● What inspired this story?
I created Wake Up & Smell the Flowers to celebrate European Ground Squirrels, an
absolutely adorable species! I moved to Vienna in September last year, which meant the
ground squirrels were already in hibernation. So making this film was actually my first time
experiencing these beautiful animals! I was inspired to create this film from some gorgeous
photographs of the ground squirrels and flowers I had seen. I thought what could better
represent Spring than adorable ground squirrels embarking on a frantic flower feast! That is
something everyone just has to see!
● Describe some of the challenges faced while making this film/program?
I aim to create all my films to have only the smallest carbon impact possible. Thanks to
Vienna’s amazing public transport network and with a bit of leg power, this film was created
without a single car journey (and also without flights). Carrying gear through a combination
of buses, undergrounds and trains, plus a 3.5km hike, allowed me to film the ground
squirrels! It was absolutely worth the extra effort, knowing this film was created with such
small carbon emissions.
● What impact do you hope this film/program will have?
European Ground Squirrels are endangered and threatened. Despite being a protected
species, their habitats are still being destroyed and fragmented due to agricultural
expansions and building developments. I really hope that this film will raise awareness for
this beautiful species and hopefully inspire those who live in the same countries as ground
squirrels, to help them. Currently European Ground Squirrels are resident in: Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic,
Greece, Hungary, Moldova, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Turkey.
How can you help European Ground Squirrels?
● Pressure governments to ensure their protection
● Oppose construction on ground squirrel habitats
● Support conservation groups taking action for ground squirrels
● Only feed a ground squirrel sunflower seeds, flowers from their habitat, or pieces of
apple or carrot.
Were there any surprising or meaningful moments/experiences you want to share?
Although I filmed lots of ground squirrels, I spent most of the time focusing on the couple
featured in the film. It was a very beautiful experience as I watched their relationship over
time. They paired up almost as soon as the female awoke from hibernation. I then witnessed
their interactions and affection with each other grow, as well as the male fending off many,
many other males. Once the female was pregnant, they were so focused on preparing for
the new arrivals, particularly the female running back and forth constantly to collect nesting
material, every single morning as soon as the sun was up.
The male ground squirrel is a very curious and friendly little guy, who was often coming to
check out me and my camera, jumping into my camera bag when possible and even getting
comfy in my fellow camera operator, Jack’s, shoes. Everytime he interacted with us, I just
could not stop smiling! It was a beautiful experience witnessing a huge part of these little
animals’ lives. I am also very happy to report that a few weeks after filming finished, two
adorable babies emerged from the couple’s burrow!
● What next?
I am continuing filming and working on stories about Vienna’s wildlife. You would be
surprised just how much amazing wildlife there is in this beautiful city!
What did you learn from the making of this film?
Directors make and shape their films, but it is also true that films make and shape their directors.; They reduce what you take for granted.
For me, making Day Zero radically altered my conception of “Earth” for example, and “Nature”. With every location these concepts became more precious, more fragile, more vulnerable.
The expression ‘living in harmony with Nature’ took on a new and challenging meaning.
And because Day Zero - a global water crisis - is now a near certainty, a catastrophe that will soon affect everyone; and because its impact can be alleviated only if we all pull together in a concerted global effort, the making of the film revealed to me the debt that each of us as individuals owes to humanity as a whole. We can’t turn our backs on this story.
How do you approach storytelling?
These days, there’s always an apocalypse happening somewhere, but it’s normally happening somewhere else. Global warming, climate change, water crisis, most people may have strong opinions about such things, but they can’t always find them. We thought it was our job to help them.
We wanted to make an environmental film for people who do not watch environmental films. We wanted to beat drums. We had a message and we wanted it to be heard. We wanted to give climate change a human face and global crisis a local habitation. Yes, Day Zero is a film about potentially catastrophic shifts in natural weather patterns – but it’s also about your hamburger and fries.
Water is the element that links everything to everything else. Just like film editing. So Day Zero would tell the story of the Water Crisis in a way that only film can.
It would be a film that could cut from Outer Space to a slum kitchen in a South African township; from the Civil War in Syria to the cattle pens in Kansas; from the vast underground caves of Florida to the heart of the Amazonian Rain Forest.
Day Zero was conceived as a rallying cry -an unashamedly demotic, down to earth film about the future of the Planet.
It is a beautifully shot film with a terrifying warning, but also a film that finds in our shared humanity a solution - a way to fight back.
What impact do you hope this film will have?
Modern life on earth, the life we have grown used to, Is unsustainable - there’s not enough nature to go round.
Near the end of the film the narrator says: “People used to say that water was Nature’s way of talking to mankind”.
We hope that people will start listening.
It is common to blame the oil, transportation, and agriculture industries for environmental degradation, but they are not the only ones causing harm. Solely focusing on the most potent players can stop us from looking at other contributors, for example, the entertainment industry.
According to BAFTA, the British film organization, an hour of television in the U.K.produces 13 metric tons of carbon dioxide. A UCLA study found in 2006 California's film and television industry created 8.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and the U.S. film and TV industry created 15 million tons of carbon dioxide. In addition to energy intensive operations, such as air travel, set up operations also have detrimental effects on the environment. For example, props, tech, and people hurt ecologically sensitive areas. Filming 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road damaged places on the African coast, endangering local reptiles and cacti.
Despite these statistics being disheartening, they can also inspire change. Here are some steps we can take to remedy the impact:
-Shoot locally to help the local economy and reduce flying miles
-Feed crew members with sustainable food, which can include organic, plant-based, and meat free meals
-Replace plastic bottles with reusable bottles
-Have recycling and composting bins on set
-Turn off lighting and tech when not in use
-Invest in alternative energy for the film set
-Hire a Sustainability Officer
We have to implement these changes to create a greener future for the film industry.
The history of the camera can be traced back to the Middle Ages. Abu Ali al Hasan ibn al-Haytham, an Arab Muslim scholar born around 965, was the first to use the camera obscura, an optical device that consists of a dark room with a small hole. Light passes through the hole and projects an image of what is outside the room. Since the Middle Ages, numerous technological advances in photography have produced the modern day camera, which is now virtually accessible to everyone. In light of National Camera Day, we have invited two photographers based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming to answer questions about their photography experience.
Anya Enloe - Vanilla Pine Photo - @vanillapinephoto