The Story of California's State Parks Captures in Award-Winning Film 'California Forever'
Backcountry Pictures and KQED present California Forever, a two-part PBS television special that tells the story of California’s magnificent state parks from Yosemite in 1864 to the present day. Together, the two one-hour programs remind viewers of the importance of California’s state parks as well as their priceless legacy. California Forever is scheduled to air nationally in fall 2012 (check local listings) and in the Bay Area on KQED 9, the public media company that serves Northern California.
California Forever was written and directed by Academy Award-nominee David Vassar. The program was produced by Sally Kaplan and David Vassar. The idea for the film was sparked after David and Sally watched the battle between conservationists and developers over the proposed Orange County Toll Road which would have paved over a portion of San Onofre State Beach. David and Sally felt compelled to tell the story of California’s State Parks as a way to remind viewers of these parks and their value.
Point Lobos State Natural Preserve.
Photo courtesy of Backcountry Pictures.
“The story of California State Parks is the story of California. It is also the story of the ‘park idea’ and how it spread from California across the country and around the world. The scenic beauty and historic sites that California State Parks protect celebrate our heritage, and helps define what it means to be a Californian,” said David Vassar. “In California Forever, we hope to encourage viewers to explore state parks in their neighborhoods and across California; to remind them of the priceless legacy that parks protect and to honor the individuals and groups who fought so hard to preserve them over the last 160 years.”
California Forever: The History of California State Parks highlights the discovery and creation of California’s state parks system and celebrates the individuals and groups whose passion and commitment helped preserve and protect them for future generations. It takes viewers on a scenic, cultural and historical tour of California’s state parks highlighting the people, key events and locales that made California history. The episode begins with the discovery of the giant sequoias in 1852 by Augustus T. Dowd and recounts the establishment of California’s first state park, Yosemite. Continuing, the narrative moves through the individual stories of citizen action that preserved many of
Off-road enthusiasts at Ocotillo Wells
State Vehicular Recreation Area.
Photo by David Vassar, Backcountry Pictures Inc.
California’s most celebrated landscapes as state parks. Included are the coast redwoods, Big Sur, Point Lobos, Hearst Castle, Lake Tahoe and the Anza-Borrego Desert. Historic places and people that commemorate crucial chapters of the California story are also explored. The plot intersects with many important victories that saved much of California’s most cherished landscape and in the process, inspired the creation of the National Park Service and the protection of wilderness.
California Forever: Parks for the Future presents the very real challenges that state parks are currently facing in California. Among these are habitat destruction by overuse; protection of native species at the expense of recreation; reclaiming industrial brown fields to create new parks in dense urban areas; establishing historic sites that commemorate people and events from diverse cultures; and imminent park closures. This episode highlights the trials of balancing peaceful solitude at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park with the growing demand for “off-roading” at neighboring Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area. It then tells of the wildlife preservation efforts for the northern elephant seal and western
From left to right, Camera Assistant Josh Heller,
Sound Recordist Fred Runner, Director David Vassar,
Director of Photography Christopher Tufty.
Photo by Joeann Edmonds-Matthew.
snowy plover that sometimes limit public access along parts of the central coast. California Forever stresses the importance of reclaiming land for parks in urban settings including the “re-wilding” of the Los Angeles River. Additionally, it celebrates the diverse cultures and histories of many groups who made California home, including the Chinese who first arrived at the Angel Island Immigration Station and freed slaves who created a utopian agrarian community at what is now Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park.
An Official Selection at the International Wildlife Film Festival, California Forever received the award for Best Educational Program in 2011. It also was selected for screenings at the 2011 American Conservation Film Festival, the 2012 Wild & Scenic Film Festival and the 2012 Environmental Film Festival of Washington, D.C.
The producers of California Forever scouted more than 100 parks, and the Backcountry Pictures crew shot in 46 of them over a two-year period. The arresting visuals of California’s state parks were acquired at 4k resolution with a RED ONE digital camera.