Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Filmmaker Q&A: Scott Drucker, "Between The Harvest"

Filmmaker Scott Drucker’s film “Between the Harvest” explores the complex story of legal, but controversial, harvesting of endangered sea turtle eggs in Ostional. The film does not pass judgment, but seeks to illustrate the need for balance between the needs of human populations and the effects that populations have on our shared environment. “Between the Harvest” is playing as part of Program 11, Sunday March 13th at 1:00 pm. Click here to buy tickets and here to watch the trailer.

What is your overall summary for the film?

Between the Harvest is the story of Ostional, a small coastal community that relies on the legal harvest and sale of endangered olive ridley sea turtle eggs. Told through the eyes of these two fragile species, this short documentary delves into one of the biggest controversies in the marine world: is this harvest really an exemplary sustainable project?

What was your inspiration for creating the film?

Five years ago, for a study abroad project, I spent two months developing a library for the kids of Ostional. I taught some English, researched the olive ridley by night, and occasionally filmed samples of life. When I screened the footage for a final presentation, my good friend Jess said, “You have to do this. You have to come back one day and make this film.” When she died two years ago it all became clear to me. All the craziness of grad school at USC drifted away and I knew that I had to go back and make this film, despite the lack of support from the school.

What was the most challenging part of creating the film?

Ensuring the people that I was not there to harm them or to stop the project. It was not easy to gain their trust since so many people go to Ostional, film them taking the eggs without ever asking, and then disappear without anyone ever hearing from them again. I feel like Adam Beals (another student from my abroad program) said it well since it applies to these filmmakers and photographers as well. He said, "I realized then that tourists and turtles both have a virtually identical impact on the community of Ostional; they arrive out of the blue, bestow untold riches upon the town, and then return to their glorious lives in other parts of the world, thereby leaving the people of Ostional no choice but to wishfully burn the days until their beneficiaries return." A good documentary is connecting with the people that you are filming so that both elements, story and style, become one. When I went to research the project idea over the summer, people were very hesitant, but in the end we sat and listened to what they had to say and genuinely cared about their perspective and livelihood. For almost everyone in the town it was the first time anyone with a camera had ever asked them about the project and what it meant to them.

What do you want to impart on your film’s viewers?

That there are these whole communities and people behind everything the ocean experiences. Ostional is just a microcosm for this bigger picture. It illustrates how interconnected we all are.

How or why did you begin creating ocean-focused films?

Jacque Cousteau. That might be cliché, but I take one look at one of his spots and I can’t help to love what he did, just anything Cousteau. Life Aquatic is a brilliant parody that just inspires me that much more to create ocean-focused films, both fiction and non-fiction.

Why did you choose to submit your film to the San Francisco Ocean Film Festival?

I wanted to premiere or screen at a festival where people actually cared about the ocean and the communities that surround it, as opposed to a festival that was more concerned with juging the work, or with distribution and industry networking. I genuinely care about the work and the people and am excited to be in an environment where people share a common passion.

What was the most memorable moment in creating the film?

One of the very last days filming when we were in the fish market and it all just came together. After two months of intense conversations about the purpose of the film, what we were trying to say, etc. and then the intensity of filming the whole arribada, we finally had the chance to follow the eggs to their final destination. After interviewing a woman who owned a store in the market, we all just sat in this café and could not help but to smile at each other. We knew we had just finished this incredible journey.

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