|Written by Paul Mahoney|
|Monday, 25 May 2009 10:28|
Name: Chinmaya Dunster
Where are you based?
What kind of films do you make? How would you describe what you do?
Short documentaries on Indian environmental/social issues using my original music as background.
Who or what inspired you to work with film and why cover nature and conservation issues?
Dr Erach Bharucha on Bhartiya Vidyapeeth Institute of Environmental Education and Research, Pune has been my guide to India’s environmental problems and inspired me to blend my music with film to help raise awareness. Nature has always been my main source of inspiration since my rural childhood in England.
What is the favourite film you’ve worked on?
My “Smiles From Off The Road in India” series was the most fun for me to shoot and edit and is still the most fun for me to watch again and again. These are people who have almost nothing in material terms, but still have their smiles. We all have something to learn from them.
What has been your biggest challenge filming in the field?
Terrain: having the camera ready and operational in jungles, snowfields and crowds!
How has technology changed your job? Has it hindered or enhanced telling the conservation story?
The web has given me an audience I would otherwise never have had.
What is your favourite place in nature?
A river valley in deep forest. I can think of so many here in India. I’m just back from the Sarayu River at the edge of Nanda Devi National Park, so that one is uppermost in my mind right now.
From your field experience, what is your biggest concern when it comes to the environment?
The conflict between people’s justified demand for higher living standards and the fact that, under current development paradigms, this can only be met in remote places by unsustainable extraction from Nature.
How do you think the media industry should be addressing environment and conservation issues?
I am trying to find an answer to this myself! The basic principle I work under is how to get people to care. They will only to this once they are touched by Nature’s beauty and fragility. And once they appreciate that all humans are worthy of a decent standard of living.
If you could give one message to G8 leaders on climate change, what would it be?
Have the guts to be unpopular! Risk losing the next election! LEAD on climate change.
What are you working on at the moment?
A documentary report on using pine needles from the Himalayan chir pine forests as fuel for gasification plants in three small villages near Almora, Uttarakhand. This will not only provide cooking gas/electricity to the villagers, but will support regeneration of the natural oak forest through removal of the highly combustible pine needle litter from the forest floor.
Where are you going next?
Ranthanbore National Park, Rajasthan to film handicraft development amongst the local people who have been displaced from their forest livelihoods by the creation of the Park.
What would you like to remembered for?
Spreading laughter and celebration!