|Benjamin Drummond / Sara Joy Steele|
News from BDSJS and Facing Climate Change
First we flew from Lima to Cusco. Then we drove a full day by truck, over the spine of Andes and into the lungs of the Amazon. From there we traveled two days by boat, down one river and up another, the Madre de Dios and Rio Manu.
Our destination was the Cocha Cashu Biological Station, a TEAM network field site located in Manu National Park. We were there to make the second film for our series that follows three TEAM scientists on three different continents monitoring vegetation, animals and climate. Our heroine was Patricia Alvarez.
Patricia measures more than 7,000 trees and vines each year for the TEAM network. This data is combined with standardized measurements from other TEAM sites to calculate tree growth and carbon storage across the tropics. Our biggest challenge was figuring out how to make this repetitive vegetation protocol as interesting as the camera trap protocol we documented for Badru’s Story.
I had no idea Benj could climb trees. But climb trees he did. He positioned his camera above Paticia’s tree plot and photographed a number of time-lapse sequences. We built a composite image (below) from one series, and then animated and layered it with a motion sequence for a scene in the film.
We also set up an impromptu studio and spent an evening making portraits of 40 fruits and seeds that Patricia gathered to demonstrate the astounding biodiversity in this dark, green wall of forest.
Later this summer, we’re heading to Pasoh Forest Reserve in Malaysia to document the climate protocol for a final story in this series. You can learn more about our collaborations with Conservation International in this series of blog posts.
The 35th annual Mountainfilm Festival in Telluride is Memorial Day weekend. We’re thrilled to announce that this year’s line up includes our new film, Badru’s Story (see schedule). We’ve been told by many, that Mountainfilm is the festival not to miss. Unfortunately, a packed shooting schedule means we’ll have to do just that. Please enjoy the inspiring films, amazing community and indomitable spirit without us. We hope to join you next year!
Blue Earth’s second annual Collaborations for Cause conference has come and gone. This year’s event was in Portland and co-sponsored by Ecotrust. Benj facilitated a too-full-of-awesome-people panel on Constructing Collaborations. We also gave a five-minute Lightning Talk on how we turned a 400 page scientific report into four short and personal stories.
Highlights included an opening keynote by Andrew DeVigal and David Waingarten from Second Story and an evening talk with photojournalist Ed Kashi. Matt Black, Andy Maser and others treated us to some inspiring case studies. There was even a grandma bear puppet.
I’ll leave you with six memorable quotes from the event:
“I thought I was getting stories, but I was getting my culture handed down to me, from generation to generation.”
—Ed Edmo, Storyteller, Poet and Artist
“An important note on collaborations: Agree on what success looks like from the start.”
—Amy Kober, American Rivers
“Who’s going to make the change? General awareness is not enough. Numbers are not as important as depth.”
—Amy Yenkin, Open Society Documentary Photography Project
“You’re talking about data? We’re going to get some data. It’s called goose bumps and heartbeats.”
—Neil Ever Osborn, Photographer
“We need to get to the head, the heart and the hand.”
—Julia Plowman, Context Partners
“I have never been more excited than I am today about making pictures.”
—Ed Kashi, Photojournalist
Too much wisdom (and too many friends) for two days. See you next year!
Photos by Carolyn Holland, Tim Matsui, Carey Wagner, Ashok Sinha and Benjamin Drummond.
Earth Day was on April 22nd and Benj and I were at a magnificent party for Facing Climate Change. The event was hosted by our project partner, Cascadia Consulting Group, and our advisors, Spencer Reeder from Cascadia, Amy Snover from the Climate Impacts Group and Eric de Place from Sightline, spoke about their current work on climate change. We were also lucky enough to have Kathleen Nisbet from Oyster Farmers and Larry Campbell from Coastal Tribes share a few words with us after we screened their films. And finally, we have a new set of prints from our Pacific Northwest series! They were there, too. But the best part was the audience, a room full of movers and shakers all working to contribute to the story of climate change in their own way.
Later that week, we headed down to Portland and did a second Earth Day event at Ecotrust. Wenix Red Elk from Plateau Tribes joined us and brought the conversation down to root level. It was an honor to screen our films with our friends at Ecotrust. A big thanks to everyone who joined us there on a beautiful spring evening.
Our new film Oyster Farmers was recently featured as a PDN Pulse Video Pick by Photo District News. “The Team of Benjamin Drummond and Sara Joy Steele have long been using multimedia and video to get beyond statistics and portray the stories of individuals around the world whose lives are affected by climate change,” begins editor Holly Hughes. Read the rest of Holly’s wonderful post here.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is indeed impenetrable. It’s especially so when you’re hauling camera and audio gear through the brush and trouble, trying to keep up with scientist Badru Mugerwa as he sets camera traps in this rugged corner of Uganda. Each year Badru sets 60 camera traps for Conservation International’s TEAM Network, a global web of field stations that provide an early warning system for loss of biodiversity in tropical forests. Badru and his fellow TEAM scientists have collected over one million images of mammals and birds to help guide conservation efforts.
The magic in our new short film, Badru’s Story, comes from our lead character’s dedication, amazing music from Impossible Bird and roughly 30,000 camera trap images of gorillas, chimpanzees, golden cats and giant anteaters that we animated into stop-motion clips. Serious fun.
Badru’s Story is the first in a three-part series that we’re producing for Conservation International. The films follow three TEAM scientists on three different continents monitoring ground dwelling animals, vegetation and climate. Stay tuned for part two where we profile a scientist who measures more than 7,000 trees and lianas every year in Manu National Park, Peru.
You can learn more about our collaborations with Conservation International in this series of blog posts.
We’re grateful to everyone who has helped to distribute our new Facing Climate Change films. Since they premiered at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival in January, they have been part of a nationwide tour and have screened at events from Madison to Los Angeles and Norwalk, CT.
We shared Facing Climate Change with students at our local Liberty Bell High School and then Skyped into a seminar at Unity College in Maine. And they have been written about by Sightline Institute, YES! Magazine, Take Part and a number of others.
Here’s what some of our friends have to say:
“This should be mandatory viewing: four new multimedia films from Northwest artists Benjamin Drummond and Sara Joy Steele. . . The stories are part of a documentary project that makes for an arresting look at the way that climate change and carbon emissions are already transforming the Northwest.” – Eric de Place, Sightline Daily
“I’m planning to use the ocean acidification/oysters piece in my current oceanography class – so many ways your work helps illustrate the impacts of the scientific issues we’re discussing!” – Dr. Deb Goodwin, Sea Education Association
There are number of screenings, presentations and exhibits lined up for the coming months, but we’re always looking for new distribution opportunities. Contact us if you’d like to help!
We’re excited to announce Collaborations for Cause 2013! If you’re a photographer, filmmaker or work in cause-driven communications, this conference is for you. Presented in partnership with Ecotrust, Blue Earth‘s second annual event will take place April 26 and 27, 2013 in Portland, OR.
Collaborations for Cause brings together photographers, NGOs, activists and communications professionals to discuss the collaborative future of storytelling. The conference builds on Blue Earth’s mission to support photography that makes a difference through a combination of in-depth presentations and panel discussions, insightful case studies, and a full day of breakout sessions.
We’ve been working with a great team, including Jason Houston of Take One Creative, on this year’s program. Find the complete schedule and registration information on the Collaborations for Cause 2013 website.