film crew






Last River Lost

The Sacrifice of the Stanislaus



Approach and Film Style

Our filmic approach will mix contemporary interviews and accounts with one-of-a-kind archival footage — much of which was shot by filmmaker Don Briggs, a main character in the story of the Stanislaus who became an Emmy-winning nature cinematographer.

We will explore the emotional choices Mark Dubois made — his tearful farewell to his parents, his reluctant revealing of his hidden location to one friend, so-called ‘Deep Paddle’, so his body could be recovered if he drowned. And the lonely nights with only the rising waters of the Stanislaus to keep him company.

We will recreate the tense moments when a massive manhunt failed to locate Dubois, and when reporters snuck past Army patrols in the dead of night to find and interview Dubois where he was chained to river rock.

We will also chronicle the battle of wills with Colonel Donald O’Shei of the Army Corps of Engineers, who at first suspected Mark's non-violent act was a hoax, yet came to respect the bearded young man who was his opponent.

Our visual approach will use multiple cinematic forms to bring the magnificence of the Stanislaus River Canyon to life — from still photographs and Bureau of Reclamation surveys, to personal recollections and scientific records, to stunning modern footage — that will make the river itself become a ‘character’ in our narrative.

We will also show how Mark Dubois and the other young activists in F.O.R. responded to the loss of their dream. Many continued to work tirelessly in the environmental and other social movements, believing that their efforts could make a difference. Dubois went on to co-found the International Rivers Network, coordinated lobbying efforts at World Bank/IMF annual meetings, and inspired "Friends of the River" movements worldwide. He also served as international coordinator for Earth Day in both 1990 and 2000, events that involved 200 million people from 184 countries.

Our filmic and storytelling style will also focus on the human drama and emotions which the destruction of a river and its surrounding shores brings about, not unlike the award-winning Up the Yangtze. We will use both archival and contemporary interviews with national figures — including former California Governor Jerry Brown and President Jimmy Carter. We will create a rich, intense, and involving visual experience — viewers will see and feel the reality of ‘being on the river’ — and realize how losing a wild river touches everyone.

In 2009, documentary films like "Man on Wire", "Waltz for Bashir" and Disneyworld’s "Earth" are attracting larger and more diverse audiences than ever before — because of their powerful emotions, their dramatic narrative, and their contemporary importance. These are the same story-telling elements that believe will make Last River Lost a memorable and inspiring experience.


Spirit of the Stanislaus | Desktop Adventure | Paradigm Productions