Watch “Stewardship with Vision: Malpia Borderlands Group” & “Escape” on TERRA.
Laurence is originally from the sunny shores of Charleston, South Carolina. Always intrigued with the natural world, she obtained her Bachelors of Science from Clemson University in Conservation Biology. Her love for wildlife brought her all the way to Montana State University where she is pursuing a M.F.A in Science and Natural History Filmmaking. Laurence has produced films for the USGS and Southern Environmental Law Center.
TERRA: What inspired you to make a film about the Malpai Borderlands Group?
LA: This film is the second episode in an ongoing project by the Western Landowner’s Alliance, a non-profit organization of conservation-minded farmers and ranchers in the North American West, and the Science and Natural History Film Program at Montana State University. WLA hopes that these films will advance stewardship of critical Western North American landscapes through creative and compelling storytelling.
TERRA: Give us a behind-the-scenes snapshot of what life was like in the field.
LA: One of the cool things about MBG is how broad their focus is and how much ground they cover (almost a million acres). We only had three days in the field to film, so each day was packed from sun-up to sun-down. A lot of our time was spent working closely with ranchers and scientists that showed us around the area and took us to project areas.
TERRA: How did you find the ranchers for the film?
LA: I worked closely with WLA and Bill McDonald, executive director of MBG, to set up all of the interviews for the film.
TERRA: How did you find your crewmembers?
LA: It was a very small crew for this film – myself and cinematographer Roshan Patel. Rosh and I have worked together in the past, and I knew I wanted him to help out with this project because he’s such a talented cinematographer and overall great filmmaker.
TERRA: What types of equipment did you use? Do you have a favorite piece?
LA: For this film I was really happy to have along a GoPro. It’s a pretty inexpensive camera, but you can put it just about anywhere - including underwater. Having it along allowed us to capture underwater footage of endangered fish. I think it adds a cool touch to the film, because it’s such an unexpected habitat to see in the middle of a desert.
TERRA: What are the 3 things you’d never go into the field without and why?
LA: I never go into the field without sunscreen and a hat. I’m vampire pale and crisp right up when in the sun for too long, so protection is essential in sunny locales like Arizona. I also always take my Leatherman along. Whether you have to perform field surgery on a piece of equipment or just attach a camera plate, a good multi-tool is a must have for any shoot.
TERRA: What were the best and worst parts about filming on a ranch?
LA: Ranchers start their days with the sun, so that meant we had to wake up long before sunrise in order to drive to shooting locations and set up gear. Some days we had to get up as early as 3 am to be ready on time, but the great thing about ranchers is they’re accustomed to waking up at all hours of the night so always had breakfast ready for us before we left to film for the day. Another great aspect of filming on a ranch is that the ranchers have such a wealth of knowledge about their land. They live and work on it everyday so really have some great stories and wonderful insights.