Exquisite Wasteland - Sizzle

“Exquisite Wasteland” shatters the popular myth that deserts are lifeless, barren, and worthless. In fact, they are home to astonishing biodiversity, extraordinary animals, verdant oases, soul stirring landscapes, and a still unfolding Native American story that spans 10,000 years. The widely held misperception of deserts as ‘wasteland’ continues to justify destructive industrialization that now threatens one of the largest intact and pristine natural realms remaining on the North American continent. Audiences may enter the film with the notion of desert as barren and worthless, but leave with an entirely different understanding. The film’s dramatic arc takes them there.

  • David Vassar
    California Forever (PBS doc 2x1 hours)
  • Sally Kaplan
    California Forever (PBS doc 2x1 hours)
  • David Vassar
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 30 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    December 31, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    750,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • https://www.backcountrypictures.com/bcp-awards
Director Biography - David Vassar

David Vassar
Producer, Writer & Director
David Vassar is an Oscar® nominated and Emmy Award® winning filmmaker who has enjoyed decades of experience as a successful writer, director, and producer.
David made his first film in Yosemite at the age of 19. It marked the beginning of a film journey that continues to this day - one that
has taken him to some of the world’s most magnificent places where he has created unforgettable films. His inspiration remains the same; to produce films that strengthen the bond between people and nature.
In the 1970’s David began his professional career as a writer and director for the Film Unit at the Smithsonian Institution where he won two Emmys®. In the years since, his films have been selected for screening and honored with awards by the Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, San Francisco, American, Hawaii, Wild & Scenic, and American Conservation Film Festivals, CINE, the Environmental Film Festival of Washington DC, and the California Film Foundation. In 2016, the Smithsonian Institution and the Environmental Film Festival presented a retrospective of David’s films in celebration of the National Park Centennial. In 2018, David received the John de Graff Award from the Wild & Scenic Film Festival acknowledging a life-long commitment to producing environmental films.
In addition to programs about the natural world, David has also produced and directed films about the La Guardia High School for the Performing Arts in New York City, the return of Hong Kong to China, and an exploration of the ancient Maya of Central America for Lost Civilizations (1996), winner of the national Emmy® Award for Best Informational Series.
In the 1990s, he was a primary director for the highly rated NBC television series Unsolved Mysteries. In 2003, David wrote and directed a one hour special hosted by Roger Mudd for the History Channel that presents the current challenges facing the first national park; SAVE OUR HISTORY – YELLOWSTONE. David also wrote and directed the destination film for Yosemite National Park, SPIRIT OF YOSEMITE (2001). It was one of the first films to be shot in 35mm exclusively for digital 2K projection. ‘Spirit’ was honored as “Best Special Venue Program” by the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival and the Cannes Film Festival presented the film for two consecutive years as an, “Outstanding Achievement in Digital Cinema.”
In 2001, David launched his production company, Backcountry Pictures, with his producing partner, Sally Kaplan. DISCOVER HETCH HETCHY (2006), is the award-winning film hosted and narrated by Harrison Ford. The film serves as the centerpiece for the national campaign to restore the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park. GRAND TETON VIDEO RIVERS (2006) is the destination film for the visitor center in Grand Teton National Park. David and Sally presented their two-part documentary, CALIFORNIA FOREVER (2012) to a national audience on PBS. Currently they are producing EXQUISITE WASTELAND - a documentary feature film that provides an unexpected journey through the magnificent deserts of the American Southwest.

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