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?