'Oyster' is a full-length feature documentary film aimed at highlighting the very direct effects of climate change on local environments. We want to engage communities - such as those along our inland waterways and estuaries - to look for evidence of changes and motivate people to take positive action to protect and work within their environments.
What is most important to know with this campaign is that if we don't reach our goal within 30 days, Kickstarter will return all pledged money to the backers and nothing will go to OYSTER. So please send what you can, help us reach our target within the 30 days and become a part of the OYSTER community.
In enviable weather, on the south-east coast of Australia, a punt glides over Merimbula Lake towards an oyster lease, with a passionate young oyster farmer Dom at the helm. It’s a romantic picture of tranquil beauty and a life close to nature, attuned to the rhythm of the tides. But Dom and fellow locals swear the water’s getting warmer and the storms more severe.
The only oyster it’s legal for them to grow in the lake is the famous gourmet’s delight, the Sydney Rock Oyster. Taking three years to mature, it’s highly vulnerable to pollution and changes in water temperature and salinity. There are diseases too and the threat of competition from a much faster growing non-native species, the Pacific Oyster. There are market pressures too from international markets such as China where wealthy customers pay big money for imported oysters whose image is purity, blue skies, clear air, clean water.
OYSTER follows Dom and Pip into their home, their work-shed, out on their punt and into the water, to see what it’s like to be raising two energetic young boys, one autistic, while you’re working big hours to keep a few million oysters alive, and any decision you make to deal with the global pressures of the fickle luxury markets, climate change, environmental damage and increasing disease could have far reaching consequences.
This is a local story that goes to the heart of matters of global urgency – climate, sustainability, farming, the health, livelihood and education of rural communities, and the challenges and uncertainties that come with globalisation and international markets.
Our inland waterways and estuaries provide support not only for an abundance of marine creatures, plant life, birds and mammals but also for millions of humans, worldwide, who either live along their shorelines or who rely on what these ecosystems produce.
Inland waterways and estuaries provide us with many of life’s necessities – air and water for starters. With many of us relying on them for foods such as shellfish, fresh and salt water seafoods and certain seaweeds and algae which are used in food and medicine production. Our river systems are also a means of transport for both people and freight.
And then there is recreation with many of us having spent our summer holidays camped on a river or swimming in a stream.
All of the above rely on water quality and it is only by protecting our inland and estuarial waterways that they will remain.
OYSTER will tell this story of the need to protect these waterways through the lives of a working class Australian farming family who live and rely on the waters of Merimbula Lake for their very livelihood.
Kim Beamish grew up spending his holidays fishing and swimming in Merimbula Lake with Dominic Boyton before becoming a chef and working with the oysters produced across the leases on the lake. After leaving the kitchen Kim was accepted into and graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts film school.
He has worked with many established filmmakers both in Australia and Internationally before producing, directing, filming and editing his first feature documentary 'The Tentmakers of Cairo' - awarded the Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award, the Prix Buyen-Chagoll and the Man Ray Award for Excellence in Documentary Film. Kim has now returned to his friend and to the lake to tell this story.
Pat Fiske grew up in Minnesota, USA where there are over 10,000 fresh water lakes. Her family were keen fisher people. She has strong memories of her dad, who cooked the family breakfast – often feeding them fish, crab meat or clams. Sometimes they would have bottled oysters too. When she worked as a teacher in California in the early 70s, she had her first fresh succulent oyster which made a big impression and she hasn’t stopped eating them since.
When Pat came to Australia in 1972, she became a filmmaker and her films as director and/or producer have won many awards and screened in countless film festivals around the world. She was the Co-Head of the Documentary Department at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School (AFTRS) for six years and worked as the Documentary Consultant at SBS TV for 18 months. In 2001, she was awarded the prestigious Stanley Hawes Award for her outstanding contribution to the documentary industry in Australia at the Australian International Documentary Conference (AIDC).
Climate Change is perhaps the most difficult environmental challenge of our time, and the philanthropic world has a vital role to play in helping to develop the environmental, social and communal responses to it.
We are all effected by the weather, our daily routines are defined by whether there will be rain or what the temperature might be for the day. OYSTER is on the front line with those dealing directly with the impacts of climate change and introduces our audience to identifiable characters whose lives are dictated by the weather and any changes it brings.
OYSTER aims to ignite public awareness about some of the key issues facing farming families and those who depend on the weather to make a living. Highlighting issues such as local and marine pollution, destructive development and construction, ocean acidification and rises in water temperatures, increased salinity and the potential of unknown incurable strains of viruses which are all impacting on a multimillion dollar seafood industry. However, more than these, visible signs are the strains these changes and impacts are having on family life and the raising of children.
Oysters are the canary in the estuary able to show early signs of strain within their environment. If we are looking for signs that our world is changing and impacting directly on human beings, then the oyster is a sure sign. We need to stop looking at our environment solely as a commodity and start working with it so as to protect our own ecosystems and life support systems as well as protecting the livelihoods of those who work within it.
With your help we can engage communities to look at their local environments for evidence of change so this evidence can be used to motivate for positive action within communities to preserve our local ecosystems and life support systems while also protecting the livelihoods of those who work within them.
“We've got to think locally and act globally on issues of environmentalism” – Jack Mundey, Australian union and environmental activist.
HOW YOUR DONATION WILL BE USED:
We have been lucky enough to gain financial support from Screen Australia to produce OYSTER however our finance from Screen Australia is reliant on our ability to secure the remainder of our budget. Your donation will help us to take a step towards making sure that we are able to take advantage of Screen Australia's support.
** If you are looking to make a tax deductible donation from within Australia this can also be done through our Documentary Australia Foundation site.
Thank you for making this documentary possible!
Risks and challenges
This film requires TIME, PATIENCE and LUCK and at any one time we can only have two of those. So having you onboard, as a part of our OYSTER community, provides us with; TIME and LUCK.
We are pretty patient people anyways so maybe we can have all three?
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