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  • Writer's pictureAmy Perez, Co-Founder Media Evolve

World Ocean Day

I met Todd Yamashita through his voice. He had filmed some interviews for a World Ocean Day collaboration between Media Evolve and HMAR, and I was reviewing the footage in post production. For several hours, I edited and wove together footage of Todd's children discussing their connection to Molokai, their love for the island, and their responsibility to the ocean. Todd was behind the camera conducting the interview, gently probing his children on topics related to conservation, responsibility, and family.

Only a few days prior, I had been in talks with Hawaii Marine Animal Response about developing a short film for NOAA and Ko Olina's World Oceans Day Celebration, and I was more than excited to participate. For the past five years, World Ocean Day has been an opportunity for organizations to celebrate the connections we all have to our oceans. In Hawaii, Ko Olina Resort partners with several organizations, including NOAA, in the development and organization of this annual celebration. This year, Oiwi TV would stream the event virtually, and they collected video content from a variety of South Pacific organizations that work in ocean conservation. NOAA reached out to HMAR directly, and then HMAR contacted us.

Now I found myself hours-deep into video footage, captivated by Todd Yamashita's two boys and their enthusiasm for ocean conservation. Their innocence was palpable, and their connection to their Hawaiian culture and their home on Molokai ran deep.

As a navy wife, I was uprooted from my home in Virginia long ago, and I've found myself comfortable with a transient lifestyle. Since I was little, travel was the only thing I remember ever really wanting - to see the world and experience communities unknown to me. I've been in Hawaii for one year, and I am mesmerized, envious even, of the connection Hawaiians have to their culture, to the land, and to the ocean. I suppose in some way I imagine that if I can learn from their stories, then somehow their culture can become part of my own. This is how Todd's children spoke to me.

I completed postproduction of the footage quickly, and after some review the final film version was submitted to NOAA. Now all we could do was wait for the main event.

Two weeks later, as the World Ocean Day Celebration was set to begin, I eagerly jumped online to watch the Facebook live-stream. It was exciting to join a community that shared my passion for the ocean. To my surprise, I also learned a lot. During the two-hour long presentation, I took notes visualizing potential connections and imagining possibilities for future projects. And I waited eagerly for my own contribution to be aired.

After nearly two hours of the live-stream our film had not yet been aired. A sinking feeling began to hit my gut. Did they forget about us? Had the video not made the cut? Could they really just be saving the best for last?

Suddenly, as the hostess made her final goodbyes, she signed off by noting "one last video message"... and I was taken by a wave of emotion.

They debuted our film.

I am proud of this film, proud of what it represents and proud to share it. To me, this video is the true inauguration of Media Evolve, and making it has inspired me. Todd's Yamashita's children are the next generation of ocean stewards. They are hopeful for the future, and we cannot not let them down.

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