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Fading Sands: how I ended up making a documentary about the impact of climate change

World Vision
23 May 2015 by Stephen Limkin
Fading Sands: how I ended up making a documentary about the impact of climate change

Communities across the Pacific are already experiencing the impacts of climate change. 'Fading Sands' explores what that mean for people who have called these places home for generations. Credit Stephen Limkin/Light Studios

Barley sugar. That was my first connection to World Vision. I first participated in the 40 Hour Famine in 1985 as a child (I’m showing my age now). I saw the ads on television and I wanted to do something, so I raised over $100 (which was a lot of money back then) and spent 40 hours sucking on barley sugar. It was worth it knowing that that small amount of money was making a difference.

I think we all have an “injustice radar” that is hard-wired into us. We know when a person, group or country are receiving a raw deal. Over the years I have supported World Vision and other NGOs, and put my blood, sweat, tears, time and creativity into projects in Thailand, Cambodia and the Ukraine.

It was in Cambodia I had a lightbulb moment. I had listened to Tim Costello speak at a conference the year before about social justice. I might be paraphrasing this a little but I remember the sentiment was something like “If you didn’t know where you were going to be born and it was going to be decided by the flip of a coin, you’d want to shore up the equity in both places”. So here I was, up to my ankles in black mush, filming a clean water project in a Cambodian slum and I came across a young couple stripping rubber to sell. They were about the same age as my wife and I and Tim’s words started going through my head.

It was a moment that changed me, and that’s how I’ve tried to live my life since then. A friend introduced me to the World Vision team almost two years ago with the possibility of working with them. So in April 2014, just after the worst flooding in recent memory in Honiara, Solomon Islands we went to visit a program and create resources based on the stories we came across.

What started out as a small film about how the people of the Solomon Islands are adapting to climate change through the implementation of Disaster Risk Reduction programs, has taken on a life of its own. As part of our travels in the Solomon Islands, we met communities who were part of the Makira Community Resilience Project. This important project helps communities deal with the impact of a changing climate.


Personally, I was ambivalent about the effects of climate change. However, what I have witnessed through my travels is the effect it is having on the islands. Having seen it first hand, it’s clear to me, there is something changing in the Pacific. We heard stories of rising sea levels, salt water intrusion, temperature increases and extreme weather events – all placing pressure on the people of the Solomon Islands. If we don’t lend a hand now, then we may find waves of displaced people leaving their homes as climate refugees looking for safety elsewhere.

In the time since then, Andrea Swinburne-Jones, Michael Amos and I have continued to push this project to be all it can be. It has been a labour of love, but the story is important. It is important because I keep thinking about the flip of the coin, and if I was living in the Solomon Islands, I’d be grateful for any support that came from bigger more affluent countries. It’s the least we can do – after all, they are our brothers and sisters.

Now, having assembled a fine cut of the film and ready to start the final post-production, we need to raise funds that will assist us to tell this story well. To complete the documentary and start getting it out to film festivals, we require $19,000 (which includes crowdfunding fees). If we raise more than $19,075 this would allow us to shoot for our dream goal of $31,610 including crowdfunding fees. This dream goal will assist us to travel to the Solomon Islands and screen the film in the communities who have been involved in the film. If we raise in excess of $31,610 then all additional monies will be donated to World Vision. See how you can help on our Fading Sands Indiegogo page.


Stephen Limkin Stephen Limkin

Stephen is a documentary film maker based in Brisbane.


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