A Candid Look at the Finalists of EPA Film Contest

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“The song really evolved from the issue of catastrophic climate change, but that’s all part of the environment," he says. "If we mess up the environment, it’s like messing up our own house," says finalist Andy Fraser. Photo: Andy Fraser

From well-known musicians to college students, the recently announced finalists in a U.S. EPA competition, “Our Planet, Our Stuff,” are spreading the message that daily habits have a significant impact on the planet.

The competition calls for participants to create a 30 to 60 second film that displays individual actions you can take in your community to make a difference. In speaking with the finalists, they were eager to share their personal stories, ideas, creative endeavors and passion for the environment as reasons behind participating in the contest, rather than the promise of cash prizes.

“To bring awareness is step No. 1, and that’s what I feel my job is,” says finalist Andy Fraser. “My particular gift – writing songs and singing them – brings awareness using that medium. If everyone just did that, at whatever means they have at their command, we’d all be aware that a change can be made.”

Fraser is best known for writing the Rock Anthem “All Right Now,” as founding member and bassist in the band FREE.

Using his penchant for writing song lyrics, Fraser wrote the words to “This is the Big One,” an appealing tune with the message of making a difference now. His song is featured in the EPA finalist video, “EPA Make a Difference Now!”

To create a music video for the song, Fraser teamed up with Eric Alan Donaldson, filmmaker and executive producer of FXF Productions, Inc. Donaldson created visuals that explained the central theme of Fraser’s song of  “We have a beautiful planet, let’s try and keep it that way.”

To keep the planet beautiful, we need to take “certain steps, even on a small level,” explains Donaldson, “like by recycling, or by turning off the lights when you’re not using them. Little things like that. It’s up to us to teach our children to do that type of thing.”

The filmmaker says his three-and-a-half-year-old daughter, who can be found in the music video, already knows what goes in the trash bin and what goes in the recycling bin.

“It takes this generation to help the next generation, and eventually it will be a way of life,” Donaldson says.

“Don’t Kill Bears,” another film that made it to the final round, was submitted by the University of Oregon’s nationally recognized recycling program. The film features an animated polar bear that loses his ice-perch and then regains it, based on humans choosing to make – or not make – environmentally sound decisions.

“Recycling and reducing your waste are two easy things you can do to help reduce global warming, and ultimately help to save the polar bears,” says Karyn Kaplan, the university’s recycling program manager.

Tyler Polich, a student at the University of Oregon who has been with the recycling program for five years, plans to go into green architecture after graduating. He is the mastermind behind the video. Polich displayed his dedication to the environment by animating the entire original eight-minute version of the film on a dry-erase board, frame by frame.

Jonathan Mann, who says he writes a song a day, took advantage of the EPA contest to share his environmentally friendly habits in a memorable finalist music video, “Reuse! Compost! Recycle! The Song.”

“I try to do as much as I possibly can for the environment,” says the vegan musician who composts and reuses everything made from plastic rather than throw it away. Mann, who has appeared on MSNBC, has plans to tour the country on bike or a car run on biofuels in an effort to bring his music to American living rooms.

Another finalist film, “The Power of Recycling,” uses crocheted animals as props to send the message that recycling not only reduces waste in landfills, but also saves energy. For instance, recycling one soup can saves the equivalent of two hours of energy to power a laptop. Chris Thornberry, one of the filmmakers from Green Sky Media, was affected himself after making the film.

“It definitely makes me look at an aluminum can or a plastic water bottle a little differently,” says Thornberry.

For a full list of finalists, check out the contest’s Web site. The EPA plans to announce contest winners later this month.

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