FILMS IN PRODUCTION & DEVELOPMENT
THE FRANKLIN TREE (2019) - IN DEVELOPMENT
DIRECTED BY GREY GOWDER
A documentary film.
In 1765, William Bartram, America’s first native born natural history artist, took specimens of a rare tree he called Franklinia alatamaha from the banks of the Altamaha River near Darien, Georgia for his garden in Philadelphia. By 1805, the Franklin Tree had vanished from the river, only surviving in the Bartrams’ garden. Over two centuries later, our world faces an extinction crisis. While most conservationist groups are fighting to stave off the extinction of countless species, the Franklin Tree is poised for a renaissance. Today, groups in Georgia seek to reintroduce descendants of Bartram’s specimens to its native habitat along a small stretch of Georgia’s Altamaha River, where it last lived over two centuries ago.
LOCAL OYSTERS (TBD) - 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.
UNTITLED SAILING ADVENTURE DOCUMENTARY (2022) - IN DEVELOPMENT
Directed and Produced by Grey Gowder
In November of 2019, two young men (Tripp and Zach) will set forth on an 18-month circumnavigation of the world along the equator in their sailboat in order to better understand the relationship between coastal and island communities and their surrounding waters, and how their lives will be impacted by climate change and the changing of the seas. The identity of communities are often tied to the world around the community. Traditions of boat building, maritime culture, food, music, storytelling, language, and social structures all come from the community’s unique connection to the sea and to the land. When we look at the idea of "identity tied to place", that reveals a dynamic conflict where that "place" is evolving and so identity, too, must evolve or else risk becoming disconnected with the present. In the case of some of these people, the essential elements that define their "place", and thus their identity, are disappearing with diminishing coral reefs, depleted fish populations, stronger storms, rising seas and disappearing lands, and an overall threat of displacement. The universality of this story is that everyone understands the idea of an individual or a community being forced to undergo a change in identity or how they define themselves due to changing contexts around them. It is simply the means and magnitude of that change that differentiates the experiences of the individual. Tripp and Zach seek to better understand how these very real factors are affecting the average person on the ground, and also how these communities are prepared to face these challenges. How conservative or dramatic are the evolutions these communities prepared undergo for their futures? And, most importantly, how real is the perceived threat to these communities?
Tripp works as an educator in Charleston, South Carolina for the Lowcountry Maritime Society where he studies and teaches the traditional wooden boat building techniques of the region’s African-American fishing fleet to local school children. Zach is a marine biologist and coastal conservation specialist for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
The film will capture the transformation Tripp and Zach (main characters) undergo in understanding the ramifications of climate change on a personal level from their interactions with the locals we build relationships with along the journey (subcharacters). The subplot of the story will be the dynamic they have in the journey and how their interpersonal relationship evolves. This way, it really feels like Bourdain and Chasing Coral where the journey and the experience of making the film are narrative devices to tell the story of what a diverse group of subcharacters are undergoing and how each person is dealing with these common challenges in their own way. They are both undergoing your own evolution and change in identity as are the people they meet along the road. The director hopes that audiences will relate to the transformation Tripp and Zach undergo as their worldview or understanding of the things affecting the people they meet transforms as the two men experience this colossal journey.