The cold, rainy Northern California day couldn’t drown the enthusiasm and buzz that permeated the atmosphere. The topic of discussion: WATER and the numerous critical issues the people of our planet face and will be forced to deal with in the future— pollution, contamination, over-fishing, lack of drinkable water, and global warming-induced disasters. The main question: How can film and media be used more effectively to raise awareness and enact change around water issues?
Participants registering for the SCFFI Water Symposium
Among the many notable panelists was the award-winning filmmaker Michael Nash, who has for the last decade traveled the globe and documented the effects of climate change for his documentary, Climate Refugees. During the closing ceremony, the Social Change Film Festival & Institute honored Michael Nash and his ceaseless work raising awareness about the human side of climate-induced disasters by naming him SCFFI Activist Filmmakers of the Year.
Filmmaker Michael Nash being interviewed by the SCFFI Youth Filmmaking Workshop
The work of panelist Charles Hambleton, associate producer of the Academy-award winning documentary The Cove, was proof of the tremendous impact of environmental filmmaking can have. Stressing the importance of our oceans and interconnections between marine and human life, Hambleton asserted, “If our oceans die- we die. It’s not just about clean drinking water.”
Tim Kring, creator of the hit television series Heroes and the Conspiracy for Good, an interactive, story-telling game that gets gamers involved in real-life social good, shared his perspective on effective storytelling to create social change. Panelist Meredith Blake, CEO of Cause and Effect, talked about how social action campaigns can link with entertainment media to effectively get the word out to a wider audience. And panelist Emily Verellen of the Fledgling Fund, which supports and invests in projects that ignite social change, had a reassuring message- -yes there is funding out there for solid ideas dedicated to social change.
Jin Ziddel, Founder & Chairman of Blue Planet Network addressing water panel
Throughout the day, promising young filmmaking students from a nearby high school were hard at work outside, interviewing panelists and shooting the events as part of the Social Change Film Festival & Institute’s Youth Filmmaking Workshop. To cap off the event, the youth workshop presented a compelling narrative capturing the energy and passion of the day’s discussions, which they planned, filmed, and edited in less than six hours. The Youth Filmmaking Workshop is part of SCFFI’s Youth Programs, which aim to engage future environmental and social change leaders in transformative filmmaking.
The SCFFI Youth Filmmaking Workshop
And the event drew to a close and people waited for their cars in the pouring rain, spirits were not dampened. Everyone knew that the seeds of change had been planted— and only needed a little watering.
Article by Rebecca Koppenhaver
Photos by Thomas Walker