The Natural State Of America

Natural State Of AmericaWhat is the Natural State Of America? Filmmakers and the local community of Newton County have come together to reveal the story of how the unnecessary spraying of herbicides by the U.S Forest Service is damaging the pristine environment.

Directed by Timothy Lucas Wistrand, Terrell Case and Matthew Corey Gattin, ‘The Natural State Of America’ blends environmental awareness with strong storytelling and factual evidence from the EPA that shows the products being sprayed are not endorsed as ‘safe’.

Films are a great way to illustrate and promote good causes, and while there’s an ongoing battle about the use of herbicides in the Ozark National Forest, keeping nature ‘natural’ is more and more difficult.

Natural State Of America Trailer

Interview with director Timothy Lucas Wistrand

Iain: How did this film come about and where did you get the funding and crew to make this happen?

Tim: Our producer, Brian Campbell, has worked with several farmers in the Ozarks for his studies in agrobiodiversity. Many of them expressed concerns to him about the spraying of herbicides by the U.S. Forest Service and more recently the local rural electric company to clear under their power lines. These farmers directed Brian to the Newton County Wildlife Association, an environmentally minded group formed in the mid-’70s to successfully halt the aerial spraying of Agent Orange in the Ozark National Forest.  Brian had seen a short film we had directed earlier (It was entitled, “Rumby in the Jungy” and was a satire on Rambo films with a villain that did Genetic Modification on Americans) and so he got us on board to make this film. We weren’t able to secure funding in the time frame we wanted to create the film so it was done with a small crew with no pay.

Iain: What has the feedback been so far from people watching your documentary?

Tim: As an artist it’s really been an amazing experience seeing how people react positively to your film.  It’s interesting to see people who aren’t necessarily environmentalists wanting to get involved because of the passion and anger they get from watching our film. We’ve been selected to the Little Rock Film Festival, the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, and we won Best Film at the the Society for Applied Anthropology Film Fetival.

Natural State Of America

Gordon Watkins and Kathy Turner

Iain: What would you like to change with The Natural State of America?

Tim: Since, the making of our film some of the members filed a class-action complaint with the Arkansas Public Service Commission on behalf of members of Carroll Electric Cooperative and against its board of directors and management, seeking increased transparency, more democratic governance, repayment of capital credits, a halt to the use of herbicides without the landowners permission and more.

Iain: How can people get involved and promote a natural environment?

Tim: We get this question a lot and I don’t necessarily have the best answer for it.  You know, we saw a problem and we decided we would do what we do best which is make a film about it.  If you can draw wonderful pictures then draw.  If you are a chemist study the chemicals they’re using and find out unknowns.  If you have money, check out our website to find places to donate. The best way to get involved in anything is to find a group like minded people and simply ask questions.  You can also follow us on Facebook to get any information concerning our film, how to help, and to see new video clips.

Natural State Of America

Randy and Jiya Janowitz

Iain: Do you have any other upcoming projects in the works?

Tim: We just finished a short film entitled “Cotton County Boys” which is a Southern comedy about three simple-minded brothers who enter a video competition in an attempt to win the money to save their mother’s house from foreclosure. We are currently in talks on a secret documentary that I really can’t say much about. And we are in pre-production on a short film entitled, “Larry’s Goddamn Bench.”

 

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