The renowned Australian wildlife cinematographer Jim Frazier has launched an appeal for funding for a global project called “Symphony of the Earth”, which he is dubbing the Woodstock of cinema.
His aim is to bring about a change in attitudes to the world’s current environmental crisis.
“If you just look at our oceans, they are turning acid; they’re rising; they’ve been depleted by overfishing; they’re warming. Species are moving southwards, right down the east coast of Australia and this is just one place in the world.
“Look at fire, the way the human race has ravaged the Earth with fire alone; and then there are the billions of tons of herbicides and pesticides spread around the planet every year. Then, there are the air pollution levels and the destruction of rainforests worldwide. All that is the reason why I am so concerned.”
Frazier, who has been developing his project over the past ten years, says he needs 83 million US dollars to produce a series of documentaries and a two-hour feature film that will bring the sounds of the wild to audiences around the world and feature musicians and singers from all genres. All the films will come out in 16 languages.
“It involves sending 25 of the world’s best wildlife cameramen out there to film animals and birds making sounds, then all those sounds will be given to composers and singers to incorporate into the music, so the animals are adding their voices.
“Every sound you have ever heard in a conventional symphony orchestra is out there in the wild. All you have to do is go and collect them and get someone to put it all together. It’s not a film about classical music and symphony; it covers all tastes and all genres.
“Symphony of the Earth embraces music. If you want to appeal to people, who are their real heroes? It’s singers, and musicians, and entertainers. They attract the biggest audiences worldwide. If you harness all that power and you put them all in one feature film, you can’t help but have an amazing blockbuster.”
Frazier, who has won several international awards for his work, and filmed numerous documentaries with David Attenborough, is the inventor of the Frazier lens, which revolutionised the film industry with its capacity to have both foreground and background in focus.
He launched his appeal for funds during the 2013 Koala Conference – “Their Future is in our Hands” – held from May 17 to 19 in Port Macquarie in the eastern Australian state of New South Wales.
Frazier spoke of the urgent need to change attitudes. He highlighted the disappearance of the rainforest in Borneo, and the greed that drives those who are destroying the world’s wildlife and natural resources.
“Having travelled the world, I have an overview that most people never get. The human race as it stands is on a treadmill of self-destruction. We have destroyed the biodiversity in a lot of countries, and it’s happening here in Australia, too; we are even destroying the soil.
“Science has gone mad, and scientists are unethical in many fields; it’s a serious problem that’s affecting us all. The big companies like Monsanto, which literally control our world, they won’t tolerate any interference and they’ll go on selling their products, which are contributing to the destruction of our planet.
“Most people don’t realise it, but it’s happening; we are on a downhill slope with no chance of recovery unless we create change. Informing leads to debate, which leads to change.”
Frazier believes that the way to change the world is to change people’s collective consciousness. He wants Symphony of the Earth to be the reset button for our planet. “It’s designed to inform and educate by entertainment and to appeal to all nationalities, races, religions, cultures and ages.”
He hopes to persuade the group Abba to get back together for the event.
Change would not come via politics, Frazier said. “If you want to get politicians to do something, forget it. The corruption between the money-makers and politics is enormous; it goes on all over the world, and it’s happening in this country, too.”
“None of the agreements like Kyoto or Copenhagen have achieved anything whatsoever. My strategy is a global approach that will create a public groundswell that sidesteps politicians.”
Unusually, Frazier plans to bring out three “making-of” TV documentaries before the launch of a two-hour feature film. The documentaries would include clips of performers explaining why they are participating. “With the heroes of each country appearing in the different language versions, you’ve got a formula that stands a chance of creating global change.”
There would then be a series of 13 hard-hitting one-hour documentaries on the main environmental issues, such as deforestation, air pollution, the ravages of fire, and the condition of the world’s oceans. Free educational material will be made available in all languages.
Frazier says that if he obtains the necessary funding, the films could be ready in two year’s time. He has a potential partner in Malaysia: an “environmentally-friendly” investment group that is looking at his project.
“This is a massive project that comes from an entirely different standpoint to anything else out there. There’ll be a Symphony of the Earth website that will harness the power of about 38,000 environmental organisations.”
While highlighting the urgency of the current crisis, Frazier wants his films to be uplifting; he wants to avoid the doomsday tag. “Our main strategy is to create environmental awareness, concern, debate, and change on a global scale. We’ll be promoting global sustainability, biodiversity, health, harmony, and peaceful human co-existence with all our fellow creatures.”
Frazier would bring on board such personalities as Oprah Winfrey and environmentalist Al Gore and wants American actor, film director, and narrator Morgan Freeman to deliver the feature film’s primary message. He says his project will put Facebook and Twitter in the shade. “It’s designed; now it just has to be made. I’ve got a big crew ready to go. Now I need the philanthropists to help me make it happen.”
The Symphony of the Earth project would be set up as a non-profit organisation, with all proceeds being used to help solve global environmental problems and fund global environmental education.
The Port Macquarie conference at which Frazier launched his appeal brought 170 delegates together from throughout Australia, and abroad.
Speakers painted a disturbing picture of inaction on the part of many local authorities and the national government in the face of the threats to koala survival.
Carers and campaigners urged immediate and collaborative action to save Australia’s iconic creature. Scientists spoke of the work being done to try and treat the disease chlamydia, which is killing thousands of koalas, and carers spoke about rescuing injured and diseased animals and translocating koalas that are being pushed out of their traditional habitat by urban development.