Student documentary drips with drought concern

Fountain Edit 1

The Gentle Spring fountain located in Chapman’s Escalette Plaza in front of Hashinger Science Center. NOELLE JOHNSON Staff Photographer

Even while studying abroad in Florence last spring, senior creative producing major Sam Furie was keeping track of the drought that continues to devastate California’s water levels. Furie knew that once he returned home, he would take action.

Furie paired up with his cousin Jacob Morrison, a student at University of Southern California, to create a documentary called “Rivers End” to spread awareness of water conservation. The film focuses on how California is suffering because of the drought and what society can do to help.

The drought has undeniably wreaked havoc in California. In April 2015, The Department of Water Resources released a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) report showing that land is sinking in the San Joaquin Valley. The farmers were desperate for water so in attempt to save their land, California began drilling for groundwater. The land is soaking twice as much drilled groundwater as natural rainfall and snowmelt. This artificial hydration is causing the land to cave in.

The documentary follows the San Joaquin River Delta and its current state of peril. The documentary delves into the mismanagement of scarce water sources and shows the destruction of pumping groundwater.

“This drought has drawn back the curtain and has exposed flaws of the water system,” Furie said. He said that only a small fraction of water usage is from everyday tasks such as showering, washing clothes and watering the lawn, with the majority of the water going toward agricultural use.

“Chapman has put a lot of effort into solving the drought problem. At this point, spreading awareness about the issue is important,” said biology professor Milton Greenberg. Greenberg attended a conference where communication studies professor Jake Liang spoke about the different ways communication can be used to enlighten the public. By creating “Rivers End,” a larger platform of people can be reached.

Furie said that he’d like his film to be widely viewed so people can become aware of the problem of misuse of water. Furie and his cousin are still in the process of finding a good source to release the film, but were originally considering film festivals.
Documentary professor Barry Blaustein said that addressing such a large-scale topic would be difficult.

“The creators should be prepared with an idea when filming, but be ready to make a sharp left or right if something intriguing occurs,” Blaustein said.

Furie started by researching the drought and had a few interviews with farmers. As the filming progressed deeper problems arose.

“When it comes to water the nation is completely split apart and unorganized,” Furie said.

Blaustein believes the documentary will grab people’s attention, as long as the film reflects the creators’ passion for helping the community.

“It is key to approach the problem with a full heart,” Blaustein said.

Furie said that the project is anticipated to be finished by April 2016.

To read about Chapman’s efforts to cut back on its water usage, click here.

Leave a Comment