Adventurers of the Year 2014/2015 The Filmmakers: Matt Stoecker, Travis Rummel, and Ben Knight

National Geographic, January 2015, By Fitz Cahall

Three filmmakers capture a pivotal moment in river conservation and ignite a movement to return rivers to their natural state.

'A lot of people see a huge reservoir, and they think, That’s a beautiful, beneficial thing,' says filmmaker and conservationist Matt Stoecker. 'But dams are like coal-fired power plants. They decimate a river’s ecosystem.'

Four years ago, Stoecker and Yvon Chouinard, founder of apparel company Patagonia, wanted to see rivers come to life on film as they returned to their free-flowing state. It was a particularly timely moment—two large dams in the heart of United States salmon habitat were set to be demolished. Stoecker reached out to Colorado-based filmmakers Ben Knight and Travis Rummel of Felt Soul Media to create a story about the U.S.’s long but evolving relationship with dams and the push to remove obsolete or decommissioned dams even as the country continues to use and build others.

The resulting 87-minute film, DamNation, has brought the topic of dam removal to a broad audience. It’s been racking up awards at festivals, including the prestigious Audience Choice Award at SXSW...

'Dams aren’t charismatic, so we pushed ourselves to find beautiful, character-driven stories,' says co-director Rummel."

Interview of Matt Stoecker, Travis Rummel, and Ben Knight:

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"Exquisitely shot and powerfully told."
Stephanie Merry, Washington Post