Preston Maag Preston Maag
Director Preston Maag, 10 Miles Out
Student Category
Growing up, one of my favorite hobbies was going camping. Many weekends were spent huddled around a campfire sharing stories and eating good food with family and friends. As I got older, these weekends began getting replaced as schedules filled with separate interests. It was not until earlier this year when I discovered the world of backpacking. My friend took me on a brief overnight trip into the Los Padres National Forest and I was immediately hooked. Coming from a camping background wherein my supplies came from the bed of my car, Backpacking kept all the gear on my back. As an avid hiker, this gave me the option of hiking to beautiful places and rather than hiking back, being able to setup camp where nobody else was. After my first trip, I felt inclined to share my experience with people in the form of a film. “10 Miles Out” is an experiential documentary meant to provide general knowledge on backpacking as well as inspire people to get outside and enjoy what is available to them on a daily basis. Isaac Hernandez Isaac Hernandez
Director Isaac Hernández, Better Together
Producer Nancy Black
Conservation Category
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. Kellen Keene Kellen Keene
Director Kellen Keene, By Hand
Principals Casey & Ryan Higgenbotham
Composer Todd Hannigan
Outdoors & Out of Bounds Category
I approach every project with an attitude that the story comes first. All it took to spark my interest was hearing the words come out of their mouths. “We’re going to paddle self contained and unassisted from Alaska to Mexico, all by hand”.
This was an unheard of commitment, one that had never been done and I think that’s one unique story for 2019. The motive back in 2015 was to simply follow the progression of these two unsponsored twin brothers during a journey funded by themselves which Jimmy Chin would later call “one of the most difficult trips of any kind” . More importantly the film accounts an adventure and right of passage set in the natural world that would change Ryan and Casey Higginbotham’s lives forever. Jeff McLoughlin Jeff McLoughlin
Director Jeff McLoughlin, Carrizo Plain-A Sense of Place
Principals Chris Chapman and John Iwerks
Director of Photography Elliot Lowndes
Scenery Category
Carrizo Plain – A Sense of Place is a cinematic journey into a remarkable remnant of early California — the Carrizo Plain National Monument. The film is a companion piece to an exhibition at the Wildling Museum of Art & Nature, “Celebrating the National Lands of California”.

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.

Yeliz Motro Yeliz Motro
Director Yeliz Motro, Escape
Producer Catherine Nelson
Student Category
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. John M. Mastriano John M. Mastriano
Director John M. Mastriano, Guidance
Kids Connecting with Nature Category
I wanted to use my own personal experience to inspire people to find inspiration and fulfillment in the wake of great loss. Chris Smead Chris Smead Gordon Gurley Gordon Gurley
Directors Chris Smead and Gordon Gurley, Highline
Adventure Category
Chris, along with co-director Gordon “Gordy” Gurley spent 10 days on the trail following 5 long distance hikers and capturing their experience.  He and Gordy then spent an additional 20 days shooting interviews and B-roll to help convey the history of both the characters and the trail itself. 15 months of editing and animating then followed before the final film was completed. 

Gordy has over 20 years of experience as a cinematographer, as well as decades of music recording experience.

He was instrumental in capturing footage both on and off the trail, as well as mixing the film score composed by Tiny Lunatic.   He’s also acting as a vital second set of eyes and consultant during the editing phase to ensure quality is high and the story is told in a way that is cohesive and engaging.

Tom Collinson Tom Collinson Blue_Ventures_CMYK-01-1
Representative Tom Collinson, Kokoly
Biography Category
Blue Ventures is a British marine conservation NGO, dedicated to rebuilding tropical fisheries with coastal communities. 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. Kristin Tieche Kristin Tieche
Director Kristin Tieche, Literacy for Environmental Justice: Cultivating Youth Leaders in Southeast San Francisco
Kids Connecting with Nature Category


Kristin Tieche is an award-winning filmmaker. Her work has aired on National Geographic, Smithsonian Channel, Science Channel, Al Jazeera America, PBS, CBS–5, Fox Worldwide, Link TV, Fine Living Channel, Food Network and Home and Garden. Kristin tells stories about wildlife, sustainability and climate change.

Kristin’s films provide viewers with immersive and visceral experiences that inspire action and transform minds. She is known internationally for her award-winning films, including “Forms of Identification” (2011), and “The Spinster” (2013 – Jury Prize, Boston Bike Film Festival 2014), “Velo Visionaries” (2015-2017), an award-winning web series about urban cycling, and “The Invisible Mammal” (2016), an award-winning short film series about bats.

Kristin has worked as a producer and editor on feature documentaries that include Sundance Audience Award winning “Fuel” (2008), PBS/Independent Lens film, “Power Paths” (2009), and festival winner, “Love Thy Nature” (2014).

Kristin holds a Master of Arts in Television, Radio and Film from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, where she received awards from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in screenwriting and sound design. She also holds a certificate in Sustainability from City College of San Francisco.

Earl Richmond Earl Richmond
Director Earl Richmond, Ocean Stories with Howard & Michele Hall and Our World of Ocean Sharks
Conservation Category
Earl Richmond is an accomplished marine educator and scientific marine video cameraman, producer, and lecturer. Earl combines science and art with humor and stories for a learning experience that is fun and memorable.

Earl’s film credits include National Geographic Television, The Discovery Channel, the BBC, Animal Planet and many others.

Earl has a Bachelor of Science in Oceanography from Humboldt State University and a Bachelor of Arts in Photography from Brooks Institute of Photography. His Lecture tours include marine science conferences and public presentations in Japan, Mexico, South American and to institutions and aquariums across the U.S.

Bobby Jahrig Bobby Jahrig
Director Bobby Jahrig, One. Long. Day.
Outdoors & Out of Bounds Category
The Rut is a race that truly captures Montana, and the Northwestern United State’s mountain running scene. I have participated in the race or filmed at The Rut for the last six years and it’s become a very special event for me. This film is really a culmination of all these years of inspiration and energy I’ve absorbed from being a part of it. Christopher R. Abbey Christopher R. Abbey
Director Christopher R. Abbey, Out There-Cypress Provincial Park
Scenic Category
The power of imagination makes us infinite. – John Muir Nikolaj Leszczynski Nikolaj Leszczynski
Center for Coastal Studies Representative Nikolaj Leszczynski, Spinnaker
Conservation Category
Spinnaker is a short documentary that focuses on the story of the film’s namesake whale, who the CCS tracked from her birth to her death and across three entanglement events. Spinnaker’s life is a rare example where marine biologists were able to see how deeply entanglement can impact the lives of today’s whales. Center for Coastal Studies Mission Statement:
To understand and protect our coastal environment and marine ecosystems

To conduct scientific research with emphasis on marine mammals of the western North Atlantic and on the coastal and marine habitats and resources of the Gulf of Maine;  to promote stewardship of coastal and marine ecosystems; to conduct educational activities and to provide educational resources that encourage the responsible use and conservation of coastal and marine ecosystems; and to collaborate with other institutions and individuals whenever possible to advance the Center’s mission.

Elsa Sinclair Elsa Sinclair
Director Elsa Sinclair, Taming Wild: Pura Vida
Adventure Category
Our journey was to prove that putting emotions in motion smooths the path forward in life… Pure Life… Pura Vida.

Elsa Sinclair is a professional horse trainer and documentary filmmaker who brings to the horse world a unique and powerful perspective. Gathering together knowledge from a variety of equine disciplines Elsa created a brand new style of training she calls Freedom Based Training. Her style is now popular around the world.

Kay Milam Kay Milam
Director Kay Milam, The Butterfly Trees
Scenic Category
Back in 2005, I gathered together some friends at a local Mexican restaurant to talk about my hopes of someday making a documentary about the migration of the eastern monarch butterfly. When I finished my inspired ramblings, someone held up a butterfly decoration and auctioned it for a thousand dollars. And then someone else auctioned an umbrella for another thousand dollars. The gathering was never intended to be a fundraising event, but at the end of the night, the tortilla basket was with filled with donations, and my heart filled with gratitude ~ thus began The Butterfly Trees.

I have now chased butterflies some 50,000 miles or more – making many migrations over the years and going through my own metamorphosis of sorts in the process. A seminal journey and life-changing endeavor entirely inspired by an insect that weighs less than half a gram & has the brain the size of a pinhead.

In filming over an eight-year period, we documented a timely story in the making, and inadvertently became first-hand witnesses to a phenomenon that is now potentially on the brink of disappearing.

Henry Lin Henry Lin
Director Henry Lin, The Hart
Student Category
Growing up surrounded by the rich biodiversity found on the island nation of Taiwan sparked my passion for the natural world. From here, I travelled to South Africa and became the first Taiwanese Field Guide of Southern Africa (FGASA) accredited safari guide. I decided to further develop my understanding of the natural world by obtaining a Masters degree in Zoology from UCL. Now, I wish to combine my passion for wildlife and film and embark on a career in wildlife filmmaking, to introduce audiences to some of the fascinating creatures with which we share this planet.

Through my still and moving images, I wish to use my safari guide training and academic knowledge to introduce my audience to the fascinating characters of the natural world.

Adam Ellenstein & Susan Scarlett Adam Ellenstein & Susan Scarlett
Executive Producer/Principal Susan Scarlett, Victory Swim
Outdoors & Out of Bounds Category
Director Matt Yamashita’s Statement:
This project was brought to me by Susan Scarlett, the primary subject of the documentary. She has family and a second home in Hawaii and we had met a couple of years prior. While the swim took place in Canada, the rest of the content in this documentary was filmed in Molokai, Hawaii and Austin, Texas.

The subject matter of this documentary was outside my normal realm of film making, but the story sucked me in with its universal themes of love, support, positive thinking, and personal transformation. I got to know the people in the story and many of them have since become close friends. They are good people with much to share.

Working on this documentary has changed me not only as a filmmaker, but also as an individual. Adam and Susan’s positive mindset and their motto of “the goal is to feel good” has helped me re-frame my own outlook on life. I know that audiences will be inspired in a similar way. For viewers who are struggling with disabilities and chronic health issues, I hope that this story will be even more meaningful and uplifting.

Darrel Jury Darrel Jury
Producer Darrel Jury, Visions of the Lost Sierra
Conservation Category
Extract Plumas News Interview 11.13.2019:
One year ago, Friends of Plumas Wilderness (FPW) premiered their visually stunning short film “Visions of the Lost Sierra,” an 11-minute tribute to all that makes the Middle Fork of the Feather River worthy of its designation as one of America’s first nationally recognized waterways under the federal 1968 Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

…“We’d like to see more wild and scenic rivers protected,” said FPW President Darrel Jury on a recent evening over wine and conversation with other members of the nonprofit organization that promotes environmental stewardship throughout Plumas County.

FPW hopes “Visions,” which was filmed and directed by acclaimed Chico-area cinematographer Matt Ritenour to provide a look into the past, present and future of the Middle Fork, will help to accomplish this goal. The short film was made possible by generous donations from Patagonia, the Little-Kittinger Foundation, Plumas Common Good, Feather River Bread for the Journey and numerous individual donors.

Lydia B. Smith Lydia B. Smith
Director Lydia B. Smith, Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago
Adventure Category
Lydia began her documentary career over 27 years ago, and has a long history of
collaboration with the producers on this project. Lydia directed, produced and wrote They’re Just Kids, a 26-minute educational documentary showing how children with disabilities can positively affect our lives: A Legacy Revealed, a 40-minute historical documentary; Infiniti: Behind the Scenes; and a 20-minute biography Bill Lansing: A Tribute. Additionally, she was senior producer on CNN’s Soldiers of Peace: A Children’s Crusade; co-producer and 2nd unit DP on the CNN documentary The Mystery of the Arctic Rose; 2nd unit DP on the PBS show, Stand Up; American producer for Chilean TV’s The Route of the Beringia; DP for Anthony Hopkins Teaches and more. In addition to her producing and directing career, Lydia has worked as a camera assistant and operator commercials, top music videos and on major motion pictures including Ed Wood with Johnny Depp, Dangerous Minds with Michelle Pheiffer and Matilda with Danny DeVito to name just a few. Lydia is the perfect director/producer for Walking the Camino. She lived in Barcelona for
over six years and speaks flawless Spanish, in addition to Italian and Catalan. She is an avid
outdoorswoman and a lover of hiking and nature, as well as a licensed spiritual practitioner
from the Agape International Spiritual Center and from the United Centers for Spiritual
Living. During the spring of 2008, Lydia walked the entire 500 miles of the Camino de
Santiago, and has a deep understanding of the power of the pilgrimage and of the captivating stories waiting to be told. Elizabeth Lewis Elizabeth Lewis
Director Elizabeth Lewis, Waters of March
Animation Category
My films are based on poetry and my interpretations are intensely personal. The imagery varies from close representation of the words to abstract. I am inspired by nature.I live in the woods beside a river and every image in this film is from direct experience. The film is a tribute to my late brother and the journey he took in his last year. Although the images move quickly, the references to illness, life, medicine, hope and ultimately the continuation of life is there. Every word and phrase of this song has meaning in this context. I had heard this music before. It is a classic dating back many decades. It is only when I heard Stacey Kent sing it on the radio that it really moved me. Her version is pure and hopeful. Some of the words in the song are dark and sometimes violent. Mixed in with this is beauty and hope all sung and interpreted with a sense of wonder and truth. Suez Jacobson Suez Jacobson
Director Suez Jacobson, Wild Hope
Conservation Category
Think of your favorite childhood memory. I used to ask my students to do this. Most of them told me stories about playing outside – building a fort, going to the creek with siblings, camping with family. Yes, the balance began to shift a bit in the last few years, but no one ever told me a story about going to the mall. …My favorite childhood memory is of Lake Blanche – a high alpine lake in the Twin Peaks Wilderness just outside of Salt Lake City where I grew up. An oddball, I found deep solace and quiet acceptance into a world of astonishing beauty at Lake Blanche – on protected public lands. After my first hike there, all I wanted to do was back pack. My mother responded, “You can’t back pack alone, too dangerous. You can’t back pack with a girl, too dangerous, and you can’t back pack with a boy …” Dead end… maybe. Finally, she relented, letting me backpack with Todd because his mother sang in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I didn’t tell my mom that Todd’s older brother was the drug dealer at our high school.
A summer of backpacking deepened my tree hugger love.

…A recent peer reviewed study, using 25 years of data, found that ozone levels in Zions and Canyonlands are essentially equivalent to those in 20 large cities including LA. That’s alarming! Wild places cannot be another engine of economic growth. Rather wild places must be the catalyst for change – the catalyst for us to reconnect and reconsider the “more is better” paradigm. Wild places are places of awe. Psychologists are now discovering the power of awe – a positive emotion that leads to “unselfing.” In a world inundated with selfies, unselfing leads us to think of the other, to consider our small place in a huge connected web of life where everything is made up of the same particles, and to exhibit pro-social behavior – behavior that can be the core of solving climate change.

These ideas have driven a five-year journey to make the film, Wild Hope. Finally it’s ready for the world to see and to be challenged to behave in love.

Julian Cisneros Julian Cisneros
Composer Julian Cisneros, Queen without Land
Adventure Category
Julian Cisneros is most known for taking the traditional orchestra and unifying its versatility with arrays of analog synthesis and organic texture created from natural and mechanical sources. The result is a continuously evolving sound that integrates with his various projects.

He has scored music for numerous projects which can be found on his website

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