Rainforest Alliance has become a household name for its work in South America and Africa, but when they decided to focus on sustainable forestry in America’s Appalachian Woodlands, they knew they had some explaining to do. For starters, the Appalachians aren’t a rainforest. And even though many Americans are familiar with their beauty, relatively few have a personal relationship to the region.
To further the challenge, Rainforest Alliance asked us to produce a film that their corporate partners in this new initiative (lumber-reliant companies like Staples and Kimberly-Clark) would be proud to share on their own social channels.
We needed a way to forge an emotional connection between the region and our target audience, so we narrowed in on a core value of Americans around the country, regardless of creed or party: grit. If we could get viewers to associate the hardworking small-landowners of Appalachia with the grit that’s made America the country it is, we could get them to understand that this was a land and a lifestyle worth conserving.
So we traveled to North Carolina and shot every part of the forestry process as it was—no frills. We captured Appalachians living their lives amidst the forest, benefiting from it and tending for it. Then we tied scenes together with a script written from the perspective of an Appalachian landowner: proud yet humble, calm yet determined.
The result was a reflection on one of the most biodiverse parts of America, and a call to support the hundreds of thousands of Americans that preserve them for generations to come.