Last Saturday, Dave Shortt emerged from 10 days of filming in the northern B.C. bush, found a wi-fi connection at the Kitimat library and happened upon a story online about Enbridge being criticized for deleting islands in the Douglas Channel from a video animation.
“I had this eureka moment,” Shortt says. The 38-year-old filmmaker had been filming along Enbridge’s proposed pipeline route with an eye to putting together a five-minute video to help raise awareness about the areas at risk and encourage people to sign Dogwood’s petition at notankers.ca.
“The plan was to film for another week or two but then I read the story about omitting the islands and I realized that’s what the video should be about,” he said on Wednesday afternoon from his camper van parked outside the Prince Rupert Safeway store. “It’s about trying to bring some reality to what’s at risk.”
Shortt knew the media interest in the missing islands would pass quickly, so he needed to get the video posted pronto. “It was 10 in the morning, but I still needed to finish filming because I didn’t have the shots of Kitimat yet,” Shortt says.
He quickly got the shots he needed, then headed back to the Kitimat library where he spent four hours editing the video -- but then he hit a road block. “I had to sit as close to the wireless internet as possible, but it wasn’t suitable for uploading or transferring data. I realized it was going to be like three hours,” Shortt says.
While he battled with the wi-fi, Shortt’s friend asked the librarian if she knew anywhere with fast Internet in town and she recommended the rec centre. And that’s how it came to be that Shortt launched his soon-to-be-viral video into the world from the lobby of the Kitimat Rec Centre -- humble beginnings for 100 seconds of footage that have been viewed more than 34,000 times in four days, driven 4,500 new signatures to the No Tankers petition and drawn the attention of the Huffington Post, Toronto Star, Vancouver Province and Canada AM.
“The response has been overwhelming,” Shortt says. “Being available for media interviews has basically been a full-time job for the past few days.”
He’s landed at least one new contract for his video production company Shortt and Epic and has received messages from people he hasn’t heard from for 20 years. “A lot of people have been thanking me — strangers. The ones that mean the most are the people from the areas where I filmed,” he says. “I received a message today saying: ‘You’ve changed my mind on the issue, I live a mile down from where you filmed in Burns Lake.’ ”
Despite all the success, Shortt still has a laundry list of ways he’d like to improve the video. “There are probably locations along the pipeline that are even more spectacular, but I was somewhat limited in where I could get to,” he explains. “The first location was challenging . . . It basically required that we bushwhacked through forest until we found the lake, carrying a lot of equipment.”
It’s been a wild ride for someone who shies away from the spotlight (“I’m much more comfortable behind the camera.”), but it’s been well worth it: “It’s been quite the adventure. I’m so glad I did it,” Shortt says.
Hundreds of British Columbians have taken on the No Tankers mission and are using their talents to spread the word in their communities. If you want to do more to protect B.C.’s coast, check out our Find Allies kit.