Featured Filmmaker: Eric Madeja

eric-madeja1What is your name and where are you based?

My name is Eric Madeja, I live with my wife Cheryl and my two daughters Andria and Alaisha in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. We have been staying in Borneo for the past 12 years and considering it as our home.

What kind of films do you make? How would you describe what you do?

I’m the co-founder and owner of Treasure Images Sdn Bhd, an independent production company based in Borneo. I preferable work on films or projects portraying people living in and around the marine environment and the challenges and issues they are facing. However there are a multitude of other undertakings I do, from wildlife photography to location services for foreign crews and even managing CSR programs for large corporates.

Who or what inspires you in your photography and why cover nature and conservation issues?

I get my motivation from the people I meet while traveling through remote coastal regions, islands and atolls. Quite often it is their actions and sometimes even more their optimistic outlook on life that inspires me. Since my childhood I have a passion for the ocean and living in the heart of South East Asia has made me deeply understand how directly dependent on the sea a large part of the 7 billion people on this planet are.

What has been your biggest challenge filming in the field?

Explaining people who make five dollars or less a day why I want to document their life. I feel miserable bringing thousands of dollars worth of equipment into a tiny wooden hut where a family with eight kids stays without electricity or running water. On the other hand the positive attitude and impartial hospitality I experience in exactly these situations is what keeps me doing it.

Has technology hindered or enhanced your photography?

Technology definitely has made many things easier and provided new ways of filming. Think about tiny cameras like HD Hero and the stunning angles you can shoot with it. Than who would have thought that cameras like the RED, fitting in a small backpack, will mark the beginning of the end for shooting on film. On location my Macbook Pro has become an irreplaceable tool to watch dailies, back-up data, edit footage and to keep track of the shooting schedule.

What bothers me is that we become more and more dependent on a ubiquitous power source to recharge all our new gadgets. Has anyone heard about a solar- or saltwater powered broadcast quality HD camera?

What is your favourite place in nature?

15 meters below the surface on a healthy tropical coral reef

From your field experience, what is your biggest concern when it comes to the environment?

In my opinion it’s wasting of resources. The corporate world is aware that only through deliberate wasting and discarding of surpluses they will be able to sustain the current system of having rapidly expanding and growing economies. It pushes many companies to close an eye towards the uncontrolled and inconsiderate depletion of our planet’s resources. Unfortunately most people don’t question the status quo and many more live in their own small world not aware of the bigger picture.

How do you think the media industry should be addressing environment and conservation issues?

I think its time for the media industry to take on more responsibility. Not only by reducing their own carbon footprint, but also by doing what they are really good in; promoting a certain way of living. Media producers of any genre should make sure that all their programs carry some kind of an “environmental awareness” message.

Soap operas for example are huge in my part of the world. Whole towns come to a standstill when a popular soap is aired on TV. Why not imagine cooperation between an environmental filmmaker and a drama series producer?

What are you working on at the moment?

One of my other passions is history and I’m currently researching some historical shipwreck stories around Borneo. Some “wreck hunter” friends of mine stumbled recently over a mid 19th Century British merchant ship in the South China Sea. If the shipwreck can be positively identified as what the explorers think they have found, than it’s an incredible story involving British aristocracy, pirates and large sharks. We are still looking for producers to get involved, please contact me if you are interested.

What advice to do have to someone wanting to break into the industry?

It really depends what the reason is you want to work in this industry. In most cases I would advice: “Set yourself a target but don’t have too high ambitions. Work hard and be happy for every step you reach”.

What would you like to be remembered for?

For being a good father to my children, teaching them that they don’t have to accept what is not right.

Links:

www.treasure-images.com

Featured Filmmaker: Neil Grubb

What is your name and where are you based?

Neil Grubb, based in Roslin Glen, near Edinburgh, in southeast Scotland

What kind of films do you make? How would you describe what you do?

I make films about local wildlife, focussing on the bird life of the Esk Valley and of Lothian Region, in southeast Scotland, to show at meetings of local and national wildlife, conservation, civic and community groups.

Who or what inspires you in your photography and why cover nature and conservation issues?

The main inspiration has been moving out of the city into Roslin Glen, which is a fantastic place to learn about the wildlife of Scotland. In particular, the sights and sounds in springtime and early summer have been the impetus for film-making.

What has been your biggest challenge filming in the field?

All of my films are done single handedly (with the exception of the music) so the biggest challenge is finding time, outwith my full time job as a cardiologist, to film, narrate, and edit these productions.

Has technology hindered or enhanced your photography?

In the main it has enhanced it, but I have resisted the temptation to upgrade my kit as I believe my productions will improve more by developing my camera and editing work in response to critique than by adopting the latest technology.

What is your favourite place in nature?

The Esk Valley in Midlothian, Scotland

From your field experience, what is your biggest concern when it comes to the environment?

Failure of some landowners to take a responsible view on habitat management

How do you think the media industry should be addressing environment and conservation issues? And if you could give one message to the world’s leaders on climate change, what would it be?

A more balanced view needs to be presented. I find the relentless presentation of environmental issues in negative terms does not inspire change. My view is that it is important to present the positives about wildlife and then impress on the local public the importance of preserving and enhancing what is there.

What are you working on at the moment?

I have just completed a two year project, Outlands, which features the bird life of some of the more remote habitats in my area. I plan to produce a documentary which compares woodland birds of Massachusetts with those in Scotland.

What advice to do have to someone wanting to break into the industry?

I have no advice as I am an amateur and am not directly involved with industry

What would you like to remembered for?

Opening people’s eyes to what is all around them

Linkshttps://vimeo.com/channels/roslinnature

Featured Filmmaker: Carl Battreall

Carl-Battreall1What is your name and where are you based?

My name is Carl Battreall and I live in Anchorage, Alaska.

What kind of films do you make? How would you describe what you do?

I help local non-profits make modern looking and entertaining educational films. I also explore the relationship between artists and the environment. I work on a very local level. There are a hand full of major issues in Alaska that are covered by the big media groups and the famous photographers. And though these issues are very important, they over-shadow the many issues that concern Alaskans.

Who or what inspires you in your photography and why cover nature and conservation issues?

The son of two Forest Service employees, I grew up in and around the mountains. The wilderness inspires me, without it, I and the rest of this world would fall into chaos.

What has been your biggest challenge filming in the field?

I usually work way off the beaten track, unsupported. So the biggest challenge is telling a complete story using a minimal amount of equipment. In Alaska, the weather is always an issue!

Has technology hindered or enhanced your photography?

I always wanted to make films. But that was impossible when I began my career, so I focused on still photography. Technology now allows me to create films as an independent filmmaker. When I started, twenty years ago, I was told I would need to risk everything and go in debt, borrow money from everyone I knew, just to make a movie. I wasn’t willing to do that and now I don’t have to.

What is your favourite place in nature?

On the tundra, right at the base of a towering peak or descending glacier.

From your field experience, what is your biggest concern when it comes to the environment?

The biggest issue is a lack of connection with the environment. Lots of people use the wilderness as a playground but they never make a bound strong enough with nature to change their ways of living. Even more discouraging is that many of the people I know have slowly lost their drive to fight. The burden is too heavy, the enemy too strong. They just recycle, donate to a few non-profits and call it good, they have given up.

How do you think the media industry should be addressing environment and conservation issues? And if you could give one message to the world’s leaders on climate change, what would it be?

I think the mainstream media industry is useless, their system is all about ratings and making money! How can anyone be honest and tackle the seriousness of the problems when you depend on advertising and you can’t politely offend or challenge anyone? Same issue with the world leaders. My message is to the people: We have to change, we can’t depend on the governments to save this planet!

What are you working on at the moment?

I just finished a project for the Bristol Bay Native Corporation titled a Day in Our Bay. Instead of a bunch of filmmakers filming the lives of the natives of Bristol Bay, I and a handful of local filmmakers went to remote villages and instead of filming, we taught them how to make their own films. So now they can share what is important to them, not what we think is important to them.

What advice to do have to someone wanting to break into the industry?

Stay local and tackle issues that are important to the local population. That is where the funding is for indie and first time filmmakers and that is where real change can be made.

What would you like to remembered for?

Being a nice person who did his best and led by example.

Links: 

www.photographalaska.com