(CBS Local)– Wildfires have been and continue to be one of the biggest issues plaguing the United States of America and the world. Just this month, thousands of people were forced to evacuate their homes after a rapidly spreading fire worked its way through Sacramento and Northern California. The history of wildfires and the problems they are causing our world is the subject of a new CBSN Films documentary from 2x Oscar-nominated filmmaker Lucy Walker called Bring Your Own Brigade.”
The film is a two hour documentary that will premiere in theaters for a limited run starting Friday, August 6 and will make its way to Paramount+ on August 20. CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith spoke with Walker about being on the ground in California to cover the wildfires, what she learned from the experience and the future of forests in America.
“It was an incredible journey to make this film. I’ve made a lot of documentaries, but this one was about where I moved to. I moved to California and the hillsides were on fire and I’m from England and I thought about how the last big fire we had was in 1666,” said Walker. “I thought we solved fire and I get to California and I thought why is the hillside on fire and what are we doing wrong. I followed individual firefighters and residents through these deadly incidents and it was really quite a journey. It was at points terrifying, moving and incredibly awe-inspiring. The movie has a lot of different chapters and the characters in the film are incredibly stunning.”
“Bring Your Own Brigade” made its world premiere at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival and takes you inside what a ferocious fire season looks like in California. It also shows what the personal toll of these natural disasters look like.
“I really wanted to understand the impact of what it means to lose your home,” said Walker. “I couldn’t believe the decision that people stay and defend their own homes. I am a chicken. When a fire comes along, you can hear me having a panic attack in the film. I was terrified even when the fire was reasonably far away. I was really in awe of the firefighters and first responders and the residents who chose and stayed to fight.”
Walker said the biggest challenge of the film was tackling all the different layers to the fire problem in this country and around the world. The filmmaker hopes that viewers can learn about the history of wildfires, why they continue to be such an issue and the physical and emotional toll they have on people across the globe.
“I didn’t want to just give people a horror movie experience because it is really worse than a horror movie because it is just the most horrific thing to be inside these hellish experiences,” said Walker. I wanted people to understand exactly what was going on in these incidents. The audience can put together what is true and what is really happening. I think we can and will do better in the future about how we live with the reality of fire in our landscape.”
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