Inspire Friday Issue No. 39

Filmmaking on the Great Wall of China, Philly turns out the lights to save birds, lost items become art, glow-in-the-dark sharks, and more…

Filming at the Great Wall of China. This week we go on location to the Great Wall of China for a behind-the-scenes peek at the MFF film crew during production of Dream Big: Engineering Our World Braving countless steep steps with the heavy IMAX film equipment, the crew captured remarkable footage of this incredible engineering feat, considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Watch now.

Are drones our new ocean protectors? It’s no easy task rescuing a 40-ton whale from life-threatening entanglement in fishing gear. But Ed Lyman has been doing it for 30 years, as seen in the short doc freeFLY.  The film, which also explores how drones are now used in these dramatic sea rescues, won the 2020 Sylvia Earle Ocean Conservation Award, hosted by Orange County’s MY HERO Project in partnership with MFF’s One World One Ocean campaign.  MY HERO is currently seeking new films about ocean heroes for this year’s award. The deadline to submit is May 1st.  Watch here.

Philadelphia turns off the lights to save birds. One night last October, more than 1,000 birds crashed to their deaths in downtown Philadelphia due to an overabundance of lights left on in tall office buildings. To keep this from happening again, the Audubon Mid-Atlantic organization has created the Lights Out Philly initiative to run from April 1 to May 31 and again from August 15 to November 15  during the annual spring and autumn bird migration periods. We’re happy to know our feathered friends will be flying safer. Read more.

Making art from lost items. Park ranger and artist Mariah Reading has a unique way of making beauty out of the trash and forgotten items she finds on her outdoor adventures — by painting the surrounding landscape on them. Once she completes her work, she oftentimes snaps a photo and shares it, offering a quiet commentary on waste while highlighting the beauty of the great outdoors. A friendly reminder that we should all leave only footprints behind when visiting our national parks and other wild places. Read more.

Glow-in-the-dark sharks. Scientists in New Zealand recently discovered bioluminescent kitefin sharks living in the “twilight zone” of our oceans, between 300 to 1,000 meters deep. Thought to be the largest animal to have this characteristic, scientists speculate this acts as a type of camouflage for the sharks, potentially breaking up their shape and allowing them to pass by unnoticed as they hunt for prey. Fascinating! Read more.


Every week, MFF president Shaun MacGillivray shares what is inspiring him now, his favorite book recommendations, podcasts, articles, short films, docs, quotes, trends, innovative companies, people, and entrepreneurial stories.

Climber, environmentalist, businessman. “I can’t believe I haven’t recommended this book yet. It’s a classic. It tells the story of the founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, and gives his business and environmental philosophy. He is a true pioneer, leader, and rebel who has a fantastic story.” Available here.

The real Trevor Noah. “This is an autobiography but reads like fiction. Host of The Daily Show, Trevor Noah is a wonderful storyteller in addition to being fantastic at late-night comedy. He has a very interesting background and was born in South Africa at the tail end of apartheid. This book is heartwarming, deep, and funny all at the same time.” Available here.

And for further inspiring reading recommendations…
Visit Shaun’s “Never Stop Learning” reading list.

Surfers as curiosities. “In 1966, when I was 20 and Jim was 21 and we had dropped out of school for a semester to shoot our first movie together in South America, we visited Argentina where surfing was unknown. Whenever any of us would go out surfing, a crowd with gather on shore to watch. They had never seen surfboards before. When they first saw our boards on the beach, they thought they were airplane wings! We all got a good chance to practice our Spanish, and Dale Struble, seen here, was the linguist among us. His Spanish was good enough that he could even get people laughing. At the time, people in Argentina loved Americans, particularly because JFK was a Catholic, as they were, and had created the Peace Corps and the Alliance for Progress, which they respected. In the photo, you can see some of these locals dressed for school in coats and ties. The Argentines had a joy for life and they taught us a lot. The local restaurants served the best beef in the world, although we could only rarely afford to eat out.  We were on a budget of six dollars per day for the four of us. The trip showed Jim and me that we were far better off shooting films together, as our enthusiasm and creativity seemed to double and our joy of filmmaking seemed to triple. It was a great time. And the beginning of MacGillivray Freeman Films.” — Greg MacGillivray

Coming soon!
Greg MacGillivray’s memoir, Five Hundred Summer Stories, will be released later this year. A fascinating story chronicling Greg’s journey as an artist, self-made filmmaker, entrepreneur, father and conservationist.
We’ll keep you posted!


Have an inspirational news story, video, or photo our readers need to see? Submit it here.
Haven’t subscribed yet?
Recommended Posts