Wrapping up 2013

2013. WHAT A RIDE! In April I changed the name of my business to DAVID EVANS MEDIA, to reflect my shift from photography to filmmaking, redesigning my web site with über-talented digital sensei Barbara Morris, including what seemed at the time the modest notion of starting a blog. I mean, everyone’s doing it, right? And social media gurus tell me it’s essential for my business. All said and done, one post in 8 months doesn’t seem quite adequate. A 2014 new year’s resolution in the making? I’m not committing yet. But at least I can outline a few highlights from 2013 in case anyone actually stumbles across and reads this thing.

IT’S AN HONOR TO BE NOMINATED. I’m not gonna lie to you, it would have been amazing to have won the $10,000 Eric Moe Sustainability Film Award, but alas, while the 25-minute version of “The Silkies of Madagascar” was a competitive finalist, it didn’t win. As a not-too-shabby concession, the film will be one of 4 finalists to be screened at National Geographic Society’s Grosvenor Auditorium on March 20th during the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital. Tickets should go on sale soon. I hope to see you there!

WOMEN DELIVER CONFERENCE IN KUALA LUMPUR. A successful Indiegogo campaign allowed me raise the money to attend the Women Deliver Global Conference in Kuala Lumpur in May, where I was able to introduce a 3-minute short film I produced–“The Silkies of Madagascar”–to the Cinema Corner Film Festival. It was an incredible experience, meeting renowned thought leaders and fellow filmmakers from around the world. I had the special privilege of getting to to know Lisa Russell, who organized Cinema Corner and is one of the most committed and passionate filmmakers about women’s issues that I’ve met. Also among the inspiring women I met there was Chithra Jeyaram, another passionate filmmaker about issues that matter. My little film got lots of attention, even being highlighted in a story in a special edition of THE LANCET, where Chelsea Clinton read about the film and reached out for an advance copy of the 25-minute version.

HOW TO TRANSFORM A PROMOTIONAL TRAILER INTO AN AWARD-WINNING SHORT-FORM DOCUMENTARY. I produced a 3-minute promotional trailer as an aid to fundraising efforts to finish the 25-minute version of the film, beautifully written and edited by FRESH TV. On a whim, I asked Rachel Vasey to remove “Coming Soon” from the end of the trailer and entered it in a few film festivals. My intention was to reap the benefit of judges’ comments sometimes provided to filmmakers not recognized by the competition. I was happily surprised that the 3-minute version garnered several accolades, among them a CINE Golden Eagle Award, Honorable Mention at Woods Hole Film Festival, and Official Selection at the Women Deliver Conference in Kuala Lumpur.

PREMIER OF THE 25-MINUTE VERSION OF THE SILKIES OF MADAGASCAR. In July, in conjunction with the 10th anniversary of the International Folk Art Market – Santa Fe (funders of the film), The Silkies of Madagascar premiered at the New Mexico Museum of History. Attending the gala event were co-founders of the Market, members of the crew, and one of the main characters in the film, Natalie Mundy of Federation Sahalandy, the cooperative of traditional silk weavers from Madagascar the film focuses on.


National Geographic Global Media – I traveled to Houston and Rotterdam with a great team to produce a series of video interviews with energy thought leaders attending two global forums; the Shell Oil sponsored Great Energy Challenge and Powering Progress Together. Earlier this month, I began production on another series of interviews for National Geographic Global Media at the 2013 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Philadelphia. In all three instances, I was privileged to speak with some of the world’s foremost thinkers shaping the future of sustainable energy and building. The interviews were eye-opening and encouraging. 

The World Bank – After years of rattling the locks of the world’s most powerful bank trying to find ingress, I was provided generous introductions by a former colleague who works there now. It took a few tries to successfully navigate their system, but I finally landed one of of the most interesting assignments I’ve ever had: nearly two weeks filming on crowded streets, in markets and factories, and at freight railheads and border crossings in Pakistan. It is not an easy country to work in, and I broke nearly every rule about traveling there. Rule #1: Don’t go to Pakistan. #2: Don’t go to busy markets or anywhere crowded.  Ever. #3: Do not travel without tight, insulated, fast-moving security. #4: For God’s sake, DO NOT set up a tripod and camera to film alone in the streets, busy markets or poor neighborhoods of inner-city Lahore and Karachi. Nothing at all untoward happened to me, but I felt exposed. The sandbagged machine gun nests over the “Welcome to the Marriott” sign, and the bombings, jailbreaks, and funeral attacks–at least one of which happened daily–made me very nervous. But people generally just wanted to know my where I was from, shake my hand, snap a cellphone photo together with me, and ask me to bring the message back to the United States that by wide margins Pakistanis are not generally terrorists. The short editorial film, expertly edited by Eric Dennis at RockitScientz, is almost finished and I can’t wait to share it. I know I experienced something rare and I’m really happy to have had the experience.

A GREAT ASSIGNMENT FOR ONE OF MY BEST REPEAT CLIENTS:  I traveled to Sicily on a still photo assignment for National Geographic Society’s Licensing and Merchandising division to capture images for the new National Geographic MasterCard advertising campaign. I can’t say much about it yet or share any of the images, but I will as soon as the campaign has launched.

EXHIBITIONS: In January, the Williams McCall Gallery hosted a special exhibit of my photos taken during the production of “The Silkies of Madagascar” film. A scarf from the Sahalandy silk weavers was included with every purchase of a photo. the proceeds went to help fund the Silkies reforestation project to secure sustainable habitat for the rare wild silk cocoons used in their weavings.

A NEW ENDORSEMENT DEAL: I received the terrific new Vinten Vision Blue video tripod in exchange for letting the company tell people that this photographer-turned-filmmaker uses it. It really is a great piece of equipment, and I can’t say enough good things about it. I’m thrilled with the association. A few examples of the PR campaign here, here, and here.

NEW CREATIVE EXPRESSION: Along with 5 other friends, I am a founding member of Washington Wax Works, a collective of DC area artists who work with encaustic medium. I’m primarily using abstract textural photos I’ve taken around the world as a starting background, though by the time I’m finished slathering layers of melted wax on top of it, adding oil paint, etching, and embedded artifacts, etc., it’s nearly impossible to see the photo at all. It’s just about the most satisfying creative expression I have ever tried and I’ve sold a few pieces and even had a couple of commissions. My studio is up along the Canadian border in Silver Spring, MD, which makes it hard on ad hoc creativity; it’s just too far. So I’m looking for cheap studio space in DC. If you know of any place, please let me know.

OK POLLYANNA, WAS EVERYTHING REALLY SO GREAT IN 2013? Well, any complaint I might have can certainly be categorized as a thoroughly first-world problem. That said, business is definitely tougher to come by. The photo and filmmaking industries have changed so much, and continue to evolve in ways that keeps me guessing how to maintain, let alone grow my business.

Democratization of photography and filmmaking through ever more accessible technology has leveled the playing field. That sounds great on its surface, but there is so much media being produced now that people give it away free just for the thrill of seeing their images or videos published. Predictably, this has put downward pressure on the market.

The stock photography business is shifting hard as well, with the value of a single image in some cases plummeting to as low as one cent. But the pennies add up because National Geographic Creative keeps my images visible in the global marketplace and they make deals to ensure that as many pennies as possible reach us photographers. Like my Dad said; “Watch your pennies and your dollars will take care of themselves.”

Whinging about the year wouldn’t be complete without mention of the few people one does business with who turn out to have a different interpretation of ethical behavior than mine. Live and learn.  

SO WHAT’S ON TAP FOR 2014? I’m most excited about discussions to produce a television documentary series on a subject I’m passionate about. I won’t be able to say more about it until/if final agreements are reached, but I’m very excited about the direction things seem to be headed.

It also looks like I’m doing a project that could take me to Istanbul, Vancouver, Manila, and Rotterdam in rapid succession in early 2014. I think I’ll travel on a personal photo-video assignment to Iran after I’m done in Istanbul. It’s supposed to be a wonderful place for an American to visit, though I want to find out more about whether I can freely gather visual assets there. If not, I’ll just stay over in Istanbul a few days and produce some stock media assets there.

Washington Wax Works has a big exhibit coming up in February and I REALLY need to get cracking to produce some new pieces.

I’ve been offered a nice deal with a stock video agency, and I need to produce enough assets to get it rolling. And of course I’m reaching out all the time to renew or make new connections in the media production field.

BUT WAS THIS A BLOG POST? It seems unlikely doesn’t it? But it’s my blog and by God, I can (mis) manage it any way I want.


Posted in Awards, Cultural Anthropology, Director & Producer, Discovery Channel, Exhibitions & Distinctions, Global Health, Humanitarian Projects, International Development, National Geographic Society, Philanthropic Advocacy, Published, Scientific Research, Smithsonian Institution, Sustainability, The Global Fund, Travel & Event Documentaries, United Nations Foundation, Video