Take Your Camera and Chase The Story

 Zak Podmore is Glenwood Springs native and a co-filmmaker featured in many Wild and Scenic Film Festivals. Inspiration for his films comes from adventures on the river. PHOTO: Will Staffuer-Norris

Zak Podmore is Glenwood Springs native and a co-filmmaker featured in many Wild and Scenic Film Festivals. Inspiration for his films comes from adventures on the river. PHOTO: Will Staffuer-Norris

To honor the creation of films this week, and celebrate our watershed, the Middle Colorado Watershed Council invited Zak Podmore, a Wild and Scenic Film Festival alumn and Glenwood Springs native, to share his thoughts. We asked him about his experience participating in the Wild and Scenic Film festival, the process and importance of creating films about the environment, and the importance of the Colorado River to his films. His passion and love of the River clearly comes out in his work.           

MCWC: What inspired you to start making films?

ZP: The first film I was involved with, Remains of a River, started with a kayaking trip.  After we graduated from college, my friend Will Stauffer-Norris and I set out on a 1,700-mile source-to-sea journey down the Green and Colorado rivers. Will brought a camera along and when we finished the trip, we had enough footage for a film.

MCWC:  Can you explain the importance of film in environmental issues? 

ZP: I've always been interested in the storytelling and reporting aspects of filmmaking. As an editor for Canoe & Kayak magazine, I've written and edited numerous stories that deal with environmental issues. Print journalism can tell human stories in a powerful way, but film gives us more immediate access to the to the particulars of a place. It's one thing to read about the Grand Canyon--it's another to see it. And seeing it helps us understand what's at stake. 

MCWC: How has your relationship with the Colorado River shaped your film-making?

ZP: I probably wouldn't have been involved with any filmmaking if it wasn't for the Colorado River. What started as the desire to go on the longest river trip possible morphed into a desire to help tell the river's story, which in the Southwest is tied to the story of the 30 million people who rely on the Colorado for drinking water.

MCWC: What years were your films in the Film Festival and what was that experience like? 

ZP: I helped produce a series of films for Colorado College's State of the Rockies Project, and Wild & Scenic picked up our films in 2012, 2013 and 2014. I enjoyed screening our films as much as I enjoyed making them. Getting questions from a room full of viewers is far more gratifying than watching the YouTube view count creep up.

MCWC: Do you have any projects are the horizon? 

ZP: Last fall, Will and I published an article on the massive tram that's being proposed in the Grand Canyon (www.canoekayak.com/the-confluence). Right now the only way to get to the floor of the Grand is to float or walk. If the development is approved, up to 10,000 people per day could be dropping onto the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers on the edge of Grand Canyon National Park. The proposal is probably the single biggest threat to the wilderness character of the Colorado River right now. I'm going to keep following that story as it progresses.

MCWC: Any advice would you give aspiring film-makers?

ZP: Get out there and do what you're passionate about. Take a camera along and chase the story as it unfolds.