How did you get involved with the EARTH ON EDGE project?
They were looking for someone who had international experience and I got hired. Coming from a politics, public policy and history background it's great to have something to go out and actually film. Working on the EARTH ON EDGE project got me interested in water issues and I then began to investigate the Ogallala Aquifer and change of prairielands to agricultural lands in the American Midwest.
What were the special challenges you faced in South Africa?
The biggest challenge was language. There are 22 languages spoken in South Africa. We did have an interpreter who spoke 18, but our biggest asset was our driver. He had never worked with a film crew but he was very garrulous and gave us a lot of information that you can't get with outside research.
Filming the aerial scenes and the men cutting trees on the mountainside was like choreographing a dance and it took a whole day. We had to film the workers getting on the helicopter then unload them and fly the crew to the mountain so they could then film the workers flying in and getting off the helicopter. At the end of the day we filmed the workers loading back into the copter and flying back down to the valley and then they had to head back up and get the crew. Most of us were watching from the valley floor. We could barely see them.
What are the hazards of filming in the wild?
Candace White scouted and arranged the aerial footage I'm not sure that she'll ever get in a helicopter again, even though it looks like fun from the viewer's perspective. Up on the mountain, the Working for Water tree cutters had to carry the camera for Mark, our cameraman. There was no way he could make it down the hill with the equipment. It was only after he got down that he realized the workers had all been rigged up with ropes and he hadn't.
Find out more about The Working for Water Project.
the Earth on Edge transcript.