The Digital Journalist
Letters from Central America:
"Taking A Chance"
February 2007

by James Colburn

Then again, maybe it's "Flying On A Wing And A Prayer" or "Pissing In The Wind."

There are some times in your life that you have to take a chance on something new and exciting and 2007 is my year for just that. I've invested some pretty serious money in video gear and training and starting in March I'm going to invest even more time and money in a three-month stay in France to work on a TV documentary on the French presidential election. A friend in Paris came up with the idea, and, after about 60 seconds of serious thought, I made up my mind to give it a shot.

I managed to find a decent round-trip airfare and a friend-of-a-friend is willing to rent me a room in Paris for €400 ($530) a month that I can use as a base of operations. I'm going to attempt to live cheap, eat cheap and immerse myself in the French culture and language. Okay, so the "immersion" part won't be much of a struggle as it's something I've wanted to do for years but I always imagined it would be done at luxury hotels after a lottery win.

It is going to be a struggle in many ways as I probably won't get to see my wife or college-age daughter for the entire three months (unless that lottery win does come in) and I'm going to be giving up some steady gigs in Omaha, but the potential life-changing aspects of this project make it, I believe, worth taking the risk.

Eating less will help with the continuing weight-loss drive (34 lbs since January 2006) and there are ways to avoid spending a lot on the necessities of life while in a foreign country. Did you know that you can, in many places, save one half or more on the price of a cup of good French coffee by drinking it standing up at the "zinc bar" instead of sitting down at a table?

I'll be blogging a few times per week about my attempts here at The Digital Journalist for the entire three months. I'll try and tell some interesting stories. Perhaps a few people will be interested. Maybe some of those 40-plus guys out there with similar fantasies will read it to either laugh at me or give me a virtual pat on the back. Maybe no one will care. Then again, maybe it has script potential for a Movie Of The Week. Of course, if that high-paying job offer came through between now and the end of February…

We've been attempting to get funding for that over the past few months and while there has been some serious interest from a number of places that could still come through we are, essentially, doing this on our own. I may crash and burn for any one of a number of reasons (the return date on the ticket IS changeable for a mere $200 fee) but if you feel in your heart to do so, wish me luck.

Or, if you know of anyone with connections who might want to provide some funding for a one-hour TV doc on the French election, please feel free to contact me at colburnphoto(at) I can provide PDF copies of our Pitch and Proposal and aside from the one-hour doc we could, for a fee, provide various kinds of content for Web sites, broadcast channels or cable networks.

© James Colburn
Contributing Writer