UWOL 17: Faith - Kevin J Railsback at DVinfo.net

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Old September 22nd, 2010, 01:25 PM   #1
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UWOL 17: Faith - Kevin J Railsback

As Meryem and Mat know, I've been in a long depression about myself, wildlife and nature.

It's been brewing for quite some time.

It really came to a head when they started the wolf hunts in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.

I had contributed a lot of money to several organizations to help bring the wolves back to Yellowstone. I felt it was an important thing to bring them back to a place where they had been totally wiped out.

I was ecstatic when they were finally introduced.

Fast forward and suddenly wolves were in the crosshairs again. The first day it was legal to shoot wolves, Lefty a well know wolf was gut shot and left to die. For me, it was devastating. I felt somewhat responsible for his death. If I hadn't contributed that money, maybe wolves would never have been introduced. Maybe Lefty would never have been born and maybe he would never have had to suffer such a painful death.

Then I started questioning why do we even want to save anything? If Lefty had never been born because there were no more wolves, he never would have suffered.

So, was I being selfish for my own desire to hear the call of the wild in the Yellowstone wilderness?

I talked at length with Meryem and Mat about my funk, but it only seemed to get worse. I felt powerless to do anything.

I could never stand by and watch animals being abused so I knew I could never do something like The Cove or Earthlings. I felt like even more of a failure. I've taken so much joy from nature and I've given nothing back.

Other than talking with Mat and Meryem, I get it all bottled up inside. friends and family knew something was wrong but I never discussed it with them. I knew they would feel sympathetic, but they could never really understand the connection I have with nature.

So, when this theme came up, I knew it was something I had to do.

I never really expected to have an epiphany but the more I worked on it, the more things came into focus.

I had an opportunity to chat with Reverend Tom Capo who was gracious enough to allow me to film in his church. They are very much into the environment and conservation. So much so that they are selling their church to make the move to a greener building so that they can walk the walk.

We discussed films like Earthlings and at the Cove. We talked about how much I think they are doing to bring awareness. I told him how I wished I was strong enough to bring about that kind of awareness.

Reverend Tom said that while that kind of awareness is important, it brings about change because of fear and hate. He said that love has the greatest ability to bring about change and that my work was without a doubt a reflection of my love for nature.

As I sat in the sanctuary of his church I reflected on our conversation.
I know that I could never bring about direct change. But, if I could reach someone with y work that was strong enough then maybe they could make the change that I could not.

So, while I struggle daily wondering if I'm doing enough, I know that not doing anything is even worse.

So this film is a renewal of spirit of sorts.

I guess I knew I was on the right track when I went out to the nature center and saw that beautiful shot of the sun breaking through the fog.

I had been out to the nature center a coupled weeks before when there was a ground fog, but the sun never burst through like it did that day.

I'm sure I missed some of the best shots because I just stood in the prairie in awe at the incredible beauty I was witnessing.

I'm working on a larger sized version but so far the compression is really breaking up the gradients**in the backgrounds and it looks horrible. Not quite sure how to fix it. But in HD it looks beautiful!**
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Old September 22nd, 2010, 02:40 PM   #2
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Ah Kevin:

What a beautiful human being you are. You are a joy to behold. Your Reverend Tom sounds like a wise man. Love conquers all.

We are sojourners in a fallen world. But we derive our strength in faith that God Himself is the ultimate restorer, and He promises to do just that. We get confused when we don't understand His timing on things, and that His timing certainly isn't ours. We seek deliverance now. But even though we must wait on God, God promises to walk with us in all this brokenness until His promises are fulfilled. You are not alone Kevin!

Take courage in that you helped make a difference by supporting efforts to bring the wolves back. The sad fate of one wolf is not the only fate for every wolf that has lived because of your efforts. There are success stories as well.

Your epiphany is a wise one. Your empathy, love, beauty and rapture of nature spills from your films with every frame. God created you with these talents to change hearts. So keep doing it! Love life! Love nature! Love animals! Love, love, love! You move people with your films. You have a message and you tell it well.

Keep up the good fight. Never stop at anything less than all that you can give. You do and have made a difference. The world is a better place because of your talents and heart. When it seems that it is just too dark, draw your strength from God's word. He has overcome the evil in this world, and you honor Him by living the life He has given you to the fullest.

NOW! The special effects in this film were outstanding. I can't even guess at what you were trying to do and decided to take it out because it would be too hokey. This clip shows the mastery of a Kevin J Railsback film. I have a sense that your wife, when she reviewed this gave it a thumbs up.

May I ask who Sarah bear is?

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Old September 22nd, 2010, 03:23 PM   #3
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Kevin, both your video and your story were beautiful and moving. Make a difference? Do you realize how many people watch your videos and are just blown away by your skills and talent, your creativity, your ability to capture nature and tell a story? You have reached out and touched so many people. And maybe, just maybe you changed one persons attitude toward wildlife. God gave you a gift, now use it. Bob
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Old September 22nd, 2010, 06:00 PM   #4
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You put together and visually show what I have felt and told to my closest friends!!

I never totally understood this until some years ago I got a phone call from a man that I had inspired 30 years before and I did not even know or heard from all those years. It was kind of a shock, a renewal to everything I endevor to do, however limited my skills might be!!

I will save this one and share it with others if you do not mind.

It was very moving!!! beautiful as always.

thank you ever so much for taking the time to build this, it is an inspiration!!!
Dale W. Guthormsen
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Old September 22nd, 2010, 06:48 PM   #5
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Depression is an evil thing. It keeps us from seeing the light. You may not realize it, but every program you have produced for UWOL shows your love of Nature and the power you have to convey what it is and what it means. No one does it like you, although, Lord knows, I keep trying. You might want to keep in mind what Tim Barksdale, one of our best wildlife videographers says: "Make a Film; Make a Difference."
Also remember, that every dollar you donate to efforts to save a species like the Gray Wolf also improves habitat and life for numerous other creatures that live with them, animals like Sage Grouse that are equally endangered but are not mentioned for lack of "sexiness".
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Old September 23rd, 2010, 07:37 AM   #6
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Sarah Bear was a yearling collared research bear in Minnesota. There's no law against shooting a collared bear but after she was killed I think there will be a big push to get law passed. Sad to think she's probably been turned into a rug in front of someones fireplace.

Another collared bear Cal was killed about the same time as well. Sarah was especially hard because they put bright ribbons around her collar so she would be harder to mistake for an uncollared bear.


I'm workin on it. :) my goal is to retire from Big G next year and try to do this full time. Not sure how I'll manage that yet but it's time for me to move on and pursue my passion and truly try to make a difference.


Knowing you inspired someone is a great feeling isn't it? We never think we have the ability to do that as we are always inspired by others but never think we have that ability ourselves. I guess when you shoot from the heart it comes out and I think that is what people see.


I know that beaver have been making a comeback to Yellowstone since the wolves returned. The wolves are keeping elk acting like elk and not cattle so they're not eating the young trees down to nothing like they used to so there is more available for beavers and they are coming back.

It saddens me though that there are more people who are willing to put up money to kill something then there are to save something.

This battle is all about money and politics. It's something we can't discuss here but that's what it always comes down to.

I guess in a way this sadness and depression drives me to be a better filmmaker and do a better job capturing the beauty of nature. I know I haven't come close to being able to say I've captured what I feel in my heart. But, I think I'm getting closer.

I hope one day something profound will happen in natures favor and someone will say when I was a kid I saw a film Kevin Railsback did and that was the spark that set me on this path.
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Old September 23rd, 2010, 08:49 AM   #7
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Hi Kevin,

I wish more people would be like you, trying to save other species than only human.
What you have done is something you can be proud of! And your film reflects this.

Once more, you have produced a really good and interesting film.
Thank you very much for sharing!!

Depression is awful, but remember that you have your uwol family to back you up and support you!
Wish you all the very best.
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Old September 23rd, 2010, 09:26 AM   #8
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I believe that we are capable of amazing things during times of great joy and great sorrow. I guess I fall into the suffering artist category. :) but, I keep it all bottled in so you'd never really know if you met me.

It's funny, I still don't know how I feel showing this film to other people outside my UWOL family. I know that all of you get where I'm coming from and are the few that can really understand.

The CR Spirits, the dance team I've worked with for two years really wants to see it but It just doesn't feel the same as putting it out there for all of you. I mean I know things about these girls their own families don't know so we're pretty comfortable with each other. But I just know that you guys understand it.

I really hope we can keep the mojo going !
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Old September 23rd, 2010, 10:29 AM   #9
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Kevin, I understand what you are saying, but I really believe that as many as possible should get a chance to see this particular video. Even a few government people might open their eyes before it's too late.
Letting the girls in your dance team see it would be a good start. Go for it!
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Old September 23rd, 2010, 10:34 AM   #10
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it is pretty simple to me, Kevin. Just keep converting your emotions into you art, and it will take you to the magical places and bring you to the people that you need and who need you. And, we can only hope, because we don't always have the luxury of knowing, that these interactions can bring some of the goodness and light to the plants, the animals, and the rest of nature.

you truly have a gift for capturing the beauty of this planet and communicating it to the rest of us.

so often I take a shot, look at it later, and think, "cameras can never quite do justice to the beauty and perfection of the moment." well, that is BS, because your shots can actually transcend these moments. not only do you capture the moment, you add this ineffable "Kevin" love and beauty to it.

and at the point that you share these experiences with the rest of us, these are no longer personal experiences - they become shared experiences, rallying points for us all.

the thing about UWOL is, we get to hear back from our blabbermouth UWOL friends. but we forget that there are lurkers (like Mike!) out there who watch and consider what they have witnessed. we don't always hear from them, but you can trust that they are out there.

one of my favorite UWOL stories: back in the beginning, I had a friend of mine over - a twenty-something who was still in school, at the University of Colorado. I had just started UWOL and was really thrilled with the outpouring of energy that came from the players. I said to her, "Hey check this out, I'm doing this thing..." And I showed her the website, with all the entries, and I played her Mat Thompson's "Fisher King" which had just won the UWOL #2 round, RECREATION. And she said to me, "Oh I've seen that already."

You could have knocked me over with a feather.

Me: Huh?
Her: Oh, Luis (her film studies professor) showed that film and a few others to us in class the other day.

You can't imagine how stunned I was. From my house, to the UK, to the University of Colorado and a classroom of twenty students, and then back to my kitchen table.

So the moral is (and yes, there is one...), every once in a while, the universe throws us a bone. It gives us a little peek behind the curtain that lets us know we are on the right track. And then it drops the curtain and we are back in the dark, fumbling towards something we cannot see.

All we can do is follow where our spirit takes us, and if we follow with integrity, something good will follow. A funk isn't necessarily a bad thing...it is like a plant germinating. Just, grow that seed.

You have a great heart for the planet, Kevin, and I count you among my kindred spirits. Thank you for taking the UWOL journey with me.
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Old September 23rd, 2010, 11:39 AM   #11
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Hey Kevin. In as much as anyone can understand anothers feelings, I think I do. I tend to ride this same roller-coaster. Sometimes I get brief glimpses of the “big picture” and it scares the hell out of me so much that, for a while, I go almost as crazy as the rest of them. What our species is doing as a whole is truly ugly. Then I run into someone like you and I snap out of it for a while and feel cautiously optimistic. Having such a great support group as the UWOL family has proved to be a big help.

Perhaps you already know Aldo Leopold? He was the first to publicly call for the return of wolves back in the 1930’s. It is the dialog he started that ultimately lead to the reintroductions. (And I know that you know in your heart, Kevin, that supporting it was the right thing to do.) Just as he predicted the trees began to regenerate, the streams stopped eroding, extirpated species returned and the elk and deer populations returned to healthy levels with healthy individuals that behaved like elk and deer. The only thing surprising about the matter is that it happened so quickly! He published his thoughts on this in an essay called “Thinking like a Mountain” (republished in “A Sand County Almanac”) which contains the memorable line “Only the mountain has lived long enough to listen objectively to the howl of a wolf.” Largely for this blasphemy he was called by his colleagues “irresponsible” and virtually drummed out of the U.S. Forestry Service (thank goodness he landed on his feet as a professor in Wisconsin). We have to remember that the people killing wolves are just people. They are laboring under a tremendous burden of superstition, ignorance and irrational fear. It is our job to try and help them past that while, and this is the really hard part, trying to turn a blind eye to their transgressions. (It can be numbingly frustrating dealing with people that insist on remaining stupid.)

I hope you do pursue making videos full-time and that you have a long and successful career. I wish you the very best of good fortune.

Perhaps it might help to remember what has been called the environmentalist’s axiom- “Rejoice briefly. All environmental or conservation victories are fleeting and short-lived at best- they can always build the damned dam later. Insert kill the wolves, strip mine the mountain, clear-cut the forest, pollute the stream, poison the children etc., etc., etc. … as needed."

Great video.
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Old September 23rd, 2010, 11:53 AM   #12
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Kevin, Beautiful footage and a great story told. I've had trouble coming up with comments but I think we all feel the same about your subject. After getting home last night the first thing I did was share the video with my wife and son. I feel it needs a large audience! It has left me wondering what more I can do and I feel this will stay on my mind for quite some time. That's good!
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Old September 23rd, 2010, 05:20 PM   #13
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I don't think it's hokey at all, it comes across as heartfelt emotion. It's a tough subject. Great images, great voice over and music, the audio is outstanding. I like the shot of you walking towards the sunrise at the end. Was that an intended symbolic image? We need to get you over to Hawaii for some R&R. A couple of waves at Waikiki and a Luau and you'd be right as rain.
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Old September 23rd, 2010, 05:42 PM   #14
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Hi Kevin,
Just got thru watching your video and wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed it. You and I have talked a few times on the forum about "Park Filming Permit Legislation". I want you to know I understand where you are coming from. I retired last year after 30 years as a park ranger. The last year I was pretty depressed about the state of the environment under my care and seemingly lack of concern by others. Many times I asked myself "what have I accomplished on the job to make life better". I must say I struggled with this due to my long standing fight with some of my agency's bureaucrats and policies. Then I remembered all the positive contacts I had over the years with the visiting public and the common interests we shared of "love for nature" . I began to feel a lot better knowing there were people out there who felt as passionate about nature as I do. Also, I have some satisfaction about being there to challenge my peers and causing them to think a little deeper about the consequences of their decissions.

Anyway, I have been doing video work part time for the past year and enjoying every minute of it. I hope that you can do the same.

videos: http://vimeo.com/channels/3523

Last edited by Mark Williams; September 23rd, 2010 at 06:43 PM.
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Old September 23rd, 2010, 09:12 PM   #15
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I took the hokey SFX out. I thought it would take away from what I was trying to say I was going through.


I picked up a HDSLR to take to Yellowstone so there's not going to be any ranger breathing down my neck to have a permit and pay them $65 an hour on land my takes pay for. :)

Pretty much everything in this film was shot with it.
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