A behind-the-scenes shot of the filming of Guardians of the Grasslands on location at the Waldron Ranch Grazing Cooperative in the foothills about 80 kilometres southwest of Calgary. Photo submitted

Bashaw filmmakers capture grasslands’ beauty

Documentary showcases how a unique ecosystem is surviving

A brother and sister team from Bashaw have created a short documentary about a delicate part of the Canadian Prairie.

Ben Wilson and Sarah Wray produced the 13-minute film Guardians of the Grasslands, which premiered to a small audience in Calgary last October and was shown in January at the Bashaw United Church as part of an evening dedicated to short films.

Wilson explained the project came about quite quickly this past summer, with the partnership of three organizations — Canada Beef, Ducks Unlimited Canada and the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

”While we were doing some filming for another project at an incredibly beautiful and pristine ranch in southern Alberta, Sarah came up with the idea that the story of the grasslands ecosystem — one of the most endangered ecosystems on the entire planet — would make a great documentary film subject,” he said.

“We were blown away by what we learned while filming at the Waldron Ranch Grazing Cooperative for two days, and felt inspired to share the important story of the grasslands and the role that cattle play in the delicate balance of the endangered ecosystem.”

Wray added: “When we found out that the grasslands in Canada are one of the most endangered ecosystems in the entire world, it really shocked us. Coming from a ranching background myself, I was surprised that this information was not better known throughout our community.”

The film focuses on the landscape and what some perceive to be a problem, but is really a solution, with cattle ensuring the Prairies last well into the future.

“The amazing, picturesque location that is 65,000 acres in size, of which most is still native prairie. It was the perfect setting to highlight these iconic landscapes and the sheer number of plants and animals that call them home and rely on cattle ranchers to keep them intact,” Wilson said.

Other facts in the film include that 74 per cent of Canada’s grasslands have already been lost, mostly to urban and agricultural land conversion, and that the native grasslands that remain are home to many of Canada’s most endangered wildlife species, co-operatively sharing the landscape with grazing cattle or bison, as in the distant past.

While the film isn’t due for official release until later this year, screenings can be requested through www.guardiansofthegrasslands.ca. Wilson says more than 150 screening requests have been received to date.

The brother-sister team operate Story Brokers Media House.

BashawFilm industry

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Ben Wilson and Sarah Wray have combined their flimmaking talents to tell the story of Prairie glasslands, 74 per cent of which have been lost and converted to other uses. The brother and sister’s project pays tribute to the endangered ecosystem and the incredible diversity it nurtures. Photo submitted

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