How to Open Minds and Inspire

The filmmakers behind Circle of Poison share their love of documentary film and their desire to capture stories with the power to change the world.

Evan Mascagni is an attorney turned filmmaker from Louisville, Kentucky.  He is currently the Policy Director of the Public Participation Project, working to strengthen First Amendment rights for filmmakers, journalists, and activists across the country.

Shannon Post is a filmmaker and food and garden educator from Florida. She is co-founder, along with Evan and Nick, of Player Piano Productions, a company “making films that matter” based in Brooklyn, NY.

Nick Capezzera is a traveler, filmmaker, and Korean-Adoptee. Born in Seoul, Korea and raised just outside of Boston, he became interested documentary work while photographing his travels through Central America and Europe. Since re-locating to Brooklyn in 2011 he has worked with the New York Times, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Red Bull, Conde Naste, and GQ creating short documentary content. in 2015 his first feature length documentary, “Circle of Poison”, premiered at the DOC NYC film festival in New York City.

 

Circle of Poison will have its D.C. premiere at the 24th Annual Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital. The film screening takes place at Carnegie Institution for Science on Saturday, March 19th at 7:15 pm.

 

DCEFF: How did you get involved in filmmaking?

Nick:  I’ve always been enamored by movies and the people that make them and for as long as I can remember I’ve been carrying a camera around. So, during high school I took a filmmaking class thinking that it would be an easy pass and instead of slacking off I ended up falling in love with it. Eight years later I bought my first Canon camera during the DSLR revolution, and the rest is history.

Shannon:  Evan and I fell in love with documentary film in college for its ability to tell stories that open minds and inspire people to create change in the world.  The combination of activism and creativity really drew us both to filmmaking.

DCEFF: What drew you to this particular project?

Evan: A dear friend from college, Carolyn Strickler (who actually passed away a few years ago), was the first person who really got me thinking about our food system, and got me asking questions about it.  Then in law school, I learned about the circle of poison while doing research here in D.C. at the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law.  However, it wasn’t until I was in Guatemala after law school that I actually saw the health and environmental harm that the global pesticide industry is causing.  My trip inspired me to attempt to bring attention to this issue, so I teamed up with Nick and Shannon to make that happen.

DCEFF: Challenges during the production?

Nick: Well, besides being first time filmmakers, we traveled to three continents and many countries in between. The team did a great job budgeting money for travel, but we really needed more time in each location, especially the places abroad. Some filmmakers find the story and work on it for a decade, we were trying to find the story as it unfolded. Despite these challenges, I think we did a great job of capturing the important moments as they happened, but the film definitely would have benefited from a larger budget and more time.

DCEFF: What made you decide to submit to DCEFF, this year?

Shannon:  Evan and I both lived in D.C. after college – Evan for law school and I for grad school at American University – so the city has that personal connection for us.  We wanted to submit to DCEFF to bring the film back to its birthplace, in a way, because D.C. is where Evan learned about the federal policy that inspired our film.  D.C. is, of course, also the birthplace of that EPA policy, and what better city to potentially reach those who have the power to change it?

DCEFF: Why do you think DCEFF is important? Why should people attend?

Shannon:  DCEFF is such a meaningful part of the green film festival for its proximity to power brokers who affect environmental policy and for its role in fostering a culture of admiration of and respect for the environment in D.C. and our nation.  I also think DCEFF is important for bringing environmentally conscious people together to build community and re-energize through inspiring stories.

DCEFF: What’s the one takeaway that you want potential viewers to walk away with?

Evan: I hope that viewers don’t walk away from our film only thinking about their own health and saying things like, “I’m only going to eat organic from now on.” Not that eating organic when possible is not important, but our goal was to show how toxic pesticides affect so much beyond the end consumer.  We also hope that our film inspires people to start asking questions about pesticides and other products made for export only.

 

Register for the Circle of Posion screening here.

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