I hope people enjoy it and I’ll be curious if viewers welcome it, but there is a strong environmental thread that developed in our mini-doc.
I heard a story a couple of years ago on NPR which addressed environments similar to Alaska. Rather than the Yukon-Kuskokwim region, however, it addressed the loss of habitat for polar bears once we lose the remaining arctic ice. The story suggested we save a handful of polar bears from extinction and put them into artificial environments and zoos.
What was amazing about the story wasn’t that they were talking about the possibility of the loss of polar bears, nor the possibility of the complete loss of arctic ice, for that matter. It was the absolute and casual certainty they displayed that it will happen.
They didn’t devote any time to debate like the 24 hour news stations would have done. The scientists had already moved past the point of analyzing the fate of the polar ice caps and moved on to whether or not it was worth saving polar bears at all if there would no longer exist an environment in the wild in which to reintroduce them. Would we simply be saving some polar bears for our own curiosity and enjoyment?
It actually brings me to a concern I have about documentaries, in general. Are they purely for our entertainment, curiosity and enjoyment? Or, can they actually make a difference?
My hope that they can educate in a way that actually changes people’s behavior usually feels wildly and overly optimistic. It’s what got me interested in making them in the first place, though. I want to educate, share, and try and make things better than when I found them. It’s kind of what artists do, really: Make things better than we found them. The best art, I think, also makes us question what is around us, reveals universal truths, educates and inspires.
However, I’m also a realist. Yes, we want it to educate, inspire and make people question what we are doing to the planet, but I am doubtful our film can make any real impact.
Of course, that won’t stop us.
And, naturally, I hope people enjoy it.