By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
Fraser Kershaw, the host of a new documentary film, Behind the Water, recently visited the University of Oklahoma Film and Media Studies Department. During the OU Film Forum he challenged the students to become critical thinkers in the film industry.
Scheduled for release in 2015, Behind the Water explores the power all individuals have to be heroes. It reveals the real life stories of individuals in Latin America who have overcome overwhelming obstacles to find clean water.
The film is directed by National Geographic’s Doug Clevenger and will be scored by Grammy award-winning OneRepublic’s Brent Kutzle.
Kershaw’s visit was made possible by the collaboration between OU Film and Media Studies director Joanna Rapf and filmmaker-OU professor Sunrise Tipperconnie.
During the presentation, Kershaw stressed the benefits of filming and helping individuals in less traveled foreign countries, and the difference their actions can make.
He says he understands that a solid education is essential for personal and economic development and is imperative to break the cycle of poverty throughout the world.
Working with community leaders in Latin America, he saw how education fuels healthier communities. Now his passion is to share that experience here in the United States.
In response to the global water crisis, the activist has vowed not to confine himself to a cubicle, working from behind a computer, when he says. “action is needed – changing environments through clean water.”
Convinced that early education forms the basis for future learning, Kershaw has seen first hand that many students around the world, particularly in the poorest developing nations, are missing that opportunity.
“When film students know exactly what they want, they can be self-starters and run toward it.” Kershaw said. “I’m not going to limp away from the American dream, or wimp away from helping people,” Kershaw said. “ We hit the jackpot living in America and we are in the best position to give back and fulfill both.”
Kershaw told the students that earlier in his career he weighed other employment offers.
He considered university teaching and other areas of film, but he became focused on fine-tuning his work in Latin America where he worked to provide communities with clean water and to raise awareness of that need.
“It’s important to shine the light where it’s the darkest,” Kershaw said.
“We owe it to ourselves to live the life we always wanted, and to be fearless while going after it,” Kershaw told the audience. “As much as I wish I could tell you to ditch your current life, and go do what I’m doing, it wouldn’t be right,” he added. “But maybe, everyone should try, just once.”
A Q&A period engaging the students following the presentation led Kershaw to say, “The experience for me was beyond perfect.”
Tippeconnie said, “Fraser gave a great presentation that not only gave my media students insight into the ways the industry works, he also offered inspiring advice about how socially conscious work can create positive possibilities and results.
“His passion to share and foster an understanding for today’s social issues was great to hear, and served as inspiration that the most influential work has purpose.”
“There is such a rush to create, that young mediators sometimes forget to stop and think through the reason for their content,” Tippeconnie added.
“It is important for contemporary media makers to remind themselves of their effect on the world,” he added. “Fraser intelligently did that through his own progressive work, ‘Behind the Water.’
The OU Film and Media Studies (FMS) is an interdisciplinary program in the College of Arts and Sciences. This undergraduate degree provides students with the knowledge and skills required for careers in media-related fields, film production, academics, or other jobs in the liberal arts and
To view an excerpt of Behind the Water, visit www.behindthewater.com.