Get to know attending filmmaker Isaac Hernandez

Passes & Tickets On Sale Now:





Better Together Bucket Brigade interior mud film Still 8

Better Together Trailer from Mercury Press International on Vimeo.

The NatureTrack Film Festival is excited to welcome Director Isaac Hernandez and Producer Nancy Black to the 2020 Festival in Los Olivos, March 20-22. It’s not widely known that Santa Barbara was the birth place of the modern environmental movement. The horrific events that sparked that movement created a lasting impression on our community.

Better Together, shares the remarkable truth that…

Isaac Hernandez

Community Makes the Difference

The response to a horrendous oil blowout fifty years ago in Santa Barbara sparked the modern environmental movement, creating a culture that continues to inspire local solutions to global problems.

The 1969 Union Oil blowout mobilized the Santa Barbara community to fight for the environment, inspiring nonprofit organizations into existence, as well as Earth Day, the Environmental Protection Agency and the first interdisciplinary Environmental Studies program, at UCSB. The legacy of the oil spill continues to inform this community, which keeps coming together, providing local solutions to global environmental problems; such as when over 3,000 volunteers joined the Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade to dig the mud from homes after the deadly 2018 debris flow.

Says Isaac, “This film started as a love letter to Santa Barbara, the community that adopted me. It soon became a personal journey in search of hope in humanity. What I learned along the way made me realize that I have no right to be hopeless, only to continue fighting for a better world, the way the people in the film have for generations.”

Isaac Hernández started making family films as a child in his hometown of Madrid, Spain. His dream of becoming a cinematographer brought him to California, where he studied film at Brooks Institute of Photography. Thirty three years, after many detours into journalism, photography, playwriting, painting and creating short Ask Videos for nonprofits, he completed his first feature, an unconventional film told from the point of view of a community. Many other projects will follow, including a memoir on growing up watching censored American films during Franco’s dictatorship.


Get to know attending filmmaker Jeff McLoughlin

Passes & Tickets On Sale Now:





Photo 2 carrizo_plain_phacelia_aerial

The NatureTrack Film Festival is excited to welcome Director Jeff McLoughlin to the 2020 Festival in Los Olivos, March 20-22. Produced by local museum, Wildling Museum of Art & Nature, this extraordinary film captures one of our local National Monuments, the Carrizo Plain, in a unique way – through the eyes of artists.

Carrizo Plain – A Sense of Place, recently screened at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, is a cinematic journey into a remarkable remnant of early California — the Carrizo Plain National Monument. Explored through the eyes of three artists, Chris Chapman, John Iwerks, and Bill Dewey, the Carrizo Plain comes to life in this documentary that reveals the special character of this hidden landscape. Through their personal sense of place, we discover what makes the Carrizo Plain National Monument and places like it so important for us all.

Jeff remarks, “The film profiles the work and words of three artists with decades-long experience in interpreting the sublime beauty of the Carrizo Plain National Monument. Located at the eastern edge of San Luis Obispo County in Central California, the Carrizo is the state’s last remaining remnant grassland. It provides a window into early California as it would have appeared prior to the gold rush.

Every person has a unique way of seeing a place as well as interpreting its value on a human level. The intellectual concept of what makes a landscape unique as well as the emotional connection that a special place holds for them reflect in ways that are profound to each individual. Combined, this constitutes their personal “Sense of Place”.

Subjects of a film like this one are all multifaceted characters with busy creative lives of their own. The artists were lending time and energy to a documentary film production with faith that the story I planned to tell would be worthy and reflective of who they are and the love they share for the Carrizo. For me as a producer, the job is to coax out authentic reflections of the plain that reveals the artist’s level of passion and enhances the viewer’s understanding. Each artist had his or her own story and expertise, much of which was unknown to me at the inception of filming. Such is the wonderful onion that is documentary filmmaking.”

Filmmaker Jeff McLoughlin has spent the last decade focused upon documentary films that explore California’s natural history, environmental issues, and art. His credits include the award-winning environmental film, “The Condor’s Shadow” which is currently in international broadcast distribution. His three most recent works are short films that explore the concept of “artists for preservation” – individuals who focus their creative energies on the bridge that art can provide to an appreciation of the natural world. Further notes on these films can be found on the website for Jeff’s production company –



Get to know attending filmmakers Chris Smead and Gordon Gurley

Passes & Tickets On Sale Now:





Highline cast Chris Smead Chris Smead Gordon Gurley Gordon Gurley

The NatureTrack Film Festival is excited to welcome back Director Chris Smead and his Co-Director for Highline, Gordon Gurley, to the 2020 Festival in Los Olivos, March 20-22. Chris brought us Rae Lakes in 2018, The High Sierra Trail in 2019, and will be giving us a Southern California premiere of his first full-length film, Highline, this coming March. Chris is the founder of Outmersive Film.

We are very excited that both Chris and Gordon will be coming to the festival to give insight into the making of their film. One thing we can always expect when we watch a film produced and directed by Chris and his Outmersive team – we will learn more about the trail’s history, and we will want to grab our hiking boots and experience it for ourselves.

Highline follows 5 hikers as they traverse a lesser known mountain range in Utah called the Uinta (you-inta).  Viewers will experience the adventures and challenges along the way. Local archaeologist Tom Flanigan adds another layer of depth to the experience by sharing stories from the past and conveying the importance of this lesser known place. As the story progresses, viewers begin to learn more about the hikers, and why they choose to hike for days, weeks, and even months at a time. Stories of PTSD recovery, addiction recovery, health, and family issues are heavy topics in the film.

The Highline premiere in Utah brought 400 people to the showing, and back to back screenings in Salt Lake City were sold-out, as are 2 showings in Tennessee. It is clear that Outmersive is producing films that people want to see!

If you would like to know more about the “behind the scenes” adventures creating the Highline film, we recommend listening to Backcountry Exposure’s Backpacking Experience Podcast with Devin. A wonderful interview with Chris Smead.

Information on hiking the trail can be found here.

FacebookTwitter • YouTube


Get to know Blue Ventures’ Biography of Madame Kokoly

Passes & Tickets On Sale Now:





Kokoly Kokoly

The NatureTrack Film Festival is excited to welcome Tom Collinson, a representative of Blue Ventures, which produced Kokoly. Blue Ventures is a British marine conservation NGO, dedicated to rebuilding tropical fisheries with coastal communities.

While there are many films about the impact of climate change on our biodiversity, it is also important to highlight the impact of climate change on the humans who rely upon that biodiversity to live.

Madame Kokoly

Kokoly offers an insight into the life of an incredible woman. Against a backdrop of extreme poverty, personal loss and a marine environment changing beyond her control, Kokoly lives on a knife edge. Kokoly follows a traditional Vezo fisherwoman Madame Kokoly – as she reflects on her life experiences and carries out her daily routine in and around the coastal waters of southwest Madagascar. This film features female-only voices from one of Africa’s most remote regions.

Says Blue Ventures, “This film was produced with support from the Skoll Foundation and is a product of the Sundance Institutes ‘Stories of Change’ grant.

The film is a powerful and personal exploration of how one woman is navigating her daily life against a backdrop of poverty and marine biodiversity loss. It’s important that voices from marginalised communities are amplified; communities who will bear the brunt of the effects of climate breakdown and biodiversity loss. We hope this film will be a valuable contribution to this conversation.”

Learn more: Read Oceanographic Magazine article by Garth Cripps


Get to know attending filmmaker Yeliz Motro

Passes & Tickets On Sale Now:





Escape Escape

The NatureTrack Film Festival is excited to welcome Director Yeliz Motro and Producer Catherine Nelson to the 2020 Festival in Los Olivos, March 20-22. Animation is a singularly unique way to illustrate a relationship with nature or the world. NTFF is very pleased this year to have had a number of excellent animation projects submitted to the festival – from those submissions, we were able to accept a larger number than ever before, two of them being student films!

Beginning with a simple train trip, a little girl searching for serenity, determines to escape into the wilderness. Her journey ends, only when she is wild enough to become a part of it.

Yeliz Motro

Yeliz relates, “Between March 2018 to June 2019, I directed a 2D/3D hybrid short for my senior film at SCAD, made up of 2D backgrounds and a 3D character textured and rendered to fit the illustrations. We also incorporated a subtle style shift between the beginning and the end of the short, starting with a “clean” look (graphic, geometric, refined) and slowly transitioning to “wild” (loose, painterly, impressionistic) as the character moves deeper into the forest.” To learn more about the processes used to create her animation visit:

Yeliz Motro is an animator, originally from Istanbul, Turkey. Graduated from SCAD Atlanta, she is an avid traveller, with her art frequently taking inspiration from concepts of childish curiosity and adventurous wonder.


NTFF Reaches out to the Community for Like-Minded Partners!

Our Sponsor Partners are the BEST!

The NatureTrack Film Festival, a companion event supporting NatureTrack (a 501(c)3 non-profit) in its efforts to inspire K-12 students to embrace our natural world with respect and wonder through free outdoor field trips throughout the school year, has been honored to partner with many outstanding sponsors these past couple of years. With the support of these fine businesses, organizations, and individuals – the NatureTrack Film Festival has been able to showcase extraordinary films that “ignite a passion for nature.”

Recently, we were very pleased to partner with ForFriends Inn, a beautiful bed and breakfast located in the town of Santa Ynez. Their tagline ‘Arrive as Guests, Leave as Friends’ will extend to an exclusive NTFF ‘Multi-night, all-inclusive package’, in addition to their other wonderful packages offered throughout the year. Please join us in welcoming ForFriends Inn as NTFF’s latest Sponsor Partner.

As a Partner, you have impact far beyond that of just a logo on a brochure.

Proceeds support NatureTrack, a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to taking K-12 students out on local trails and beaches during the traditional school day. Our mission at NatureTrack is to encourage students to embrace our natural world with respect and wonder, inspiring them to be stewards of our natural resources.

Download a Sponsor package, and see how you can become a Partner with NatureTrack! 

#ForFriendsInn #SantaYnez #2020NTFF #FilmFestival #SponsorsForACause

NTFF 2020 opens for submissions in less than 10 days!


On June 1st the 2020 NatureTrack Film Festival in Los Olivos, California will open long and short film submissions in both live and animated form in the categories of Adventure, Animation, Biography, Conservation, Kids Connecting With Nature, Scenic, Student, and a special category called Outdoors & Out of Bounds. Up until August 31st there is no fee to submit a film for consideration. Beginning Sept. 1st, a fee of $10 will be required for late submissions. Closing deadline for all submissions is September 30, 2019.

Submissions in all categories will be accepted in both feature and short (40-min or less) lengths:


Films submitted in this category should emphasize exploration and interaction with nature. A journey of discovery about or through our natural world.


Films in this category should focus on nature, positive conservation efforts, or the environment as related in the other categories.


Films submitted in this category should focus on a person who has lived, or is living, a lifestyle that enhances our understanding of nature, conservation, and/or our environment.


Films submitted in this category should focus on positive conservation efforts that work toward preserving and/or protecting nature and the environment.

Kids Connecting with Nature

Films submitted in this category should showcase children connecting with nature through learning, exploring, discovering, or through community service in positive environmentalism or conservation.

Outdoors & Out of Bounds

Films submitted in this category should focus on extreme adventure and athletic interaction with nature and the natural environment.


Films submitted in this category should focus on the beauty, majesty, or exploration of interesting environments that can be found in nature.


Films submitted in this category must be submitted by a student (with proof of student enrollment at the time the film was created). Student films should be focused on nature, positive conservation efforts, or the environment as related in the other categories.

Complete entry application and rules are available at

Films will be judged by a jury of film industry professionals and nature experts. $1,000 cash prizes will be awarded for overall Best in Festival (feature and short). The “Dan Conaway Award” of $500 will be presented to the best depiction of Kids Connecting with Nature, and there will also be a $500 cash award for both the Audience Favorite winner and the film that best “ignites passion for nature.” All category winners will receive a custom designed award.

The NatureTrack Film Festival (NTFF) closed out a successful second year in March with over 60 films screening from around the world. Once again, the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley wine country hamlet of Los Olivos played host to the NTFF to the raves of filmmakers and filmgoers alike. Organizers are looking forward to an exciting third year by bringing an even more diverse and distinctive selection of outdoor film to the 3rdannual NatureTrack Film Festival. All entries are thoughtfully curated and selected to “ignite passion for nature through film.”

NatureTrack founder and director Sue Eisaguirre conceived the idea for a nature-focused film festival (the only one between San Francisco and Los Angeles) as an extension of the non-profit she started in 2011 which introduces school children to outdoor spaces from the seashore to the inland oak woodlands. Sue reflected on the 2019 edition of the NTFF saying, “The growth we experienced in our second year was thrilling for us, and a fantastic validation that the Central Coast area is eager to support and sustain an event that brings nature to the big screen in the gorgeous natural setting of the Santa Ynez Valley. We are excited to build on our success and offer even more international films in 2020 focused on “igniting passion for nature through film.”

The NatureTrack Film Festival welcomes sponsor and advertiser inquiries and offers numerous participation levels for businesses and individuals who wish to support the NTFF as a sponsor, partner or advertiser. Please contact Sue Eisaguirre for information on sponsor and advertising opportunities. Volunteer inquiries are also welcome!

About NatureTrack:

NatureTrack is a 501(c)3 non-profit that provides cost-free outdoor field trips for Santa Barbara County school-aged children, utilizing local trails and beaches throughout the county. NatureTrack instills students with leadership skills, attitudes and habits for lifelong learning, inspiring them to be respectful stewards of the natural world. Founded in 2011, NatureTrack has provided more than 20,000 outdoor experiences for students in Santa Barbara County. Demand for the curriculum coordinated program has increased every year with teachers praising the docent-led excursions that align with classroom instruction.

NatureTrack Film Festival Excited to have Returning Filmmakers for 2019 Event

This past March, the NatureTrack Film Festival debuted in Los Olivos, CA, to rave reviews. During the 3-day event captivating films took audiences on adventures, introduced them to exciting, positive work being done in conservation, tantalized with films that offered beautiful wilderness areas, and got hearts racing watching top athletes test their skills in often harsh environments.

This coming March 22-24, 2019…

NTFF is proud to have some of the audience’s favorite filmmakers returning with their latest films: Oliver Goetzl, Michael Love, Matthias Mayr, Warren Miller Films, Hendrik S. Schmitt, and Chris Smead.

Below are a couple sneak peeks from returning filmmakers. January 1, 2019, visit to see the line-up of films planned for March 22-24, 2019.

Oliver Goetzl: White Wolves – Ghosts of the Arctic

If you fell in love with Oliver Goetzl’s America’s National Parks -Yellowstone, you won’t want to miss this story about one of the most intriguing creatures in the far north. Relating that they filmed “the most intense film we’ve ever, ever made”, the award-winning White Wolves – Ghosts of the Arctic is visually stunning and poignant in its honest betrayal of an often, brutal habitat. Goetzl goes on to say his film, “…is the first full-length Natural History documentary on arctic wolves, which shows in detail their astonishing cooperation and dedication to raise their pups in this hard, arctic environment on Ellesmere Island. It was important to me to show the full behavior of wolves out there – also some hard to watch sequences – not to shock and disturb, but to get a clear and true picture of the hardships wolves have to face up in the North and through this, I hope our film will be able to create respect and admiration for those wolves and wolves in general.” 

Matthias Mayr: No Man’s Land – Expedition Antarctica

Another favorite was Matthias Mayr’s The White Maze. In his latest film No Man’s Land – Expedition Antarctica, Mayr, along with fellow freeskier and adventurer Matthias Haunholder, travel to Antarctica to ski down mountains that have never been attempted before. Together with cinematographer Johannes Aitzetmüller, the unsupported trio arrive at Antarctica and each haul a 90kg sled, more than 150km by hiking and using kites, to find the “holy grail” of freeriding. According to The Kite Mag, “…it is probably the most dramatic and awe-inspiring snowkite footage we have ever come across. Seriously.” NTFF agrees. This is one of the films that audiences should put on their “must-watch” list!

It’s not too late to make your present an experience they’ll never forget!

Keep abreast of all the latest news about the NatureTrack Film Festival by following us on facebooktwitter, and instagram!

On March 22-24, 2019 we invite everyone to enjoy a Film Festival which supports the next generation of empowered nature lovers!

A festival with a cause…

Sue Eisaguirre founded NatureTrack to introduce school children to outdoor spaces from the seashore to the inland oak woodlands of Santa Barbara County by providing cost-free outdoor field trips. Utilizing local trails and beaches throughout the county, NatureTrack instills students with leadership skills, attitudes and habits for lifelong learning, inspiring them to be respectful stewards of the natural world. Since 2011, over 18,000 students have had the opportunity to experience a NatureTrack field trip. Demand for the curriculum coordinated program has increased every year with teachers praising the docent-led excursions that align with classroom instruction.

Sue was inspired to bring her outdoor vision indoors and onscreen at the NatureTrack Film Festival so more people could enjoy and appreciate what her docents and students practice and experience in their outdoor “classrooms.”