Jesse Cowling
6 December 2001
Helford & Carson


Over the past semester, I worked with Kevin Scribner and Judith Johnson, from the Kooskooskie Commons organization, to plan and develop the Many Waters Video Festival. The internship involved helping develop and organize ideas for a local environmental film festival. The proposed festival will use the downtown Walla Walla Widescreen Film Festival of the summer months as a venue for student-produced, short (30-120 seconds) environmental films. Students from the local middle and high schools, as well as the colleges in town, will compete for best film.

This internship proved rewarding. The majority of the work at the beginning of the semester was in the development of ideas and planning, so there was a lack of hands-on work. On September 25th I had the opportunity to actually get out into the field and shoot footage. There was a Water Symposium, held at the airport, whose purpose was to bring the people of the community together in an attempt to work through some of the issues of local water rights. Farmers, ranchers, as well as state and federal officials were present to communicate in a neutral environment.

On September 25th, I arrived at the airport, set up my camera and tripod, and began shooting some of the discussion/mediation process. I focused on individuals for a while and then on the group dynamic of the conference. In such an interesting and diverse group of people, it was easy to get some quality shots. This was an invaluable learning experience for me and piqued my interest in doing more fieldwork.

On November 14th, I was scheduled to do an interview with Russ Bergevin, an individual who especially stood out as a human-interest story at the Water Symposium. I met with Judy in the morning to go over what the interview would be like. We then met up with Russ and went out to lunch. Russ proceeded to tell us a lot about his family's history in the Walla Walla Valley. He showed us a photo album with pictures of the trout restoration project he piloted years ago. There were clear traces of tension and sarcasm in Russ' voice when the “bureaucracies” and organizations of the area were discussed. We then drove around Walla Walla, with Russ pointing out the historical landmarks that have relevance with his family. We finally reached his farm and we then went down to the river. I filmed Russ for the next 20 minutes by the river, talking more about his history on the farm, as well as the future.

One of my long-term goals for the internship was to edit my footage from the Water Symposium as well as from my day with Russ, into a 90-second video. This video is currently still in production. Once I have finished (likely next week), I will present the piece to Kevin and Judy to use as an example in the Many Waters Film Festival.

This internship was of the utmost value to me in terms of the wealth of opportunities I have had to experience the business office/planning/pre-production side of environmental filmmaking. I had multiple meetings with Kevin and Judith where we simply brainstormed and organized ideas. This is an essential part of filmmaking and is highly useful to me. My long-term goal in this internship was to gain experience in the field and to eventually be a part of the finished project: the video festival.

One of the major problems I faced in the internship was my lack of transportation. Not having a car made it difficult to get to the airport for the Water Symposium. The other issue was having very little direction/assignments. Understandably, the project was just getting off the ground and so there was not much to be done. Hopefully I may have gotten some work accomplished for any future interns that may be interested in continuing the project.

The time commitment of this internship was entirely dependent on what we did week-to-week. The majority of hours during the average week, was devoted to research, however I spent 4 hours at the airport working at the Water Symposium collecting footage, and 4 hours with Russ Bergevin. Thus, the time commitment varied from week to week.

Overall, this internship was very enjoyable as well as educational. Kevin and Judy were professional and I look forward to possibly incorporating this work into my thesis design in the future. In terms of recommendations for the future, I believe that as this project progresses, the goals and objectives should become more refined. I think it was hard for Kevin and Judy to define what they expected of me, because the project itself was a work in progress. I recognize this and view it as part of the learning experience.