Private Project

Manmade Waters

Amidst the current global overfishing crisis, Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute is attempting to restore the California White Sea Bass through an experimental aquaculture program.

Manmade Waters follows the son of a professional fisherman as he explores the White Sea bass program alongside his father, an ardent supporter, and questions its long-term sustainability.

  • Dustin Elm
  • Erik Alskog
  • Alexander Polunin
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short, Student
  • Runtime:
    23 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    January 1, 2017
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    HD Digital
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Dances With Films
    Los Angeles
    United States
    June 5, 2017
    World Premiere
  • Catalina Film Festival
    Avalon, CA
    United States
    Best Conservation Film
  • Buffalo Niagara Film Festival
    United States
    September 23, 2017
  • San Pedro International Film Festival
    San Pedro
    United States
    October 7, 2017
Director Biography - Dustin Elm

Dustin Elm was born and raised in southern California, and from a young age, he took to filmmaking. He spent much of his childhood with a camera in hand, making homemade surfing and fishing videos. While attending high school, Dustin took to nature-based documentary work, focusing on California’s natural wonders. Dustin’s love for the outdoors led him to San Diego State University, where he studied Environmental Engineering. As an undergraduate student, he befriended several film students and got involved in small local productions. These undergrad productions would prove to be the beginning of his professional film career.

During Dustin’s final semester at SDSU, he conceived an idea for a documentary film project centered on the resurgence of American music festivals. After shooting a trailer at Coachella music festival, he raised funding from an investor and began work on his first professional film. Three days after graduating, Dustin and nine others hit the road for four months, driving more than 12,000 miles in a 1973 greyhound bus to attend 12 major music festivals. The production was a major steppingstone in Dustin’s filmmaking career, giving him the final push to pursue a formal education in film production.

Dustin is now attending the University of Southern California, working on his Master of Fine Arts in Film and Television Production. He looks to focus on directing and producing, while expanding his knowledge and cultivating a unique creative vision in order to achieve his ultimate goal – directing environmentally centered, thought provoking content.

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Director Statement

As a kid, fishing was everything to me. My father and I would talk fishing on and off the boat, and for the last 25 years, the steadiest anchor of my life has been my love for the ocean and fishing.

In my relatively short life, I’ve watched many local fish species come and go… Mostly go. This was always on my radar, but I’ve realized the severity of the situation as I’ve grown older.

The Hubbs Seaworld Research Institute has always been something I’ve thought of as positive, mainly because the family friends I have associated with the project are wonderful, encouraging people. When local White Sea Bass populations made a comeback, I shared the fishing communities sentiment — Hubbs is saving our oceans.

Yet, as I dug deeper, I realized there is more to the story than what you see on the surface. Restocking wild fish through artificial processes is a monumental task — one that has to be considered as the demand for seafood grows exponentially along with our population.

I made this film to explore current efforts to save our wild fish and question if these manmade problems can be sustainably fixed with manmade solutions. The film uses visuals, sound and music that bring contrast to the natural beauty of the ocean and the unnatural, artificial methods we impose in an attempt to save what little wild animals our oceans have left.