Chasing Ice: A Story That Changed My Perspective on the World

 Chasing Ice Movie Poster, Courtesy of The Extreme Ice Survey

Chasing Ice is the movie that really got me into documentary film and the reasons why are as diverse as they are important. This film also really changed my thoughts and opinions on the topics it talks about, which I believe is something that all good films have the power to do.

James Balog, Taken by Jeff Orlowski for The Extreme Ice Survey

First of all, Chasing Ice tells the story of a man who is so passionate about the things that matter to him, he is willing to do whatever it takes to make sure others see what he sees. James Balog, the subject of the film, and the founder of The Extreme Ice Survey (EIS), is a world renowned nature photographer who has been behind the camera for more than 28 years.  He made it his mission to document the receding of glaciers all over the world. His passion has made him an innovator in the worlds of science and photography. Because of his long-term use of Nikon cameras and lenses, both personally and for the EIS, Balog has been named a Nikon Ambassador. His background as a geologist and his experience as a photographer make him, in my mind anyways, the perfect person to tell this story, and he and his team do an amazing job.

From the very beginning of the film, you see Balog take risks. Big risks. Risks that sometimes paid off, and sometimes didn’t. The fact that he was willing to take them is what impressed me so much. His passion and drive to do things that others would deem absolutely ludicrous really was, and continues to be, inspiring. He developed a concept and saw it through, and even though it didn’t work right away, he kept pushing through until he developed a camera that could survive at the worst of conditions, and the best. He pushed on past a knee surgery, and so many other hurdles that would make any normal person say “enough is enough!” His determination blew my mind, and the fact that he is still out there doing this despite of all of those crazy things makes me want to try just as hard to get the word out about the things I care about.

This film is the reason why I want to become a documentary filmmaker and am attending a Christian film school. After watching this film for the first time at Sundance Film Festival in 2011, I just felt like narrative films, as good and well made as they are, were not for me to produce, but to consume. This film also showed me a side of documentary filmmaking that was in no way shape or form satirical like I was used to seeing. It wasn’t a mockumentary or something that aimed to make fun of one group or another. In high school, any documentaries we watched were in the same vein as “Who Killed the Electric Car?,” and if you’ve ever seen that, you’ll know exactly what I mean. After watching it again this past week, it reaffirmed everything I thought about it.

The way this film portrays a man who will do anything to prove what he believes is as incredible as it is inspiring. I recommend this movie to anyone who exists on this earth. The story of the Extreme Ice Survey is powerful and important, and should be told to as many people as will listen.


NSJ_0657 Kendall

Kendall is a 20-year-old aspiring documentary filmmaker from Park City, Utah, who is attending the Christian film school, Center for Creative Media. After film, some of her chief loves are those of coffee, dogs, and snow. Every week, she takes a look at the odd, uncommon, particularly interesting, and outright obscure ways that people produce creative visual art for the world to see. She is continuing to learn about Poitras’ use of camera angles and treatment of a story in her video production classes at CCM.

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