Still from "Hidden World of the Harem"(Melike Önay/Harem Productions)
In February 2011, six Manitobans boarded an early morning flight to Istanbul. We were part of a crew going to shoot a docu-drama about the last harem of the Ottoman Empire.
Istanbul had the otherworldly allure that most European locales just don't have. The thought of Istanbul oozes exoticism but the reality that comes with that emotion is closely tied to anxiety of the unknown.
For the crew of filmmakers - two camera operators, a camera assistant, a production manager, a lighting technician, and myself, a data management technician - that anxiety comes from knowing that for a month, you will be expected to perform your duty as well as you do in Canada, while knowing nothing about your surroundings.
None of us had been to Turkey, and though none of us were naive homebodies (some of the crew could easily slip into any frequent flier lounge in the world), one of the crew asked, in all honesty, if we could drive to Israel - it is about 1500 kilometres, never mind that it was the beginnings of Arab Spring.
By the time we started shooting, we had quickly come to realize a great many things. The gear was just as good as ours, the electricity was always on, and the food was amazing.
The best thing about doing a historical re-enactment is that you get to shoot inside some pretty amazing locations. We shot one scene outside the