On September 12, award-winning filmmaker Jeff Orlowski spoke to Ithaca College students and local community members about his experiences filming around the world, the perseverance it took for him to break through into the industry, and the activism and social change his work has inspired.
Orlowski is best known for directing and producing the environmental documentaries “Chasing Ice” and “Chasing Coral.” He is also the founder of production company Exposure Labs, which aims to produce socially relevant films. Orlowski came to campus as part of the annual Park Distinguished Visitor Series.
To start the evening, the audience was treated to photos and anecdotes from his time spent filming his documentaries. He described these experiences — which ranged from hiking glaciers in Greenland to document melting, to scuba diving to film time lapses of dying coral reefs — as “both risky and really fun at the same time.”
Orlowski’s talk then turned to more critical issues. He shared how he got involved in climate activism and turned “Chasing Ice” into a national campaign for reform. Although he never expected to become an activist, he ended up in that role after the release of “Chasing Ice.” Viewers frequently asked him how they could get involved and help.
His team traveled around the country, putting on screenings of the film in areas of the country that had high populations of climate skeptics, in an attempt to change the opinion.
“Scientists have been forced to become spokespeople for climate,” Orlowski said. “All of the work we've done has been grounded in scientific fact, and we’re trying to create these stories and make them more accessible to people.”