Professor Laffey produces eco-doc “Love Thy Nature”

Santa Monica College film professor Sheila Laffey is the Associate Producer of a new, ecological documentary titled “Love Thy Nature”. It  will premiere on October 18, 2014 at the Arclight in Hollywood, California.

“Love Thy Nature”, directed by Sylvie Rokab has been in production for roughly eight years. Laffey, who is no novice to environmental films, says she has been apart of the team for three years and Associate Producer for one year.

As Associate Producer, Laffey harnessed many roles such as helping with the kickstarter campaign, bringing people on for the project and distribution, as well as production and direction.

“At first, my role wasn’t clear. I just knew I needed to be involved with this film,” says Laffey in her office.

She describes the best part of the job as filming on location. The film explores all facets of nature around the world, including widlife shots in Africa, scuba diving in Hawaii, and the beautiful sequoias located in California’s Sequoia National Park.

The film attempts to get to the root cause of our disconnection with nature. It also examines biophilia, which discusses aspects of nature in urban areas and its connection to us. The film looks at how we can create more natural environments around us to remind ourselves that we are apart of nature itself.

Liam Neeson, who narrates the film, plays the character Sapiens. This character comes from Homo sapiens, meaning wise people. But Laffey believes the irony is that we have not been so wise. Neeson’s character represents the collective humankind that faces possible destruction if we continue on our path of ignorant bliss. In the film, Sapiens realizes that our connection to nature is the key to an advanced society.

Laffey explains her excitement that Neeson was on board. She says, “He’s perfect for this, we usually see him as an action hero, but he also has a very profound insight and voice.”

The film also examines biomimicry, which is the study of nature and how to use it to solve complex human problems. The principles of biomimicry establish how nature works and how it recycles.

“Nature is what we’re looking at now with the trees, but also our own nature. Our own nature as human beings is intimately connected to the planet,” Laffey explains.

Laffey believes the film to be hopeful and strongly believes students should see it. She says, “It’s so easy to get depressed and think ‘what can I do? I’m just one person.’”

Laffey adds, “You notice that a tree is sustainable when the leaves are finished and they go in the ground and create mulch in the forest.”

“They create more life; nature has these cycles,” Laffey continues.

The sustainability of nature is contradictory to human practices, however. “We don’t see that with our products; we have something and then we throw it away. But where is away?” Laffey questions.

The film shows our wasteful habits and the harmful effects of using up our natural resources.

Though, according to Laffey, the film doesn’t focus too much on the detriments due to human disconnect with nature. Rather, it just states the facts. It has the usual presentation of looming various environmental disasters, but it doesn’t dwell on them.

The primary message of the film is that by saving the planet, we are in turn saving ourselves. Laffey says, “If we don’t change, then we are going downhill and it’s a matter of survival.”

The film talks about the psychology that we need to change. Human disconnect with nature is something that we see from centuries ago. Laffey notes that many philosophers, including Descartes, believe that we are separate from nature. The producers want to make it clear in this film that we are not.

Laffey says this film explores the benefits of the human connection with nature. It examines even the basics, such as using botanicals for medicine.  A section of the film shows recorded figures that people head to parks after in search for healing, specifically mentioning those who suffered great losses spending more time with nature.

For Laffey, the cinematic landscape couldn’t be better for releasing “Love Thy Nature,” saying that, “We are in a Golden Age of documentaries. Frankly, I don’t know another film that deals with these issues in such a deep way, and trust me I know a lot of film.”

After the premiere screening, there will be a panel in the screening room with various  activists for ecological and social change. For “Love Thy Nature” the premiere screening will be but the first of many more opportunities to introduce audiences to its urgent, global message.

This story previously referred to Liam Neeson narrating the role of a character named "Sapien," when Neeson actually plays the entirety of mankind in the film "Sapiens."