INTO THE FIRE

November 01, 2018 at 4:45 am

Filmmaker Alex Jablonski takes us into the heart of wildfires to introduce us to the brave men and women who fight them, as they struggle with fear, loyalty, demons and dreams, while risking the ultimate sacrifice.

Aired on October 31, 2018.

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>>> EVERY SUMMER THOUSANDS OF
LARGE WILDFIRES BURN ACROSS THE
HOT, DRY WESTERN UNITED STATES.
AS CLIMATE CHANGE INCREASED,
AVERAGE TEMPERATURES, A SUDDEN
INCREASE IN FREQUENCY AND
INTENSITY OF WILDFIRES.
INSIDE EACH OF THESE FIRES ARE
SMALL CREWS WHO WORK TO CONTAIN
THEM BY HAND USING SHOVELS AND
PICKAXES AND METHODS THAT
HAVEN'T CHANGE EADE ESSENTIALLY
IN 60 YEARS.
AS A PART OF OUR PBS INITIATIVE,
PERIL AND PROMISE, A LOOK AT THE
EFFECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE.
WE FOCUS ON A NEW INDEPENDENT
LENS DOCUMENTARY CALLED
"WILDLANDS" WHICH TELLS THE EPIC
YET INTIMATE STORY OF ONE CREW
BATTLING WILDFIRES IN THE WEST.
TAKE A LOOK.
>> I DON'T NEED IT TO PLAY EVERY
DAY.
I CAN DO THIS THING CALLED
ADULTHOOD.
>> FIGHTING FIRE IS JUST HOURS
OF HARD, BORING WORK, PUNK KMU
AKMU
-- PUNCTUATED BY MOMENTS OF
SHEER TEARROR.
>> I WANT TO WORK HARD FOR A
REASON.
>> THIS KID FINALLY REALIZES
HE'S ALIVE.
>> "WILDLAND."
PART OF INDEPENDENT LAND ON PBS.
>> JOINING ME NOW FROM LOS
ANGELES, CO-DIRECTOR AND
PRODUCER OF "WILDLANDS."
GLAD TO HAVE YOU.
>> THANKS FOR HAVING ME.
>> WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO THIS
SUBJECT?
>> SO IT'S PRETTY EASY.
I FIRST SAW MY FIRST WILDFIRE
WHEN I WAS 10 YEARS OLD, ON A
HIKE OUTSIDE OF JACKSON,
WYOMING, AND I REMEMBER SEEING
THE GUYS GOING IN, HIKING IN TO
FIGHT IT, AND JUST BEING
IMMEDIATELY INTERESTED IN THE
IDEA OF GOING A FIRE TO GO AND
PUT IT OUT.
IT SEEMS INSANE.
BUT IT ALSO SEEMED JUST THIS
KIND OF BEAUTIFUL DANCE WITH
NATURE.
AND REALLY INTERESTING TO ME.
AND THEN AS I WAS LOOKING FOR A
NEW FILM TO MAKE, THE QUESTION
OF KIND OF, WHAT'S A STORY WE
COULD TELL ABOUT HOW YOUNG MEN
GROW UP OR COME OF AGE THAT
WOULD BE INTERESTING AND HASN'T
BEEN DONE BEFORE?
WHAT WOULD THAT LOOK LIKE?
IMMEDIATELY KIND OF THE IDEA OF
THAT WITH A LOT OF MY FIRE
FIGHTING CREW CLICKED AND IT
WENT FROM THERE.
>> I UNDERSTAND YOU ALSO DID
TRAINING?
FIRE FIGHTING TRAINING FOR THIS?
TO GET A SENSE OF THIS?
>> YEAH.
I MEAN, TO ACTUALLY -- EVEN
BEYOND THAT.
TO MAKE THE FILM WE ACTUALLY
BECAME FIREFIGHTERS AND WERE
ACTUALLY MEMBERS OF THE CREW.
SO WHEN WE WERE OUT THERE DOING
SHOOTING 10% 15, 15% OF OUR TIM
ACTUALLY WORKING.
HAULING HOSE, HIKING, DOING
EVERYTHING YOU SEE OUR CREW OR
ANY OTHER CREW DOES AND ON
OCCASION BREAK OUT THE CAMERA
AND GET SHOT.
>> TELL ME ABOUT THE PERSONAL
MOTIVATIONS THAT GOT THE
CHARACTERS IN YOUR FILM TO SAY,
THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO DO.
>> I THINK THAT WITH THIS CREW
IN PARTICULAR, THIS IS A CREW
WHERE GUYS ARE GETTING THEIR
FEET WET IN FIRE FOR THE FIRST
TIME.
THESE ARE ALL ROOKIES.
THIS IS THE KIND OF BOTTOM RUNG
WHERE YOU'RE GOING TO START OUT
ON YOUR CAREER IN WILDFIRES,
THAT'S WHAT YOU'RE GOING TO DO.
I THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE COME TO
THIS JOB ALMOST TOSSING
THEMSELVES TO THE WIND TO SEE
WHAT FATE HAS FOR THEM.
TRIED OTHER THINGS BUT ARE
YOUNG.
TWO ARE OUR CHARACTERS JUST
TURNED 23.
AT THAT AGE, TRYING TO FIGURE
OUT WHAT'S GOING ON WITH THEIR
LIVES.
WHAT KIND OF MEN THEY WANT TO
BE.
AND THERE'S AN ELEMENT OF KIND
OF TESTING YOURSELVES WITH THIS
JOB.
TO SEE HOW YOU'RE GOING TO HOLD
UP UNDER THE STRESS AND PRESSURE
AND UNDER THE LONG HOURS.
I THINK THAT THESE GUYS WERE
LOOKING FOR THAT.
KIND OF LOOKING FOR, DO I HAVE
THIS IT GRIT?
DO I HAVE THE DETERMINATION TO
DO THIS?
AND IF I DO, HOW IS THAT GOING
TO CHANGE THE COURSE OF MY LIFE?
>> TALK ABOUT THE CHALLENGES OF
TRYING TO FILM WHEN IN THE MIDST
OF FIGHTING A WILDFIRE?
>> THE PHYSICALITY OF MAKING
THIS FILM IS SOMETHING I THINK
SETS IT APART, BECAUSE WE HAD TO
HIKE IN.
CARRYING 55 POUNDS OF GEAR, AND
WORKING LONG HOURS.
WORKING SHIFTS AS A MINIMUM OF
ABOUT 12 HOURS.
I THINK THAT THE CHALLENGE, OF
COURSE, IS, NOT, YOU KNOW, BEING
EXHAUSTED.
BUT WITH THAT EXHAUSTION
COMES -- FINDING MOTIVATION TO
STILL MAKE GOOD WORK.
FINDING A WAY TO STILL, LIKE, GO
AND GET THAT SHOT OR PAY
ATTENTION TO WHAT'S GOING ON.
YOU'RE THE ONLY PERSON ON THE
CREW TRYING TO MAKE A SPARK IN
THE MIDDLE OF THAT THING.
>> ONE GENTLEMAN SAYS HOURS OF
LONG, HARD, BORING WORK.
PUNCTUATED BY MOMENTS OF SHEER
TERROR.
DOES THAT CAPTURE IT?
>> A LOT OF HURRY UP AND WAIT.
A LOT OF JUST, RIDING IN CARS.
TO GET FROM ONE PLACE TO
ANOTHER, AND EXHAUSTION, AND BUG
BITES, AND HEAT, ALL THAT.
I THINK THAT ALL OF THAT -- IS A
BIG PART OF THE JOB AND THEN
THERE ARE TIMES EXHILARATING,
HELICOPTERS FLY IT'S OVERHEAD
AND BUCKET DROPS.
WHEN YOU'RE AT A FIRE YOU FEEL
LIKE YOU'RE AT THE CENTER OF THE
ALL THE OTHER STUFF. G IS WORTH-
>> ON YOUR JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY
HERE, WAS THERE SOMETHING THAT
SURPRISED YOU MOST ABOUT THAT
JOURNEY?
>> I THINK THAT THE THING THAT
SURPRISED ME THE MOST IS -- HOW
THE GUYS DRAW ON THE EXPERIENCES
THEY HAD AT 22 AND 23,
PARTICULARLY IN FIRE, THEY CARRY
THROUGHOUT FOREVER, THROUGHOUT
THE REST OF THEIR LIVES AND
SOMETHING THEY ALWAYS POINT BACK
TO, WHEN GOING THROUGH DIFFICULT
TIMES.
IF I SURVIVE THAT, I CAN SURVIVE
THIS.
>> A FABULOUS FILM AND YOU DID
MARVELOUS WORK.
I THANK YOU FOR SPENDING A
LITTLE TIME AND TALKING WITH US
ABOUT IT.
YOU BE WELL.
>> THANK YOU.
TAKE CARE.
>>> A REMINDER, THE DOCUMENTARY
"WILDLAND" LAUNCHES THE NEW
SEASON OF INDEPENDENT LENS
MONDAY OCTOBER 29th, 2018 ON PBS
AT 9:00 P.M.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, GO TO
METROFOCUS.ORG.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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