Tell us about The Source Project?
The Source project is an initiative looking to create media that positively connect and communicate some of the most important issues being faced by our environment and as a result, by our societies and cultures. It is about using media to engage people in some of the many issues we need to embrace. Story telling from people who are driven by nothing more than a compassion moves away from the traditional confrontational format, which does little more than foster an overwhelming sense of helplessness.
Created in a short film format, the media produced by the Source Project can be easily watched and shared on various social media platforms. The filmmakers believe that in this way they are able to not only help counter an imbalance of misinformation within development and mainstream media but also stimulate consciousness on issues that otherwise would pass unnoticed.
A young Karamajong man searching for gold in a fox hole in Uganda
At the heart of the Source Project is agriculture, a system, not only of food production but also one that maintains our ecosystem, our cultures, our health and the very survival of humanity.
The Source Project was set up in 2010 by Chintan Gohil and Jason Taylor and most of the films produced are self-funded by the filmmakers.
A Common Sense. Dr Debal Deb is possibly one of the world’s most progressive environmentalist, working on the preservation and protection of indigenous rice varieties in Western India. Because of this he is almost ignored by the majority corporate affiliated science and media communities. His work is driven by a deep desire to empower the majority over the minority and help farmers develop long-term systems for food security.
Pun-Pun. Jo Jandai grew up in a farm in Thailand. One day he decided to try his fortune in the big city and headed to Bangkok. When he arrived, he was shocked at the economic systems, systems that rather giving, just took. From working just a few hours in the countryside, talking to friends, eating good food and feeling relaxed he found himself in an environment driven by need and greed. Where everything cost so much money he seemed to spend all his days working to be able to survive. Not surprisingly he returned back to living off the land and now runs an organic farm and a center for sustainability and self-reliance that teaches student from all around the world how to live a meaningful and enjoyable life.
Not a Very Green Revolution. In many ways India was to become a blue print for US agricultural foreign policy when in the 1960s with pressure to increase food production, the Indian government opened its doors to private US agrochemical companies. It was termed, ironically, ‘the green revolution’ and began its toxic journey from the northwestern state of Punjab. The instant results were phenomenal and the yields doubled and farmers got rich. Everyone celebrated but for many, all was not what it seemed as, like drug addicts, people became addicted to a chemical system and as they used more and more, their soils and bio diversity slowly died. Now Punjab is reeling from the aftermath and slowly farmers and general public are starting to become aware of the reality of the green revolution. The film is narrated by food policy analyst Devinder Sharma
Not a Very Green Revolution. Two Farmers from Punjab, the North Western State in India where the ‘Green Revolution’ – a government and internationally orchestrated shift to Industrialised Agriclture.
A Hydrocarbon Heaven. We are surrounded by hydrocarbons and nearly all our energy demands are met by the conversion of this natural matter. Nick Abson has been converting simple matter into gas through his anaerobic digester then removing hydrogen and using it to use fuel cells he has managed to design and make on 3D printers. His dream is to create a truly democratic energy future.
Upendra Has Worms. Upendra is a subsistence farmer living in a remote area of Odisha, eastern India. Over the years, his land has been devastated by government policy that encouraged farmers to use chemicals in their farming. Within a generation, his soils became so sick that it had to be broken with hammers before harvesting. A small local organization approached him a while back and introduced him to vermiculture, the practice of using worms to create compost. Since then he has never looked back and his land is now back to how he remembers it as a child.
A Festival of Seeds. The Gaia foundation ran a small seed festival a few years back in an attempt to draw small growers in the UK to share their seeds. This film is about how we need to reconnect not only with the source of our food system but also with our communities who support us in the production and consumption of our local food.
Climate Change: Ladakh. Ladakh, the cold desert in the high Himalayas is a place of subtle ecological balance and it is at the forefront of climate change impacts. This film highlights some of the issues faced by the region and some of the efforts made towards climate change adaptation.
As Padma Tashi, director of the NGO Rural Development and You explains in the video, “Climate change and disasters have been associated with Ladakh for a long time. Over the past 10 to 12 years, different corners of Ladakh have been affected. Somewhere there is extreme water shortage and somewhere extreme flooding. It snows when it shouldn’t. It doesn’t rain when it should. Everything in Ladakh’s climate has been turned upside down.”
In the face of these changes, non-governmental organizations and government officials in the region are working with local communities to improve disaster preparedness and enhance climate resilience — by building “artificial glaciers,” for example — while also educating students and farmers about the science of climate change. Through these efforts, Ladakh could become a model for other parts of the world.
Climate Change: Rajasthan. In arid northwestern state of Rajasthan, the areas of Thar desert experience extreme shortage of water. With increase in temperatures, changing rain fall patterns and declining ground water supply, the impacts of climate change are visible and the need for action urgent.
Many organisations are now working on various traditional and innovative methods for spreading awareness and mitigation. A local NGO is working with young women and adolescent girls via medium of radio to create awareness, discuss issues and find solutions to the pressing water issues in the region with a hope that the message will spread and action will be taken from local to state level.
What is the reach of The Source Project films?
The films are distributed digitally through social media platforms. A vimeo site and the source project website also hosts the films. The organisations collaborating on some of the films promote the films through their social media networks as well as other organisation networks, educational institutions and activists. All the films are free for anyone to use for non-commercial purposes under creative commons license and are often downloaded and shown at small film festivals all around the world.
Two young Liberian men producing palm oil in a traditional way
What is your approach to science filmmaking?
We love making films about ‘good’ science, where meaningful science is used for greater good. In the field of agriculture and sustainability there are various examples of this and we have tried to capture some of these. It is very important to us to make the subject matter simple and the narrative philosophical in order for it to reach a more diverse, wider audience. A lot of our films with a scientific base also connect on a more personal and philosophical level to the viewers while discussing basic scientific concepts. Rather than stating the obvious, we want the viewers to start a process of thinking and questioning. It is about touching their consciousness on some level.
Welsh Farmer and Acitivist Gerald Miles with his son on their farm in West Pembrokeshire.
Three women in a Liberian village celebrating the government returning their land in a climate of unprecedented land grab
What are you currently working on now?
We have recently moved to the UK and are now working with various organisations including friends of the earth and the soil association, trying to create compelling short films for local, more western audiences about issues of environment, food sovereignty and sustainable agriculture practices.
Chintan Gohil - Filmmaker & Photographer
Chintan is an award winning filmmaker and photographer now based in the UK. Over the past few years she has been involved in a variety of projects with NGO's as well as her own personal work reflecting her design background and concerns around agriculture and the environment. Her training as an architect, focusing on urban planning and sustainable architecture has helped her to not only understand many of the issues communities face but also how to document and communicate them. Last year she won a residency with Documentary Art Asia in Thailand, resulting in a 20-minute film on PunPun farm and the philosophy of Jo Jandai and his vision of sustainability and happiness. She now runs most aspects of The Source Project and is instrumental in much of the production and development of the various media including social media and the dissemination of the projects.
Jason Taylor - Filmmaker & Photographer
After ten years of working as a photographer and filmmaker in what is fashionably known as ‘development’, Jason finally come to the realisation that much of what he was involved in was little more than managed poverty, he started to realise that it is an industry like any other. He began to question the work he was doing and the absolute disconnect between those who commissioned him and those he was there to document. Now he is focusing on a storytelling format that is non-confrontational and directly coming from people connected to the issues on the ground. This is pretty much a work in progress for him and he knows the direction but doesn’t know where it is going to lead him. All his focus now is to re-connect us to what we are about to lose.