Conservation begins at home in the local community.
SIR DAVID ATTENBOROUGH
' NEW CENTURY, NEW JOURNEY '
April 10, 2015
'Listen to the music' became a regular mantra, on many many occasions literally showing me the way. Three decades later it would swell to the same crescendo and dreaming as Penny Lane had back in the sixties.
The 2000 Sydney Olympics was perfect in its timing to celebrate our Aussie identity. It was a premium opportunity to reflect upon our two-hundred year white history, time to give overdue recognition to the fifty-thousand year history of our first peoples, to show the world who and what we are. Many historic moments were relived, and many new ones created.
Naturescape was brewed in this Olympic cauldron of national pride to become my most significant personal cum professional milestone.
Aided and abetted by two years on Olivia Newton-Johns 'Wild Life' series, plus a few other kudos-rich assignments, the decade before had been my most successful yet. I'd hit my career prime, business and family life thrived, and following a quite tenuous time, the move north to Queensland was at last deemed successful.
In the early nineties I'd embarked on the first major project of my own, an eco-sportfishing adventure in the magnificent Clarence River wilderness. Driven by passion alone (that is, no budget and many kind favours) 'Kingfisher's eight-year production morphed all the elements I wanted in my blend of professional lifestyle. Wilderness, wildlife, heritage, adventure, escape, photography, videocraft, mateship, and most fondly, 'cause' to change the common view that our freshwater fish are not just food on the table but an important part of the ecology.
Invigorated by the Olympics and its inspirational anthem 'Share The Dream', I promised to 'Chase My Own Dream'. Soon after Naturescape was ordained for the new journey, and in the post-Olympic decade synergy reigned supreme.
In 2001 Ian Bates, the owner of Brisbane digital production company Procam with whom Kingfisher was post-produced, introduced Australia and subsequently me to high-definition video. The encounter led to Ian and I forging a partnership to collect natural history footage on this amazing new futureproof format. Lamington National Park was the chosen testing ground for the first collecting expedition, producing arguably the first hi-def production in Australia.
Soon after the Internet fledgling began to sprout pin feathers. Technology promised exciting new digital platforms to come, and come they did in leaps and bounds. By the mid-decade the world had become mobile, portable, free. Nineties-generation digital cameras, DVD, and videotape were devoured by a profusion of new formats and media. Screens & monitors escaped their boxes, grew thinner and bigger, offering electronic displays unimaginable just years before. Seemingly overnight local communication went global, media hybridised into multi-dimensional platforms, and new distribution channels & networks hatched to service world demand.
The technology rollercoaster had no boundaries, no limits, and still hasn't ... bar one.
What got left in its slipstream was the content it feeds upon, and the more techno-development thrived the more valuable and in-demand high-definition content became.
The Olympics encapsulated everything that is Australia and Australian in completeness. Like looking back through a family album, genesis to dot, it reawakened awareness of the history, geography, natural and cultural heritage our Great Southern Land boasts. Faced with such big picture exhibition of past & present, in one place, at one time, one could not help but project to time and space forward. In looking back the occasion graphically illustrated just how much the lucky country had changed. In seeing ahead it was easy to imagine just how much it could change, and the challenges our natural & cultural heritage would face should it continue to grow in similar way and pace.
Years and assignments following carried those constant thoughts.
Commissioned documentaries with legendary birdman John Young in the Simpson Desert & Cape York unearthed deep environmental footprints even in our most remote corners. Documentaries in China with Gulliver Media showed environmental disrespect at its worst, impressing what track not to go down. The marine documentaries of friend & associate David Hannan highlighted the decline of our oceans, even our most prized asset, the Great Barrier Reef: today it is predicted our oceans will become deserts by 2050.'Life In The Fast Lane', a documentary on koalas in south-east Queensland, revealed the dire plight of a beloved icon: sadly, and embarrassingly, the koala is just ten years away from extinction in some regions.
The time had come, the dastardly walrus said, to do something about it.
Naturescape's focus shifted dramatically from biz to mission, to deploy the eco-content it had collected to entertain, educate, and consequently, renew respect & appreciation for the world around us.
The plan was ambitious. Harness visual art & craft to raise awareness of the vital importance of our rich & abundant biodiversity. Encourage community collaboration to raise resource & effort to promote its wellbeing. Swell awareness of the benefits of preserving our environment. And raise obligation and duty of one and all to protect it. With Australia's cosmo-centric population, the strategy would be to create innovative & emotive new media ... and take the mountain to Mohammed!
For the rest of the decade the ongoing task was to keep gathering content in readiness for a time when it was expected that technology streams would harmonise into one mainstream platform, thus enabling the eco-campaign in all its techno-glory to be launched. By the end of the decade take-off was imminent, but alas, the twists & turns in the cycle of life.
2010 signaled the start of my adventures in the black wilderness when a seemingly burnt-out body was instantly assigned to overtime on back & bum. So close and yet so far, it was a very frustrating time. But without revisiting black holes, in what would appear to be a timeline of change-by-the-decade, positive overcame negative to produce my most productive era ever.
I had the content and the stories to go with it. I had the ideas & strategies to put the plan into action. Home-bound, I had untold rehab time on my side to monitor the constantly changing techno-world, the latest media developments, the digital messengers, and the platforms for their distribution & display. What the lone wolf didn't have were the multimedia skills needed to mould his raw content into the new spearheads technology demanded but were in rare supply.
The wolf had thought he was ready but he wasn't, so there was no choice but to go back to wolf school and become his own teacher.
After evicting bush rat & python, the downstairs unit was transformed into classroom & mission control, and the two-critter crew of wolf & internet-tutor set sail into unknown territory on a quest of learning. Learning to master the Avid Nitris HD-editing suite. Taming Photoshop, image-enhancement & graphic design programs. Sorensen clip encoding: testing formats, codecs & containers a squillion times over. Battling technical issues, temperamental computers & feisty programs that refused to talk to big-attitude hard drives. The infinite task of converting, transcoding, consolidating, copying, transferring, and way too often, unintentional deleting. And in media management mode, filing, foldering & frequent cussing.
Occasionally creativity would pop up its head only to quickly retreat in horror. All were lessons needing to be passed, and Firefox, Google, Wikipedia, and ever so thankfully Ctrl-Z became new best friends!
But if the production cosmos was a digital minefield, I'd soon discover that cyberspace was one big meteorite storm. Learning new languages. Getting an old head around the long-resisted whirlpool of social media. Keeping tabs on new tools & software updates. The messengers for their delivery. The platforms for their display. The channels for their distribution. And the king of them all, learning to design & build the website that would lead and manage the mission.
Flung from a very familiar linear into an alien world of non-linear, the learning curve was steep and intense, and without doubt, my most self-satisfying & rewarding graduation ever. The experience was enlightening and brought back fond memory of a visual-cliche savoured while sailing to Lord Howe Island.
Becalmed in the middle of the Tasman, I'd dive from the bowsprit to as deep as lungs would allow, stop, turn, and look back to the surface far above. Imitating a miniature Tom Thumb, the 52-foot ketch Hilda Maria sat suspended in a heavenly vision-splendid of pure ultramarine lightbeams. Motionless, in crucifix pose, and accompanied by softly-blown bubbles, gently rising up through the ocean's tepid columns simulated euphoric sensation of freedom like I'd never felt before.
Escape from years in dark wilderness evoked similar feeling. Suddenly I'd grasped the meaning of 'flow': indescribable happiness & focus in that fleeting moment; devoid of any other moment in time or space, forward or backward; 'living the moment'.
Everything I wanted to do most converged in that single moment. I'd emerged much richer for the experience than when I began. It taught me to see outside the bubble we often tend to entrap ourselves in, to listen to what our are hearts are telling us, to follow our own paths, to chase our own dreams. And if you want it badly enough you'll do it.
As is so often the case the chase or journey can be just as exciting & rewarding as the golden fleece or destination itself, and the more I explored the more treasures I discovered. In a relatively short timespan I'd uncovered a Pandora's Box of new and unforeseen artistic & creative opportunities.
I'd emerged much richer for the experience than when I began. It taught me to see outside the bubble we often tend to entrap ourselves in, to listen to what our are hearts are telling us, to follow our own paths, to chase our own dreams. If you want it badly enough you will do it.
In raw form content was limited in value, but with new skills & treatments suddenly the content pool multiplied, diversified, and could now boast a 'longtail' of value-added media & products to compound use, application, distribution, and so exposure.
Along the way, usually in times of self-doubt, I'd often questioned whether concept & strategy was the best, most direct, or most expedient way to reach what at times seemed the impossible dream.
(Humbly but true) David Attenborough once told me that "conservation begins at home in the local community", and I'd often felt guilt that I hadn't heeded his advice and taken a more direct hands-on action for my cause. Joining local conservation group Gecko not only eased the conscious but confirmed the benefits of community collaboration. Directly & indirectly it would become a mainstream spearhead in galvanising effort to spread the message far and wide.
From a growing gallery of content & products, ideas & opportunities, the virtual exhibition was much closer to unveiling than it had been just twelve months prior. After a long time in-the-making all that was needed to homogenise synergy & rhythm was a binding medium.
Documentary producer, client & long-time friend Chris Carrol provided the solution when she introduced me to the web documentary. A hybrid medium, born by the Internet, the web.doco welcomed any and all media content into its fold. It was the new television, the new cinema, the new entertainer, educator & storyteller, all in one complete package.
The next generation of multimedia in the fullest sense of the word, the web.doco was not only the perfect template upon which to lay Naturescape's collection of mixed media but its arrival marked the end of one era and the beginning of another.
It was a new journey, with new context, new possibility, and demanded new branding to reflect a more vivid storybook. To wholistically embrace expanded concept & component, and Naturescape vision | mission in its fullness, Lomas became the new flagbearer.
In hindsight, whether by fate, destiny, subconscious or pig-headed will, I still can't help but feel that in a stranger-than-fiction way the events of the past few years were meant to happen. Far from losing an old life the experience blended past with present to create a more meaningful and potentially more rewarding one.
And I'll forever be endebted to Billy Connolly for his moment of Zen wisdom ..." learn what you should be doing and do it! ".