Farmer’s Footprint

Filmmaker Q&A with Director Nicol Ragland

Is there a particular documentary film or filmmaker that had a major influence on your career?

Jehane Noujaim + Alex Gibney


What motivated you to make this film?

Learning details from Dr Zach Bush on the health impact due to chemical farming. Glyphosate, in particular, is effecting all of us from our water system, food system as well as rainfall. Making the correlation between industrial agriculture and how its affected our global health is a message that cannot be reiterated enough.


Please tell us what camera(s) you shot with primarily – and any other special equipment that you used and why you used it.

RED Camera


Please tell us about any special styles or techniques that you used during the production of your film to help tell your story.

We used a slower and more poetic approach in order to create a distinct feeling of being on a farm. Often times shooting slow motion as well as creating a spaciousness and sense of the landscape was very important in the process.


How did your story evolve from day one, to the very last day in post? Is your story what you thought it would be?

Not at all. Zach was most interested in taking a more scientific approach by pulling water samples down the Mississippi river in order to reveal the chemical run off. It wasn’t until we spent time with many farmers from Minnesota down to New Orleans to learn how important the story of the farmer really was. Amplifying their wake up call in order to change their farming practices was a huge ‘ah ha’ moment as it is so imperative that we reach conventional farmers waking up to the damage that is being done through industrialized farming.


Please describe the most rewarding experience you had while making this film.

Connecting with Dawn Breitkreutz while shooting her share their story of being ostracized in their community by virtue of changing their practices. They had been shut out by their church, local diner, seed distributor etc… all because they had changed their practices to regenerative. Dawn began to cry while sharing that they were finding people all over the world that were part of the regenerative community regardless of their local community shutting them out.


What advice can you give to other impact filmmakers?

The best films are created on strong relationships. Surround yourself with a team that can operate from equal ground but talented within their own skillset. Connect with local NGO’s or organizations that are knowledgeable and impactful within their field of expertise. They have a lot to teach you about an issue. Stay curious.


What’s your favorite part about the filmmaking process and why?

We all have an unconscious bias. Creating documentary films allows me to challenge my own bias. I’m always confronted with an idea that I had going into a story to then be redirected to a completely different storyline by virtue of learning from the direct experience and reality from those on the ground.


What’s the one item you always take with you when working out in the field and why?

My still camera. I’m a photographer first, filmmaker second. I can’t leave the field without creating still images.


Please share a personal story about your experience making this film.

It can be brutal learning from scientific experts when it comes to the health of us and the planet. It’s a reality not many of us really dig into and most likely because it’s so difficult to confront the truth of it all. When Zach and I and our film team finished our two week journey down the Mississippi, I was overwhelmed with sadness by virtue of learning the details of just how dangerous these chemicals are as well as how prevalent they are within our food, water and air. It was a moment of ‘what’s the point in fighting these draconian powers?’ As it was a realization of a form of slow genocide. I, of course, worked through it but it’s a challenging thought to this day.


Can you describe any obstacles you encountered in making your film and/or in your distribution/exhibition efforts?

We really didn’t have many obstacles as we were blessed to have the film funded by Seraphic ( Zach’s company). Our distribution plan was always meant to be a grassroots effort online as well as to accompany Zach’s presentations throughout the country and globally.


What do you want audiences to take away from your film?

The health impact due to chemical farming. The importance of creating food sovereignty within their communities as well as seed saving wherever possible.


Please list key points that should be covered in a post-screening discussion:

The consequences of industrialized agriculture. The principles and practices of regenerative agriculture and community building towards healthy food sovereignty.


Please provide information on any recent developments regarding the issue or subjects of the film. How have things changed or not changed?

A Federal Court Rejected the Glyphosate Registration Decision Because the EPA Ignored Cancer Risks + Endangered Species Risks.

In a historic victory for farmworkers and the environment, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit sided with Center for Food Safety (CFS) and its represented farmworker and conservation clients by overturning the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision that the toxic pesticide glyphosate is safe for humans and imperiled wildlife.

While this is certainly good news, we have a long way to go.


What opportunities are available for those interested in getting further involved?

People can sign up for the Farmers Footprint newsletter that includes many community opportunities, info and updates from Dr zach Bush. Through the website there are ways to connect with your government representative in order to encourage them to learn about the importance of improving soil health through regenerative agriculture.


Please provide any additional resources (websites, links to additional videos, forms, articles, etc.):



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