We reached out to the winning filmmakers from our Elephant International Film Festival and asked them five questions about the experience of creating their films.
What inspired you to make this film?
Matt Mays: "So much attention is paid to ivory poaching, as it should be. Poaching is still the leading cause of death in African elephants. I have been going to the Mara for over a decade. In that short time, I have seen a marked difference in the landscape. It seems like every time I go there are more and more people and development. Human/elephant conflict is quickly becoming one of the biggest issues in the areas where elephants range. It’s not just an African problem, either. Conflict in Asia is a massive problem. Groups like the Mara Elephant Project are doing everything they can to peacefully mitigate these conflicts. It’s a workable solution but it’s not a permanent one. There’s much to be done at a governmental level to make more permanent zoning and development laws. Hopefully, a film like this can inspire change."
Were there any particularly meaningful moments or experiences in the process?
Matt Mays: "Watching the Maasai school children embrace the Wildlife Club and truly understand what it means to co-exist with elephants was very moving. Even more so, the fact that they want to empower their parents to do the same was extraordinary. Also, watching Maasai men become trained rangers who are empowered to do great work is very cool."
Describe some of the challenges?
Matt Mays: "We chose to tell this story in short form. This issue is much bigger than just the Mara. It’s happening anywhere elephants range. There is so much more detail and great achievement surrounding the Mara Elephant Project as well. I wish we could get it all in!"
What are you working on now?
Matt Mays: "Plenty! Stay tuned!"
Anything else you would like people to know?
Matt Mays: "Learn more at MaraElephantProject.Org. Help them keep the rangers on the front lines doing this incredibly important work."
Matt Mays oversees film production and online content for the Mara Elephant Project. Mays is a three-time National Emmy Award winning Producer, Writer and Director of television and film. In a career spanning over 20 years, Mays’ work extends to hundreds of hours of TV series and specials, commercial spots, feature documentaries, shorts, industrial films, music videos and much more. Mays directed the environmental film, The Greatest Return, and has produced film content for The Indianapolis Prize since 2006.