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Old February 19th, 2009, 12:59 AM   #1
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Hood - Wildfire - UWOL Long Form

I've chosen to go with Wildfire. I have a long history with fire, being introduced to it early - as my Dad was involved with the local fire brigade for years. And we had our own bonfire about once a year. The last one I helped make was 8m tall with 20m flames or so.

We had some of the worst bushfires in history on the 7th Feb. You've probably seen mention of it on the news: 200 or more dead and hundreds of houses destroyed. They were beyond imagination, and ripped through whole towns is a short space of time.

Having been in the Country Fire Authority (CFA) for years I've got some idea of what to expect. Most people don't, however. It's very important that people have some idea of what a BIG bushfire will be like, and what to expect. Also, how to prepare for one in order to stay safe. The CFA has tried to get the message across. Maybe now people will be more receptive.
I want to try and convey the fierce nature of these fires, and the destruction they can cause. There will be more. There will always be more. We are one of the driest countries (Australia), and it's part of the bush lifecycle. But that doesn't mean we are powerless, there are steps we can take to protect ourselves.

I want to demonstrate the dangers; the factors that make fires more dangerous - heat, low humidity, wind, amount and type of fuel, etc... And what things we can do to minimise the risks of living in and around the bush.

A lot of this doubles up with the video, but it's stated here for completeness.

To do:
- get footage of the devastated environment and property that has been destroyed
- get footage of injured wildlife recovering from the fires
- get some fire footage that resembles a large bushfire out of control (easier said than done) - it will have to be fudged somewhat. I would like to film a controlled burn of training exercise, but this may be hard, depending on if they do any in the next months
- film areas further along in the recovery process - around the state. Some places have been burned several years ago and are still largely barren.
- Consider some interviews further down the track when people are willing to talk a little about the fires and their experiences. I'll wait for these though as there's a lot of strong emotion still present as the fires were so recent.

UWOL video link: http://www.uwolchallenge.com/longfor...OLLongForm.mov
Youtube: YouTube - Wildfire - UWOLLongForm

Last edited by Andrew Hood; February 19th, 2009 at 07:26 PM. Reason: Updating video link
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Old February 20th, 2009, 10:45 AM   #2
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Hi Andrew:

Wow, what a great topic and you got some amazing footage. Even way over here in Colorado, we have been getting news of the devastating wildfires in Australia. We too just had a serious wildfire less than 24 km from our home. We had the same conditions, well not as hot as where you are, but dry and extremely windy. The wind downed a power line and that's all it took. We were more fortunate with this one in that only 2 structures were lost and people, horses, cattle, llamas, etc all seemed to make it okay. A big difference is that in this area, home owners have been working hard at protecting their homes by clearing trees around their house, modifying structures with fire-resistant materials etc and it made a huge difference. I've heard that the burn area shows it had encircled homes but stopped there.

Good luck with your project, and if there is anything I can share with you about the recent wildfire here, let me know.

Also, you have a nice narration voice.

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Old February 20th, 2009, 01:02 PM   #3
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I agree with Cat. This should be an interesting and valuable film. You might want to think about how you will get it shown on regional media outlets when finished, and keep their time guidelines in mind as you produce this film.

And Cat is also right, your voice is a good VO voice and pleasing to my ear.

Chris S.
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Old February 20th, 2009, 03:19 PM   #4
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Great idea,

will you have the opportunity over the next 9 months to get enough actual footage?? Are they that common?

Here in North america the lodge pole pine and chapperal both are fire based plants requiring that for the seeds to geminate. amazing stuff!!

Also, 2 years after a fire the abounding changing in wildlife is staggering!!

Great plan, will be nice to see the finished product.
Dale W. Guthormsen
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Old February 20th, 2009, 03:57 PM   #5
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Excellent topic...I am wearing a yellow ribbon in memorial of those who have died in the fires even as I write this. Stay safe out there…

I am looking forward to seeing what angles you can come up with for this film with the interviews and the educational aspect.

Am I right in understanding that these fires were cause by arson? That is word of mouth here in the states.

Fire seems to be inherently interesting to people...I get mesmerized just by looking into a camp fire. I can't wait to see you final product.
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Old February 20th, 2009, 08:38 PM   #6
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Thanks for the comments everyone.

Catherine, one of the problems we have here is local councils restrict felling trees, with hefty fines. One person had actually copped a $50,000 fine for removing trees from his yard - yet he was the only house to survive in the street. One of the things I'll try to demonstrate in the video is the inverse square law - if you double your distance to the fire, you quarter the intensity of heat you receive. Fire breaks, they're a great defense - but something lacking in many towns.

Chris, the thought has gone through my head. But now I'm considering it more. My best chance would either be ABC - if it's good enough, or maybe a local station (there's 2) - which normally mirror the Melbourne programming, but with a few differences - and local ads (And you can tell the difference!). They sometimes run local content.
Maybe if I put forward a proposal to work closely with the CFA (which might give me better access to the fire ground without having to squirt water) they might have an avenue for it - as public education.

Dale, I won't get much chance to get more fire footage. I might get lucky. I plan to get involved with some training exercises or sanctioned burns (CFA helping landowners, or just private people burning off) and get creative to insinuate a bushfire scenario. This is one of my concerns. I'm sure we will have more fires, but location and access will be my main issues. There's plenty of footage I could possibly use with permission, but that's not part of the challenge.
The bush's recovery has varied greatly, from what I've seen, depending on fire intensity. A really hot raging fire will simply kill all the trees, and inhibit regrowth. A tame burn on a cold, calm, day will just blacken the bark and clear the ground fuel. Very different outcomes. I'll do more research, and film that aspect though. I know of a few sites locally and some further around the state.

Jeff, some of the fires were caused by arson. The one I filmed definitely was. But others were from lightning or accidental ignition from various sources. The effect is the same, blaming people doesn't make up for it, and witch hunting / lynch mobs don't stop it happening next time. Prevention (reduce fuel loads) and preparation is the key.
I plan to follow up at a different time, as a result of having a number of arsonists, on mental health in Australia. Looking at why it's only after a tragic event we discover that someone had mental/behavioural problems, when there was usually evidence there years before. And that would apply to mass murderers, shootings, etc... but is a whole different topic from UWOL, and not within the scope of this project.

I'll have to sit down and refine some more ideas, and start getting in touch with people and organisations that will be useful resources. But this is probably the most driven I've been in making a video for a long time. As you'll see by how ravaged I was in the UWOL shark tank last year ;-) ... and probably nailed to wall of shame.
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Old February 21st, 2009, 12:40 AM   #7
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Andrew, as the others already said, amazing footage you got there! And I think this is a interesting topic too!
Technically, your footage was rock steady, the way you did hide the jump-cuts with red flashes was nice! And you have a very nice narrating voice!

Can't wait to see more in the next chapter of the long-form!
- Per Johan
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Old February 21st, 2009, 02:40 AM   #8
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Hi Andrew.
I have seen about your fires in the news.
It's all terrible to watch.
Like your topic very much, and I wonder.
Will you be spending a lot of time travelling around to get your shots, or stay in one area?

All the best.
Geir Inge
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Old February 21st, 2009, 04:31 AM   #9
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You have a very strong and interesting project.
I like your descriptive footage.
In fact, my local newspaper had today a two pages article written by a Norwegian staying in the disaster area.

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Old February 21st, 2009, 08:02 AM   #10
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Per, you didn't see the footage I cut out, and at full SD resolution you can see a bit of jitter - maybe I'm just fussy. Took over 30 minutes footage, and those 4 minutes I used was nearly all the footage I could use. Some is sped up though, and a few omitted shots were just repeats.
The jump cuts were because both bits of the fire burning (in the plantation, and burning down the paddock against the wind) were happening at the same time, and I was alternating back and forth amidst the other action, plus I moved the tripod a couple of times. I just arranged it that way for easy progress rather than back and forth all the time. Don't know how much I'll use in the final version - depends on what other fire footage I can get before then.

Geir, most of the shots will be close to home. Shots of the local fire will be within 20km. Shots of local sites recovering from past fires will be within 40-50km. If I go further north to the Alpine areas where it burned 6 years ago, that's over 300km away.

Now I'm starting to look up information and begin some research before I write anything specific for the video content. I want to get my facts straight.
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Old February 21st, 2009, 08:16 AM   #11
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We have been following the fires in the news and did see that wonderful shot of the firefighter sharing his water with the koala. Your footage gives a good impression of how big these fires are. The helicopter carrying that puny bucket of water was especially effective.
I visited Yellowstone National Park 8 years after the devastating fire they had there, and the ground was still black...no regeneration had begun. I hope you guys have better luck.
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Old February 22nd, 2009, 11:54 PM   #12
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Hi Andrew,
You certainly do have some good shots of the fires. That Saturday was certainly the worst conditions that have been recorded as far as fires go. I lived in Upper Beaconsfield during the Ash Wednesday fires. It was certainly the most terrified i have ever been. The fires were so intense the bronze bell in the church melted. That's around 1300 degrees C, & the conditions on the Saturday of the fires in your film were even worse! My parents now live in Neerim South so they're not far from you, & since i have just spoken to them on Skype it sounds like they're not out of the woods yet with fires still burning in the area. With that in mind, it sounds like you may well have the opportunity to get some more footage even though it would be a nicer thought if it were only controlled burning by the CFA. After the Ash Wednesday fires, due to the intensity of those fires, the bush took about 2 years to really start growing back. Of course once the weather cools off a bit you will be able to get into some of the affected areas to film the damage that the fire has done, but i would suggest you might have to look at other areas where fires have gone through in previous years to get some shots of the regeneration. One area you might want to look at is out the back of Neerim North. There was a fire there last summer that was certainly not as intense as the fires you have experienced recently, so there may well be some regeneration going on there already. Another website that may be of interest would be this one from the CFA as it shows all the current & recent fires. Statewide Current Incident Summary - Country Fire Authority
I wish you luck for your project, & really look forward to seeing your final film. Just remember, no footage is worth dying for. I'm sure as you have seen, fire can be so unpredictable & the only sure way to stay safe is to keep well clear.
There's never enough hours in the day!
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Old February 26th, 2009, 05:36 AM   #13
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This is a great idea for a film. You have a good knowledge of what your film will contain and I believe it is all of great interest and importance. Not only is this theme at the forefront of peoples minds a the moment, but it is a topic not greatly covered (at least not here in the UK). Excellent footage too.
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Old February 26th, 2009, 10:10 AM   #14
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I like the change in topic- not that the original idea wasnít a good one too. I read yesterday that there were still four fires burning. Did you manage to get more fire footage? What youíve shown us so far really hit the mark. I saw some satellite photos on NASAís WorldWind site that are public domain. Also, around here you can often get permission from small local television stations to use some of their unaired footage for little more than a credit. It might be worth a try. I know it is outside the scope of UWOL, but it could really add to the story- especially for local viewers that lived through it. Maybe in future we should have a rule change allowing 3 minutes of footage from other credited sources as long as it is in addition to the minimum 20 minutes of your own. In the late 8oís the area my video is set in, in the Chihuahuan Desert, had a devastating burn. We had crews from Canada, Mexico and half the states fighting it. It started by heat lightning in the desert and winds pushed it up into the mountains. Twenty years later some areas look like they burned last month. Itís a pity (and not just for your project) that dry areas recover so slowly. Iíd like to see a time-lapse of green grass sprouting from the ash or maybe a cross dissolve before and after. Your idea to use older recovering areas is very good. This story has such depth. How do you deal with the loss of life, property and habitat on such a scale?
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Old April 15th, 2009, 03:00 AM   #15
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Hi Andrew
Interesting concept, lively commentary and some exciting footage - all add up to a film with lots of potential. This is a story that most of us can relate to in one way or another. Looking forward to seeing how it develops.
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