“Growing up, I always felt a connection to nature. I was raised with a forest and stream surrounding my home, with wild animals around my house, and with a lot of space to explore. As a kid and teen, I loved to spend every summer at lakes and in the ocean. Yet only when I was a young adult and traveled to different places around the world and then lived by the sea for a while, I felt the need to do something to help conserve our natural waters. For me, the way to do that was with environmental communication through documentary films.”
Sabine M. Probst is a documentary filmmaker, producer, and cinematographer. She was also a 2022 Jackson Wild Summit Fellow, participating in a comprehensive program for storytellers to accelerate their project in development through a series of skill-building workshops, networking events, pitching opportunities and mentorship.
Sabine is based in Austria, and she understands the irony of growing up in a land-locked nation and ending up as an ocean conservationist and underwater cinematographer.
“The best advice I could give my younger self is to not compare myself so much to the success
and the work of others, not trying to fit into a mold, and not listen too much to what others think I should do. Not everyone has the same connections and opportunities in life and wants to take the same path,” Sabine shared.
“I used to think that in order to be a credible ocean conservation filmmaker, I would have to have a degree in marine sciences and film and live by the ocean. Yet I come from a design background and live in a landlocked country. I learned the film basics in university, but I also taught myself a lot, took extra courses in film, conservation, communication, and biology, and learned by doing. My degrees in information and media design give me a different viewpoint on projects. Even though I don't live by the ocean, I get to work with marine biologists, conservationists and people that do live by the ocean and share their inspiring stories through film.”
In 2022, Sabine founded Seen Blue, a visual environmental communication organization working with environmental organizations, scientists, and activists to communicate their research, work, and efforts to protect nature effectively. Their newest film, Maydayterranean, presents both the beauty of the Mediterranean Sea, along with the challenges it faces: effects of tourism, lack of legal protection, pollution, overfishing, and more.
“I was writing my master’s thesis about how to use documentary film as a tool for ocean conservation, and I wanted to create a piece that brings theory into practice. I got a small grant from my university to do the project, so I started researching places nearby. The closest sea to Austria is the Mediterranean Sea. What stood out to me during my research was that everyone I spoke to about wanting to film the underwater life in the Mediterranean Sea looked surprised. Even though all of these people spend every holiday in Italy, Croatia, or Greece, everyone thought of the underwater world as lifeless and beige. From then on, I knew that I wanted to show the tourists that spend their vacations at the Mediterranean Sea, and the locals that don't get to explore it, the beautiful world underneath the surface.”
“I eventually reached out to an old schoolmate of mine who is a member of the Mediterranean Education and Research Association, who referred me to a marine biologist and educator working in Croatia and Austria. She opened my eyes to the incredible biodiversity of the Mediterranean Sea, and made my fascination for the underwater world grow even more. She helped me build connections with other scientists, marine conservationists, and researchers. I filmed in five countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea and in Austria, my home country, where I wanted to see what a landlocked country can do for ocean conservation."
Maydayterranean screened at a film festivals worldwide, was presented at schools, and has now made its way onto the Waterbear Network where it can be streamed for free online.
As a former Fellow, Sabine uses the Jackson Wild Collective to stay involved with the community. “To me, the Jackson Wild Collective is a place to connect with like-minded people worldwide. Through it, I’ve found many valuable contacts, made new friends, and stayed up to date on new opportunities.”
Follow Sabine on Instagram to keep up with her work, and follow Seen Blue to get updates on their new projects. Watch Maydayterranean on Waterbear Network.
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