Fighting Fire with Fire is a short film made by Cameron Nielsen.
Fighting Fire With Fire, a short film.
About the Film - Fighting Fire with Fire
As wildfires in Sonoma County become increasingly devastating a growing group of people revives a Native American practice of fighting fire with fire.
Although turning 24 is not a particularly special birthday, I will never forget that day. I sit at the dinner table with a few friends who have decided to share the evening with me despite the fires creeping closer. The awkward, out-of-sync “happy birthday to you” is followed by sudden darkness. PG&E has cut our power to prevent the high winds from starting any more fires. Our phones ring with alerts that evacuation alerts are coming closer to us. Flustered, my guests make their way home. The sounds of sirens echo through the streets, and my heart palpitates as a wave of fear overcomes me. I pack the car with essential possessions. As I drive, my car wobbles in the wind. I arrive at my cousin’s house in Sacramento at 1 am, becoming one of many Sonoma County evacuees.
While fire seasons are getting more prolonged and intense, my community is learning how to adapt to this changing reality. This past December, I witnessed a glimmer of hope for the coming years of fire. I was invited to film at a ranch in the hills of Bodega that was performing a controlled burn. These ranchers were burning part of their 1,000 acres of grassland and forest to prevent a devastating wildfire and keep the land healthy. I stood on a hill filming, surrounded by CalFire and local volunteers from the community, all looking at Red Bird, a local indigenous man. Red Bird blesses the burn, apologizing to any creature hurt during the controlled burn process. A school-grade girl who grew up on the land begins to rub a stick back and forth to create a traditional friction fire. She places an ember into the grass, and the prescribed burn has started. The very same spark sent me on my journey to make Fighting Fire with Fire.
Through the experience of making this film, I have been amazed by the enthusiasm to relearn what it means to steward the land in Sonoma County.
Cameron Nielsen is a San Francisco Bay Area-based documentary filmmaker dedicated to telling stories that reimagine complex issues of our times. His film Rewilding Honeybees won Best Documentary Short at Sonoma International Film Festival and premiered at Telluride Mountainfilm Festival. Cameron is currently in the documentary program at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and freelancing as a video journalist for organizations such as AJ+ and Business Insider, and KQED.
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Credits for Fighting Fire With Fire :
Director, Producer, Camera & Editor: Cameron Nielsen
Supervising Producer: Andrés Cediel
Featuring: Edward "Red Bird" Willie, Sasha Berleman, Jay Silva & Shepley Schroth-Cary
Archival Footage: Jacqueline Jorgenson
Special Thanks: Cassandra Herrman, James Fahn & Alyssum Revallo