By Judy Katz
During production I never left Thirteen’s offices in New York City, but was responsible for finding seven children in seven different countries whose stories highlighted something particular about education in their parts of the world, whose families would let us film them, and who were charming, articulate kids. Often my associate producer and I would start with UNICEF or another NGO to establish contact with a school. From there, we’d speak to principals and teachers who would fill us in on some of the first year students. Then we’d narrow it down to two or three candidates, and even though we might have a strong hunch about one, it would rest with the cameraman and/or director to make the final decision.
The field producers were phenomenal, and with all of them but one, there was only long-distance communication. I sent them a myriad of interview questions, shot lists and suggestions for scenes, and we spoke on the phone during filming – but ultimately I had to have absolute faith in their judgment, which I did. And in every case, it paid off beautifully.
By far the most amazing thing about making Time for School was witnessing the children themselves – seeing how hungry and grateful they are for being given the opportunity to learn.