The power of film in Conservation

Adding to the theme of my previous post, about how we need to involve everyone in conservation- I participated in a workshop on how to engage the public with film. I love movies, doesn’t everyone? As one of the filmmakers in the workshop said “image is replacing the word” (ironic as I write this blog post, ha!). But, he is right. Especially with the younger generations.

People see films for many reasons, entertainment being the primary purpose, of course. For example, most people decide what they want to see based on what they enjoy, how the trailer looked, and what they are in the mood for. How many times do you say to yourself- today I want to see a movie about the destruction of the Earth and how I am the main problem. Probably never.

Unfortunately, “doomsday” is the main message of many conservation focused films. And, well, it is fitting. However- how do you feel when you go outside? Lay on the beach listening to the waves? Walk through the woods and listen to the birds? See fireflies turn your backyard into a beautiful show of lights? Amazing, right? That’s the feeling I think conservation films should give you. That’s why I do conservation, because I am addicted to that feeling and I can’t bare to see it disappear.

Movies like Planet Earth are great at showing you the beauty of our Earth but they fall short of educating you about the amazing processes that are occurring and how we humans are a part of those processes, in both the good and bad ways. Today I was able to talk to filmmakers about those issues. Their main message was that conservation messages need to be compelling stories that effect you on an emotional level. Most importantly, good conservations films need a compelling character- someone or something (even a cartoon) that people can identify with- it is why disney is so successful!

A compelling character such as Austin Bowden-Kerby, The Coral Gardener– check him out, I bet you’ll instantly love him. Check out more of Austin and his amazing coral gardening project in Fiji on the BBC website.

Despite how entertaining conservation films should be, we still need to have a message. Like another filmmaker said: You can’t candy-coat the issue because it is serious, but at the same time you don’t want to be all doom and gloom, there is a balance. I agree. But it is harder than it sounds. Do you have any favorite conservation films that you think do a good job of walking this line?


About tcornelisse
This entry was posted in Conservation solutions, General conservation issues and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The power of film in Conservation

  1. kunstkitchen says:

    Positive ideas and creative messages do help change people’s minds! Will you make a film?

  2. Daniel Hudon says:

    The recent film Call of Life does a good job of conveying what biodiversity is all about and how it’s in jeopardy from human over-consumption/development/population, but it still falls into the category of let’s-see-a-film about how-we’re-ruining-the-world, so it won’t get the attention it deserves. The Wild and Scenic Film Festival ( always features many short films that are personal profiles of individuals who are doing heroic environmental work. I’m sure the workshop told you that it’s about the storytelling and for that, top of my list is The Man Who Planted Trees, which you can find here:

    • tcornelisse says:

      Thanks Daniel! What a great blog post. Yes, you are right about the story telling. Another part of the workshop was about how scientists can pitch their ideas to filmmakers and they repeatedly said- you need a compelling story, without a story there is no film. Thanks for the tips on movies!

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s