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The Outspoken Narrative – EP 6: The Arctic Refuge

6 min read
Arctic Refuge EP: 6

First post of 2021!

This episode was one of the most ambitious episodes that the team has ever made. Let’s start from the beginning.


On December 29th, a friend of mine sent me a text. It was about the Arctic Refuge. Here is how the conversation went…

Within minutes I was interested in the Arctic Refuge. What hooked me was the history behind it. The National Arctic Wildlife Refuge land has been hotly contested for many years.

The fight to protect this area began in the early twentieth century by a group of visionary conservationists led by Olaus and Margaret Murie, who campaigned to establish the nation’s first ecosystem-scale conservation area. On December 6, 1960, President Dwight Eisenhower made their vision a reality by establishing the 8.9-million-acre Arctic National Wildlife Range specifically for its “unique wildlife, wilderness, and recreational values.”

Alaska has been very divided on opinions regarding drilling, and all sides have credible arguments. I wanted to delve into the history of the Arctic Refuge and the possible consequences which would come out of drilling.

The only problem was with the extensive information on the Arctic Refuge, and the quickly approaching deadline of land bids on January 6th, the team only had one week to complete the entire episode.

An episode that would usually take a minimum of one month to complete, needed to be completed in a week. We needed research, scripts, interviews, and footage.

Production Begins

Starting this project, I knew the biggest challenge would be getting interviews within short notice. An added challenge was the timing of the episode. This was right before New Years’ and right after Christmas. I began reaching out to everyone I could find. I think, within a single day, I sent out 100+ emails.

The first person who I got in touch with was Tim Woody. Tim Woody is the Regional Communications Manager for the Alaskan office of the Wilderness Society. After a lengthy phone call, I had an overview of the situation in Alaska. Mr. Woody gave me the necessary information to begin a script.

I began writing a script with my teammates. We finished it within 2 days, and I began recording my parts for the video. The pressure continued to grow as we approached the deadline.

Interviews were still a concern. I continued to send out emails and called people.

I got in touch with a lot of organizations in Alaska, and while many didn’t respond, with some luck, I was able to get some amazing interviews. I was able to briefly speak with the Gwich’in steering committee, as well as Native Alaskans. I was able to speak with Quannah Chasinghorse, an amazing activist and member of the Gwich’in tribe.

I was also able to get in touch with Keri Oberly, an amazing photographer, and filmmaker who shot footage in the Arctic Refuge. I was able to use her footage in the video.

Challenges… of course

Like I mentioned earlier, the team only had one week to complete this episode. I was going to handle the main editing and assembly of the video. Assembling 10-13 minute videos takes quite a long time.

Another challenge that I faced was that on the 3rd and 4th of January, I was traveling. That meant I would need to edit the episode on the road which posed several challenges.

Interviews would also be impossible, so I canceled most of them… except one. I received an email response on January 3rd from Kiliii Yuyan. Kiliii Yuyan is an award-winning photographer and filmmaker for National Geographic. I knew I couldn’t miss out on this amazing opportunity.

So… I scheduled an interview later that night when I would reach the hotel.

and I almost missed it. I reached the hotel minutes before the scheduled interview.

Thankfully, the interview went great and that was the last interview. In total, I had conducted 5 interviews with experts and individuals directly affected by the Arctic Drilling.

Miracles do come true

If you would have asked me if I believed I would finish the video in the span of one week, I probably would have said no.

And in all truth, I didn’t. At the end stretch, when I had all the recordings, interviews, and footage, I was able to get in touch with an amazing filmmaker in LA. Her work immediately caught my attention, and I reached out to see if she would be interested in helping me out on this project… and she said yes! Together we worked to finish this incredible episode.

Without the combination of a dedicated team and a lot of luck, this episode would have never been possible. There are so many other struggles and issues we had to overcome in the production of this episode which I haven’t even mentioned in this post.

In the end, I truly believe it all paid off.

At the time of writing and publishing this post, Episode 6 on the Arctic Refuge has 20,000+ views across all platforms and has been reposted/shared by several large Instagram accounts.

I am very proud of the work this team is doing, and I am very excited to see where we go next!

This episode was made possible by

Eshan Vishwakarma
Caylen Greenberg
Aarushi Khanna
Outspoken Narrative Team

Author: Eshan

I am Eshan Vishwakarma. A 17-year-old filmmaker, writer, and, photographer. I am interested in learning about myself, and that is what this blog is for. I write about my journeys, struggles, and aspirations. I also, occasionally, write about topics I truly believe in. Through this blog, I feel a little more connected with my true self. If you are interested, check out the blog and leave a comment if you like the stuff I write. Thank you for coming!

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