For the last two months, I have been helping co-produce a short film that celebrates the success of the Fin Free campaign in six Ontario cities: Brantford, Oakville, Mississauga, Pickering, London and Toronto. These cities, two of which I call ‘home’ in different capacities, have banned the possession and sale of shark fins in their jurisdictions. My friend, Maja Zonjic (a passionate shark activist and filmmaker) and I wanted to highlight the positivity of the movement and the passion of the supporters. Turning to our natural comfort zone of story telling, we picked up a camera and started filming people of all ages, backgrounds and beliefs to construct a linear narrative that tells a global, yet local, story of the Fin Free movement.
It seems like just yesterday that I was blogging about the highs and lows of my TV Documentary class. Last April, I concluded that blog post by saying that I wanted to buy myself a camera and keep making more films. Well, I bought myself a camera soon after but primarily used it for travel logs. When the opportunity presented itself, I jumped on board with Maja to give her a hand with this amazing project.
Somehow, we managed to pick the two coldest months of the year to film this project… and do so entirely outdoors. But before we could plug in the microphone and press record, we needed to teach ourselves many things about film making. We spent hours talking to the guy at Vistek, days considering buying versus renting, and months trying to schedule shoots with Fin Free supporters.
From elementary school children, to city counselors, to shark activists, to our friends and families: I was really impressed by the amount of people that were excited to be a part of this film. Furthermore, I was amazed that they all battled the bitter winter along with us.
But my personal favourite part of any film-making process takes place on my cozy and cluttered kitchen table accompanied by endless cups of coffee, illegible notes and late-night tweets. Editing this linear narrative and allotting well-deserved screen time to 100 plus participants was probably one of the hardest edits I have ever had to do. That also, automatically, makes it the most fun.
So after two months of continuously reciting the fin free short film script in my sleep, eight ‘final’ edits, countless file transfers, hard drive crash scares, DVD issues and editorial debates, Maja and I successfully finished and launched the fin free short film last week.
Since the release, the response has been tremendous. We had a 1000 streams in two days with our modest promotion attempts. Many participants sent us personal e-mails congratulating us on the initiative. The Facebook shares, retweets and reposts have also been vastly encouraging.
And even though I got sidetracked from the goal of our project and focused on behind-the-scenes saga, I want to finish on the same passionate note that has fueled our spirits throughout this entire project: Save our sharks! Save our oceans! Save our planet!