|Written by Tanya Petersen|
|Sunday, 17 August 2008 06:16|
She has slogged through leach-infested swamps in Asia, negotiated her way through the maternity ward of a colony of vampire bats in the pitch dark in a central American cave and experienced life in "Death Valley" coming out the other end with the utmost respect for Mother Nature. But Gianna has more than an insatiable appetite for adventure. She has a passion for the environment that drives her to sink her teeth into some of the most critical conservation stories on the planet.
Gianna Savoie is an award-winning writer and producer with over a decade of experience in Science and Natural History filmmaking and she's one of our featured film-makers.
Where are you based?
New York City
What is it that you do in the film industry? How would you describe your job/s?
I am a freelance producer and writer of natural history films. My favourite part of the job is sharing the heroic little stories of nature's "un-lovables" with people.
Who or what inspired you to work in film and why cover nature and conservation issues?
From a very early age, I felt a special connection to the natural world. I was fortunate to grow up in an area of New England that (at the time) had some lovely forests. Some of my fondest childhood memories were of walks in the woods with my father as he taught me how to tell a beech from a birch. I grew up watching programs like Wild Kingdom and NATURE and I would say those films further inspired me to want to protect the planet's species and their habitats. I went to Graduate School and received a Master's degree in Environmental Biology and had plans to become a Conservation Biologist. In my final semester of grad school I began interning with the PBS series, NATURE, and discovered the importance of communicating conservation messages to the general public. I soon learned that I was much better at telling the stories of the creatures who were struggling to survive, than I was at actually doing the science myself!
What is the favourite programme or series you've worked on?
My favourite project was the film, Life in Death Valley, which I produced and wrote for NATURE. Death Valley is a place where Mother Nature can be, frankly, extremely tough and we were consistently finding ourselves humbled by her on a daily basis. But it is also one of the most staggeringly beautiful places on earth - full of surprises and contradictions. The more time I spent there, the more deeply I fell in love with the complexity of the place and its wildlife. I am currently in production on another NATURE film, so we'll see how this one stacks up!
What has been your biggest challenge filming in the field?
Wildlife does NOT stick to production schedules, adhere to call times, or, apparently, read the treatment!
How has technology changed your job? Has it hindered or enhanced telling the conservation story?
I think technology has helped enormously in telling conservation stories. First off, not only is research easier, but cameras and editing systems are only becoming more user friendly and more affordable, so there are more stories being told. Secondly, there are so many outlets available for getting a message out there that more conservation stories are being heard. Finally, technology has made it possible for people to rally together, share and act on the issues in immediate and effective ways.
What is your favourite place in nature?
For me, there is no place that stirs my soul like the desert regions of the south western United States. Nothing in the desert is superfluous - it's all about the basics. It's a place where the elements of nature are so bold that there is no need for anything else. And when I visit, it reminds me of all the things I don't need in life - except for maybe a camera!
With all your field experience, what is your biggest concern when it comes to the environment?
Overpopulation is by far, is my biggest concern. As more and more people vie for space, food, and resources on this planet, the stress on the environment becomes exponentially far more difficult to alleviate.
How do you think the media industry should be addressing environment and conservation issues?
It's all about empowerment and bringing the stories "home." Good science can also be a good story and I think that the media just needs to keep finding ways of addressing environmental issues in ways that are relatable to people, that touch them in a personal way, and provide an outlet for action. As the issues are now starting to bite us all in the butt and we are feeling the effects on a personal level, it seems "the environment" is no longer this remote, far away place. These days, everyone is directly impacted by the state of the environment. I also think it is HUGELY important that we continue to celebrate and champion the conservation success stories, so that folks understand that even the most vulnerable species and habitats are not all doomed and that we can each do something to make a difference. We have gotten over the fear of using the "c" word - but that's only the beginning. The media can do a great deal to empower people to be responsible and effective stewards of the planet.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am currently in production on a very exciting film about wolverines for NATURE. I am so thrilled to be making this film because it gives me the opportunity to share the story of one of the most remarkable yet misunderstood (and misrepresented) creatures on this planet - one that is fiercely deserving of protection.
Where are you going next?
I'll be headed for chilly isolated northern climes.
What would you like to remembered for?
Heck, it's certainly not important at all that I be remembered. What is important is that we remember the rhino, the sea turtle, the meadowlark, the wolverine. They are the ones with lessons to share. We should be taking our cues from them.