Behind the scenes: Upcoming documentary’s producer details stories about filming in Chile’s Patagonia

With his upcoming documentary about the HidroAysén controversy in Chile, Patagonia Rising, currently in post-production, Producer Greg Miller is sharing his own behind-the-scenes stories in a series of blogs on Greenlight, OnEarth magazine’s citizen journalist blog site.  The introduction and first chapter are already posted, with chapters 2-4 coming soon as well.  Each chapter covers a different phase of filming and relates Greg’s own personal experiences from that period.  I encourage you to read each of these blogs, which bring a very personal perspective to what has become the biggest environmental campaign in Chile’s history.  

HidroAysén is a joint-venture company proposing to construct five mega-dams on two of Chile’s wildest and most pristine rivers, the Baker and the Pascua.  A new power line would also be constructed to transmit the project’s proposed 2750-MW output, effectively cutting a scar over 2500 kilometers long through untouched Patagonia to the demand in the north.  The baffling thing is that this output is not necessary for Chile’s energy security.  On the contrary, a 2009 technical study found that Chile’s government has already approved more than enough installed capacity to power its grids through 2025, without HidroAysén and without any additional renewable or efficiency measures.

The HidroAysén controversy piqued the interest of Greg and his fellow filmmakers, who traveled to Chile last November for several weeks of filming.  During this time, they stayed with locals living along the rivers who would be most directly affected by the dams.  They trekked to the rivers’ glacial sources with a team of expert scientists measuring the recent increased occurrence of glacial lake outburst floods (or GLOFS, which I explain here) – a byproduct of climate change.  They rafted down the sediment-filled Baker River to its biodiverse delta near the tiny fishing village of Tortel, where they spoke with the Mayor about the dams’ potential impacts.  And in Santiago they even interviewed HidroAysén’s General Manager. 

It is evident from each chapter Greg posts that this film crew really features the people whose lives will be impacted by HidroAysén.  This personal focus will likely give their final product –Patagonia Rising– an intimate and powerful message.  Please read Greg’s Greenlight posts, starting with his introduction, and keep your eyes out for the finished documentary.