The Mono Lake Committee is putting together a new film that will add an entirely new dimension to the Mono Lake story. (Photo courtesy Mono Lake Committee)
Technologically speaking, the Mono Lake Committee’s slideshow of the Mono Lake area is ancient history. With blueray and high definition, a static slideshow is not the best tool for grabbing an audience’s attention, which is why the Committee has been diligently working on a new video to represent the efforts and the history at Mono Lake.
“The film will show the Mono Lake story as it is today, but will also show its past and future,” said the Mono Lake Committee’s Communications Director Arya Degenhardt.
With the help of Bristlecone Media, a local film company, the Committee began collecting footage in January.
“We want footage from all seasons,” Degenhardt explained. They were just wrapping up the collection of their fall footage when this interview took place, which meant they were on track to pull together all the footage in December and begin mixing the film. Degenhardt hoped the finished project would be ready by the first part of the new year.
The film is expected to build upon the original slideshow that was put together by David Gaines, the founder of the Mono Lake Committee. Gaines used his slideshow to educate the public about Mono Lake’s beauty, as well as its trials and tribulations, and he traveled throughout California showing it to whomever would have a look.
The new film will be 20 minutes in length and will not only be available for viewing at the Committee’s bookstore gallery in Lee Vining, but will also be available to the public to use as an educational tool.
“We will be able to send interested parties the file to use, and it will be available online,” Degenhardt said. “We’re not going to be selling the film and there will be no charge to see it at the bookstore.”
The original slideshow was turned into a DVD, but it’s just a slideshow on video.
“When it comes to technology we don’t move very fast, but we’re ready for high definition and the big screen,” Degenhardt said.
The film costs approximately $1,000 per minute to produce, according to Degenhardt, so of course the Committee is open to donations.
“I don’t have the exact numbers, but we are probably about three-fourths of the way there [to the total amount necessary],” she said.
Degenhardt admits that when Gaines was showing his slideshow there was a more pressing need to make a change at Mono Lake.
“It was a David and Goliath thing with David Gaines,” she said, referring to the drama that surrounded Mono Lake in the late 1970s when LADWP’s diversion of water from the lake, which started in 1941, had nearly destroyed the high desert body of water.
Today, the Mono Lake Committee continues to work to restore the Mono Lake ecosystem and maintain the lake’s protected status, but, as Degenhardt explained, “there are more shades of gray.” The Committee’s work is more subtle but it happens every single day.
“Protection and water conservation are ongoing things,” she said. “It’s not always ‘fight, fight’ these days, but we are ready to kick and scream if necessary.”
In other words, the Committee is more about stewardship. It is a proactive body rather than a reactive one. A friendly watchdog if you will. The new film will highlight this.
Degenhardt further explained what the Committee does today by giving examples of recent and current projects it is working on.
“One example of our work protecting the lake is getting involved when people want to own the land surrounding it,” she said, referring to the land exchange that was completed several years ago with the 120 acre Cunningham property. The exchange allowed the parcel to be preserved as wild space rather than built up into large homes.
And the Committee is always involved in the process with LADWP to restore water levels in the lake.
“In 2014 the State Water Board will review Mono Lake’s progress,” Degenhardt explained. “It’s not a court date or anything, it’s just a date for all parties to come back and take a look.”
Learn more about the Mono Lake Film by visiting http://www.monolake.org/about/film.