Dream Job: Free Range
Jul 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Kristinha M. Anding
David Gottlieb says he likes to “emphasize diversity” when talking about his history as a producer, director, and editor. Indeed, his résumé spans many genres and topics, from the works he created while earning his master's degree in fine arts from the University of Southern California's film school in the early 1970s — including his first dramatic piece, Birthday Bird, and a documentary about Jim Jones' People's Temple, which Gottlieb claims was the only footage on the subject shot before the infamous Guyana massacre — to his current work, which includes a wealth of videos focusing on natural-resource conservation.
“I think humanism ties it all together,” says Gottlieb, a Long Island, N.Y., native who currently resides in Los Angeles' Topanga Canyon. “I consider what I do, to a great degree, to be humanistic filmmaking. That's what I look for, and that's what I respect.”
Such humanism can be felt in recent projects, such as Stream Spirit Rising, a short documentary he created for Los Angeles-based nonprofit North East Trees. The documentary not only focuses on the environmental benefits of restoring the north branch of the Arroyo Seco River, but it also showcases how such a revival impacts the spirit of the community living in the region.
Among his many other conservation works are a just-completed piece for San Diego County's new San Elijo Lagoon nature center and Backyard Conservation for Arid Lands, a video for the Arizona Association of Conservation Districts. For decades, Gottlieb has held appointed positions with agencies such as the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts and the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains. “I was ahead of the curve on being interested in conservation — before it was fashionable,” says the filmmaker, who currently prefers to shoot with the Sony HVR-V1U.
In addition to his for-hire productions, Gottlieb has a couple of passion projects brewing: a documentary about transgenderism for which he has compiled 12 years worth of footage and a documentary detailing what he calls “the dark side” of New Zealand, including the trials of the country's native Maori population.
“Everything I've done is altruistic,” says Gottlieb of his films.
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