful of friends who are inspired by Paul makes me realize that I hope Genghis Blues will continue to influence people to have greater confidence in the validity of their own experiences. I'm saddened to see that so many people give up on their dreams before they ever give them a chance to become reality. Maybe if people see the hardship Paul endured to fulfill his dreams they would realize that they can follow through on their own dreams.

Adrian: The accomplishment was to finish it. That is the truth. Everything else that has happened with the film we could never have imagined. The original idea was just to go to to Tuva. We wanted to make a film about the adventure, but we're not sure exactly what would happen. Then after talking with Ralph Leighton, the founder of Friends of Tuva, we were introduced to Paul Pena. But we still did not know what would happen. After the trip, we knew we experienced something extraordinary and had a great story. But still nobody believed us. So to get back to the beginning of this answer, our real accomplishment was just finishing it. Though, since we finished it, it has been a great ride showing it.

Paula: What was the biggest challenge of making the film?

Roko: Time has an amazing ability of washing away past troubles. I don't even think of making Genghis Blues as being difficult...just long. But of course, even the preproduction, planning the trip to Tuva, was a challenge because we'd never led a group of people overseas before. And we didn't have the money or equipment we wanted so we did a lot of improvising on that front. The subtle pause before the independent filmmaker slaps down the credit card for the first major purchase, spiralling him indefinitely into debt, was an event we experienced. I'd have to say, though, that bringing out the potential of the story was my biggest responsibility. And that was felt most during the editing which took over three years. I wanted to make sure I did as good a job as I possibly could, and that pressure manifested itself into a daily routine that revolved completely around the editing room...around the clock. But I always said to myself as I was bicycling to the studio "is there anything better I could possibly be doing?" and the answer was always "no".

Adrian: The biggest challenge making Genghis Blues was not necessarily the lack of money, the lack of support, the lack of interest, the lack of "professional experience", the lack of a concise story; the biggest challenge was finishing. Because, until the film was finished, nothing else mattered. To explain, the thinking went like this... We have to finish this somehow. All along the process we focused on what we needed now and since we never formally studied filmmaking we had no blueprint to guide us or restrict us. What I mean is, issues of no formal support never stopped us. We never thought we needed a lot of money or a degree. What we needed was very specific. For example: a camera, a plane ticket, editing facilities, somebody who wants to show the film. And we look for solutions every step of the way. The biggest challenge was seeing it through to the end.

Paula: How has working on the project affected you personally?

Roko: Making Genghis Blues has effected every part of my being. It dictated my life for years during production and post production. It offered me plenty of stimulation to ponder the big questions in life. It showed me how powerful love can be between friends. It made me reevaluate many of the aspects of my life I normally take for granted, like my health. Finally, it gave me confidence that I can (and should!) live my life doing things I care about.

Adrian: People ask me that question and it always makes me think. I really don't think I've changed much. I know more, I've had new experiences, but my core self has not really changed... I think. With all the awards and the Oscar nomination people who did not know me before Genghis Blues assume I should act a certain way. I still do not know what they mean. My friends that knew me before Genghis Blues say I have not really changed at all. I have definitely grown and feel more confidence in my abilities as a visual storyteller. And I guess some people in the motion picture industry consider me somewhat a legitimate filmmaker. Though in this industry you're only as good as your next project. The important thing personally, is that I'm still having fun doing what I'm doing. It makes me realize how fortunate I am.

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