Recursive

Charles Morris
4 min readSep 25, 2023

In my field of work, there are times when the truth can’t be talked about by those who I am interviewing. There are those who can’t even be involved on any level with a production for fear that they will lose their jobs, or that even their spouses will lose their jobs-job loss by association.

It’s happened in two of the movies that I have made: Bolin Creek Unpaved and 400 Feet Down. It has happened in the podcast series that I am currently releasing; Salmonfolk Radio. In these three instances I am helping others illuminate the truth about environmental concerns through interviews and filmmaking. The goal is always the same…bring these issues to light for an audience so that they can know the issues exists and how to do something about them.

These issues need highlighting because there are people who will do anything to make money and the Earth is, so to speak, what they use to convert their greed into cash in their bank accounts. Some people are motivated by greed. Some already have more than they could spend in a lifetime. What runs greed though, is fear. Every hoarder runs on fear. If you’ve been in the home of a true hoarder, the stacks of dross, the 30 year old newspapers, the dust, the waste…it’s the same mentality that drives some of us to just collect more and more money. Fear of not having enough, fear of letting go. The earth’s creatures, mineral deposits, are what stands in the way of the money making machinery. And the only thing that can stop this machine is when the truth becomes the monkey wrench. This requires people to talk about the truth…because those motivated by greed can’t find it on a map of the Earth any longer.

I am making these movies and podcasts about that machinery and the people who I am interviewing become the monkey wrench.

Those who are motivated to protect, to rescue, to conserve. Somehow, they have slipped out of the monetary padlock. Yet, there are times when the truth can’t come out. In every documentary about protecting the planet I have worked on, there are moments where the camera and mic had to be turned off. And it was when the person I was interacting with said “this can’t be on the record…I could lose my job” or “I could be attacked if they knew I said this”.

Those moments and the things that were said…if they had been shared in the film or podcast, would have been silver bullets to the werewolves. When you sit down with someone for a feel good documentary about doing the right thing and they look at you and say the truth only when it’s off the record…it really shows you, so starkly-what the world of human relations is really like. It’s so recursive.

The reason I am making the documentary is the same reason that the person can’t come forward.

The documentary is needed because there are people who can’t tell the truth without facing consequences…monetarily, physically…possibly both.
I am trying to tell a story about how to reverse damage to the very home we live upon but every environmental story is really a tale of people vs people.

Recursive.

Until we figure out how to escape these shackles…

I think a lot about door locks. On every house. On every car. On most doors to buildings. We say that we live in free societies. We talk about community. Every time I see a door lock I know we haven’t gotten there yet. When you are a person who needs protection from other persons…I don’t know how we call ourselves free at all. It instead only happens in small pockets, micro scale.

I am writing this due to a recent development in my work on the story of The Last Shark. It’s a documentary movie about one of the main sources of the disappearance of the Great White Shark off the coast of South Africa. Spoiler Alert: It’s people.

I am Co-Director and Editor. And for the 3rd time, since starting work on this movie, I have had to wrestle (today) with the fact, that for others to be involved in this production, they run the risk of experiencing bodily or financial harm.

And it’s because of people. People who have are driven so powerfully by fear that they would seek to crush the truth spoken by others. And that’s recursive. Because what it really shows about the oppressors is that the truth in them has been crushed already.

It’s easy to read this and think that I feel crushed under the weight of being close to these heavy topics. Beaten down and wanting to give up. That is there for sure.

But what I get to do in my work is be close to people who want to tell the truth. And that fucking matters. It matters. Whether they go on record or not isn’t important to me. The point for me is that I get the privilege of interacting with people who take the time to observe, think and care about what is happening around us.

What I also have observed, through the films I have worked on and the podcasts…is that even if the fearful many have the numbers…it doesn’t take more than a few honest voices to help dispel that fear and get people back on the right course.

In closing, the theme of this writing is fear and the word “recursive”. It just occurred to me now that recursive is an adjective that one could use to define how fear works. I think only truth can break that cycle.

The Last Shark is a movie about protecting the Great White Shark. I can’t think of a more feared creature than Great White Sharks. So dispelling and overcoming fear is truly the topic of this film.

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