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News and Media

News and Media

By Founder and President Kurt Lieber

Back in 2014 a young man named Angus Yates contacted me about wanting to produce a short documentary about Ocean Defenders Alliance (ODA). 

Angus filming ODA harbor clean up in July 2014Younger Angus filming ODA harbor cleanup in July 2014

At the time, he was attending film school at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles (USC). He worked on the project Defenders of the Deep  for several months and submitted it to a film festival held by the university. Much to my delight, the film won the top award! That was his senior year at the school.

Please see our photo gallery below for more photos of Angus "doing his thing" filming ODA at work!

Fast forward nine years and Angus chose to do another documentary about ODA for his master’s thesis. This one is titled Defending the Deep. How could I refuse? He's a delight to work with and he wants to pursue a film career focusing on environmental issues.

Fast forward to 2022 - Angus joined us on several cleanups.Fast forward to 2022 - Angus joined us on several cleanups.

Angus put together a team with the skills required to film and document what it's like volunteering with ODA. He went out on the boat with us for several months, filming and getting to know the crew. He even got his hands dirty and wet by helping us remove several abandoned lobster traps.

Angus with the crew before departure in April 2022Angus with the ODA crew in April 2022
The ODA crew with Angus in August 2022The cleanup crew with Angus in August 2022
October 2022 Angus joins the crew again!October 2022 he joins the ODA gang again!

Here’s what Angus has to say about his experience with ODA:

“My introduction to ODA was in 2014 while attending a documentary film summer course for the USC. While documenting the ODA ocean cleanup team at Channel Island Harbor in Ventura, California, I was astonished by the waste being extracted which included everything from cinderblock-sized boat batteries to a wide array of toxic plastics. This experience inspired me to do some of my own volunteer work later with ODA by assisting the team in removing ghost gear traps and saving the sea life ensnared by them. I found this proactive approach to be an exhilarating and fulfilling experience that highlighted the positive impact we can have on our local environments.”

Angus gets it!

I can't convey to you how uplifting it is when we can get young people wanting to understand why our volunteers spend so much time and effort that go into each one of our outings. I think he did a great job of encapsulating what motivated me to start ODA initially, but also how ODA is growing into a movement both in California and Hawai'i. 

Angus on the bow of the LegaSea
Filmmaker Yates captures the trap being hauled in,

Angus has a great story of his own, and one that might inspire other young people. I share his short bio here:

“Angus is a documentary director and producer. Growing up in a family of journalists and adventure filmmakers, he grew an affinity for the natural world and a deep interest in showcasing its beauty, fragility, and vital importance to life on earth. Angus has worked for a number of reputable organizations including assisting with news coverage at ABC and crewing on the hit survival series Alone for ITV America. His interest in environmentalism and film came to a head in 2014 when he was introduced to the Ocean Defenders Alliance while attending a summer film course at the University of Southern California. Inspired by his time at the university and the amazing work of ODA, Angus has now gone on to receive his Master of Fine Arts in filmmaking at USC in 2022 with Defending the Deep as his final project.”

Angus captures an action shot of crew working to get trap aboard.

Our oceans are under assault from a host of activities: pollution, over-fishing, global heating, ocean acidification... The problems are many, but Angus shows how just a small group of people can make a difference in their own backyards.

Hope you enjoy the boat ride!