Interview with Brittany App

Filmmaker ‘Where there once was Water

Can you share a story of when you first fell in love with water? 

As it does, I think the falling in love took time. Through a long-running exploration and curiosity around water access, the sacredness of water, and ultimately much study and silence, I have come to recognize that water is love, and love is water.

What made you decide to make the film ‘Where there once was water’ … Can you share some of the journey you have been on to get to this point? 

I was first exposed to the realities of life-without-water while traveling abroad, as the shipboard photographer for a program called “Semester at Sea”. Seeing the quality of life for girls and women – when clean water was not available – shook something awake within me. I came home to California forever changed, and with questions…. Why am I so lucky? What can I do to help? How can my storytelling be a pathway to healing? And so… first things first… I chose to pedal a bicycle across the USA to raise money for WaterAid. That was chapter one. A few years later, in 2014, with drought parching my home state of California, I set about to make this film. Which has most definitely become chapter two. The film began as a photo project – I am a professional photographer by trade – and after two years outgrew itself and became the shape it takes today – as a feature-length documentary film.

The film is now out and you describe it as a ‘love story’ … why? 

My aim was to make a film that was hopeful. And honest about where we find ourselves currently in California around water, but somehow also hopeful. And with hope, we need love. At the root of decisions. At the root of our being. In the ways we work with each other and with nature. This film is a Song for the Sacred in All of Us. It is a call to action. A call to relationship. An invitation for us, together, to write a better story for our times, and to write it with love.

What was one of the most heartbreaking moments in making the film … and the most inspiring? 

Heart-breaking… More than 50% of the folks living on Navajo Nation are living, today, in 2021, without running water in their homes. Over 2 million Americans live without access to clean running water in their home, and this issue affects Native Americans more so than any other group, by a huge margin. This is unacceptable. We can and should do better.

Inspiring… Every single person I met who is working, in their own unique way, to heal. Their mindset, their land, their water, their story, their community. Everything is connected, and we are at a time ripe for change. Solutions exist. Healing is needed. And we all get the opportunity to be a part of this incredible time of growth and change on Planet Water.

What has water taught you? 

Absolutely everything is connected.

Water is magic. And magic is everywhere.

Honestly, watching the film will give you a much better answer to this question.

What’s next? 

I’ve been inspired by the farmers & ranchers I’ve met throughout production, and I want to know more, do more, practice this method of carbon-sequestration on the land. So I’m building an off-grid homestead out on the remote Carrizo Plain, in California. Training as a shepherdess. Working parttime on a regenerative farm. Learning what I’ve learned about, by actually DO-ing it. I’m not entirely sure what’s next for me, creatively, though I do have some ideas.  And so… I remain wide open to the path of wonder and whimsy. Grateful for all who have, and who continue to, inform and inspire my life and perspective along the way.

Brittany App is a professional photographer with two decades of experience and two circumnavigations of the globe under her belt, and she debuts “Where There Once Was Water” as a first-time director & producer. Her passion is water and water access. She’s a story-teller, a voice artist, and a self-proclaimed shepherdess-in-training. She lives off the grid in the remote Carrizo Plain, CA – with her Great Pyrenees Luna, seven ducks, and a rag-tag wooly crew of sheep and alpacas.

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