Documentary Film and Video Partners
REEL THINGS PRODUCTIONS
Uranium Drive-In follows a proposed uranium mill in southwestern Colorado — the first to be built in the U.S. in 30 years — and the emotional debate pitting a population desperate for jobs and financial stability against an environmental group based in nearby a resort
town. Without judgment, both sides of the issue are brought to life in heart-wrenching detail as the film follows conflicting visions for the future. The film offers no easy answers but aims instead to capture personal stories and paint a portrait of the lives behind this nuanced and complex issue. The film premiered at the Mountain Film Festival in Telluride, Colorado in May 2013.
BagIt, The Movie
From June, 2008, REEL Thing Productions, in partnership with the Telluride Institute, created the award-winning documentary film, Bag It. Many environmental films leave viewers frustrated and angry, with no real sense of what they can do to make things better. Bag It seeks to empower people and leave them feeling motivated and positive about the changes they can make today and as soon as they leave the theater. To help achieve this goal, Suzan Beraza and her team incorporate humor in the film. It is their belief that people tend to respond more positively listening to a message when it is not beaten into them and when it is offered with a dose of humor. As such, the host for the film is a TV talk show host, comedian, environmentalist, and host of the Telluride Comedy Festival, Jeb Barrier. While
some dismal details about plastics and their environmental impacts are revealed and explored, they are interspersed with truly humorous moments.
Another goal of the film is to educate and inform by telling the compelling and informative story of plastic bags and other single-use disposable plastics. The film follows the life of a typical disposable product, from its “birth,” through its very short functional life, to its long afterlife. Does it end up in a landfill, at a recycling facility, in the ocean, in a warehouse, or in Asia? BagIt covers the impacts of plastics on the environment and on health. The journey takes the film crew across the globe, telling a comprehensive story.
One of places that plastics ends up is in our oceans. The crew travels to the Hawaiian Islands to learn about the impacts of plastic debris on dolphins, sea turtles, Laysan Albatross, seals and other marine life. Laysan Albatross have become a poster child for the ill effects of plastics in our oceans. The female albatross lays only one egg on nesting grounds that favor the outer Hawaiian atolls, such as Midway and Kure Atolls. Both parents nurture the chick, foraging hundreds, and even thousands of miles, returning to regurgitate food to their young. Unfortunately, in this age of plastic, what was once a typical diet of fish, fish eggs, squid and octopus is being replaced with synthetic plastics. When it is time to fledge, the young chicks are often malnourished to the point of being unable to take flight. It is estimated that several hundred thousand albatross are being affected each year. Because of the remote location of these islands, almost no footage exists showing the plight of these magnificent birds.
BagIt also features interviews with scientists and researchers who explain the long term health effects of common chemicals found in plastic. More and more diseases are being attributed to “environmental causes.” Many potentially harmful chemicals, such as bisphenol A and phthalates, are found in plastics, and yet the FDA assures us that no significant studies have shown harm. In fact, many studies conducted by governmental agencies and by impartial research laboratories show great cause for concern. Not surprisingly, the FDA is looking at studies conducted by researchers funded by the plastics industry. We help uncover some of these findings so that viewers can make informed choices.
Plastic is everywhere. There is no way that we can just get rid of it, but there are alternatives. One of the simplest solutions that anyone can do is to kick the plastic bag habit. The BagIt crew travels throughout the U.S., Asia, and Europe to investigate how other countries are decreasing their use of plastic bags. Some countries, including China and Ireland, have banned free plastic bags. How are these policies working? The crew examines cities in the U.S. that have banned plastic bags, such as San Francisco, and they investigate recycling and biodegradable bags. Are plastic bags really recycled? Where do they go? What is biodegradable plastic? Will it biodegrade outside a composting facility?
The BagIt crew also investigates the root of the plastic problem. As a society we have been lulled into a complacency where easy,
cheap and convenient has become the modus operandi. We no longer question whether we truly need something, or whether we just want it. Things don’t last, but they are cheap to replace, so we just buy another one. We show how the average person can make changes in his/her own lifestyle to decrease the amount of plastic that ends up in the landfill and in our environment. The goal is to leave the viewer hopeful and inspired, and with a whole new set of healthier environmental habits.
OTHER FILM PROJECTS
VIDEO WORKSHOP MATERIALS
Collins, D. & Bombe, K. (2015). The colorado river re-storied: A primer for student-led video documentaries. Telluride Institute.