Demystifying Climate Crisis Documentary Project - Thank you and an Update

Friday, January 24, 2020

Where she lost her child; (C) Bijayabar Pradhan

I stood in shock behind a heartbroken mother on an empty road in the hinterlands of Nepal, surrounded by pristine greenery while a chill ran down my spine. But it wasn't the freezing wind that sent the shivers, it was the tragedy of a mother losing her lovely, little girl to bad development and exacerbated natural disaster.  That in short, is the best representative story of the unfolding crisis of climate change worldwide today. The immense human cost of climate inaction is not visibly perceived and that is putting all our futures at grave risk. And that's exactly the problem we set out to solve through our documentary - Demystifying Climate Crisis through Human Stories.

In 2019, the world took a beating when it came to climate-related natural disasters that costed us thousands of human casualties & billions of dollars in damages. As the fight against climate change intensifies, the challenge of accurately communicating the urgency of the crisis and the relevance of the consequences to everyone on the planet also heightens. There is a vast chasm between the ground reality and the public perception on the looming threat of climate change. As storytellers ourselves who are quite distressed about this defining crisis of our time, two of us are hoping to address this gap using our skills as a filmmaker and a journalist.

Thinking of all that has passed between the time this documentary idea was conceived (which was only July 2019) and what we've accomplished today, I'm filled with immense gratitude for the opportunity to tell the important story of the biggest crisis we're facing today. And I have to thank you for the part you played in bringing this dream to reality.

To those who haven't followed all the updates, here's a quick summary -

In August 2019, Deej Phillips, a filmmaker from England, and I decide to collaborate and produce a documentary on Climate Change. I'd be the journalist and researcher taking care of the story and script while Deej would take care of converting the story to a visual format, filming & editing that is. We choose to begin the project in Nepal.

In October 2019, we meet for the first time in Kathmandu and begin work on the project in earnest. We brainstorm, meet experts and begin filming by end of October. So far, it has been a self-funded passion project.

By November 2019, we realise the project has a lot of potential, there are way too many stories to be told and with a good production budget we can create a strong and impactful documentary. So along with filming another story, we also start crowdfunding with an impossible goal of raising enough funds within two weeks. The research and search for the next story continues, so we'd be ready to hit the ground once crowdfunding is complete.

By December 2019, we raise sufficient funds thanks to the generosity of many of you and we set out on the third trip to film more stories. By now, we have four promising stories that demystify the complex effects and repercussions of climate crisis. After three months of full immersion into the super depressing topic of climate change, it is time for a well deserved holiday break.

It's January 2020, and we're now tying up loose ends, planning for last schedule of the filming to be done, getting started with post production and in the process of finding appropriate distribution channels for the documentary to have maximum impact in raising awareness about climate crisis. The next three months are going to be hectic but should be very exciting as well.

So what have we filmed so far?

Stills from the documentary; Photos by Deej Phillips & Bijayabar Pradhan

The main idea behind the documentary was to tell the human cost of climate crisis through personal stories and back it up with scientific facts and expert exposition. We have filmed four stories so far. First one explores what it means for the women who deal with climate-induced water stress in the long run. The second is about shifting habitats and changing behaviour of fauna in the anthropocene. The third one explains how recurrent natural disasters interfere with the fate and opportunities of children and communities. And the fourth one recounts the tragic loss of a bright young life due to an exacerbated natural disaster and lack of proper climate change adaption.

What's remaining?
We have stories from the plains and middle hills so far. To make the documentary geographically diverse and well-rounded, we figured another story from the upper Himalayas would complete the picture. Given it is winter now, filming in the high mountains is not possible. We plan to come back in March/April to film that story. Once the final script is ready, we also need to film our experts who will provide clarity on why all this is happening and what can be done to adapt to climate crisis. All of this will be done in the next three months - final phase of filming, pitching and post production.

Meanwhile, check out these great features on my work & the documentary
1. In Mongabay, a reputed environmental publication - Two storytellers unmask the human face of climate change
2. In The Kathmandu Post, Nepal's largest English daily - Highlighting the climate crisis with Nepali stories

At this point, I'd also like to say we're a little short on funds and if you'd like to support this documentary, please contribute whatever you can. At the moment, we're not making any money on this documentary and are purely doing this out of passion. Thanks to the crowdfunding, all our filming expenses and a portion of post production costs were taken care of. However, we haven't made much money either in the last three months because all our time and energies were spent on this creative project. If we don't raise additional funds, we'll have to pocket the cost ourself for the last phase of filming and post production costs. So any monetary help would be greatly appreciated.

You can either use the link below or email me at neelima.vlg[@]gmail[.]com to contribute.

Come along with me, on a virtual journey! Find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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