Artist & Advocate: Dominic & Nadia Gill, Encompass Films

Dominic Gill is a former environmental consultant who formed Encompass Films with his producing partner Nadia Gill in 2011 who created a 5-part digital mini-series that looks at what it is like to confront the reality of Louisiana’s coastal crisis today.

Q:  Please describe your work and the medium/media you use. Why do you make this type of art? 

A:  We are documentary filmmakers that make both short-form and feature-length documentary films. It is an exciting area to work in, with the appetite for documentary content being larger than ever before. Documenting real life, and particularly where the natural world and humanity meet, has always interested me, and with today’s camera technology, the way in which we can capture these stories can be every bit as compelling as narrative films. 

Q:  What is most striking or inspirational to you about the wetland landscape?   

A:    The wetland landscape is unique and inspiring to me particularly because it hides in plain sight. The incredible patchwork of water, marsh, sand bars, and swamp all teeming with life is hidden behind grass curtains to all except those that can fly above it and see the maize of diversity they contain. 

Q:  In what ways has the Louisiana wetland landscape changed in your lifetime? 

A:  While I am not native to Louisiana, I have even in our short months working in the region seen marked change, whether that be on a micro level, seeing the edges of marshes falling away into increasingly saline waters, or macro, as storm such as Ida have all but destroyed the towns of those we have become close with through the work we’ve done. 

Q: Why is it important to you to create art about Louisiana wetlands? 

A:  The Louisiana wetlands have no overlook, like Yosemite or the Tetons. They don’t benefit from having their natural beauty on show for all to see. This is why we must work to bring these sights, no less awe-inspiring than the granite domes of the Sierra or the iridescent waters of Lake Tahoe,  to the public. People love what they know, and protect what they love.

Q:  In your opinion why is coastal restoration in Louisiana is important? For folks out of state, why is  Louisiana’s coastal restoration work important for the nation? 

A:  Louisiana’s coast is rich with life. It is a crucial breeding and migratory habitat for marine life as well as birds. This alone is reason enough to protect this land and water. However, for those with a more industrial bent, The Mississippi Delta is one of the busiest shipping terminals in the world, and a major artery for US commerce, including the extractive but still necessary oil and gas industry. As the wetlands disappear, the threat that storms pose to the Mississippi’s levees grows dramatically, and there may come a point if we don’t act when breaches to these levees will cripple the country’s economy.

Q: How does your art challenge existing barriers and assumptions about our environmental crisis? 

A: We chose to tell the stories of a selection of people that live and breathe Louisiana’s wetlands, people that are at the forefront of this dynamic and changing ecosystem. Many of these people need the wetlands to survive, but they also need in some cases the economic engine of some of the extractive industries that are degrading the land and water around them. Solutions are rarely as simple in cases like this as those observing from afar may choose to believe.

Q:  Where can people view your work (displayed in galleries or links to websites)? 

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