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Filming the Change in New Zealand

I grew up in Ballarat, Victoria, in a pretty conventional middle class home. I had a great childhood and didn't experience many things that caused me to question the ways of the world. Then when I was 15 I watched a couple of documentaries that shook my world view - Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine, and later Robert Kenner's Food Inc. These films brought to my attention some of the problems in the world and that made me question all areas of society. I was struck by how powerful an impact documentaries can have and I decided I wanted to be a filmmaker.

I was accepted into a film course at University but I decided not to go because I one of the things I'd learned through other documentaries in the meantime was that I didn't want to be in debt. So instead I decided to teach myself. After playing around with my camera, reading books, and watching Youtube videos, I felt that I had enough basic skills to make my first documentary.

In 2014 I approached The Simplicity Institute's Samuel Alexander to ask if I could film the build of an earth bag dome on a property in West Gippsland. We became friends and I loved the project he was working on – developing a showcase eco village using natural building and permaculture principles. Since the end of 2014 I've been living on the property filming a feature-length documentary about a small community working together to develop the land and buildings. This year has felt like one huge learning experience after another and it seems like nearly everything about me has changed in some small or large way. My approach to food, to lifestyle, to nature, to people - all are changed, and I now see the world through a lens that views the interconnectedness of everything.

I've also come to believe that change can and must happen from the bottom up – that we can't wait for governments to get the message; we need to change ourselves and inspire those around us to change until governments have no choice but to fall in line. I believe filmmaking will be one of the many driving forces in that change and I'm excited about the incredible opportunities I have to meet inspiring people, hear their stories and share them with the world.

As this year wraps up and the footage for our feature-length documentary, A Simpler Way: Crisis as Opportunity, goes away to the editor, I'm planning a trip to New Zealand to make a series of short films about all kinds of inspiring people and projects. The series is called Living the Change and my partner and I will be converting a van to run off waste vegetable oil in order to get around the country in a mode that reflects our ethics and the ethos of the series.

 Our aim is to make fifteen short films while on the road, as well as films of the camper conversion for people interested in converting their own vans to run on waste vegetable oil. These short films will be available on YouTube for free and the entire collection along with footage of the journey itself will be edited into a two-hour documentary that will be available early for Indiegogo contributors.
If you like what we’re doing and want to help make the trip happen, you can check out the crowdfunding campaign at 
Below is an ever-evolving list of people and places confirmed so far:
  • Robert and Robyn Guyton's beautiful 17-year-old food forest in Riverton.
  • Wairarapa Eco Farm, the first and largest Community Supported Agriculture farm in New Zealand.
  • Te Manaia Organics, large-scale vegetable growers now part of filmmaker James Cameron's exciting permaculture and food forestry enterprise in New Zealand.
  • Helen Dew, founding member of Living Economies, passionate speaker on savings pools and alternative currencies, life-long vegetable gardener, seed-saver and an incredibly active member of her local community – all at the grand age of 78.
  • Avonstour Heritage Organic Farm, specialising in heritage animal breeds and sellers of high-quality organic meat.
  • Innermost Gardens, an exciting community garden project in Wellington.
  • Project Lyttelton, a non-profit organization creating a sustainable community through  timebanking, community gardens, festivals, and lots more in the town of Lyttelton.
  • Hand Over a Hundy, a great initiative to help people start their own vegetable gardens.
  • WindWillow, beautiful baskets made from willow grown on their own property. 
  • The Vinbrux family, practicing self-sufficiency on their 34-acre property in Oamaru.
  • Be The Change NZ, an inspiring father and son who travel by bike around NZ sharing stories of change.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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