National Tropical Botanical Gardens Documentary

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September 26, 2012

In the spring of 2012, one Undergraduate Film and  two  Graduate Broadcast Cinema students traveled to Kauai, Hawaii as part of the  Designmatters Fellowship Program, in order to create a documentary for the National Tropical Botanical Gardens. The student team was comprised of a director (Olaolu Jegede), a cinematographer (Jonathan Augustavo), and an editor (Jorge Sandoval). This project was supported by a grant from the Acacia Foundation. In this blog post, Olaolu  gives a candid account of his experiences in Hawaii directing the documentary entitled Garden in the Sea.

“WOW what an amazing film that the team created!  We were stunned at the quality and how it moved us emotionally.”

– Chipper Wichman, Director and CEO, National Tropical Botanical Garden

J. Augustavo, J. Sandoval, O. Jegede

Directing a documentary for such an important and well-respected organization as the National Tropical Botanical Garden was daunting on the outset. The more I learned about the organization – their history, their passion, their dedication – the more I knew it would be critical to find a way translate the excitement about what they do into a video that “non-plant people” could understand and empathize with. We felt that if we could make something we enjoyed watching, we’d in turn be making a film the general public could enjoy watching, too. The largest hurdle was trying to find a way to condense the scope of the organization into a short film that felt neither too cursory or too overwhelming.

With the aid of my talented crew – cinematographer Jon Augustavo and editor Jorge Sandoval – as well as the overwhelming support from NTBG and Designmatters we were able to pull compelling narratives out of the hours of footage and interviews we amassed. The three of us had a memorable time on Kauai not only due to the island’s beauty, but also due to some unexpected storms that, at one point, actually left us stranded on the northern part of the island. As unforgettable as these experiences were, it was our time working with NTBG and becoming a part of their family that really shaped our time there and laid the foundation for Garden In the Sea.

The National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG) is a not-for-profit institution, dedicated to discovering, saving, and studying the world’s tropical plants and to sharing what is learned.

Click the image below to watch the film.