Filmmaker Q&A: Shawn Heinrichs

Shawn Heinrichs, John Weller, “Sanctuary: The Last Stand for Sharks” (Thursday, March 8th, 8 p.m.)

Sanctuary Trailer from John Weller on Vimeo.

sanctuary“Sanctuary: The Last Stand for Sharks” portrays the underwater world of sharks and paints a global picture of the threats they are facing. Globally shark populations are declining, but there is growing momentum to protect them. Since many of the shark species are migratory, the establishment of small, protected areas or breeding closures is not enough to protect the ones that may leave the boundary of safety. Many places are now recognizing that sharks are worth more alive than dead, contributing both to the economy and the stability of crucial marine ecosystems such as coral reefs. Some countries have even established shark sanctuaries throughout the entirety of their waters. These sanctuaries are places where sharks can live and reproduce without the threat of fishing; they present an opportunity to protect sharks over a larger scale before it is too late.

sanctuaryWhat was your inspiration for creating the film?  Sharks and our Oceans are in desperate and immediate need of protection and our survival depends on it. However, marine conservation initiatives are continuously hindered because the general populace is disconnected from marine issues. To tackle the magnitude of problems that we are currently facing, we must engage and mobilize people on a global scale. Our film was created to reconnect people to the Oceans, to create true ambassadorship, and to pave the way for critical conservation efforts.

sanctuaryWhat was the most challenging part of creating the film?  We started this film with an uncompromising commitment to perfection for every step of the process. The first major hurdle was creating a story that encompassed the totality of the sharks’ story, but in a manner that would engage and inspire our audience. The second and greater hurdle was delivering on that vision. We touched just about every frame in this film to ensure it achieved our objectives.

What do you want to impart on your film’s viewers?  We want our viewers to leave with a clear understanding of the pressing issues facing sharks and our Oceans, that tangible solutions exist to abate these threats, and that they can be an important part of the solution.

What was the most enjoyable part of creating the film? Spending time in the company of these great predators and filming their graceful movements, which are experiences we will always cherish. Similarly, the children in the coastal communities really touched our souls. Their innocence and joy inspired us and awakened that critical connection between people and the Oceans they depend upon.

Who (or what) is your inspiration? Sharks and the people who depend on the Oceans for survival inspired us.

How or why did you begin creating ocean-focused films? Our Oceans are in a desperate state. If significant change does not come swiftly, we risk losing our planets most important life support system. Media offers one of the greatest tools to reach and inspire people to take action. Now is the time for bold steps by passionate people and we will do all we can to catalyze the process.

Why did you choose to submit your film to the San Francisco Ocean Film Festival? This festival offers an excellent venue to reach a community that is connected to the Ocean, is passionate about environmental issues, and is plugged into real mechanisms for change. We are honored that our film was selected to part of the festival.

Is this your first time participating in an ocean-focused film festival? No, we have participated in many festivals.

What was the most memorable moment in creating the film?Our most memorable moment was that day we finally completed the story script. It was then that we realized we had something special and unique. For the first time, the complete story of sharks would be told in a visually compelling and inspiring format.

Is there anything else that you would like to share? We would like to thank the Pew Environment Group for their collaboration and support, without which this film could not have been made.