In enviable weather, on the south-east coast of Australia, a punt glides over Merimbula Lake towards an oyster lease, with a passionate young oyster farmer Dom at the helm. It’s a romantic picture of tranquil beauty and a life close to nature, attuned to the rhythm of the tides. But Dom and fellow locals swear the water’s getting warmer and the storms more severe. The only oyster it’s legal for them to grow in the lake is the famous gourmet’s delight, the Sydney Rock Oyster. Taking three years to mature, it’s highly vulnerable to pollution and changes in water temperature and salinity. There are diseases too and the threat of competition from a much faster growing non-native species, the Pacific Oyster. There are market pressures too from the sadly polluted industrial centres of China where wealthy customers pay big money for imported oysters whose image is purity, blue skies, clear air, clean water. Oyster follows Dom and Pip into their home, their work-shed, out on their punt and into the water, to see what it’s like to be raising two energetic young boys, one autistic, while you’re working big hours to keep a few million oysters alive, and any decision you make to deal with the global pressures of the fickle luxury markets, climate change, environmental damage and increasing disease could have far reaching consequences.
How does the project meet the aims of a philanthropic foundation?
Climate Change is perhaps the most difficult environmental challenge of our time, and the philanthropic world has a vital role to play in helping to develop the environmental, social and communal responses to it.
We are all effected by the weather, our daily routines are defined by whether there will be rain or what the temperature might be for the day. OYSTER is on the front line with those dealing directly with the impacts of climate change and introduces our audience to identifiable characters whose lives are dictated by the weather and any changes it brings.
OYSTER aims to ignite public awareness about some of the key issues facing farming families and those who depend on the weather to make a living. Highlighting issues such as local and marine pollution, destructive development and construction, ocean acidification and rises in water temperatures, increased salinity and the potential of unknown incurable strains of viruses, such as Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS) which has all but destroyed Tasmania’s oysters, are all impacting on a multimillion dollar seafood industry. However more than these visible signs are the strains these changes and impacts are having on family life and the raising of children.
Oysters are the canary in the estuary able to show early signs of strain within their environment. If we are looking for signs that our world is changing and impacting directly on human beings, then the oyster is a sure sign. We need to stop looking at our environment solely as a commodity and start working with it so as to protect our own ecosystems and life support systems as well as protecting the livelihoods of those who work within it.
This project meets the aims for philanthropic support because this is an issue for all of us. Philanthropic organisations, foundations, NGO’s, government agencies can all help to engage communities through out Australia to look at their local environments for evidence of change. So as to use this evidence to motivate positive action within communities to protect our local environments.
We look forward to partnering with philanthropists to make a real and very positive impact in this area.
What outcomes do you hope to achieve by making this film and how will you measure its impact?
Aims & Objectives
OYSTER aims to highlight the very direct effects of climate change on local environments so as to engage communities through out Australia to look at their own local environments for evidence of change and to motivate positive action within communities to protect and work with in the means of their local environments.
On Merrimbula Lake on Australia’s south east coast the issues of local and marine pollution, destructive development and construction, ocean acidification and rises in water temperature along with increasing salinity and the possibility of unknown incurable strains of viruses, such as POMS, are all impacting the local environment and impacting on a multimillion dollar seafood industry.
An impact campaign will be aimed at starting conversations in local areas about how climate change is affecting individual communities and how to develop local responses. Working with a network of industry, farming and environmental organisations, community groups, educators and decision makers so as to provide positive messaging, educational resources and to equip communities and individuals with the tools to develop area specific responses.
Our goal is to engage communities through out Australia to look at their local environments for evidence of change. So as to use this evidence to motivate positive action within communities to preserve our local ecosystems and life support systems whilst also protecting the livelihoods of those who work within them.
“We've got to think locally and act globally on issues of environmentalism” – Jack Mundey, Australian union and environmental activist.
What is your education and outreach strategy?
OYSTER has already started outreach through our web page and social media pages along with established mailing lists provided by Bower Bird Films and Non’D’Script as well as industry networks and forums. A crowd funding campaign is being developed which will continue to build an audience and supporter base for the film.
Through working with social media, research and development organisations, farming and aquaculture communities, environmental organisations and local stakeholders, OYSTER will further its outreach and broaden our audiences.
Along the way, the filmmakers will be working on an interactive online resource such as an educational website to further develop the issues raised in the film. An Australian Teachers of Media (ATOM) study guide will be put together and outreach money raised with the aim of getting the film into every school in Australia. Educational resources will be made available online for schools, community groups, NGOs and interested parties.
The film will be targeted towards appropriate film festivals both nationally and internationally including specific environmental and documentary film festivals. OYSTER has already received interest from several international and local film festivals.
Screenings will be organised through presentations, events or meetings as well as through the crowd sourcing resources such as TUGG. There is the possibility of having one or all of the filmmakers and characters available at these screenings to answer questions and expand further on the issues. Oyster will be made available for streaming to smaller groups as a way of fundraising for the appropriate organisations, communities, councils, shires, schools and NGO’s.
Broadcast options both nationally and internationally are being sought and the film will have a cut down version specifically for this. Educational and mainstream distributors have already expressed interest and see potential in the subject matter and story.