eXtinction (2012) a short by Summer Rayne Oakes
by: Nick Cope
December 5, 2012
Our favorite model citizen Summer Rayne Oakes officially released her award-winning, environmental art short, eXtinction online. Filmed last year by director Clayton Haskell and shown in over a dozen festivals around the world, eXtinction brings together powerful storytelling and stirring imagery to personalize the stakes of our greatest environmental challenges.
The film, which runs at just over 5-minutes, suggests that the environmental issues we face today are time-sensitive, not abstractions likely to occur hundreds of years from now. The risks are real. Measurable. Current. And directly impact our lives today, as seen through the prism of a young woman, narrated by Oakes.
The film has ten “Take Action” campaigns linked to partner organizations that focus on the issues highlighted in the film. eXtinction will initially be distributed in English, with Spanish and Portuguese subtitles. The French and Italian versions are slated for release in January 2013.
A Q&A with Summer Rayne:
The film is lush and beautiful, yet frenetic and frightening at times. Is this visual dissonance a reflection of the choice we face on planet earth – to end up in harmony or at war with nature?
The narrative moves along quickly to show how so much of our world is disappearing in the blink of an eye. Stavros, our editor, masterfully captured that…and captured the personal struggle with the reality that we will lose things that we care about – but also have the opportunity of redemption in the same breath.
eXtinction feels like a call to arms! Do you have any advice to the audience that you have, shall we say, turned on to green matters?
The film is meant to be concise and direct; it neither indulges in excessive pedantry nor proselytizes an environmental ideology. But it does spotlight ten dramatic shifts happening within a lifetime. I went ahead and hand-selected ten organizations on the eXtinction website – from Charity: Water on clean water issues to Rainforest Action Network for forest conservation – that I believe are resolving some of the issues in the film. It would be amazing if more people lend their support, or actively get involved in protecting the planet. Indeed, healing our earth.
Can you briefly describe the genesis of eXtinction… how and when did you and Clayton decide to tackle this project?
eXtinction was based on a speech I had been giving for the past number of years in order to connect people to the rapidity of what we’re losing. I had always seen it as a film and had mentioned it to Clay after meeting him on a Discovery set. We just really cliqued, creatively. I didn’t have the funds and time to produce it until last year. In so many ways I needed to create this film. So much in my life was coming to a head and I needed some form of creative, emotional release. My mentor, Tom Eisner, whom the film is devoted to, passed the same day we started shooting the film. It was the first time in my life that I felt loss. That sense of loss – as well as a sense of hope – is expressed throughout the film. The film would have been made whether Tom passed or not – but the attentiveness and relevance for me changed quite significantly after his passing.
What is your hope for the outcome of eXtinction?
Quite simply — to move people, to wrest them from slumber, to spur them into action. To give us [the viewers] a way to feel human again, to really reconnect with the world. To rethink our potential. To recognize the limitations of our species. I hand-selected ten organizations on the eXtinction website that I believe are adequately addressing some of the issues in the film. It would be amazing if more people lend their support, or actively get involved in protecting the planet. Indeed, healing our earth.
We are also very excited about your inclusion in the new Pirelli calendar shot by Steve McCurry. This year’s calendar highlights models committed to social and environmental issues; that said, do you find that there is a sea change occurring in the world of fashion? Is the industry hoping to do more good?
Absolutely, yes. But we’ve created a monster of an industry with so many different tentacles. The industry is starting to disclose their environmental externalities – like pollution, water use, waste. It is a start. It’s where we need to go. But our solutions have to have much more breadth and depth. We’re trying to help build some of the sustainable solutions for designers to source better via Source4Style.
What’s next on your agenda for 2013? Can we expect more films?
eXtinction is very personal for me — it is something of a cinematic glimpse into my soul. The process of making it inspired me. And I’m delighted that it has resonated with audiences. I’ll be filming more short-format episodic shows in 2013, dealing with environment, health and wellness. You can also check out what we’re building at Above Live or just follow me on my website at www.summerrayne.net.