The Best Salton Sea Documentary By Far
"SOS: The Salton Sea Walk" is a Salton Sea documentary film directed by Corbin Schweitzer. This film is an 2017 Oregon Documentary Film Festival Official Selection. SOS: The Salton Sea Walk also won the Best Cinematography Award. Corbin Schweitzer and his crew also won the Best Cinematography Award and we felt that the visuals were stunning. I always wondered, what drives someone to say, "this morning I'm going on a Salton Sea Walk and I won't stop for three years?" Director Corbin Schweitzer does a great job with telling the story of this environmental crisis. The disappearance of the Salton Sea could be catastrophic to the environment. I feel that the story of Randy Brown's movement is worthy of attention.
Synopsis: "SOS: The Salton Sea Walk" by Corbin Schweitzer
The Salton Sea, California's largest lake, is rapidly drying up. After 2017, the largest rural to urban water transfer will exponentially accelerate the rate at which the sea shrinks. This will expose acres of dried lakebed. The exposed playa, containing 100 years worth of farm chemicals, could become airborne. This could send billowing clouds of toxic dust towards major population centers in the Southwest. The Salton Sea is located 230 feet below sea-level. In this desolate pocket of Southern California's Colorado Desert, the plight of the sea is largely ignored.
Who will save the Salton Sea?
There are a few outspoken people who claim to know how to save it. Randy Brown, community activist, set out to do something no one had ever attempted. To walk the entire shoreline of the sea. In June of 2015, with temperatures reaching 120 degrees, he set out on his 6 day, 115 mile journey. His mission is to raise awareness for the sea. A forgotten place of peace and beauty. Will the people be inspired to save it before it's too late?
Corbin Schweitzer Interview
Q1: First of all, why submit to the Oregon Documentary Film Festival?
“I was born in Portland and wanted to submit to my hometown.”
Q2: What is the title of your film and is there any special meaning to the title?
"SOS The Salton Sea Walk", and yes, there are multiple meanings. "SOS" both means help and in the film "Save Our Sea".
Q3: Why did you choose to tell this particular story?
“We felt it was a time-sensitive story that had horrific environmental and health implications should it continue to go unnoticed. It's impact would extend far beyond California's borders and ultimately could impact the entire western hemisphere.”
Q4: Did you discover certain story elements during the production of this film that you never expected to find in the planning stages of this project?
“Most certainly. When the project began, we believed there wasn't a viable solution in place and as such was a lost cause. As the project progressed however, we learned about the different solutions and numerous opportunities for the economy with renewable resources and emerging technologies that presented the viewer and public with a positive outlook toward the sea and its future.”
Q5: What camera(s) did you use to during the production of this film? Discuss any advantages or limitations that you may have run into, from an equipment perspective.
“We used a Canon 5D Mrk. II as our main camera, GoPros for our secondary cameras, and a Phantom series drone for our aerials. Since the Canon was the first generation of video-capable DSLRs, it was highly limited in its video capabilities and as such things such as stability, focus, and sound became an inherent issue throughout production. The advantage of using such small equipment was the portability and ease of use making shooting quick and easy.”
Q6: Did anything happen during the production of this film that was very interesting, but never made it on camera?
“Yes. During one filming adventure, we spent time in Mexico to determine the viability and prove the existence of the Coyote Canal (the main channel connecting the Sea of Cortez to the Laguna Salada). We learned that the Cucapa indian tribe owned the land that the canal was built upon and were excited about the possibility of working with the United States to restore both the Salada and the Salton Sea to their former glory. We stayed in the Cucapa tribe hometown and traveled to their native fishing grounds used for centuries by their ancestors. Unfortunately, we were unable to add this to the film in order to keep the story interesting and maintain a shorter running time.”
Q7: How did you fund this film? It seems like crowd funding is popular.
“It was entirely out of pocket. We only used Kickstarter after production in order to submit to festivals.”
Q8: What kind of audience reaction are you getting to this film?
“This film has been received very positively by all audiences thus far. Also, we feel that it's positive message combined with a straight-forward and interesting human-interest story. I think this makes it both fun to watch and also highly informative.”
Q9: Furthermore, do you have plans for a sequel or future film that you are working on? Please discuss.
“We do. Our plans for the future are to return to the Sea and bring to light it's current state of affairs through a story-driven narrative instead of another documentary. We believe a different perspective could help continue to raise awareness without repeating facts, figures, and issues. We also are planning on a separate documentary around the message highlighted at the beginning of the film: water; from the dwindling sources of freshwater, to the importance of what kind of water we drink.”
Q10: Finally, you have completed a documentary film, which is a huge achievement. Do you have any advice for a future filmmaker that is about to start a documentary project? Advice that you wish you had been given before you started yours?
“Most definitely. First of all, I encourage filmmakers to organize, organize, organize. Simply put, anytime you are shooting for your documentary, log and organize your footage immediately after your days end. Don't skip the "dailies" (or watching over the footage you captured at the end of the day). This will save you mountains of time and effort later in the editing stages. If you note ahead of time which clips are worth using and which should be thrown out, it'll be worth its weight in gold later on.”