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Part 2 Of The White Elephant Is Live And An Update

The second part of The White Elephant web series has been published on Rumble and YouTube.

Malaysian Portuguese fisherman
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ASTORIA, NYC- I just returned from Cuba and I have a bunch of posts to publish … and a couple from Hawaii too. But, as you know, I spend my days with one foot in the film and video world and the other in the writing world, and have to sometimes prioritize one over the other.

And there is one project in particular that just needs to be done.

It’s called The White Elephant. It was a film project that I had going on in Malaysia that got disrupted because of the pandemic that I have since been trying to piece together and make something of. I knew it wasn’t going to become the film I intended — I planned for multiple trips to Melaka over a period of a year or two — but few documentaries ever are. You go out and film what happens, put it together, and publish … no matter what.

As I’ve written before, I’d say that at least 90% of documentaries that are started are never finished. I’ve been a part of two films with major film companies and another with a mid-level company that we started, worked on, but for various reasons were never finished … It is one of my main goals to not have this happen with my own projects. If I get to the point that I’m putting my camera in your face I’m going to do something with it. Whether it’s a feature destined for film festivals, a short piece to sell to the networks, or a web series, something will come of it.

The biggest obstacle to putting this film together — other than cutting the project short and not returning to Melaka — was the lack of an adequate expert on China’s Belt and Road and someone who could give an overview of the Melaka Gateway project, and the story just wasn’t holding itself together without this. Melaka Gateway management refused to speak with me — and I was writing for Forbes then, so that was a little out of the ordinary but understandable given the circumstances — so I needed someone else.

Hmm … there just aren’t very many people out there who can speak in detail about the individual projects of the Belt and Road. Most never visit them and the view from afar is just too opaque. The one guy that I knew who could do this is now working for the US State Department and can’t do interviews anymore. I tried some others but it just didn’t turn out as I wanted. This left me. I appear in other people’s films about these topics so why not my own?

It makes sense but I still hate doing it …

But I hate unfinished films more …

Anyway, part 2 is now finished.

Watch the White Elephant, Part 2 on Rumble:

Watch the White Elephant, Part 2 on YouTube:

I’m also publishing more on Instagram lately. It’s a calling card kind of social network, and it’s good to have some work samples there. Real_Life_Cinema is where I post images and videos relevant to my film work and Wade_Shepard is where I post general travel content.

The Real Life Cinema website is still far from finished, but I’m working on it little by little. This is also where I will eventually be blogging about film related topics. Check it out if you’re into this.

Other than that, I’m going to spend the next couple of weeks trying to get caught up and then I’ll be off to somewhere else again.


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Filed under: Documentaries, Filmmaking, Malaysia

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3722 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

2 comments… add one

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  • Jack July 21, 2023, 9:44 pm

    Didn’t have a chance to watch it all, but I will. I just wanted to comment while it was in my mind that having you be that “expert” was a very good idea. You own the documentary and having you focus it is a nice way to do it. It works.

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    • VBJ August 4, 2023, 8:47 am

      Thanks for the feedback, Jack! This is something that is really difficult to gauge myself so really good to hear an outside opinion about it.

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