Science and the Big Picture: film student Gabby Gatdula on Beyond the Ice


For the Beyond the Ice project, I’ve been working on putting together a story about Oscar Schofield, a biological oceanographer hailing from the Rutgers Marine and Coastal Sciences department who specializes in studying phytoplankton. For my scene, it’s not so much about the nitty gritty details of the science involved in studying West Antarctic Peninsula– it’s about the big picture and what the science they’re doing down there means for the global ecosystem and human society in the future. The LTER is unique in that they have all the “pieces to the puzzle” since all the scientists down there study different things down there from the whales to the Adelie penguins. What they hope for is that by pulling together all these studies, they can provide insight into what it all means for the system as a whole. They believe what they’ve been studying is an indication of climate change, but only through their long term work can they provide that evidence. Oscar summarizes all of this succinctly and he does a great job of making even those unfamiliar with science understand.
Beyond the big picture of why the LTER’s work matters on a global scale, the other part of my story concerns Oscar himself and how he has changed as a person. He feels protective and invested in the LTER since he’s been involved with it for so long, and he’s been mentored by the people that began this project. They’re also a second family to him, and he loves his crew very much. Furthermore, Oscar has made a lot of personal sacrifices to be down there, and he’s not just doing this for himself as a scientist, but for his family, his students, and the generations to come. The LTER means more to him than my words on a blog can explain.
I don’t feel anywhere close to being done with my scene, but I think I’ve finally gained a sense of how I want to interweave the importance of the LTER to the science and world community and its importance to Oscar. I’ve been handling Oscar’s main interview footage, and the real challenge has been taking such a meticulous and detailed interview and sizing it down to its most important elements. Raw footage is nothing without a story to shape it, and I think I’m finally finding that story. More than anything, this project’s been teaching me the importance of editing to shaping a story, and I just hope that I’ll come out a stronger editor after all is said and done.