Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Tattooing in the heart of the jungle


Prominent hand-tap tattoo artist Fade FX is heading into the heart of the jungle with film maker Tom J. Kelly to document the Culture & Tattoos of the Iban Tribe, and also to talk with them about the illegal logging decimating their culture. The team found funding from within the international tattoo community via a successful Kickstarter campaign (article HERE) and is soon to embark on an amazing adventure! It’s out pleasure to share Fade’s rather spectacular adventure through this series of monthly blogs. Stay tuned for more!

PART 1: Woohoo! I am going back to the rainforests of Borneo but this time things will be different. Thanks to the generosity of the Kickstarter contributors my journey into the jungle will be documented by film maker Tom J. Kelly.

When me and Tom first sat down and discussed making a film about the tattoos of the indigenous tribes of Borneo and the devastating impact the logging industry is having on their way of life I was blown away by his passion for storytelling. I knew right away that he was the right film maker to take into the jungle despite his fear of spiders.

We had a great response to our Kickstarter campaign but a few cynical folk seemed to think we were asking for money to go on holiday. While I have holidayed in Borneo this trip would be anything but a vacation.

Since the idea is for sharing as much of this adventure on the TAMblog as possible, I wanted to say that although International travel, airports and the internet may have made Borneo more accessible, journeying into the rainforest is actually still pretty dangerous and it takes considerable planning.

Here are part of the concerns and logistics so far in this process. Last time I visited Borneo and stayed with the native Iban tribe I only had me to worry about. This time there will be two of us plus all the equipment needed to film a professional documentary.

The logistics of getting the camera and computer gear to Borneo are enough of a headache. Working out how many batteries to take to keep us filming in the depths of the jungle far from electricity was not on my mind last time I visited the Iban.

We are only spending 2 weeks in Borneo so we need to plan the filming schedule to maximise our time with the Iban but also allow enough flexibility to respond to allow the documentary to develop organically. There will be no time to relax when we are filming as we need to maximise our time with the Iban. We will be doing long days and eventful nights under the jungle stars.

The Kickstarter target we set was bare minimum amount needed to make the film so we are putting it all ‘on screen’ and roughing it ourselves. No luxury hotels or first class flights for me or Tom. Our other issue is the Christianisation of Iban culture.

Up until relatively recently the Iban still practiced headhunting and this made them one of the most feared Tribes in Borneo. Catholicism has mellowed their warrior spirit and many Iban are embarrassed about their warlike forbearers.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Tattooing in the heart of the jungle
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