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Filmmaker Letter

Filmmaker Letter

The Biggest Little Farm

by director/film subject John Chester

I find the most potent mysteries of life to be those things we miss in the everyday. Sort of like when we look up at the stars revering the infinite wonder of the universe... while standing upon the trampled soil, dismissed as dirt—a far more complex and infinite wonder. It welcomes death and returns the makings of life.

Do enough of us wonder how that is possible?

A bit of the backstory: My wife Molly specialized in farm-to-table cuisine and I was a documentary filmmaker, but we had a collective dream that our once coveted identities as filmmaker and chef couldn't satisfy.

We quit our careers to start a farm and I never again intended to make another film. Yet that didn't stop me from carrying a camera in my truck documenting these little moments. I’d be switching between two worlds. In a single day I’d find myself suturing the wound of an injured piglet and a moment later I’d be capturing footage of a ladybug “in labor” perched on a dark green leaf delivering her bright yellow eggs.

Over time I became inspired by the full story I was watching unfold. By year five our land was revealing nature’s interconnected secrets. I now knew the story, but would I allow myself the freedom to tell it in a way that would defy expectations?

I feared that a film about a farm working in harmony with nature would be expected to be a polarizing essay of right and wrong. The acceptable villain of the story a human, a corporation or greed, leaving the audience with anxiety and rage, narrowing their perspective not widening it. After eight years I’ve discovered that a wider lens is the best way to interpret the language of an ecosystem that functions based on two things: consequence and impermanence.

Perhaps there is another way to see this world and I wanted to give a perspective and a voice to its complexity. Because if it is a reconnected world we seek, then there is only one way to find it—a lens that softens our eyes to imperfection, and opens our hearts to a deeper understanding of the elements that divide us. Buried in the cold and cruel ways of nature is a mirror that reflects back our human journey. The answers we seek for our lives are there if we know how to see.

Molly and I have found the unexpected answers to what we didn't know we were missing. We understand the purpose of death and that has redefined how we see life. I hope you will find this world on our farm as purposely terrifying and inspiring as we have.

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