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Gulf of Mexico Foundation contributes
funding to documentary film project

The Gulf of Mexico Foundation contributed financial support to the production of a new one-hour-long, 16mm film documentary entitled, "Living Waters: Aquatic Preserves of Florida." The film is available for purchase for $17 in DVD or VHS format by calling (850) 674-2902 or by clicking here: Live Oak Productions.

The artistically photographed, educational film highlights 12 of the 41 aquatic preserves along Florida's 8,500 miles of coastline which were set aside for protection by the state in 1966.

Produced and directed by cinematographer Elam Stoltzfus, the film features an introduction and closing remarks by well-known Florida nature photographer Clyde Butcher, whose current book, Living Waters: Aquatic Preserves of Florida, served as both inspiration and title for the new film. Butcher's coffee-table book of photos is also available for purchase by clicking here: Clyde Butcher.

St. Joe Bay #3 - photo by Clyde Butcher

In addition to an hour of moving footage, the film highlights Butchers' artistic still photographs portraying the natural beauty of Florida's aquatic preserves. Throughout the production, the large-format black-and-white still photographs are first displayed, then brought to life by the rich color of motion picture shot in the same location. It's as though Butcher is guiding the cinematographers to cherished spots discovered during his past 20 years of exploring the Florida coast.

Using aerial photography and boat-mounted cameras, the film takes viewers on a journey through seagrass meadows and mangrove forests, down sandy white beaches and across broad marshy wetlands. Underwater cinematography is also a part of the film, with footage of schools of fish feeding in seagrass beds,  a snorkeler diving for scallops and tourists swimming with an endangered Florida manatee.

Following their success with Living Waters, cinematographer Elam Stoltzfus (right) and photographer Clyde Butcher are currently teaming up on another film project, this time focusing on the Apalachicola Bay and River.

The "Living Waters" film focuses on the natural wonders of Florida, demonstrating how each of the 12 preserves featured are helping to conserve the area's natural heritage, the wildlife residing there and the area's cultural heritage for future human generations. It also shows how visitors and local residents enjoy the preserves through activities like canoeing, kayaking, inner tubing, snorkeling and fishing.

Perhaps the production's most compelling aspect is the soundtrack: a combination of composer Sammy Tedder's instrumental music combined with voice-over by narrator Peter Thomas. Other narration is provided by marine conservationists and local citizens. While footage shot in dramatic lighting from a variety of interesting angles moves across the screen, the narrators contribute both scientific information about the location and personal messages explaining its importance to the marine environment, local communities and the eco-tourism industry.

One of the narrators, writer Sue Spencer, lives alongside a river in the St. Johns River Marshes Aquatic Preserve. Discussing how she and her sister are working to conserve their backyard ecosystem, she manages to put the film's message into a capsule. With a soft voice and deeply southern accent, she eloquently states, "The wars are going to be fought about water. We don't know how precious it is and when it gets polluted, it's ruined ... We are so rich in water, particularly in Florida, and we must take care of it."

In addition to the Gulf of Mexico Foundation's contribution, other partners in the Live Oak Production film project were the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Office of Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Ocean Conservancy and Scandy White Boats.

Gulf of Mexico Foundation
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