From Watering the West: A Water Western STARRING The Cache la Poudre River Watering the West is a film about water issues in the American West, starring the Wild and Scenic Cache la Poudre River in Northern Colorado
It was a defining moment in the history of the American West: a dry year in Colorado and the Cache la Poudre Riverï¿½s flow slowed to a trickle for the farmers who made this arid land flourish. So they travelled upstream where they discovered that a new agricultural colony was also taking water. This would not do, determined downstream farmers, so they fought it out with angry words. One suggested that water be allocated by need, but downstream users who were the first to use this water saw it differently, and reluctantly all settled on the idea that the first users should have priority. And this is how water in Colorado became more valuable than the land.
Meet the pristine Cache la Poudre River, a river still at the center of the western water wars. ï¿½Whatever issue you see being played out in the American West when it comes to water, itï¿½s being played out right hereï¿½, says Mark Easter of Save the Poudre Water Keeper. The pristine Cache la Poudreï¿½s waters are coveted from points far out of the watershed. ï¿½If everyone who owns rights on the river were to call in those water rights, there wouldnï¿½t be enough water in the river,ï¿½ says Water Commissioner Mark Simpson. But over-allocation is just one of the issues endemic to western rivers in the U.S.
Municipalities, oil companies, beer brewers, and recreational interests compete to buy farms with water rights and convert those rights to new uses in water court. This keeps Coloradoï¿½s numerous water lawyers in business. ï¿½Itï¿½s not the farmer that can afford to buy water in this state anymore,ï¿½ says Brian Werner, Northern Water Conservancy District. Some say Coloradoï¿½s 150-year-old system of allocating water by seniority is outdated as every drop of precipitation is owned by someone, resulting in bidding wars.
In Spaghetti Western style, Watering the West will feature a cartoon history of the disagreement that launched western water law, and follow an animated kayaker down each river ditch exploring the major themes in the story including river-dependent economies, buying and drying of farmland, and speculative investment. Climate change and population growth make the issue of water scarcity in the American West more urgent than ever.
In order to tell this story with all of the cinematic beauty that this nationally-designated Wild and Scenic river, and its Colorado landscapes, deserves, we need YOU.
Between us weï¿½ve made four issue-oriented feature films that have driven change in our community. We shoot, we edit, we write, direct, and produce. But for this film we want to go BIG! Because we believe that water matters are universal, and that the story of water and the American West has global appeal. Thatï¿½s why if you help us raise this $50,000 we will hire the cinematography, aerial photography, color and sound design, titling, art and animation needed to beautify this film so that we can gain the attention of global audiences. SERIOUSLY, we will make this film for $50,000! That is so cheap, but we are that good.
For more history on the filmmakers and their partnership see Bio below.
For this campaign we have partnered with some of our favorite local businesses to reward you for your support. And weï¿½ve got special Watering the West T-shirts featuring a beautiful line-drawing of the Poudre River by artist Shannon Harker and a weekend at the family-owned and friendly Ute Lodge bordering the White River National Forest.
Your contribution to this film allows us to remain independent as filmmakers. Viewers of both Desplazado and Invisible Americans have remarked that these films maintain an integrity because many perspectives on the issue are represented. This is not an advocacy film for one side of an issue or another, and to maintain this independence we are relying on YOU! (There are no PACs here!) Even if we donï¿½t reach our goal of $50,000 in this campaign, we will use any donated funds for production costs first (cinematography and aerial shots).
Unlike our previous films, Watering the West requires the unique perspective of expensive aerial cinematography to show the expanse and beauty of this hard working watershed. This, and photography, utilizing cameras that meet current broadcast specs of public television stations the world over, increases the costs of this film. Fundraising is our biggest challenge. But the popularity and success of our previous work has broadened our network of support. More people now believe in our ability to tell a compelling, visually-beautiful story. So we are confident that this growing network will pay for the making of this film.
Whether or not you are able to pony up a bit of Cache to help fund this film, please contribute by spreading the word about this campaign. Tell your friends, your family, your overseas relatives (everybody loves the American West, right?) about this film and how they can support it. (Use Community Funded Share Tools.) Make some noise for Watering the West! We THANK YOU kindly!
We are Shari Due and Mona Maser. Six years ago a chance meeting at Fort Collins Public Media, where Due was making promos for the station and Mona was volunteering, led to a partnership that eventually resulted in this co-producer relationship. Dueï¿½s first documentary feature, with her production company, Be Reel Pictures, was a series pilot commissioned for Algerian Canal network and looked at the issue of homelessness, specifically the increasing criminalization of homelessness in the United States. It was told entirely through the stories of the people who live on the streets of Fort Collins and those who work closely with the homeless. Viewers loved the story and the way it was told so much that it became the storytelling standard for her films that followed. Due was also the director, cinematographer and editor of Fort Collins: Choice City for Whom? She has covered such subjects in short films as dumpster diving to reduce landfill waste (210 Million Tons) and the upside of the economic downturn (Renaissance). After partnering with Maser to shoot Renaissance, local restaurant profiles, and short narrative films, the duo decided to create something bigger and tackle the social and economic issue of gentrification in Fort Collins. The resulting documentary feature, Desplazado has been so widely viewed and well-received in the community that the Board of Realtors and the City of Fort Collins have taken notice, starting a dialogue to address these issues. Before meeting Due, Maser had her own production company, Parthena Productions. She shot, produced and edited her first documentary feature 16 years ago. Since then she has crewed for several Colorado independent films, produced short documentaries and directed three short films. Mona shoots 4K video on the Lumix GH4 as well as still photographs from nature to senior pictures and everything in between, serving as camera and co-writer on documentary films co-produced with Due. The two feature directors are members of the Denver chapter of Film Fatales, a national community of female feature film directors and Colorado Independent Women in Film.