|Written by Paul Mahoney|
|Friday, 13 February 2009 09:04|
Where are you based?
Graduate Program in Science and Natural History Filmmaking, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana, USA
What is it that you do in the film industry? How would you describe your job/s?
Currently I am devoted to producing films for the Internet. These include typical passive programming (watch, learn) and interactive programming (watch, learn, make your own film, and upload into a social community).
Who or what inspired you to work in film and why cover nature and conservation issues?
The potential of the Internet and the sea change in how the newer generations view the world gives me considerable pause. I accept to some large degree Walt Disney’s admonishment: “Forget the adults; if you want change, talk to the kids.” The Internet is their world, and so I’ve dedicated what talents I have to finding news ways to engage people in critical issues about the environment.
What is your favourite place in nature?
A moment alone, to breathe in deeply and exhale slowly,
You’ve been given $10m for a conservation project of your choice. What would you use it for?
I would use it to create another segment for Terra or TerraPod, our Internet sites. Terra: The Nature of Our World (google it!) was voted by Apple to be one of the best Internet sites of 2008, so we’re doing something right. We also won a Webby for it. TerraPod is our interactive site, where we get kids particularly between the ages of 10-14 to use filmmaking as a way of engaging them meaningfully in issues about water, soil, wildlife, the use of chemicals, and so on. Last year TerraPod became a partner with 4-H National (US) and we became available to 7-million kids. What a trip! Now kids are making their own films about everything from biodiversity to water quality and then uploading them to share with others. You can’t begin to imagine how talented a ten-year old can be when it comes to filmmaking or understanding the pressing nature of many of these issues.
Climate change is one of the biggest threats facing our planet. What singular thing would you like to see done to try to solve this?
Well, it’s obvious kids are my focus. Convince the generation to act (and I think we are) and hope we aren’t too late. Old habits are hard to break, so we’re getting kids to question their parents’ habits before they become deeply ingrained in themselves. How big is your carbon footprint? How big is your chemical footprint? What things can you do to start change starting in your own house? Studies show that kids are actually very effective at precipitating change in the household. Change from within!
What has been your most memorable field experience whilst shooting films?
After almost twenty years of shooting in the field for the big broadcasters, it’s hard to say. Lots of scary moments, but probably only one supremely blissful moment in Pacaya Samiria in the Peruvian Amazon when I realized what an undisturbed rain forest really looks like – so full of life and sound. It overwhelmed me even after having already spent years in the Amazon. The rain forest was not meant to be silent.
Where do you see the planet in the next 20, 30 and 50 years?
It depends which side of bed I get out of in the morning. The planet is wasting away under our lack of care. Crisis is imminent. The real question is what will the cost of the crisis be? How many species will go extinct? The planet itself is not in peril; it will be fine in a hundred million years. But will we still be on it? I don’t think so.
Man is again reaching for the stars and plumbing the depths of the oceans. What area would you like to investigate?
Looking inward is far more productive than looking outward.
If you could show one film to the G8 world leaders, what would it be and why?
A tough question. I do know it would be a film that would join the homocentric with the ecocentric and the biocentric, so that people might learn that they are all equal partners and dependent functions of each other. The Butterfly, The Emperor, and the Butterfly Tree comes to mind.
What’s the best advice you could give to a young filmmaker starting out in wildlife and conservation filmmaking?
Join a community of peers and mentors. There is so much to learn (and I’m not talking about filmmaking). It is absolutely essential for a young filmmaker to talk to other more experienced filmmakers and to others their own age from other cultures in order to get a more balanced perspective of what they are doing. This isn’t about making clever films about ferocious or adorable animals; it’s about heart and caring, it’s about reaching into the lives of people in meaningful ways, it’s about getting ordinary people to stop and think before acting, it’s about cherishing that which we have come to take for granted.
What would you like to remembered for?
Unfortunately, I will be remembered for my terrible luck with women.