Emphasis: Video Production
This is the second episode of my docuseries about Agriculture in Alaska. Set in the lusciously green farm town of Palmer, surrounded by breathtaking mountains and rivers, this episode captures the history of the Musk Ox Farm, explains why people should care about musk ox, and describes their history of extinction and resurgence in Alaska. Featured interviews with the executive director of the Musk Ox Farm and the education director explain the importance of educating people about musk oxen, so they don’t go extinct in the future. As global warming rapidly approaches, the big question is… will musk oxen survive another global event?
The process of domesticating musk ox still has a long way to go. Though these goat-like creatures might seem cute and snuggly, they are known to run towards danger rather than away from it. This makes collecting qiviut wool all the more exciting as they are combed as gently as possible. Qiviut is one of the rarest fibers and is therefore quite expensive, especially since it can take over a year to process. But boy is it soft! Knitters from all over the world purchase qiviut from the Musk Ox Farm and often are put on waiting lists.
This episode concludes by explaining what the future looks like for the Musk Ox Farm and what people can do to educate themselves and others about musk ox and sustainable husbandry.
After spending 9 hours in preparation creating a storyboard, shot list, having meetings and even taking a tour of the farm, I then spent 8 hours filming, and 48 hours editing. (Not without some technical difficulties!) With a grand total of 67 hours and 45 minutes.
My goal for this project was to become a better storyteller and to help educate people about musk ox farming. I believe that I accomplished that goal by creating a piece that emphasizes the importance of education and by learning how to tell a captivating story that will be “herd” for years to come. One of the specific ways I accomplished this was by knowing what to cut out of my documentary. I had so much information, and it was all great, but knowing when to cut and what to cut out is crucial to making sure a story flows in a way that allows the audience to stay captivated.
Another important factor is switching up the shots, angles and broll footage to keep that visual interest. If I had to improve one thing it would be adding some more shots of spinning the qiviut wool. Since The Musk Ox farm ships their qiviut out to be processed into yarn, that wasn’t as easily accessible.
Overall, I feel very satisfied with the end result of my documentary. It challenged me and I learned so much about filmmaking and about my own town’s history and culture. This project didn’t just make me a better storyteller, it made me a better person. I’m so much more appreciative of my town and of the original colonists who settled here, and who tried to accomplish what had never before been done in Alaska. And in cases such the Musk Ox farm, never been done in the world.
Born and raised in Palmer Alaska on my family homestead, I grew up always seeking adventure, so naturally that’s where my heart lies. You can find me kayaking glacial rivers and lakes, hiking in mountains that look like the Swiss Alps, fishing for salmon in the ocean, or camping with friends in the middle of nowhere. I love being in the great outdoors and that, combined with my farm town roots, is what inspired my idea to create a docuseries about agriculture in Alaska.
Farming in Alaska is not for the faint of heart. From dark days for six months of the year during the winter, to 24 hours of daylight in the summer, Alaska has some of the most extreme weather, which makes farming naturally quite difficult. After filming the first episode featuring my family homestead, I knew I wanted to capture more of this beautiful state and my lovely hometown, as well as capture the rich history of agriculture in Palmer, since some of the biggest vegetables come from right here in the valley. Luckily for me, this story is just beginning.