Arnold Creek Productions
Capturing the Sustainability Movement
David Decker B.S. '81 and Douglas Freeman B.S. '79 have made their livings in film for more than 20 years by providing their services to corporations, educational institutions, and nonprofit organizations. Decker has produced training films for Hewlett-Packard and a variety of other clients, from high-tech to manufacturing. Freeman has written scripts for industrial marketing and training programs.
Though their time at Lewis & Clark overlapped, they didn't meet until just a few years ago, when Freeman's wife, Katherine MacKenzie Freeman B.A. '80, realizing that the two shared similar goals and interests, introduced them. (Coincidentally, Decker's wife is also an alum: Emily Nelson Decker B.A. '85, senior associate dean of admissions.)
Shortly after their first meeting, Decker and Freeman formed Arnold Creek Productions.
The joint venture signals a shift in focus for both men away from providing a service to clients to producing films as proprietary products. With titles such as Good Food, Good Business and Moving Forward . . .With Diabetes, Decker and Freeman expressly intend to promote the causes they both care about, sustainability and health.
Decker and Freeman credit Lewis & Clark with fostering their strong concern for the environment--a concern that guides many of their decisions as film producers. His Lewis & Clark education made Decker, who majored in communication, see the bigger picture, that every decision has an effect on the natural world. "I saw how we live and how we could live," he says.
Freeman, a psychology major, remembers a clean water project that opened his eyes to how environmental issues extend into government and the law, education, the economy, and human health. "I was immersed in all areas of science, and my professors talked about the environment on a global scale," he says.
One of the strengths of their latest film, Architecture to Zucchini, is that the people interviewed often speak in these same broad terms when discussing sustainability. A comprehensive portrait of sustainability efforts in and around Portland, the film features the individuals, corporations, and organizations at the forefront of a movement that has recently moved from the fringes to the mainstream.
These two filmmakers also practice what their documentaries preach. Their DVDs are housed in recycled plastic cases, which were no small feat to procure. When they asked for recycled paper inserts printed with soy inks, they at first encountered resistance, especially due to cost because, as Freeman puts it, "environmentally damaging products don't always reflect their true costs." He looks forward to delivering via download instead of DVDs.
Arnold Creek Productions survives because Decker and Freeman partner with people and organizations sharing their commitment to sustainability and health education. One partnership, with the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, helped them promote sustainability on college campuses across the United States.
Freeman, the marketing-savvy counterpoint to Decker, who prefers film production, yearns to do even more with their films. With a larger production budget, Freeman thinks they can have an even greater impact. "The world has a lot of problems that are not easily solved," he says. "The pace of change can be slow, and I'm an impatient person."
But for now, the partners are grateful to find meaningful work in a tough industry. "We've been able to produce programs that are close to our heart," says Decker. "These are things we feel strongly about. I don't have a dream project--the types of projects we're doing now are my dream. If I can continue to produce programs that make a difference, that's what I want to do."
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