Q: What inspired this story?
The Southern Resident orcas inspired this story. I’ve been passionate about orcas ever since I was a child. I’d watch every film and read every book I could to learn more about this animal. My dream was always to work with them. Early in my career, I was focused on how I could help captive whales, but I never would have imagined they were threatened in the wild as well. In 2017, upon learning the remaining 78 Southern Resident orcas were on the verge of extinction, I moved to a small island in the Salish Sea to monitor them, spending countless hours on the water studying their behavioral patterns. I witnessed first hand how dire the situation was. That’s where the idea for Coextinction came from. I’ve seen how documentaries (like Sharkwater, Blackfish or My Octopus Teacher) can create real change; this was my way of trying to save them.
Q: Describe some of the challenges faced while making this film/program?
Making Coextinction has been one of the most beautiful experiences but it has also been one of the most challenging. Funding and burnouts were two of the biggest challenges we encountered, and two we feel are incredibly important to discuss and share. With the heavy-heartedness of the story and urgency to get the film out before it’s too late, our team inevitably faced burnouts. We had to learn how to balance work and our own health and remember that taking care of ourselves is an inherent part of conservation work and activism. Finding funding is connected with this too. We worked in a grassroots and innovative way to find the funding we needed to create Coextinction, but for the most part our team was volunteer-based and worked overtime to get the film to where it is today. We know these challenges are not singular to our project and that we have been extremely privileged to be able to work in this way. We’re grateful we get to share this with you today as we know there is still work to be done to make this work inclusive for all.
Q: What impact do you hope this film/program will have?
From the get go, we created Coextinction with the goal to inspire people to take bold action to protect the orcas, the coast, and people. We hope our audiences understand the idea that all life is interconnected, humans not excluded, and to think of the extinction crisis as a coextinction crisis. No species goes extinct in isolation. If the orca goes, so go we. If we can understand this, we may be able to save the Southern Resident orcas, the Pacific Northwest, and ourselves. We are designing an ongoing impact campaign that challenges humanity, with a focus on colonial capitalist societies, to transform and coexist with all life around us. This is the impact we hope to achieve with this film and story.
Q: What next?
What’s next for us is creating momentum from Coextinction to inspire and engage with people worldwide to galvanize direct action on the issues brought forth in the film and amplify Indigenous voices and movements to support their rights, sovereignty, and stewardship of their traditional and rightful territories. As part of our impact campaign, we are working to build foundations that allow action and change to continue on and be led by Indigenous communities, whether or not we can be there at all times. We are also building our production company to continue to tell stories of intersectionality and protect the coast, this Earth and its people. Stay tuned to see our next films!