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Reel Talk: Science & Film Newsletter: What's the WUI?

Photo of WUI Productions on location filming in recent burn scar.
Matt (center) and Eric (with camera) interview fire officials in Grand County, Colo. following the aftermath of the East Troublesome Fire.

Editor's Note

Welcome back to Reel Talk: Science and Film, and happy New Year! Last month, we released our first newsletter on LinkedIn, and it was a good experience for us. We got a nice amount of subscribers and new page followers, and even got some good feedback from our readers, so we wanted to continue telling our story with our first monthly(ish) newsletter of 2024.

Last month Eric was able to attend the Colorado Food Summit at the National Western Center next to CSU’s Spur campus to do some networking within the agriculture, food, and ranching community. We have worked a lot in the agricultural sphere on recent projects, and it’s always great to keep those connections going and make new ones. And speaking of that, we will both be back down at the Spur campus on Friday, January 5th, as it’s their first-anniversary event. It should be a fun time, and hopefully, we’ll see some of our past collaborators and maybe even some of our newsletter subscribers! 

Well, enough about what’s new with us for a moment. For this month's newsletter, we thought we would discuss what WUI is, why it’s so important in places like Colorado, and how it helped us become the production company we are today. 

Enjoy the read, and we look forward to seeing you next month. 

Cheers, the WUI team. 

What is the WUI, and Why is it important? 

This funny-sounding acronym stands for the wildland-urban interface (WUI), which is the mesh point between wilderness and developed land. In this transitional zone, a lot of environmental and scientific issues are at the forefront. To help understand the scope of the WUI, here are some fun facts: 

Picture of download Grand Lake with the burn scar in the background
Image of downtown Grand Lake, Colo. taken in fall of 2023, two years after the East Troublesome Fire ravaged the area and burned nearly 200k acres of WUI space.

Our Connection to the WUI

Way back in the winter of 2020/21, Eric, Matt, and our classmate and friend Zach began brainstorming for a documentary film that we would produce while taking a documentary filmmaking course in the Spring of ‘21. We all had an interest in doing something involving nature/environmental topics, so we talked through some ideas and finally settled on a film about wildfires in Colorado.

The inspiration for this film was really two-fold. We had just experienced the two worst recorded wildfires in Colorado’s history, the Cameron Peak and East Troublesome fires, and one of us, Matt, had first-hand experience in living through a wildfire and being evacuated from his home as he was living in the foothills of west Fort Collins, a populated WUI area. 

In the class, we enlisted a fourth member to the team, Olivia, and we would spend the next three-plus months working on the film. We had a great time putting this film together, and we’re very happy with the results of the finished product. The production process of the film connected us with so many professionals, residents, and even politicians who care so much about the natural world that so many of us enjoy, whether it’s for living or recreating (or both) around the state. 

We’ll talk more in a future post about the experiences of producing a film like Lasting Embers, but the moral of this story is how the WUI brought us together and has shaped us as a video production company and why we chose it as our name. 

We were so inspired by working on the film and the response it received, Matt and Eric decided to create this company with the mission of producing more films based on environmental issues and how they affect the people and places of Colorado and beyond. 

Why is the WUI so Important?

A few things that stood out to us since we began producing Lasting Embers and naming our company WUI Productions is how few people know what the WUI is or have even heard the term Wildland-Urban Interface. It’s also been very surprising how many people who live in WUI spaces in Colorado and around the world don’t really understand the importance of these lands where they've chosen to live, work, and recreate. 

In many ways, the WUI is more than the definition we described at the start of this article. Yes, it’s where wildfire is the most commonly associated natural phenomenon, but there are many other important factors that exist within and are affected by WUI spaces, including clean drinking water sources, wildlife travel corridors, and tourism, to name a few. 

The issues facing the WUI are often complex and require the public, organizations, and government to come together. These collaborative efforts require a lot of effective communication about science, safety, and prevention, and that’s where WUI Productions found its inspiration to create a video and documentary production company focused on the important issues and challenges facing the WUI.

The Reel Wrap: 

This past month, we’ve been busy working on updating a corporate video series we produced for Larimer County earlier this year. Yes, we do corporate videos, too! When we took on that contract, it included making annual updates as some of the contents of the videos would require new information as it changes each year. 

Photo of video production setup with the lights, camera, and actor.
Behind the scenes of our recent video shoot for Larimer County.

It was a fun experience as we needed to do a production shoot with the same talent as the original video, and also work with the county’s team to make sure the updates were as seamless as possible with the already existing footage. This was also our first time doing an update to an existing video series, so we also got to learn how to work with making the changes through Premiere and After Effects, color grading the new footage to match existing footage, as well as sound and music. 

Overall, it was a positive experience for us as filmmakers, along with working with our client on communicating exactly how the updated and finished product would look and meeting their expectations.

Another new experience for us at WUI is looking at a marketing strategy to better get our name out in the world. We met with a friend and colleague, Sarah, who specializes in working with small local businesses to create social media strategies and web design. She gave us some great feedback on how to approach our own strategies and some new social content to create and spice up our website. Overall, it was really helpful to have an experienced set of eyes to examine what we’ve done on our own and give some great feedback. Hopefully, we’ll be able to implement these changes over the next few months.

Thanks again for tuning in to this month's Reel Talk: Science & Film, and stay tuned for next month’s newsletter, where we’ll take a closer look at what makes video so effective in communicating science.

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