Filmmaker Q&A: Marc Rowedder

Eco Crime Investigation: Making a Killing

Friday, March 9, 4:00 PM – Program 3

Eco Crime Investigation: Making a Killing” is an undercover investigation into the driving forces behind Iceland's recent return to commercial whaling of endangered fin whales. Only a handful of countries continue to practice industrial whaling, pursuing endangered fin whales in order to turn a profit. Although rumors have persisted that there is a lack of demand for this whale meat in its main export markets: Iceland and Japan. With this in mind, EIA (Environmental Investigation Agency) investigators pack their undercover cameras and attempt to locate and understand the driving force behind this dubious and murky business. This documentary promises to take a fascinating look into the underworld of commercial whaling.

What was your inspiration for creating the film? I have a strong passion for environmental issues and wanted to bring hard-hitting issues that the majority of people don't know about to a mass audience.

What was the most challenging part of creating the film? Gaining access to EIA's inner core of undercover agents. It took over 2 years to build a trusting relationship that allowed us to follow EIA's agents and document their work on the front line of environmental crime.

What do you want to impart on your film’s viewers? There are things going on in the world that the majority of people don't have a clue about. Environmental crime is big business, worth billions of dollars and there is always someone making big bucks to the detriment of the natural environment. There are people out there who are putting their life on the line to protect our natural world. They are trying to make sure that the next generation can enjoy, explore, and study this fascinating planet with its rare and endangered animals, unique rainforest eco systems and marine life.

What was the most enjoyable part of creating the film? Finally turning on the cameras, recording extraordinary footage and telling compelling stories.

Who (or what) is your inspiration? Of course people like Jacques Cousteau inspired me when I was a kid, but people like the undercover agents, campaigners and researchers from organizations such as the EIA. These people work effortlessly with an admirable dedication to bring about change that protects the natural world from environmental crime and abuse - these are the ones who really inspire me.

How or why did you begin creating ocean-focused films? I became passionate about the ocean environment what I started surfing 15 years ago. I had a few encounters with plastic bags, condoms and sanitary towels. Once I started looking into ocean related issues a whole new world of problems, concerns and controversies I had never heard about opened up. In the beginning I was more focused on smaller coastal pollution issues and their impact on local communities, but the more I connected the dots, the more I realized that there are pressing global environmental marine issues that effect every single one of us.

Why did you choose to submit your film to the San Francisco Ocean Film Festival? It was a no-brainer as it has a great reputation within the environmental film making community.

Is this your first time participating in an ocean-focused film festival? Yes

What was the most memorable moment in creating the film? Watching the undercover agents getting their hidden cameras ready and walking into the 'lion's den' trying to expose the big players; often ruthless and corrupt criminals of environmental crime who drive the destruction of our natural world for profit.

Is there anything else that you would like to share? I wish there were more television channel commissioners out there like Stephen Hunter and Diana El-Osta from the National Geographic Channel, who had the guts to commission this and to further three films about EIA’s undercover investigations into environmental crime.