FILMS IN PRODUCTION & DEVELOPMENT
SURVIVING EXTINCTION: THE FRANKLIN TREE (2021) - IN Pre-Production
DIRECTED BY GREY GOWDER
A documentary film.
The remarkable story of the discovery, demise, and preservation of the Franklin Tree (Franklinian altamaha) from its origins in Georgia’s Altamaha River Wilderness, to its unintended salvation in captivity at the historic Bartram’s Garden of Philadelphia, and its future through modern science. When American naturalists John and William Bartram found the Franklin Tree in 1767, they unknowingly caused both its destruction and salvation in the attention they brought to the species through their writings and specimens. What began as a population of about three acres in 1767 diminished to merely six plants in 1805, and extinction by 1810. But the Franklinia’s story did not end there. Today, descendants of the Bartrams’ Franklinia specimens live in arboretums and bontanical gardens across the world but not along the Altamaha River in Georgia. Thanks to the work of dedicated botanists and conservationists at the University of Georgia and the Nature Conservancy that may soon change. After 200 years of extinction, Franklinia may soon return to its home in the wild.
SEA CHANGE (2023) - IN DEVELOPMENT
Directed and Produced by Grey Gowder
Climate change threatens to fundamentally alter our world’s oceans. Two young educators set out on a thrilling 2-year circumnavigation of the world in a 40-foot sailboat to see these changes happening first-hand and to learn how island and coastal communities are working to repair the world around them to mitigate the effects of climate change for a more resilient future.
For generations, coastal and island peoples’ lives and identities have been tied to the seas. As the oceans transform due to climate change and globalization, so do these communities’ relationship to their surrounding waters. With rising sea levels, increasingly severe weather patterns, diminishing maritime ecosystems, and exhaustive global exploitation of dwindling resources these communities are faced with a crisis of identity where they must adapt to a changing world or disappear with their homelands beneath the waves. Many are turning to restorative design by rebuilding and repairing the natural systems surrounding their communities. From restoring mangrove forests to seagrass, to clearing their waters of plastic pollution, and planting new coral reefs, local communities are partnering with international organizations to rebuild the natural world on a global scale.
Charleston-based duo Tripp Brower and Zach Bjur hope to learn how island and coastal communities are dealing with the effects of climate change in order to address those problems they are seeing at home, and to share what they learned with the world to empower individuals and communities to take action to protect and rebuild the natural world.
LOCAL OYSTERS (2024) - IN DEVELOPMENT
PRODUCED & DIRECTED BY GREY GOWDER
A feature-length documentary about the challenges facing America’s other reefs.
I’d like to tell you about a very special creature, one beloved by much of the world but often taken for granted. Though no larger than your hand, these creatures cluster into reefs often stretching for miles that serve as the nurseries for the sea, providing habitat for migratory birds, blue crab, shrimp, and small fish. Their reefs form strong natural barriers to storm waves and sea level rise while forming the foundation for vast fields of grass. They purify their waterways, with a healthy reef filtering as much as 24 million gallons of water per day. And they have formed the basis for coastal food culture and coastal economies across most of the world for centuries. They officially go by many names like Ostrea lurida, Crassostrea virginica, and Crasstrea gigas, but are more affectionately known as OYSTERS.
Like coral, oysters form large contiguous reefs along coastal shorelines, providing countless benefits to the ecosystems and to the coastal economies that surround them. They are food, habitat, erosion control, and incredible purifiers of the waters around them, with a single oyster filtering fifty gallons of water a day. But oysters are facing a major problem, since the 19th century, heightened levels of industrial pollution and over-harvesting have decimated oyster reefs. Roughly 85% of the world’s reefs are gone with three quarters of the remaining historical reefs here in North America. With efforts to restore and reintroduce reefs, the oysters are making a gradual come back in places where they were extinct a decade ago, but new threats of micro-plastics and micro-fibers, pollution, human activity, and sea level rise may endanger their future.
This is a story about oyster reefs, the people and ecosystems that rely on them, and the scientists, oystermen, and chefs working to protect them while building a sustainable future.
REGRET (TBD) - IN DEVELOPMENT
SCREENPLAY BY GREY GOWDER, DIRECTED BY GREY GOWDER
A narrative short film based on a Kate Chopin short story set in the 1900s rural South.
MISS AURLIE, a mid-50s woman living alone on her rural Georgia farm, finds her life upended when her neighbor, ODILE, leaves her pack of young children at Aurlie’s doorstep. What was once a peaceful and independent solitude with her dog, PONTO, now becomes a noisy and frantic struggle to adapt to the constant individual eccentricities of her new wards.