Tar Sands – Youth Media Training presents ‘Tarmaggedon – The Movie’

The Canadian Tar Sands hold 15% of the total world oil reserves, the second largest on the planet. The biggest and most environmentally destructive project in the world is set to try and extract this dirty oil from the ground. The Royal Bank of Scotland, owned by British taxpayers, are already financing these destructive developments; perpetuating our dependency on oil, rather than financing clean energy.

In July 2011 The Tar Sands Youth Solidarity Exchange travelled to Canada to make a documentary about the situation and the lessons learns during our student exchange. We filmed the UK students as they saw first-hand both the environmental destruction of the tar sands oil extraction and its cultural impact on the Beaver Lake Cree. During the trip we edited four short videos which were posted on the web and used as links from the student’s blogs.

Here are the videos:

Don't Turn A Blind Eye CampaignDon’t Turn A Blind Eye Campaign‘Don’t Turn a Blind Eye’ Student Campaign, EdmontonDuring the trip we trained the students in interview and camera skills. Their footage features in the end documentary and using APE’s money we have provided both the UK and Canadian students with a Sony HX9 stills/video camera each to continue recording and publicising their campaign work on the tar sands. At the end of the Canadian trip the students held a Direct Action event outside the Alberta Environment Office in Edmonton during which they eloquently expressed their concerns in interview which made it onto CBC National news. Click here to see the student action in Edmonton.

Back in the UK the students have a made a web video themselves, with our support, on how to set up a university tar sands group. They have also filmed and photographed their action outside the Canadian High Commission in London. Pierre Marshall from Brookes University Oxford, who was on the exchange said: “The Tarmageddon project let me experience how documentaries are made first hand. I logged tapes and am helping Pete and Zoe with the edit. When we were in Canada we filmed on stills cameras and some of the footage we shot will go into the final film. I also edited some footage later on into a campaign video which was shown to student groups. It went on the web and hopefully it’ll inspire others to get involved in environmental activism.”

When Lauren King, University of St Andrews, returned to the UK she won the SMK Environment Campaigner Award.

In November 2011, two First Nation students completed the exchange by visiting London, Birmingham and Oxford on a speaking tour, during which they got their message directly to over 500 people. They were inspired by participating in a student fees demonstration in London, attending the launch of Greenpeace’s ship Rainbow Warrior and visiting Occupy LSX at St. Paul’s, all of which was filmed. They conducted numerous interviews with journalists in the UK and in Canada. After receiving training with their camera equipment they returned to Canada with the intention of filming their talks as well as documenting the impacts of the tar sands causing damage to wildlife during their hunting trips and talks within their communities.

The students involved in both sides of the exchange are being kept busy doing talks. The documentary which includes both the Canadian and UK trips had its first screening and discussion on Tuesday 21st February 2012 at the Amnesty International Human Rights Action Centre in London. The documentary DVD will be distributed through People and Planet for screenings to their 100 student groups across the country. The film will also be online and it will be screened widely through festivals and campaign groups.

The documentary is a route into the campaign and the issue. We hope it will continue to inspire and empower young people to get involved in the campaign against Tar Sands both in the UK and in Canada.

“After hearing our APE funding was successful, we went into full production mode on the project. We went to meet the students who will be in our documentary about the tar sands in Canada. After spending a weekend preparing for the trip and getting to know them we both feel a sense of excitement about the project and optimism for the future. These representatives of their generation are informed, eloquent and passionate about the tar sands campaign and through this documentary we can communicate their message and that of the first nation campaigners in Canada to a much wider audience bringing more attention and action to this critical issue.”


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