|Laura and Robert Sams|
|Written by Paul Mahoney|
|Tuesday, 02 December 2008 09:16|
Laura Sams (sis) and Robert Sams (bro)
Where are you based?
Sisbro Studios in Portland, Oregon
What is it that you do in the film industry? How would you describe your job/s?
We create children’s wildlife films, books and music. We also travel around the world doing educational programs based on our work. For example, we just finished a book called A Pirate’s Quest, which tells the story of a one-legged pirate on his search for his lost family heirloom peg leg, from the lakes to the rivers to the sea (he passes lots of animals on his journey through these ecosystems). The book is based on a song in our latest movie The Riddle in a Bottle, which helps children learn how life on earth is connected through moving water. So what was our job today, you ask? We visited an elementary school and Robert sang like a one-legged pirate. Laura sang like the one-legged pirate’s two-legged sister.
Who or what inspired you to work in film and why cover nature and conservation issues?
Wildlife filmmaking allows us to blend a variety of our true passions: nature, art, humor, music and education. We both have degrees in zoology and Laura has a Master’s Degree in environmental education.
What is the favourite programme or series you’ve worked on?
Laura – My favourite program so far was The Riddle in a Bottle. Besides filming underwater (sea turtles are awfully cute), there was a great moment when we were recording a song called “The Tide Song” with a string quartet and choir in a beautiful church sanctuary, with the music ringing and echoing around us, and I was really proud of how our movie was progressing.
Robert – I definitely loved working on The Riddle in a Bottle. Filming underwater has always been one of my true passions.
What has been your biggest challenge filming in the field?
Laura -- Certainly filming underwater is a challenge. But in a strange way, one of our biggest challenges was filming North American animals like deer, squirrels and birds for a movie called Lost in the Woods. The movie is based on a children’s book with wildlife photography, and we had to film animals to match the photographs in the book (after the photographs were taken). For example, we couldn’t just film a cardinal. We needed to film a cardinal in a tamarack tree with his head turned slightly to the left, to match the photograph.
How has technology changed your job? Has it hindered or enhanced telling the conservation story?
Robert -- When I think of technology, I think largely of camcorders and editing software. It’s a funny game that goes on, since it changes so often. New toys come out every year, and it’s hard not get caught up in the craze of wanting the newest equipment. I think mostly, the advancement of technology has helped us capture a prettier picture, but I’m not sure that has helped us tell a conservation story any better. I think to a large extent, the strength of the story is more important than the technology behind telling that story.
What is your favourite place in nature?
Laura – My favourite place is my grandfather’s cottage in Northern Michigan. When I was young, we used to drive around and count deer grazing in fields at dusk. I don’t know if it’s coincidence or not that our first movie was about deer . . .
Robert – I don’t have one single place. I love those rare moments when I feel completely out of sight and sound of civilization. I think I get that feeling most often when I’m scuba diving.
With all your field experience, what is your biggest concern when it comes to the environment?
Robert - All the problems I see come back to the problem of overpopulation. There are simply too many people on the planet. And the environment pays the price for all of our modern conveniences.
How do you think the media industry should be addressing environment and conservation issues?
Laura – I think the industry should continue to partner with educators to use their programs as springboards for active learning. We consult research about creating environmentally active citizens (especially Hungerford and Volk’s model for Environmentally Responsible Behavior) when creating educational materials.
Robert - I think the media industry should be addressing environment and conservation issues in the most diverse ways possible. There are too many audiences to be reached otherwise.
If you could give one message to G8 leaders on climate change, what would it be?
Robert - Listen to the scientists from around the globe.
What are you working on at the moment?
Robert - We are currently working with The Save Our Seas Foundation to make more films based on The Riddle in a Bottle. Get ready for sharks and coral reefs with a Sisbro twist.
Where are you going next?
We’ll be doing some more exploring of our new home state of Oregon. We just relocated here in the spring. Oregon is a very ecologically diverse state, and there will be a lot to discover.
What would you like to remembered for?
We would like to be known for inspiring children to fall in love with the natural world…before we one day ask them to save it. Also we’d like people to remember that we are sister and brother, not married.