Private Project

Urban Estuary

Urban Estuary is a documentary film directed by Dana Plays. Through stunning views of the urban and natural habitats of estuarial waterways, and a series of interviews, the film reveals the transformation of the river and bay ecosystems resulting from the grassroots organizations working closely with governmental organizations to tackle a series of environmental problems over more than an eight-year period. After prompting a series of legislative actions, adequate water was finally released over the dam to balance the salinity necessary for fish and mammals to thrive, laws were passed for seasonal use of nitrogen fertilizer to prevent algae blooms, and problems of evolving infrastructures, such as dams, channelization, storm drain systems were addressed in the Tampa Bay Region. The film serves as a model worldwide for other communities addressing environmental concerns.

  • Dana Plays
    Director
  • Dana Plays
    Writer
  • Dana Plays
    Producer
  • Evan Chipouras
    Key Cast
  • Phil Compton
    Key Cast
  • Linda Saul-Sena
    Key Cast
  • Thalia Lundsford Potter
    Key Cast
  • Holly Greening
    Key Cast
  • Steve Hendrix
    Key Cast
  • James Gore
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Documentary
  • Runtime:
    28 minutes 44 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    November 11, 2014
  • Production Budget:
    2,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital 1080P
  • Aspect Ratio:
    16:9
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    No
  • Student Project:
    No
Distribution Information
  • Dana Plays
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Dana Plays

Dana Plays is an award winning, American film director known for her documentary, narrative and avant-garde works that interweave personal themes. Plays utilizes a experimental approach to her work, weaving a rich landscape of imagery, that combines metaphor with iconography creating poetic resonance.

Dana Plays, born in Baltimore, Maryland, is a filmmaker most known for her award winning documentary and experimental films that have shown widely throughout the world. She picked up her first camera at the age of 9 on a holiday vacation in the West Indies. She began serious study of photography at 15 years of age, when she learned to shoot with a 35mm SLR camera, developed negatives and printed her own work. She subsequently moved to the San Francisco Bay Area where she was awarded two fine arts degrees from the California College of the Arts (Bachelor and Master of Fine Arts), and launched her career as a filmmaker and digital artist. Enmeshed in the fine art scene of the San Francisco Bay Area, Plays produced a series of experimental films, that she shot and edited herself, a proponent of hands on approach to foster ones own vision.

Plays' filmography consists of 31 works in film and digital video, consisting of documentaries, experimental films and installations. Her work has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art: Color of Ritual, Color of Women, Avant-Garde Women Filmmakers of the Twentieth Century and more than 50 international film festivals, including Edinburgh, Montreal Nouveau, and Seattle International Film Festivals. Her films have garnered more than 25 film festival awards including the prestigious First Prize Jurors' Choice Award at the Black Maria Film and Video Festival for Nuclear Family; Tom Berman Award for Most Promising Filmmaker at the Ann Arbor Film Festival for Zero Hour; Best Experimental Film at the Houston International Festival for Across the Border; and Best Documentary Award at the New Orleans Film Festival for Love Stories My Grandmother Tells, which also was broadcast on VPRO, a Dutch national television network. Since 2005, Plays has had national awards and exhibitions including a Black Maria Film Festival award; a solo retrospective in Boulder, CO, at First Person Cinema, the longest standing American showcase for independent film; a digital installation of her piece Salvage Paradigm, at the Play Space Gallery, in San Francisco; a digital installations of and her video montage of Hollywood films situated in the Los Angeles River, River Madness, at the Skirball Center in Los Angeles. Plays serves on the board of directors of Canyon Cinema, in San Francisco.

Plays, professor of Film and Media Arts, and Women's Studies, at The University of Tampa has taught all aspects of film and digital production and studies since 1990, with previous teaching appointments at Syracuse University and Occidental College. At The University of Tampa, Plays teaches experimental, documentary and narrative filmmaking, world cinema, independent film and video, and women's studies.

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Director Statement

Urban Estuary, directed by Dana Plays, explores stunning views of the urban and natural habitats of the water ways of Tampa Bay. Through a series of interviews, the film reveals the transformation of the river and bay ecosystems resulting from the grassroots organizations working closely with governmental organizations to tackle a series of environmental problems over more than an eight-year period. After prompting a series of legislative actions, adequate water was finally released over the dam to balance the salinity necessary for fish and mammals to thrive, laws were passed for seasonal use of nitrogen fertilizer to prevent algae blooms, and problems of evolving infrastructures, such as dams, channelization, storm drain systems were addressed.

Filmmaker Dana Plays rented water taxis to get tracking shots in the industrial mouth of port of Tampa, captured shots of the wildlife along the riverbanks and around the Apollo coal burning desalination plant, the by-pass canal, and more.

Phil Compton of Friends of the River of the Sierra Club, Linda Saul-Sena of the Tampa City Council, and Professor Evan Chipouras (1954-2008) and Dr. James Gore, of The University of Tampa, among others, provide lively interviews and narration about these issues. Urban Estuary presents a model for many communities to reverse issues that plague the eco systems of urban and estuarian waterways.

Running time: 28 minutes, 44 seconds.
DVD, Urban Estuary, Dana Plays © 2017
www.danaplays.com