Sept. 7, 2016 | Joliet, Ill.
Three University of St. Francis (USF) alumni teamed up to film, produce and compose music for the nature documentary, “Making Waves: Battle for the Great Lakes,” a two-hour film that sheds light on the invasive species issues facing the Great Lakes.
Brendan and Jessica (Saraga) Walsh (pictured at right), both 2005 graduates from the communication and media arts program at USF, own Great Lakes Media (GLM), the production company responsible for filming and editing the documentary. Brendan serves as the Director of Photography and has filmed independently for shows on PBS, National Geographic and Discovery Channel to name a few. Jessica, co-owner of GLM, is an award-winning print journalist and editor, and is responsible for coordinating and delivering a wide range of productions for Great Lakes Media. The couple’s love for the native ecosystem and outdoors were a driving factor in their interest in the subject matter.
“Lake Michigan has always played an important role in our lives since we were growing up, and through travels around the Great Lakes region, we fell in love with the other lakes as well,” explains Jessica.
The two-hour documentary will take viewers below the surface of the Great Lakes ecosystem and into this complex battle for survival. For over a century, non-native species of plants, fish, invertebrates and diseases have been silently invading the Great Lakes, leaving devastation in their wake. These invasive species are transforming the ecosystem from the bottom to the top, pushing some native species to the brink of extinction, and costing the region hundreds of millions of dollars in control costs and lost revenue each year. Narrated by legendary CBS anchorman and Emmy-nominated documentarian Bill Kurtis, the two-hour documentary will premiere on PBS station WTTW 11 in two parts, at 5 p.m. on Sundays, Sept. 11 and 18.
“We all suffer the effects of invasive species in one way or another, whether we realize it or not,” says Brendan. “But it’s an area where one person can make a massive difference—one individual can be the key in preventing or creating an invasion. For this reason, public awareness of the problem is absolutely necessary, and we hope we can raise that awareness through “Making Waves.”
The Walshes had support from another USF alum, Gabe Jaskowiak ’16 (pictured at right). Jaskowiak is a graduate from the university’s Digital Audio Recording Arts (DARA) program. The Walshes met Jaskowiak through guitar lessons taken from Gabe’s father, Jeff, who runs the DARA program. When the Walshes heard some movie score samples Jaskowiak was working on, they knew he would be perfect for the documentary.
“Gabe added so much emotion and complexity to the film through his music that it’s hard to imagine it would have been the same film without him onboard. He had the ability to take a simple feeling or emotion that we wanted to convey and extrapolate that in the most beautiful or shocking way into a musical piece that was several minutes long,” explained the Walshes.
The team does not anticipate this to be the last project of its kind. “We plan to have this be just the first of many projects we do centered around the Great Lakes. Invasive species are one of the most pressing issues for the Lakes, which is why we chose to cover them, but there are many more stories to tell.”
To view the trailer and learn more about the documentary process, please visit makingwavesdocumentary.com.
The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves 3,700 students nationwide, offering undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are 47,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu. University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.
Photo Caption: Alumni Brendan and Jessica Walsh, both 2005 graduates from the communications and media arts program, worked with Digital Audio Recording Arts graduate Gabe Jaskowiak ’16 to film and produce the nature documentary “Making Waves: Battle for the Great Lakes.”