It’s a blustery Thanksgiving morning in Victoria when Jamie Tanner and I sit down over breakfast to talk about the environmental movement and film-making. Jamie is one of BC’s up and coming filmmakers; his films see more hits on YouTube and Facebook than Michael Ignatieff’s social media – in a week! We’ve been exceedingly lucky at Dogwood that Jamie’s passions for environmental stories brought him knocking on our door this past year.
What you can appreciate about Jamie’s work is his sense of place. As a former competitive skier, he has a profound connection with the environment. “When the weather is good, the skiing is good,” says Jamie, as he explains how he grew to appreciate our interaction with weather and landscape through his years carving BC’s snow powdered mountains. His sport pushed him to read the scenery in an entirely different way; “Being up high in the mountains above the clouds, or looking up from a valley bottom, mountains do something to humans. It allows you to see perspectives and you can’t help but be moved,” describes Jamie.
Though not an avid environmental supporter from the get go after Jamie began to see places that he loved threatened by development projects or for ‘economic stimulus’, he cast a vote for the environment. “Over time you see these beautiful places destroyed and wonder why,” says Jamie.
Film gives him the opportunity to share a special piece of the world with others. To Jamie, “more than any other medium, video brings you to a place. There are not a lot of gaps between artist and viewer.” He sees a perfect fit for film conveying environmental stories, “in almost every environmental issue, something beautiful stands to be destroyed by something ugly. It makes a very visual case for change.”
Jamie is hopeful and enthusiastic for change in Canada. “Canadians connect with the environment, we’re a pioneer nation, we are just getting out of the phase of collecting natural resources for income,” says Jamie. With his films Jamie strives to emotionally captivate people into action, motivate them and get them involved in a cause.
The strong ties that link communities inspire Jamie, and through working with Dogwood he’s been able to explore these relationships. “When you have that banner behind you [as a Dogwood volunteer], it gives you a kind of empowerment and also I think gives people this common thread”. When knocking on doors along Vancouver Island’s Juan de Fuca coast for his most recent Dogwood video, he was invited into homes, “almost without explanation” and shared in the communities’ love of a place.
If you haven’t seen Jamie’s short film created for Dogwood’s Wild Coast campaign, check it out here. It’s the result of evenings spent with complete strangers who became fast friends and together created a tangible, artistic film about protecting our coast.
What’s next for Jamie?
Jamie is currently on tour with Philadelphia band Circa Survive, creating weekly update videos and slowly compiling a documentary on the band and the world of music tours.
Jamie’s work brings together a passion for music and life, as well as the need to cherish and protect our home. He marries his two interests by “exposing the beauty in nature and showing people what’s out there that’s worth protecting without being preachy or negative. That’s my role as a filmmaker – to be a communicator.”
Thanks and good luck Jamie!