hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

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November 29, 2012

Filmmaking ... the old-fashioned way

Brothers produce documentaries in foreign countries

Twin brothers Brendan and Jeremy Smyth have experienced a scenario far too familiar to recent college graduates.

They have ideas and visions about how they can change the world, but little money and support to make it happen.

The brothers are aspiring documentary filmmakers who recently moved to Haverhill after spending the earlier part of their lives in Florida. Both work part-time as servers at Not Your Average Joe’s restaurant in Methuen, but they spend most of their time devoted to their passion of filmmaking — and not getting paid to do it.

The Smyths’ niche is working with 16-mm film. Most filmmakers work strictly with video as technology continues to evolve, but the brothers maintain that the old way of making movies better captures the emotion of the people they feature.

“I compare it to Microsoft Paint,” Brendan Smyth said of doing computerized art work. “Just pretend you are painting on this program for your whole life, and then suddenly someone hands you an actual paint brush and hands you the canvas and you can actually paint on that canvas. How would you go back to Microsoft Paint?”

The brothers are planning a trip to Indonesia, where they will film their second documentary, “Rice for Sale.” The film will focus on the culture of Bali, an Indonesian island rich in history and tradition. The island’s primary source of revenue was the production of rice, which has not only economic worth to the people there, but also sentimental value. Recently, however, the island has been overtaken by tourism and the local culture is getting lost as the island is transformed into a cash cow.

“Everywhere in southeast Asia they make rice, but in Bali, rice is life,” Jeremy Smyth said. “They are biologically connected to rice. Their rice god is higher than their creator god.”

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