CREATIVE PEAKS: Blitz Bliss

By on October 13, 2015

Video comp illumes filmmaking finesse and eco advocates.

Team Britain poses with the world’s largest spud in Driggs, Idaho Friday. (Photo: Nick Ppole)

Team Britain poses with the world’s largest spud in Driggs, Idaho Friday. (Photo: Nick Poole)

Jackson, WY – Four burgeoning British filmmakers were traipsing through an Idaho potato farm this past weekend. Though their spud knowledge was rising exponentially, they weren’t there for the taters.  The University of Bristol film students (dubbed Team Britain by their new Jackson Hole cohorts) had teamed up with the nonprofit, Valley Advocates for Responsible Development (VARD). The local organization rescues abandoned land bought by dallying private developers.

Team Britain was paired with VARD during a matchmaking session Friday at Spark. Pulling names from a hat, the matchmaker, One Percent for the Tetons, has been connecting aspiring filmmakers and nonprofits for the past four years as part of its “Video Blitz.” The competition enlists seven filmmakers to produce a film and narrate a compelling tale about a local nonprofit focusing on long-term sustainability efforts in the Tetons. Competitors have less than one week to submit their creation. The films will then be screened during a soiree that begins at 6 p.m. Friday at Center for the Arts. Films will be judged in three categories – jury-selected, audience-selected and online. Winners have the chance to win cash prizes for their cinematic creations.

“This is the highlight of the year for One Percent for the Tetons,” said Jonathan Schechter, who spearheaded the local chapter of One Percent for The Planet in 2006 with Shawn Love. “Any time you can get impassioned people from different worlds finding common ground, it’s magic.”

One Percent for the Tetons traces Yvon Chouinard’s One Percent for the Planet blueprint, asking businesses to donate one percent of their profits to grants for conservation and environmental efforts that protect the planet. Chouinard says that one percent can have rippling effects.

“I could spend hours here talking about some of the results of those grants, how many dams have come down, how many rivers have been cleaned up … that 1 percent is one of the best things I’ve ever done,” Chouinard said recently in a video interview with Schechter.

Team Britain, in town for the WILD Festival held at the beginning of October, filmed their video just one day before their departure back across the pond. Their piece will explains how VARD reclaims zombie lands. These are areas that private developers bought, only to run out of money before actually building lofty golf courses and high-end homes.

Local filmmaker Rich Goodwin has been mentoring novice filmmakers through the Blitz since its inception.  Each year he produces a behind the scenes video chronicling the mad dash to make a polished flick in a matter of days.

“When I actually hear the story behind some of these nonprofits, I’m amazed at the passion they have for these projects,” Goodwin said. One past project in particular that Goodwin recalled is the affectionately named Owl Poo Poo Project, spearheaded by the Teton Raptor Center. Myriad owls, including species of concern, were finding their way into the stinky depths of vault toilets located in the national parks and forests via a long pipe. Once they entered the waste pit, these birds of prey were trapped. Then the Raptor Center received a grant from One Percent for the Tetons that helped them install a simple fix. Screen vent covers attached to the open top pipe have saved the wise winged creatures from dung demise.

The result of pairing up energized filmmakers with passionate eco advocates in order to tell a story results in a shiny finished product, Schechter said. “That life force – the synergy of passionate nonprofits and filmmakers who love what they do animates these videos.”

Now Team Britain plans to take what they learned from filming for the Blitz back to the UK. “This has sparked our interest to work with NGOs,” said Alice Marlow, 25. “It would allow us to meet people who you would never normally talk to and do some real good. The reason we got into filmmaking in the first place is to advocate conservation.”

2015 Video Blitz, doors open at 6 p.m., film screenings starts at 7 p.m., Friday at Center for the Arts. A silent auction will feature dozens of items valued at thousands of dollars. The $10 ticket price includes free beer. PJH

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About Robyn Vincent

Robyn is the editor of Jackson Hole Snowboarder Magazine and former editor of Planet Jackson Hole. When she's not sweating deadlines, she likes to travel the world with her notebook and camera in hand. Follow her on Twitter @TheNomadicHeart

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