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thesandbox (trailer)

thesandbox is a short sample of a feature doc that explores the desert. The name for the film and our company came to me on a great desert outing, realizing that both are a place of play. 5 character portraits, each having a unique connection to the deserts of CA and Utah, but unified in the depth of that bond. Through their tales, the greatness of the desert unfolds. In this sample, the desert tortoise speaks through Tim Sheilds, an Alaskan artist, teacher and biologist who spends 40 days of each year literally walking through the desert and communing with this ancient time-traveling reptile. Tim’s immensely philosophical and profound human and social observations collide with tragedy as he watches his “teachers” die. His relationship to wilderness is contrast with an expanding world whose human population is ever reaching farther.
- filmed with my wife, Birgitte, over several years, our search to find characters who could enable us to communicate this story led us to some of the most wonderful people we have ever met, and to some of the most beautiful places.

The desert is a mysterious place – at times seeming desolate and dead, and at other times an unparallelled magical space brimming with life and beauty. It becomes a metaphor for life – looking where one might not normally look can bring life changing adventures and revelations. To unlock the gate, one must approach on the desert’s terms, and in doing so that which appeared to be one thing reveals itself to the observant participant as something else – there is a reason the desert is historically associated with spirituality. As Tim observes, “in the desert, everything must be excellent to survive. Humans are not often called upon to be excellent… out in the desert I am surround by excellence”.

While we hope to finish this film some day, and share it with others, our journey to make the film was swimming in life’s riches, and led us to some of the most wonderful people we’ve ever met, and the most unforgettable places we’ve even been. Yet the message we want to share persists – ultimately its about the human-nature connection. We’ve paused this project for nearly 10 years to raise our two fantastic children, though we dream of finding the time and finances to get this out there. Tim and I have built a strong connection and have plans to make that happen, as well as other desert tortoise projects including education in the forms of film, web, book, training, and curriculum. Please get in touch with me if you want to help fund or promote this project, or have information or services to share.



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