Awakening the Skeena Statement from Director/Producer Andrew Eddy
It was a love of rivers, and of the wild fish that call them home, that drew my attention to the Skeena. And it was the dream of someday fly fishing for steelhead on these fabled waters that first connected me to the people of the watershed and ultimately to the issues that threaten the entire ecosystem.
When I first learned about the swim in March of 2009 through the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition?s eNewsletter, my first reaction was to offer to help others tell the story of this amazing woman and her journey. Until that point my role as a executive with Corus Entertainment had always been on the broadcasting side – and not the creative side.
Not long after, instead of making introductions for others, I was making plans myself for a leave of absence from my job in Toronto to direct and produce the film. My first film. Four months later as the newest member of the crew, I would find myself watching the helicopter retreat into the distance and a month on the river to look forward to. A little more than a year after that the film would be completed and making its Festival debut in Calgary.
Calgary is home to so many people who rallied to make this project possible. Including Co-Producers Chad Oakes and Mike Frislev at Nomadic Pictures, Editor and Executive Producer Dave Imbach, Director of Photography Jamie Ross, Composer Beau Shiminsky at Ear Candy and Jump Studios.
This screening is the first chance we?ve had to show the film for many of them.
At the end of the swim, Ali said she felt like the trip was enchanted and that solutions presented themselves when they were needed. The same was true of the film. Whenever we needed help or advice it came. Music was a great example of this cooperation. When they heard about the project so many artists offered songs including Great Lake Swimmers, Leah Abramson, and Rachelle Van Zanten whose original song My Country is featured in the film?s trailer.
Other support came from people who were eager to add their voice to the story, Explorer In Residence for National Geographic Wade Davis, Founder and Owner of Patagonia Yvon Chouinard (who later gave Ali Activist of the Year Award) and Columnist and Writer Mark Hume of the Globe and Mail all participated.
Perhaps inspired by the youthful enthusiasm and optimism of the crew, and those supporting them, the film too has a spirit of hope.
When the Calgary International Film Festival selected the film for its program, they had this to say.
“AWAKENING THE SKEENA has exemplified itself as a thoughtful, well-constructed, well-scored, beautifully shot film. Lacking the kind of strident “doom and gloom” other films taking on Big Oil often have (and I see a lot of films around the subject of Big Oil), the message of the film is grassroots activism—that can be fun, and can provoke thought—without instilling fear. I like that. It feels fresh to me. That ATS is a Canadian production about a very present issue—and that it looks like it was made for the big screen with its big beautiful landscapes—makes it even more of a delight.”
One of the major themes of the movie is that out of sight is too often out of mind. Before we even know what’s at stake it can be taken from us and then its too late. Like the swim, the film sets out to transport audiences to this place left untouched by its remoteness and now under siege. By showing the unspoiled beauty of the place, and by introducing viewers to the people who depend on this region we hope they recognize that it is worth protecting, and that it is not too late for the Skeena.
The other ribbon that runs through the story, is the recognition that individuals can make a difference. That the simple act of deciding to stand up for something or to add your voice to a discussion has meaning and impact. Ali’s great example is that great things are accomplished by the simple act of saying yes, I will. It was an example that inspired many, including myself.