As filmmaker and writer, Patricia has a passion for large-brained megafauna – from dolphins, to primates, to elephants. Her quest to portray the interrelationships between humans and animals has led her around the globe in pursuit of the issues that threaten these relationships. She is currently working on an advocacy film to raise awareness about the plight of Asian elephants called “Elephants Never Forget.”
Patricia is also a regular author at Life As A Human.
LAAH: What exactly is it that you do?
PS: I’m a documentary filmmaker, and I make films about environmental and wildlife conservation issues. For the past four years I have been working on films about elephants. Presently I am fund-raising to finish my feature-length documentary called “Elephants Never Forget”.
LAAH: When did you start?
PS: I began making documentaries in the early 1990’s. At that time I was working as a network television producer in Toronto. I made my first television documentary in 1991. It was about dolphin communication research, and the problems they face in captivity. After that I moved to Japan, and worked on several documentary projects for international television about ocean conservation, and dolphin and whale issues. Since then I have been an independent filmmaker, making documentaries around the world about our relationships with animals, and nature.
LAAH: Why do you do it and what is the motivation or passion that keeps you going?
PS: Independent filmmaking is tough work. It requires focus and dedication, but it also has tremendous rewards. My passion for the stories I follow is what keeps me going. I believe that spreading awareness through films is one of the most powerful ways to inspire change and make the world a better place – not only for humans, but for animals too. People will be inspired to act on an issue if they care. Film is an emotional medium. Films inspire people to care.
LAAH: Do you feel that what you have done so far has made a difference? If so, can you explain how?
PS: As a filmmaker, one of the ways I know if I’ve made an impact is from audience response – and by watching how changes on the issue occur in culture over time. As a filmmaker, I believe that I am a conduit for communicating the issues that are affecting our world. Since my particular interest is in telling stories that reflect our relationship with the environment and wildlife, I strive to provide people with a new perspective on these issues. Over the years, I have received a lot of positive feedback about the films I have made. People have shared with me how they have been inspired and educated about our relationships with nature and animals, and the issues that are threatening these relationships. Change takes time. The first step is bringing awareness to what needs to be changed. Then people can be motivated to act.
LAAH: Who are your allies and supporters in this enterprise?
PS: I am blessed to be working with an amazing team of creative people. Our current project “Elephants Never Forget” is an independent and self-funded production. Making this film in this way would not be possible without the dedication, collaboration and shared vision of these people.
My long-time filmmaking colleague Michael Clark, who is an exceptionally talented editor and cinematographer, has worked with me on several documentaries and has been a great ally in these pursuits – no matter how impossible they seem!
LAAH: Do you have plans to grow your involvement, to expand the scope of your project? If so, can you elaborate on these plans?
PS: My first step is to complete the “Elephants Never Forget” feature-length documentary, which will be released internationally to audiences worldwide through diverse media outlets. We are very active with social media for this project and are also developing an educational online strategy that will accompany the release of this film. We are affiliated with several non-profit elephant conservation organizations that will be part of our educational outreach programme to educate young and old alike about the plight of elephants, the social and economic realities of these issues, and what the solutions can be. The imminent extinction of elephants is a global issue that affects us all. I believe that all of nature, which includes us, is interconnected. What happens to animals, habitats and people in other places does ultimately impact the matrix of life that we are all a part of, and which we all share.
LAAH: Like anything in life worth working for, there must be difficulties and struggles too. Can you share with us what have been your greatest challenges?
PS: Funding is the biggest challenge. Convincing people that what we are doing is worthy is a challenge. In the midst of adversity, not doubting yourself and your vision is a challenge that I have learned to overcome. The work itself, making films, being creative with what we have learned and sharing it, is a joyful process filled with passion and focus – and that’s what keeps me going.
LAAH: How can people help you?
PS: People can help by spreading awareness about “Elephants Never Forget” and, if they can, by making a donation towards the completion of this film. We are editing the film and require funding support to complete this crucial stage of the project. Audience contributions towards the completion of “Elephants Never Forget” will help us meet this goal.
Patricia Sims talks about Saving Elephants
The Life As A Human team thanks Patricia for all of the great work she is doing and for giving us this interview. If you know Patricia, or if her work has touched your life in some way, please leave her a comment.
We know she would love to hear from you!
All Photos Are © CanazWest Pictures Inc