“In 2006, when I was working on my MA in Visual Anthropology and Documentary Filmmaking from NYU’s Gallatin School for Individualized Studies, I decided to focus on the complex issue of water infrastructure in the United States,” begins Filmmaker Madeleine Pryor, about her film, The Value of Water. The film, which highlights the need to invest in America’s water infrastructure to prevent expensive water losses and ensure a safe, clean water supply to all Americans, won the Santa Monica Vision Award (sponsored by The City of Santa Monica Office of Sustainability and the Environment), at the Fourth Annual Water: Take 1 Online Short Film Festival.
“Through my research for the film, I discovered that the viability of our water infrastructure is something few people think about. However, maintaining it is crucial to the sustainability of our communities, and our public health,” continued Pryor. “I also came across a book, The Big Thirst, by Charles Fishman (Free Press, 2011), and I was further astounded by what I read, in particular, that Americans spend more money on bottled water than on maintaining our country’s water system! In fact, most bottled water is actually filtered tap water with a designer label. If those numbers were reversed, expensive water leaks as well as potentially dangerous compromises to US water supply would be remedied.”
In addition to her Water: Take 1 win, The Value of Water garnered second place at the 2012 Water Environment Federation’s ‘Water’s Worth It’ Contest, as well as being named an Official Selection at the 2014 Reel Water Film Festival.
An avid environmentalist, who is constantly looking for ways to keep “green” at home and in the workplace, Pryor not only conserves water, but is an ardent recycler, composts regularly, shops organic and sustainable, and advocates the purchase of locally produced goods.
“I’ve lived and traveled many places around the globe,” said Pryor, “When you look at life from different perspectives, it gives you a unique understanding of the connections between peoples, places and the environment.”
Pryor, the daughter of an international development executive, was born in Nairobi, Kenya, and also lived in Khartoum, Sudan, for several years before her family moved back to the United States when she was six. While she grew up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. and Maryland, she has also lived in other towns on the New England Coast as well as in India. She now resides in Jerusalem.
“I work as a communications specialist for the non-profit Seeds of Peace, and my primary directive is to create media that documents the impactful dialogue and leadership development programs for teens, educators, and professionals who are working to create change in communities divided by conflict.”
When asked about what advice she might give to young filmmakers, Pryor modestly indicated, “She is still learning herself.”
“One thing I can offer young filmmakers, and people in any career path, is that if you love something — do it! When I was an undergraduate at college, although I was passionate about filmmaking, I needed to acquire more confidence in my abilities. Turning back the clocks, I do wish that I had pursued social media production, the kind of work I’m doing now, when I was an undergraduate, but the lesson learned is ‘where there is a will…you will find a way.’”
“I truly get such a tremendous satisfaction in assisting nonprofits tell their story in a creative, compelling fashion,” continued Pryor. “That’s why festivals like ‘Water: Take 1’ are so essential. First, they shed light on particular issues, and often times ones that the general public is not cognizant of. Second, it’s so important to have venues for screening short content outside the ‘traditional’ festival circuits, so that young and emerging filmmakers can have a voice. Third, ‘Water” Take 1’ and festivals like it, bring people together to view media about and talk about important issues —people from the general public, media makers, researchers, practitioners, educators, and governments—who might not have that chance otherwise.