Sunday, March 04, 2007

Why Is Nothing Easy?

Well, first of all I want to say that we were warned that working in a developing country isn’t easy, and that there will be cultural differences etc etc. That’s fine, that’s fair enough, all understandable. But the difficulties we have been having with the radio play project are getting beyond a joke. There are two stories to tell here, so I will write them under subtitles…

Part One – Bureaucracy Bites
So when recording sounds, one wants a soundproof space so that we only record the sounds that we want the audience to hear (less cars driving past, kids screaming, hammering from the construction site next door etc.). In town there are only a few such spaces. One is the recording studio where we have already done some of our recording (more to come in part two); another is the current radio station which is only available a couple of hours a day, has archaic equipment (think vinyl and tape decks) and hasn’t been running for the last couple of weeks as they are behind in paying their bills; and the other is the brand new media space that was built through overseas funding, has brand spanking new equipment, and hasn’t been used since it was built due to internal politics.

We have been trying to use the new space, seeing as it was just sitting there, and we thought it might not be such a problem to use it, especially since we had some money in the budget to pay for the use; not to mention the fact that this is a community project and no-one will be profiting from it. Well. We started making enquiries, oh lets see, a few months ago now. We were very aware of going through the right channels. For the purposes of not mentioning names we will use letters of the alphabet to describe the process we’ve been through – hopefully this won’t get too confusing.

We went to the people at department A and they were very supportive – “it’s a community project, very good! Maybe we can give you a discounted price. But you just need to confirm it with big boss B.” So we tried and tried to get in contact with big boss B – eventually ran into him and organized a meeting (as he often seems to be out of the office, and doesn’t tend to return calls). We waited for an hour and a half, and he didn’t turn up. Eventually we got in contact with Big Boss B and he said something along the lines of “Sounds Great! Sure you can use the space. Just go back to department A to get it in writing, figure out rates etc”. Naively we became excited.

Now, the boss in department A (the nice one) has since gone on holidays. So we went and spoke to the acting boss who seems to have a problem with us, or Big Boss B, or just with life. He said “what’s this about? No, you haven’t gone through the right channels. You actually need to go through the boss in department C – he’s in charge of all this stuff. It’s nothing to do with Big Boss B at all!” Of course he said all this in a really nice way, so we just had to keep on smiling as well. Mind you, before he said all of this, he actually made us submit a whole bunch of paperwork. Just to make it seem all official.

We then went to the boss of department C who also made us submit a whole lot of paperwork. He then said “oh, well, it seems good, but well, this studio has never been used before. So no, you can’t use it. And besides the equipment is expensive and it might get damaged.” It didn’t seem to matter that we had a technician who had offered to help us. But then he added “I’ve said all this, but if Big Boss B pulls rank and says that you can use it, then I can’t stop you.” Right. So back to Big Boss B. When he eventually gets back to us he says “Well, the boss from department C does have a point – the equipment is rather expensive. But perhaps you could just use the soundproof room if you have your own equipment.” Ok.

So, then we were waiting for the equipment. There were problems with ordering it, so we had to wait for a couple of weeks for it to come. In the meantime, we had to get Episode One recorded so we went to the other studio, with someone who does all the recording, editing etc (more in part two).

The recording equipment arrived a week around two weeks ago (although we are still waiting on the editing equipment). We tried to get in touch with Big Boss B, but as usual it takes a while. We started recording at my work place as I am leaving in a month and we still have plenty to do, and can’t afford to delay the recording any longer. The recording needs to happen around construction, school kids, rain, cars and general other annoying and distracting noises. We eventually got in touch with Big Boss B who said “yeah, if it’s just the soundproof room, then that should be fine. I’m out of town, so contact my deputy D who will organize it for you”. Or will he?

Next, we contact Deputy D. He doesn’t seem to know much about it, so we have to submit more paperwork. He leaves us hanging for a couple of days as we have sent the fax to another office that is ’20 minutes away’ (You can cross town in 10 minutes!). After many phone calls he says “Ok, should be fine. We will have to charge you though. Get in contact with department A so they can figure out prices and paperwork.” Aarrgghhh! Again, we go back to department A (the nice boss is still away) where we are told “No the boss of department C is in charge of this. Deputy D knows this! You’ll have to talk to department C again.” Maxine very politely explains the situation through gritted teeth and he says in the nicest way possible “Oh sure, I will talk to department C and see what can happen”. We don’t trust him or believe him for a second. We get back in touch with Deputy D who says “No this is definitely something I’m in charge of. I’ll write a letter right now!”

And that’s where we are at with this story line now. I think we’ve inadvertently stirred up some trouble between departments and people who don’t like each other. But we are still waiting on the outcome. Perhaps we will have finished recording by the time it is resolved. But I’ve never experienced so much bureaucratic bullshit in my life!

1 Comments:

Anonymous eddie said...

I am glad you could get that off your chest. Although I had two read it in stages as I fell asleep after the second paragraph.

But I can see where you are coming from, and that's why I live in a Western Society, where we just oppress the people that frustrate us, and laugh at their inadequacies all day long.

As George Bush said to the Iraqi's before the invasion - "If you don't stop selling oil to us in Euro's we will just invade you and steal it! "

10:10 am  

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