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Last Stop: Australia

Allison Argo on a shoot in Yosemite National Park

Filmmaker Allison Argo shares her stories from the making of Frogs: The Thin Green Line.

I had to get on with the edit, so Andy (cinematographer extraordinaire) and his wife Susan (sound recordist extraordinaire) went on this shoot solo.

Australia’s frogs have been hit by the same host of problems as ours.  But to top it off,
Australia has been experiencing one of the worst droughts in history – and frogs have been feeling the effects of climate change.  Andy and Susan spent a frantic week following Gerry & Erika Marentelli (from the Amphibian Conservation Centre) as they underwent heroic efforts to save some of Australia’s most endangered frogs.  They shot on top of mountains, in deep river gorges and in the thick of cattle country.  No matter where they went, frogs were in trouble.

Meanwhile, I was well into the edit here.  Trying to make sense of all the stories and footage is always intimidating, but as the weeks pass, the stories and characters begin to find their place in the film.  Each person – and each frog – provides a critical piece in the puzzle, until… one day, it’s a film!

Every film carries the filmmaker on a unique journey – often in an unexpected direction.  I hadn’t realized that this film would hit so close to home – or that I would feel such a sense of personal responsibility.

Having witnessed the frogs in Panama, I have a greater respect for amphibians than ever.  That small patch of forest holds so much magic and so many millions of years of evolution – I now shudder to think of how fragile it is.  All of that biological brilliance can be wiped out in a matter of months.

I had also never realized how important amphibians are.  We’ve just begun to mine them for medical cures.  They offer hope for everything from HIV to diabetes.  But even more important is the role they play in our ecosystems: they sit in the middle of the food chain.  In places where they’re gone, insect populations are on the rise and predators like snakes and birds are disappearing.

I realized in making this film that the frog problem is everyone’s problem.  We can all make choices everyday that will help give frogs a leg up.  We can stop using pesticides and fertilizers, we can do our part to lessen global warming, we can buy locally and buy organic whenever possible… we can protect wetlands.  Frogs aren’t the only creatures that depend on healthy waters – we do, too.

Our behavior has been remarkably short-sighted – even in our own backyards.  Not only are we endangering our amphibians, we are endangering ourselves.  I can no longer turn a blind eye.  There are easy adjustments we can all make.  I’m ready to step up to the plate…

Special thanks to my production assistants in the office who were so wonderful: Laura Gill, Diane Toomey, and Ruby Wells

Allison Argo