5Q's w/Bill Wisneski "Shadow of Drought" Director

Shadow of Drought (38 min) dir: Bill Wisneski

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#1:  Can you describe your movie and why somebody should see it in less than 280 characters? 

This film explores the severe 2012-2016 California drought and the impacts of climate change that loom over Southern California's imported water.  With future severe droughts approaching, dire consequences of inaction will affect millions of people throughout the region.

#2:  What do you want the Borrego Springs Film Festival audience to know about your film that isn’t obvious from its title?

This project was born out of our last film “Breaking Point” which examined the impending environmental crisis at the Salton Sea.  That documentary revealed to us California’s unique and multifaceted water management system which we wanted to explore more in depth.   
When we first began this project in 2013, California was in the midst of the worst drought in state history and many scientists believed it could go on for another decade.  In 2017 however, the state ended up experiencing a record wet winter. The unfortunate timing delayed our film, but turned out to be a blessing as it exposed other elements of the story we would have otherwise overlooked.


#3: What is your movie making background?  Tell us about yourself.

Since 2006 I have had the opportunity to produce and direct seven documentaries.  Most of the projects have focused on environmental issues, which has been a passion of mine since I was in high school.  I didn’t consider pursuing this as a career though until after college when I had the opportunity to work at a TV station in Southern Oregon.  I quickly realized working in news was not for me and discovered documentary filmmaking while attending graduate school in the Edward R. Murrow program at Washington State University.  For the past sixteen years I’ve worked at Palomar College with a talented team that has won twenty Pacific Southwest Emmy Awards during my tenure.

#4: What was the biggest lesson learned in getting your film made?

Tackling this huge and complex issue stretched my small staff to the limit.  Over the course of the four years it took to make the film, the multi-faceted topic evolved with the changing weather and other current events.  If we were to choose a subject like this one again, I would focus on a smaller aspect of the story that would be easier for us to explore in depth.

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#5: What does the future hold for your film and you?

We are at the beginning of what likely will be a two-year film festival run.  Hopefully this film will be broadcast on PBS and we will also pursue online distribution opportunities.  We have just started pre-production on our next documentary which will examine the dark underworld of human trafficking in Southern California.

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Matthew NothelferComment