|Written by Paul Mahoney|
|Wednesday, 07 January 2009 12:09|
From climbing mountains as a kid, to studying Australian ecology, to bunny-suiting up for work in a cleanroom at NASA, Stefanie is no stranger to adventure. Ever since she can remember, she has been crusading to save the planet and raise awareness about the incredible scientific discoveries happening all around us. Her award-winning films share the contagious enthusiasm of the scientists and filmmakers she works with, and she hopes to continue the happy marriage she’s found between film and conservation far into the future.
Name: Stefanie Misztal
Where are you based?
Silver Spring, Maryland
What is it that you do in the film industry? How would you describe your job/s?
I work as a producer and editor at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, producing videos that showcase the science behind our current and upcoming satellite missions. Many don’t realize that NASA studies the Earth with our fleet of Earth observing satellites, so a large part of our job involves raising awareness about the research NASA is doing on topics like climate change, aerosols, rainfall, and hurricanes, just to name a few.
Who or what inspired you to work in film and why cover nature and conservation issues?
I’ve always been interested in both film and conservation for as long as I can remember. My father is a wildlife biologist and our family vacations were always centered around national parks, hiking, camping, and fishing. But, I have to credit my interest in filmmaking as a career to the film “The Mummy”. (I know, ironic isn’t it?). After seeing it on the big screen while I was in high school, I just knew I wanted to be a CGI animator one day. However, many twists and turns in my path later, I ended up at USC majoring in Environmental Studies, rather than film, and pursuing my childhood passion for environmental education. Nevertheless, film kept calling my name and I finally found the perfect fit in the Science and Natural History Filmmaking program at Montana State University. I’ve been incredibly happy ever since, working in a field that supports causes I care so deeply about by communicating these messages to the greater public.
What is the favourite programme or series you’ve worked on?
I've had the most fun so far working as a freelance editor on the soon to be released Untamed Science videos for EcoMedia and the Pearson textbook company. The videos were so light-hearted and informative at the same time, and I simply had a blast helping out with these in the edit room.
What has been your biggest challenge filming in the field?
Most of the “field” filmmaking we do at NASA is in the satellite cleanrooms, so the biggest challenge is simply dealing with the engineers’ ever changing testing schedules. We never know when a crucial event may need to be postponed and often end-up waiting for days only to drop everything and suit up at a moment’s notice to film an event we only have one chance to capture. Everything has to be perfect and if you miss the crucial shot, history will never give you a second chance to preserve that pivotal moment.
How has technology changed your job? Has it hindered or enhanced telling the conservation story?
I am absolutely impressed with the abilities of the RED camera to produce stunning images that were previously unattainable for low budget productions. The image quality far outweighs any personality issues the cameras may have. I’m so excited about the potential technologies like this have for bringing conservation filmmaking to the masses, and I’m really looking forward to seeing where these head into the future.
What is your favourite place in nature?
I absolutely love hiking up to the top of the mountain ridge behind my parents’ house in Colorado and just sitting on a rock outcrop overlooking the valley below, listening to the wind blowing through the pines. I don’t think I will ever love a place more.
With all your field experience, what is your biggest concern when it comes to the environment?
My freshman environmental studies professor asked me this question my first day of class eight years ago, and my answer is still the same: energy. We are at a pivotal point in history where we can have a massive impact on the fate of our economy and on the global environment, if we simply grab the green momentum to create a truly green economy. We live in a world where the health of the global economy depends on the health of our environment and we need foster this relationship to create a sustainable future for humanity.
How do you think the media industry should be addressing environment and conservation issues?
I think the media needs to present more positive stories about what we can do to help create a sustainable culture into the future. We’ve heard enough doom and gloom stories and people are starving for messages of how they can make a difference based on what others are already accomplishing. News stories don’t have to all be negative, inspiring stories can be just as powerful when it comes to building a greener future.
If you could give one message to G8 leaders on climate change, what would it be?
The economy and the environment are not separate, but are integral. We can create thousands, even millions of jobs, simply by diverting money that was previously spent on feeding our oil addiction to inventing, developing, maintaining, and selling sustainable, alternative energy sources. The more of an investment we make now in our energy future, the greater returns we will see for our economy in the long run.
What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I’m producing and editing the GLASTcast podcast series at NASA, which is a small part of our larger Goddard Shorts podcast. I’m also providing post-production support for the new Glory mission, launching in 2009, that will study the effects of aerosols and solar irradiance on climate change.
Where are you going next?
This summer, we may be heading to Nepal to make an independent documentary, and I’m very excited about the prospect of visiting the Himalayas for the first time!
What would you like to remembered for?
I would like to be remembered by my friends and family, as a passionate person who loved them dearly and who lived life to the fullest. As far as the rest of the world goes…that decision is entirely up to them.
NASA Goddard Multimedia: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/multimedia/index.html
NASA Goddard Podcasts: http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/iTunes/
Untamed Science: http://www.untamedscience.com/