Over the past few years, independent, documentary type films have grown in popularity, especially those focusing on the outdoors. There are a countless number of traveling film festivals that focus on conservation topics, hunting and fishing. Several of each stop in Northeast Ohio, too.
Last weekend, the Wild & Scenic Film Festival came to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. I had never attended this particular touring film fest before, and wanted to check it out while learning a thing or two.
Most of the films they showed focused on oddball topics like the use of straws in restaurants, specific species of bumble bees or pangolin (an animal you’ve probably never heard of) poaching in Southeast Asia, to name a few.
They were very interesting, but the subject matter of these films has created too much of a niche market and the average outdoorsman cannot relate. Sometimes it feels as if people are just trying to make a movie as opposed to telling a real story, something writing and television should do.
It’s inspiring to see conservation efforts to eliminate plastic and preserve our natural resources. As an outdoorsman, I love seeing the call to action and awareness people can promote through visuals. But, anyone with the money to afford a new camera and editing software can make a movie and try to get sponsorship from a company willing to support them.
This wasn’t just an issue with the Wild & Scenic Film Tour which, don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy. But in last year’s Fly Fishing Film Tour, there were countless films about fly fishing in Russia where it’s over 10 grand per week to fish.
At last year’s Banff Mountain Film Festival there was a 20 minute film about skiing in Iran.
If people started focusing outdoor media on things the audience can realistically go and do, unlike paying 10s of thousands of dollars to go on a trip, the message would resonate with so many more.
There is still a need for good quality outdoor productions. We just need to refocus the subject matter in order to produce a film that people will take action after seeing.
Education about conservation groups and things that have a lasting impact on our planet and wildlife is important.
I’m a member of Trout Unlimited, Pheasants Forever and other organizations of that type that help promote awareness and efforts to keep water clean and habitats protected.
Ducks Unlimited, whose mission is to conserve, restore and manage wetlands and habitats for North American waterfowl, just received a $5 million donation from Energy Transfer Partners to support Ducks Unlimited Great Lakes Initiative affecting our watersheds here in Northeast Ohio. The Great Lakes Initiative’s mission is to “maximize benefits for continental waterfowl by restoring, enhancing, and protecting wetland complexes that include large marshes and shallow lakes on public and private lands throughout the watershed.”
Duck hunters use these areas and they need to be protected and cared for if we’re going to enjoy our natural resources.
It’s not that programs and stories we read shouldn’t focus on these grandiose topics, as they are important in the big picture. But a local, impactful story that inspires someone to get out and become an ethical outdoorsman has been overlooked in the outdoor media industry over the past few years.
Contact Brad Zahar at firstname.lastname@example.org.