Exquisite Wasteland
A Desert Portrait

This rollicking and unpredictable documentary explores the magnificent deserts of the American Southwest; the Mojave, Great Basin, and Sonoran.
Together, the desert mash-up illustrates how the human perception of desert has evolved from sacred space to “wasteland”.
Complex desert ecosystems are illuminated by scientists as they stalk an exotic landscape for unknown species. Extraordinary biological mechanisms that enable desert plants and animals to flourish are brought to life with computer animation. The popular misconception of desert as a worthless and barren place has provided the rationale for the exploitation of pristine lands without question or consequence. Precious metal along with oil and coal have been extracted with little or no regulation. Water - the rarest of desert elements - has been overdrawn to irrigate agricultural crops. Atomic bombs have been detonated leaving irradiated waste buried in the sand. And in the most recent iteration, mega - utilities are bulldozing thousands of acres of unspoiled desert for renewable energy; solar and wind farms.
By the end of the film, the audience is left with a new perception of desert. Rather than a worthless, empty wasteland, desert is portrayed as a wonderland teeming with remarkable life and a crucible that holds a dramatic human story. The grand desert expanse of the American West is among the last and largest places where one can still experience unbroken vistas, wildness, silence, and solitude.

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This is the second web-video for Friends of Nevada Wilderness and their campaign to Save the Desert National Wildlife Refuge. The short video presents the astonishing beauty of the Refuge and introduces two unique artists who have drawn inspiration from this magnificent place. Fawn Douglas and Susan K. Schafer describe their emotional connection to the Refuge and what they lose if it is closed to the public.
Release Date: December 2018


This is the first web-video for Friends of Nevada Wilderness and their campaign to Save the Desert National Wildlife Refuge. The short video introduces the magnificent beauty, biological diversity, and cultural significance that the Refuge protects. It also issues a call to action to prevent the military takeover of the largest wildlife refuge in the Lower 48 States.
Release Date: May 2018.


Friends of Nevada Wilderness

While researching our desert documentary, Exquisite Wasteland, we came upon a story that required urgent action. Just 20 miles north of Las Vegas lies the Desert National Wildlife Refuge; the largest in the Lower 48 States. The Refuge protects one of the most pristine deserts in the American Southwest and provides critical habitat for more than 1400 species of plants and animals, including one of the greatest concentrations of desert bighorn sheep on the continent.  It is also a Native American sacred site protecting Paiute petroglyphs that date back thousands of years.

In 2017, the Air Force announced plans to withdraw 300,000 acres from the Refuge for use as a bombing range and aerial combat training.  Not only does military use threaten the biological and cultural integrity of this extraordinary desert wilderness, it will close the Refuge to the public; all scientific and recreational opportunities will be lost. The final decision will likely be made next year.

In January of 2018 we received a grant that provided funding for ten days of shooting for Exquisite Wasteland.  We spent three days on the Refuge producing one of the film’s central stories.  Given the urgent threat of military takeover, we are also producing four web videos to support Friends of Nevada Wilderness and their campaign to save the Desert National Wildlife Refuge. Funding for post-production was made possible by a grant from Patagonia. Future donations will fund post-production of additional web-videos and elements of our feature documentary, Exquisite Wasteland.


Wild By Nature

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A television series that will explore, amaze, and inspire as it celebrates the nation’s natural wonders and historic sites in state parks across America. The series will inform our understanding of who we are as a people and issue a clarion call to protect our priceless parks into the future. At its core, the series will introduce individuals who have dedicated their lives to protecting parks across the country: scientists, activists, and adventurers who are wild by nature.

WILD BY NATURE will take viewers on an unforgettable journey to both familiar and hidden places. The American landscape in all its grandeur takes a leading role, inspiring citizens to stand up for preservation. Far more than just pretty pictures, each episode features incisive interviews, compelling characters, and sparkling narrative that all contribute to this singular celebration of America’s natural and cultural heritage.

For information about sponsorship and coproduction financing opportunities please contact David Vassar.