Happy Earth Day

Every time Earth Day rolls around, we are forced to reflect on what actions each of us make in our daily lives that work towards the protection of our environment.  Some celebrate the natural beauty around them, some wonder ‘we love our earth but how can we tell her so?’ and for others it’s just another day.

Here are some steps that you can take in your every day to help the environment:

  • Compost. You don’t have to see Symphony of the Soil to know that composting is important (though, it does help). Composting reduces waste while helping create healthy soil that is able to produce good food.
  • Reuse. It’s important to be aware of the waste you create. Little things make a big difference. Having a coffee/tea thermos that gets filled at coffee shops can reduce that waste. Having a water bottle that you refill does the same. Going out to eat later and know that you’re going to have leftovers – bring a small Tupperware with you. Saving jars from pickles or salsa and using them to hold household items like nails or screws.
  • Eat and shop organic. Most people complain that eating organic is too expensive. While this may be true, if you consider the health benefits that organic foods provide, you may end up spending more money on doctor’s visits than you would buying organic foods. It’s good for you.
  • Shop local. Shopping local not only helps the local economy but it also reduces the amount of fossil fuels that are used to get your goods to you. Most towns and cities have farmers’ markets available. Buying straight from the farmer helps connect you with your food and can be cheaper than buying through a big super market.

We at Lily Films are also taking this wonderful day to share with you our latest version of the Symphony of the Soil movie poster.

Symphony of the Soil poster

Artwork by Will Kim. Design by Sarah E. Gonzalez. Copyright Lily Films 2013.



















AND we are happy to release the first Symphony of the Soil trailer


Happy Earth Day. Let us know how you are spending it.

on Twitter… @soilsymphony

on Facebook… https://www.facebook.com/SymphonyoftheSoil

GAINING GROUND A documentary digs up dirt on soil

Article from PureWOW written by Cristina Tudino

Soil is not particularly gripping on the surface–it’s, well, a dirty shade of brown and crawling with insects. If you asked us to watch a full-length film about it, we’d politely decline.

That is until we heard about Symphony of the Soil, a new documentary by Deborah Koons Garcia. Convinced that most people are what she calls “soil blind,” meaning unaware and unappreciative of its value, Garcia devoted the film to digging up the latest science on and impact of dirt.

The environmentalist and filmmaker based in Mill Valley (and yes, Jerry’s widow) filmed on four continents–and, of course, right here in Northern California. Interviewing ecologists, activists and farmers, she uncovered countless reasons we should care more about what’s underfoot.

For starters, there isn’t an unlimited supply of what is literally the foundation for life on earth. Soil quality affects the healthfulness and flavor of our food (and more important, wine!). And when treated with synthetic fertilizers, soil can cause birth defects and developmental disorders in children.

So what can we do? Garcia advocates composting, chemical-free gardening, eating locally grown food and staying informed about relevant policy through organizations such as the Organic Consumers Association.

One thing’s for sure: You’ll never look at dirt the same way again.

Making a Movie about Soil: A Day in the Life of Kate Scow

Article by Chris Zimmerman | Soil Science Society of America

Soil Science Society of America member Kate Scow has done a little bit of everything. In her words, she’s “a meandering path. And those who meander should take solace.” Scow grew up in Maryland but lived abroad in Israel and Argentina with her family as a teenager, an experience that seemed to spark her wandering ways. She returned to the U.S. to study biology and ecology before receiving her Ph.D. in soil science from Cornell University. She is now a professor of soil science at the University of California–Davis.

For the past five years, Scow has been working with filmmaker Deborah Koons Garcia on Symphony of the Soil, an artistic look into the connections between soil and the world. The UC Davis professor served as the key adviser to the film, supplementing the filmmaker’s artistic vision with the technical aspects of soil science. Here’s what Scow had to say about her role in the movie-making process.

Soil Horizons: When did you first know you had an interest in soil science?

Scow: I didn’t know that I was interested in it for a long time. When I was a teenager, my family drove across Europe, and I collected a soil sample from each country and brought it home—illegally. That’s when I was 15 or something. So something was afoot.

I started out studying animal behavior, but I worked for a few years doing a lot of risk assessment for the USEPA on contaminants before going back to graduate school. I started to hear about soil and see the importance of it, and it seemed like everything came from soil. Everything goes back to soil. I fell in love.

Soil Horizons: And now you’ve helped make a film about soil. What was your role in Symphony of the Soil?

Scow: I’ve been involved in the film from the very beginning about five years ago. Deborah Koons Garcia, the filmmaker, found me by talking to several people who suggested me for the job. As an adviser, my role has been to point out key references of soil science. I helped explain and simplify some of the really challenging concepts, like the nitrogen cycle and soil biodiversity.I provided a lot of input in what to include and not to include and did a lot of checking for scientific accuracy. This was in light of Deborah’s need to be able to express herself in more artistic ways. So it was quite interesting to think about fact checking in a film that’s so artful.

Kate Scow is a professor of soil science at the University of California–Davis and key adviser on the film Symphony of the Soil, an artistic look into the connections between soil and the world.

Soil Horizons: Did you work on this on a full-time basis?

Scow: It was on and off over the five years it took to make the film. There were times when it was pretty intense and then times where it was more intermittent. It took a while to put together this film, so we kind of went with the flow as it was being made.

Soil Horizons: Did you travel much with the crew?

Scow: In California, I traveled a bit with them. I went on several shoots. But I was much more comfortable being an adviser than being a “player” in the film. Most of my time was spent at the studio, putting together the story board for the whole film and taking copies of the film home to review them and provide feedback.

Soil Horizons: Did the movie end up like you imagined it would?
Images from the movie, Symphony of the Soil.

Scow: I love film. It’s one of my passions in life. I was part of an advisory committee at Cornell, where I programmed a lot of film festivals and showings. So I’m very keyed into film. I’ve always wanted to be involved in making a film about soil, and I always imagined something along the lines of Fantastic Voyage, with Raquel Welch traveling through the human body. I wanted to do a film like that about soil. Going down preferential flow paths, getting chased by nematodes, hiding in small pores. But that’s a completely different kind of idea.

When I met Deborah, I realized she was going to be taking us to a place where we don’t usually go in soil. She already had a strong desire to create this symphony about soil. She’s very musical and Vivian, her editor, is an incredible music editor. Soil is so stubborn about showing its beauty; we just walk all over it. It’s really tough to get at it. But Deborah had this vision, and I watched as she captured all of these different things about soil, these great scientists she had giving insight, all combined with the music. It came out more intense, emotional, and beautiful than I ever imagined. Am I foaming at the mouth yet?

Soil Horizons: How do you organize and assemble a film that takes five years to complete?

Scow: By starting out with some really great ideas, places, people, and going and doing that stuff. You start out with that, and you look at it, you think more, you read more, you talk, and you discuss ideas. So there was some footage filmed in the last year to fill in some gaps that were clearly identified once the film as a whole could be seen. It couldn’t be seen until there was enough film to piece together. You’re putting together a lot of pieces, and filling in the gaps later.

I think part of why the film is so amazing is that Deborah had a lot of time to think and dwell about where the film went. Its direction would change over time. Certain things would pop up, and different stuff emerged. She has a really great eye for that and is open to seeing where the process takes her. Deborah loves science. She really is a science nerd, but she also knows that she wouldn’t touch a lot of people if she made a “hardcore facts” film. People who don’t naturally take to science would feel force-fed. What she did was provide a taste of these deeper and broader concepts that some people are really going to get a hunger for. They’re going to go and track more of this information down on Google or by reading books. She has such a great eye for what’s beautiful and emotionally moving, and she could see that in the soil, which can be so unyielding.

Soil Horizons: It must have been great for you to finally get the chance to be part of a film. Did you learn a lot in the process?

Scow: I did. I love film, and it was incredible to see the process and be there all along. It was an amazing gift to me, being involved in it all along the way as the key adviser. You go out and capture footage of all these different things, and then you cut it down, and try to glue it all together and then you condense it more and weave it together, and distill it. Weave and distill. Capture the essence. And the whole time, you’re looking at the overall structure of the entire film. It has its own architecture. It was incredible to see the whole process.

Soil Horizons: Now that it’s complete, what do you like most about the film?

Scow: I like that it celebrates the soil with no reservations. I thought Deborah really caught the beauty and huge mystery of soil. And she captured that while still providing a lot of real knowledge.In talking with people about it, it seems like the film works well for those who have no connection to soil. They see it and go, “Wow, there’s so much here.” And it’s great for people who have a casual relationship with soil, like gardeners. People who may not have the technical expertise, but think about soil all the time. And it even works for the experts who already know a lot about theory and practice. The film really uplifts soil. It brings it to the higher level where it should be. |

Read original article here at the Soil Science Society of America

A Touch of Color

This week we entered one of the finalizing stages- color correction. Lead by the skilled hands of Gary Coats, we fixed red noses and over exposed shots- we toned down colors for broadcast and looked for scenes that didn’t match. Onwards towards completion- on! on! on!


Another update on the elongated finishing stages of a Symphony. Today, our esteemed editor Vivien Hillgrove, handed in the fine cut of Symphony of the film. This is the beginning of the end. All our crew are glowing at this idea. Five years in the making plus, we are one step closer to completion. Next… graphics, animation, music, color correction and….. you get the picture.

Are we there yet?

If we imagine the film making process as a family road trip- we are at that point in the trip where the kids in the back seat are pushing their feet into the back of their parents chairs- and constantly asking, “Are we there yet?”

Folks, after nearly 5 years in the making, the next few months till completion seem to stretch on before us ad-infinitum. There seem to be a an inordinate amount of tiny, precise processes that must be carried out in a specific order, lest we stall. Final cuts, graphics, color correction, music, sound mixing… the list goes on. I swear, one doesn’t realize, but for every credit on a film, there are a hundred phone calls, a thousand emails, and hours of racking ones brain.

So, for all of you fans-to-be who have emailed in the last month with questions like “when will it be done?” and “how close is it?”… We’ll give you a lolipop if you just chill for a bit, and take your feet of the back of our chairs- we’re almost there.

– By Jessy Beckett

Racing toward the Finish Line

Today at Lily Films, we are lining up one of the final steps in the film-making process, pre-screenings. At this point in the film making process, everyone on the film team has seen the cut so many times, it’s hard to distinguish what end is up and what end is down. Additionally, we’re so in love with the film as is, it’s hard to imagine it changing, even if the length continually ekes over our mentally set length limit.

So, we are calling in back up. Several teams of fellow directors, producers, editors, soil scientists, and aggies will be viewing the film over the next few weeks around the bay area, giving feedback on where to trim and what parts inspire them most.

We’re looking forward to this first round of formal feedback. Another leap closer to the finish line!

– By Jessy Beckett

Final Shoot

In the making of any film there comes a time to, as we say, wrap it. Symphony of the Soil has been in the making for nigh-on 5 years and we are rapidly drawing to a close. The film is close to fully edited, the score is being written as we speak, and last week we went out twice more, to shoot the filler for the interstitial gaps we have left.

Dr Ignacio Chapela

A central piece of that interstitia, the bond of aggregation, is Dr Ignacio Chapela (featured earlier in Soil on Ice.) We traveled with Ignacio to the western edge of the continent to film some of the final shots in Symphony.Dr Ignacio Chapela

– By Jessy Beckett

Little Hands, Lots of Dirt

Today we encouraged kids to do what kids do best: get dirty. In a rousing session at Singing Frog’s Farm in Sebastopol- Deborah directed kids to rolick, dig, toss, and generally muck-about in our favorite protagonist: soil.

And guess what?

They had an awfully good time.

Who knew kids like SOIL so much? Parents who looked on watched their kids enjoy themselves by touching, smelling, and tasting some good old fashion dirt.

– By Jessy Beckett


In Burlington Vermont there is a long standing agricultural develpment projected called the Intervale that stands as a beacon for communities wanting to redevelop their local food system.

Will Rapp has spearheaded the project for nigh on three decade, and he has led the way towards a sustainable local food system for Burlington. Beginning in the 80’s, Rapp took 350 acres, which had been essentially a community dump and over time developed a city composting site, farm incubation program, community supported agricultural subscription, and a non-profit. At the outset of the venture, Rapp projected that one day, the space would be able to provide 10% of Burlington’s food supply. Now, in 2010, the are very close to meeting that goal.

The Intervale is an incredible example of what happens when someone with a vision sticks with their full cause. When Rapp first started, the community was incredulous about his mission, now they are full fledged believers. Will’s project is s staple of the Burlington identity. Produce from the Intervale farms are featured in the local super markets and highlighted on menus of downtown restaurants. Everyone in town knows his name.

The Intervale is just one of the many projects that Symphony of the Soil was privileged to film. As our two day shoot came to a close- Will gave us a list of Burlington restaurants to visit on our way out of town. As we poured over the menu for our late night supper- local, sustainable, community grown Intervale vegetables were prominently featured.

– By Jessy Beckett