Every year at the annual Water: Take 1 Online Short Film Festival, one deserving Ventura-based filmmaker is presented with the prestigious “Ventura Vision Award” sponsored by the Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach, honoring excellence in filmmaking for a film produced and shot in Ventura. In 2016, that filmmaker was Charles Spraggins. His short film, “Good Stewards,” highlights how Ventura residents are doing their part to save water by conserving outdoor water usage and changing out their native lawns for more water wise landscapes.
“At a court hearing before the Fox Canyon Groundwater Management agency in January 2015, I was inspired listening to Ventura Water General Manager Shana Epstein respond to an appeal to reduce Ventura’s water allocation. She testified that Ventura Water customers should be treated fairly because the city had been ‘good stewards’ of Ventura’s water supply,” said Spraggins. “Listening to that speech was a lightbulb moment for me. It made me think of the bible term, ’good stewards,’ in that the bible requires an accounting of one’s stewardship. I felt it was a great title and theme of a film, and in my short, I present an accounting of what Ventura residents are doing to save our water.”
Spraggins, a Ventura native who can trace his ancestor’s roots to the area since 1875, spent his childhood on a family ranch in East Ventura. He received a BA degree from UCSB in Political Science and an M.B.A from USC, and for many years worked as a stockbroker in Wall Street Brokerage business, retiring in 2012.
“I’m self taught in making films,” said Spraggins, who considers filmmaking a hobby. “I started making movies for fun on my computer in the late 1990’s using Adobe Premiere editing software. ‘Water: Take 1’ was my very first award submission, and as you can imagine, I was very surprised, and pleased, to win an award on my first try.”
Even before his Vision Award win however, Spraggins embraced the sustainability movement in his personal life practicing environmentalism at home with his family after reading Jeremy L. Caradonna’s book, “Sustainability: A History,” which chronicles the history of the movement as far back as the 1660s, as well as the subsequent events that gave it shape.
When it comes to sage advice for young filmmakers, Spraggins underscores the importance of the short film genre.
“In this current technological climate, short videos are how people receive their media, and it’s a clever way to multiply the importance of the water message. It’s also a way creative individuals with something important to say can produce a film without having to rely on big budget financing.”
While Spraggins doesn’t have any plans for another movie project at this time, he says he plans “lots of advocacy of sustainability concepts at saveourwaterventura.org.”