Waimea Ocean Film Festival - Fragile Legacy


Dive into history in search of a sustainable future

interview with Writer/Director/Producer David O. Brown


Congratulations! Why did you make your film? 

My life's work is spreading information, awareness and concern regarding the natural environment, with an emphasis on water-related organisms and issues.  While it's relatively easy to draw attention to "charismatic megafauna" such as sharks and whales, it's much more difficult to help people notice and appreciate smaller, more subtle living things, such as the creatures in this film.  The artistry of Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka, master glassmakers of the turn of the last century, provides a fascinating "hook" to interest people in these fantastic creatures.

Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film? 

This film is designed to be of interest to people that enjoy art, science, history nature and conservation themes.  If you like any or all of the above, there is something for you in this movie!

Fragile Legacy - Dr. Drew Harvell diving on an Indonesian reef.

Fragile Legacy - Dr. Drew Harvell diving on an Indonesian reef.

How do personal and universal themes work in your film? 

The protagonist of the film is Dr. Catherine Drew Harvell, an extraordinary woman whose life has been dedicated to scientific study of marine creatures such as those featured.  She is also the curator of a priceless collection of antique glass sea animals that were made over 150 years ago, and as such is responsible for the well-being of these delicate models.  While her "day job" is research and teaching of marine biology, Drew's passionate about the glass models, and this passion has taken her around the world to compare and contrast today's ocean with that of a century ago.

How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?  

When we began the project, sea stars were not on the list of organisms that we were planning to document in detail.  In 2013, a virulent disease outbreak began to wipe out sea stars from Alaska into Mexican waters, the worst such epidemic ever documented.  As Drew is heavily involved in the research to understand and mitigate the outbreak, we wove the sea star story into the film, making it an example of how far people have come in better understanding the ocean.

Fragile Legacy - Pleurobrachia bachei, one of many of the tiny sea creatures modeled in glass.

Fragile Legacy - Pleurobrachia bachei, one of many of the tiny sea creatures modeled in glass.

What type of feedback have you received so far? 

Feedback has been wonderful- an affirmation of the value of this story.  The film has won numerous awards around the world, and is being well-received by audiences of all ages.

Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view? 

No, it's been very good to hear that the story resonates with a variety of people, especially college-age audiences.

What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com? 

This is an ongoing project.  The current film was never intended to be the final outcome of the project. It was always envisioned to be a long-form film, but we could not raise the budget to support it.  We're working on the long-form now, and are raising funds to complete the project.  More information may be found at:


Fragile Legacy - Glass model of a squid.

Fragile Legacy - Glass model of a squid.

Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message? 

The film has been accepted and/or screened in 18 festivals to date, but we hope to reach larger audiences via a broadcast product.  To that end, we could certainly use sales and distribution help!

What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?  

We want to inspire our audience people to apply whatever skills they have to helping create a sustainable future.  The key message is that there is an urgent need, and anyone and everyone can help. 

What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?  

How does the ocean of 150 years ago compare with the sea today, and how can we ensure that it remains a viable, rich resource for the next 150 year and beyond?

Would you like to add anything else?

If the project is of interest, participation is welcome at:


What are the key creatives developing or working on now?

 Sandy Ostertag and I are working on a script for an hour-length broadcast film.


Interview: December 2016


 We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us?  More info: Carmela



Fragile Legacy

Dive into history in search of a sustainable future

Length: 30:44

Director: David O. Brown

Producer: David O. Brown

Writer: David O. Brown

About the writer, director and producer: David O. Brown documents nature and environmental subjects, and has joined forces with conservation filmmaker Sandy Ostertag to produce a longer version of the current film.

Key cast: Drew Harvell, Ted Danson (narrator)

Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists): All of the above.

Funders: Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, Corning Inc. Foundation and the Reva and David Logan Foundation

Made in association with: N/A

Where can I see it in the next month?