Just imagine this—whale sharks and tiger sharks lurking around you. And up above, moving silently through the ocean off Costa Rica, three hundred hammerhead sharks glide by.
It’s just another day at work for Alex Mifflin.
“Underwater, you feel like part of the food chain,” Alex says with a laugh. “These giant sharks swim by and they size you up. You can see them looking you over. But they think you’re too big. They know large things fight back. But when swimming with sharks you realize they are not the bloodthirsty killers the media often portrays them as. Humans kill 100 million sharks a year, but only five people were killed by sharks in 2017.”
Alex was in those waters filming an episode of The Water Brothers with his brother Tyler. It’s an award winning TV series commissioned by TVO and broadcast in the US and in forty other countries. In this eco-adventure series the brothers tackle some of the most crucial issues facing us—pollution, drought, pressure from fishing and other human activity.
“Water is the most important resource on the planet. There aren’t a ton of TV shows or movies about how we can better care for it—the oceans, rivers, marine life—there’s so much to talk about. There are so many issues and because of that it was good for a TV show rather than just a ninety minute documentary.”
It’s a natural fit for Alex. He says he was always the kid who stopped on a walk to examine the ants, the plants and the environment. His parents work with SK Films making IMAX educational films for museums and science centres and that’s where Alex worked summers as a production assistant while studying at King’s and Dalhousie. The Foundation Year Program (FYP), he says, set him up for further study but also for work on The Water Brothers.
“It prepared me well for absorbing a lot of knowledge in a short period of time. That’s what I am doing now—taking complex science and development issues and communicating them in a way that is engaging and entertaining to a wider audience.”
The Water Brothers ran for four seasons but as a cable show it faced the same dilemma all of the TV industry is facing. Alex says, “We’re online and on cable TV but people are absorbing their content through their phones, through Netflix and YouTube and Instagram.”
So Alex and Tyler are looking for ways to finance a digital series that would fit in better with the new world order. In the meantime, though, The Water Brothers as a project continues. “It’s going strong,” says Alex. He talks about how, almost weekly, they do presentations at universities and conferences, repurposing the video they have shot and spreading the message that we as a species need to change our ways to protect our most important resource.
“There are reasons to be hopeful,” he says. “Young people are more aware and concerned about things like plastics in the oceans. They are more engaged and information on the internet is more available. We are helping to spark the interest of kids on these issues and how they can change actions in their daily lives to make a difference.
But he is wary of relying solely on the coming generation of leaders.
“Just because younger people are more aware and engaged and excited to tackle challenges doesn’t mean the older generations should be complacent thinking that everything is going to be fixed by the younger generation. They need to act too.”
Posted: April 2018