Documentary Filmmaker - The Curse of Gold
25 May 2022

Documentary Filmmaker - The Curse of Gold

By Andy Race | Business Manager, Holdan

Muddy, hot and wet - every second is a challenge for documentary filmmaker Nicos Argillet. Driven by a passion to share beautiful stories in undiscovered worlds, Nicos accepted the impossible mission – to get into French Guiana which is covered by nearly 90% of the Amazon rainforest – to uncover the story behind the notorious treasure…Gold!

Documentary Filmmaker - The Curse of Gold

Desperate Circumstances

“Garimperios” is the name they give themselves - ones that look for gold or the antagonists in a story. Did you know that every day, Garimperios recklessly chop, dig, and dismantle earth’s terrain turning a lush and primal forest into a land of devastation, spilling mercury and arsenic into the rivers? Blood is inevitable when there are fights against the French military.

Nicos followed five Garimperios who left Brazil and chose to gamble their entire lives in yearning search of a few grams of gold. This could mean freedom if they do. Right or wrong becomes more blurred and ambiguous after understanding the desperation of these Garimperios who refuse to accept their destiny and die poorly.

Battling the Elements

As a documentary filmmaker, the goal during production is to collect as much footage as possible. However, in conditions as unpredictable as in the Amazon rainforest, the choice to continue shooting or not must be made wisely. The dilemma haunted Nicos on multiple occasions in the extremely harsh environment, where documentary filmmakers have very little control over what situations they are going to face.

You can spend two days hiking in the forest only to find that everything has changed or have to hide from the military for an entire week not knowing when you’ll be able to have access to fresh food or water. As Nicos puts it, The most difficult part is to keep your focus and your sanity.

In this “Amazonian Underworld”, nobody wants to lug around heavy and expensive camera gear – especially with humidity over 85% all the time.

You’re going to walk a lot, and carry heavy things, and be wet, muddy, and crossing many rivers. Everything you have with you must be necessary and reliable Said Nicos. So, only bringing the simplest yet most functional equipment.

What can be worse than carrying important camera equipment in the hot, wet, and dangerous amazon? Gear issue - every small failure can be fatal in the middle of nowhere.

A broken hammock or a dead headlamp can make your life hell. Humidity rates are above 85% all the time. Rain falls from the sky every day like a never-ending river flowing from above. Dirt, debris, and mud will find their ways inside every little crack you can think of, and the heat will the fans go crazy. The last thing you want is your camera to break down, or worse – your cards fail on you and destroy irreplaceable moments that you struggled so much to film! With all the energy that I put into making my films across the globe I know that Wise Media has my back…that’s the best feeling I know!

Documentary Filmmaker - The Curse of Gold

Nicos Argillet

Freelance Director and Documentary Filmmaker living between Paris and Reyjavik, Nicos Argillet is driven by the need to tell stories and the desire to make the real world look as good as cinema. Nicos is a sociologist educated in the faculty of La Sorbonne and a self-taught documentary filmmaker. During the last 10 years, he has been working in the most remote and mysterious places in the world including Alaska, Greenland, Vanuatu, and Papua New Guinea, where he directed more than 20 documentaries tackling social and environmental concerns for various French TV channels such as ARTE, CANALC+, France Télévisions.

After shooting two documentaries in French Guiana in 2005 about the environment and in 2017 about healthcare in isolated native villages he started to regularly return to the Maroni River. His latest project “Varado – The Curse of Gold” has been selected by the Hot Docs Forum in 2021.

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Documentary Filmmaker - The Curse of Gold

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