What motivated you to make your impact video?
I’m constantly trying to align my filmmaking career with my core passions and one thing I’m very passionate about is nature. Hardly hearing a peep out of the mainstream media about what’s really going on in these places fueled my desire as a media maker to take on responsibility and start raising public awareness to help permeate the world and create change. I felt that with my skills I could be of benefit to the cause, and awaken people of all ages to start having the conversations we need to have.
Please provide a brief description of the work or organization featured in your video:
The Wilderness Society is a national, community-based, environmental advocacy organisation whose mission is to protect, promote and secure the future of wilderness and other high conservation areas. Since its formation in 1976, The Wilderness Society has achieved the secure protection of over seven million hectares of wilderness and other high conservation value areas in Australia.
What have you learned about the value and impact of the project?
It wasn’t until we had locked-off the edit that I watched the film again and realized that I had created a perspective of Australian identity. Throughout my life I’ve been stuck on the question: “What is the Australian identity, beyond the common cultural icons of “meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars”? For me, creating this film helped me recognize deep within that our true Australian spirit is free when we’re connected with our land. I also feel strongly that our national identity is built around the courage of those who show virtues of resilience, ingenuity and tolerance, when continuously tested through life.
What do you want audiences to take away from this video?
I want people to understand that there is a big social movement happening all over this great country and that it’s ok to be passionate about what matters to us most. I think the right response to our insecurities in life is to trust in ourselves, act from the heart-center, and care for our world because great redemption can come from our own vulnerabilities.
Please list key points that should be covered in a post-screening discussion:
-If the problem is about the banking elite and corporations taking human control, the solution is about people taking back control.
-It’s about power to the people in their communities.
-Unique thinking is what will get us out of this mess. Breaking out of patterns of response and behavior.
-Diversity is the key to our survival. Biodiversity, language diversity, culture diversity, etc.
-This point in human history is a great opportunity to make a difference, and have the power to impact, but we need to get street-wise about the reasons why environmental degradation is being allowed to continue; that is, our economic system is controlling what happens and has infiltrated every facet of our modern society (governance, education, technology, industry, health, environment, infrastructure, justice, science, media), which in effect limits human endeavor to progress sustainably.
What opportunities are available for those interested in getting further involved?
Become a Volunteer with The Wilderness Society
Become A Member with The Wilderness Society
Please provide any additional resources (websites, links to additional videos, forms, articles, etc.) relevant to the context of the issue discussed in your video:
Films For Action article
Save Your Leatherwood Honey
Save The Kimberley
Great Forest National Park
Save The Pilliga
Great Artesian Basin Protection Group
Is there a particular video, film, campaign or filmmaker that had a major influence on your career?
Michael Moore (“The Awful Truth” and “Capitalism: A Love Story”) and Fanny Armstrong (“McLibel and The Age of Stupid”) challenged my thought process in the early days to help make a difference regarding social change. More recently, truth seeking filmmakers like Laura Poitras (“My Country, My Country” and “Citizen Four”) and Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman (“If a Tree Falls: A story of the earth liberation front”) have encouraged me, while Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson (“Baraka” and “Samsara”) have inspired my intentions for cinematic storytelling in the spiritual growth genre.
Please tell us what camera(s) you shot with primarily – and any other special equipment that you used and why you used it.
DSLR Cannon Mark II and Mark III for budget considerations and light-weight travelling reasons, as we were filming in very remote locations most of the time. We occasionally used a slider to help with some live action movement and also a gyrocopter to compliment the incredible scenery of Australia, giving the film a feel of blue-chip production values.
Please share a personal story about your experience making this impact video.
This might sound a bit way-out and weird, but during the editing process of this film I stood out on my balcony at home in the early hours of the morning to brainstorm the middle-part of the edit, as I was struggling to bring a couple of sequences together. All of a sudden a light appeared approximately 500 meters away in the clear sky. What I witnessed was a dome-shaped, white object tracking from south to north over my home. At first I thought it was a satellite but this object was far too low in the sky. The object glided further away and then suddenly stopped, hovered, then returned in the opposite direction. It stopped again, hovered for another 5 minutes, and drifted off northwards again in its original direction. Then the object did a rapid, zigzag maneuver like no other known sky vehicle technology I can think of. It finally shot off into the distance until it could no longer be seen. This all happened over a 15 minute period. I thought to myself, what do I do with this information, this experience? It was my first ever sighting (I had a second sighting 8 weeks later) and I felt more inspired than shocked. Had I just been contacted in some way? I couldn’t be sure, but I continued editing the film using the experience to motivate my own energy sources and complete the film. Needless to say, there were no more mental blocks and everything became crystal clear with the middle part of the film and from that point I seem to rapidly finish the edit. A strange and bizarre experience, but one that made a definite impact on clearing up story problems in the film. Maybe the truth really is out there…
Please tell us about any special styles or techniques that you used during the production of your impact video to help tell your story.
I built this story using a four act structure. The fourth act shows everything discussed up until that point, but using vision and music only. I decided to finish the story this way because it encapsulated the meaning of the message which also gives the audience a powerful and effective ending with something to think about regarding their own future actions.
Stylistically, the film is presented in the form of naturalism (using minimal lighting), combined with blue chip landscapes and wildlife photography.
How did your story evolve from day one, to the very last day in post? Is your story what you thought it would be?
The story of “Nature Needs You” evolved over three long years. In 2012, I volunteered my time to The Wilderness Society (TWS) to create three short advocacy films in the Kimberley region of Western Australia about culture, country, and community, which was filmed on the back of a separate project for Tourism Australia. The success of those films led to the commissioning of three short films for TWS in Tasmania, centered around forestry, food, and river systems, and then another two films in 2013 and 2014 on coal seam gas issues in The Pilliga forest of New South Wales.
In mid 2014, TWS needed a film to launch their fossil fuels campaign, and for budgetary reasons we decided to use some of the characters we had already interviewed previously as a multi-character concept, while also filming another current story about the proposed Great Forest National Park in Victoria to complete the coverage of the Australia-wide, fossil fuel hot spots.
I wrote three script outlines and the final draft was fairly close to what ended up on screen, keeping in mind that once the themes, issues and characters are detailed enough, I then work from an organic place throughout the filming and post-production process to bring about rawness, truth and honesty to the story.
Once the Great Forest National Park story was filmed, I approached the three-week edit using parts of interviews that we hadn’t used in previous films so as not to repeat what audiences had already experienced.
Ironically, the interview information and B-roll footage envisaged during the scripting stage all turned up after sifting meticulously through terabytes of data from the previous films.
As with all my prior experiences working with TWS, their Heads of Department made minor amendments to the first draft edit that was submitted ten days prior to the film launch. The edit was then locked-off, post sound completed, and in early November (2014) the film was shown live at the TWS Annual General Meeting to give staff, members and volunteers a better understanding of the vision for their fossil fuels/climate change campaign.
Please describe the most rewarding experience you had while making this impact video.
The most rewarding experience has been working with people that share the same or similar values about life and our home, planet Earth. These people have helped me understand who I am, where we are from, and where we are going. They’ve given me the courage to not care what other people think about me when I speak out about subjects like environmentalism. I’ve learned that if you worry about what others think of you, or what you speak out about, then you might as well be in living in a prison because you’re never going to progress as a human being and feel any sense of freedom until you challenge yourself and your own belief systems.
What advice can you give to other impact filmmakers?
Create films that deeply connect with who you are, and that passion and truth will be seen and believed when projected on the screen.
What’s your favorite part about the filmmaking process and why?
My favourite part about filmmaking is conceptualizing the story and seeing it come alive. Building the issues that the characters are facing around the key themes and collaborating with human beings to tell their truth in a visual and meaningful way is always a challenge, but constantly rewarding. I tend to thrive when taking on responsibility to execute truthful personal stories. Seeing these people moved when they watch their own story played back at them for the first time is another part of the process which for me is magical.
What’s the one item you always take with you when working out in the field and why?
I always take a hat because the heat of the sun in the Australian outback thins your hair – and I’m living proof of that!
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