The Quest to Protect the Sea – Map to Paradise Film (Global)

#NatureForAll Strategies

The seven #NatureForAll strategies offer solutions to a worldwide problem of disconnection from nature. They have been developed based on recommendations received from the 2014 IUCN World Parks Congress and the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress, and advice from #NatureForAll partners worldwide. They will continue to evolve over time. Not every strategy may be applicable in every situation, so our partners choose the one(s) that work best in their local context



The Goal

The quest to protect the sea is a long and arduous mission burdened with many obstacles, but there are, and can be, successes.

Our goal was to piece together a big-picture feature documentary, which shares some clues on how to create a successful movement to protect the sea, through a flowing narrative that will engage an audience.

We devoted about three years to searching out conservation heroes from around the world, with different personalities and journeys, who could help make sense of what the movement to protect the sea is about.

Now, in the final stages of post-production, we have a cast that is representative of the sorts of heroes it takes to build a global protection movement. They include global leaders, scientists, legal experts, activists, community leaders, divers, educators, media people, and people, like mothers and young people, who sometimes feel disempowered.

Our biggest challenges in reaching this point were getting access to stories, working with the cycles of nature and the schedules of important people and local communities, and, of course, finding funding – which is extremely difficult in the arts sector. And, dealing with the pressure we put on ourselves to get the storyline right.

We have written a number of blog stories about overcoming some of our challenges, such as The Mermaid Legend and The Trouble with Filming in The Wild.




What Strategies Contributed to the Success of Map to Paradise?

Strategy 5: Share Cultural Roots and Ancestry, Strategy 7: Empower a New Generation of Leaders

We really love #NatureForAll’s Strategies 5. & 7. There is something truly romantic and intriguing about traditional storytelling. We have great respect for traditional storytelling, whether it is in Indigenous oral-storytelling culture or in European-inspired publishing culture. This is because, once upon a time, there was a greater emphasis on understanding a deeper moral meaning (whether right or wrong) embedded in stories shared. In contrast with attention-grabbing mass media, we wanted to pursue a sense of nostalgia – a longing for traditional ways of storytelling. So, we connected with people across, and in, different communities. In doing so, we came across a tale about a mermaid legend from Palau – told in the words of the President of Palau. The moral meaning in this mermaid legend is the foundation for our entire film. And, in terms of leadership, we have always looked to older and wiser people with a sound understanding of ethical behaviour, who try to do the right thing. So, that is why the theme of ‘wisdom of the elders’ and listening to/learning from the older generation also runs throughout The Map to Paradise, as a basis for inspiring and skilling younger ocean champions. 

Our film flows with stories about cultural roots and ancestry, both Western and non-Western. The unfolding narrative shows how these stories can influence the decisions that communities and leaders make in taking steps to protect the sea. Equally, we show how the values of older generations can have a very powerful impact on the next generation, as the attitudes of younger generations are very much shaped by what they are taught.





We aren’t yet able to measure the results as we have not yet released our film. But, anecdotally, the fact that we, the co-directors, have made a long feature-film, with some of the most beautiful imagery and thought-inspiring leaders in conservation, with the help of just a few friends, such as our composer, illustrator and animator – goes to show that the impossible can be achieved. Considering the scope and scale of our project, when you see it, you’ll think it is at least a $1 million budget! (Or, we hope you will).

What we do hope is that our team’s enormous self-sacrifice inspires others to think about how they can pool their own talents and resources together in a selfless way to achieve impossible things to help protect nature.



Insider Tips

  • Find a nature campaign that you identify with – e.g. for me, Danielle, I live by the ocean and I am in it every day, so it makes sense that I would craft a story about it.

  • Build a team around you. It may be a small team, but when times get tough and you feel like giving up, you will learn quickly how valuable your team is.

  • Try to ignore all the negative chatter. There is so much negativity out in the world, whether it is in the news or among friends or industry colleagues. This sometimes makes us feel that we aren’t good enough to be able to do something useful to help protect nature. In order to ignore this, find yourself a role model and learn about their story, so you remember their struggles and how they overcame each struggle, next time you get bogged down in that ‘negative chatter’.

  • Just remember that success is not always permanent, especially when it comes to protecting nature. You may have a high one day and then a low the next. As a nature campaigner, learn to roll with the highs and lows – but always remember those highs!




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