A NEW FILM ABOUT ENDANGERED
SPECIES IN BRITISH COLUMBIA
Written by THRIVE Program Teacher, Tyson Schoeber • Last Updated: 06-26-2015
THRIVE's newest film introduces some of BC's endangered species and outlines their need for better protection. Taking nearly two years from start to finish, its creation was something of an odyssey. Yet the work is now done and we are very pleased to finally be able to share the results of our work.
The earliest work on this project was done by most of the same students who created our last film, the award-winning Poisoning The World in 2012. Many of those kids moved onto high school a few months later so the majority of the work on this film was done by a new crew.
While the idea seemed simple at the start, this film turned out to be the most ambitious project we've ever undertaken. Our efforts included extensive web research, interviews and several key field trips. We ended up with a great deal of material to work with and the kids' plans developed gradually. The script was the most detailed we've ever produced and, as one student recently observed, this was the first time that the script was largely finished before filming even began.
This film runs for nearly sixteen minutes in total — three times longer than any of our previous films. While it includes footage and photographs that were graciously contributed by a handful of professional photographers, the kids filmed all of the interviews and did virtually all of the editing themselves. Indeed, as anyone who has ever hung around a THRIVE filming project knows, I do my best to keep my mouth shut with regard to scripting and content and my hands hardly ever touch the equipment. I coordinate field trips and handle the behind-the-scenes communication with the experts we meet but I also make a real effort to limit my role to teaching the kids the skills and attitudes they need to succeed as film-makers. I don't even get a vote when major decisions are discussed! That way, the kids can truly own the product — and the rewards that come with a job well done.
With all of these things in mind, there are many things that I'm sure I will always remember about this project, including:
- seeing new leadership emerge amongst the kids over time. The two student directors, Riad and Aidan, showed a real passion for the subject and did a remarkable job.
- watching the kids' ideas for skits develop, deepen and improve over time. You would not believe how many times the kids tried some of those scenes!
- seeing students learn new skills. Lots of kids tried new things and we even figured out a new way of recording voiceovers that a couple of students mastered.
- helping our directors draft a letter to Fisheries and Oceans Canada, asking for access to some of their footage of the North Pacific Right Whale — and getting a favourable response to our request.
- interviewing experts at a habitat restoration site in Abbotsford, the Vancouver Aquarium and a using Trout Lake as a venue for filming other scenes.
- the tremendous encouragement and support we have received from the Wilderness Committee. Isabelle Groc, their BC Species At Risk Project Coordinator, was a most amazing behind-the-scenes partner — consistently patient, knowledgeable and encouraging.
- seeing some of our newest students dive into the project over the past few months and still manage to make important contributions. A couple of them already show real promise for a new generation of THRIVE films.
Even though this film isn't perfect, I am very proud of the kids' efforts. The finished project reflects their best efforts to understand and explain a complex subject and there's no doubt that we've all learned a great deal from the process.