Local youth filmmaker makes waves at Ocean Film Festival

Dylan D’Haeze believes that kids have the ability to save the planet.

“No one is too big or too small to a make a difference,” he said.

At just 13 years old, D’Haeze is an award-winning documentarian, having recently earned the International Ocean Film Festival’s 2017 environmental award for his 19-minute film, “Plastic is Forever.”

“This started out as a school project that turned into a real thing,” said D’Haeze’s mom Dawn, who was homeschooling him at the time. “It became bigger and bigger.”

Dylan is a student at Orcas Christian School, and his parents are filmmakers themselves through their company Rock Island Media. During a family trip to Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, Dylan was distressed by a display on marine plastics and wanted to find a way to take action.

“It really scared me, so I decided I wanted to help,” said Dylan.

For the next year, Dylan and Dawn traveled the west coast, the east coast and Hawaii interviewing scientists and conservationists from the Environmental Protection Agency to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation.

“I liked interviewing at the beach cleanup in Hawaii,” said Dylan, who did most of the filming for the documentary himself.

The only parts which he did not film were of himself, as he also stars as the film’s narrator. For those scenes, his dad, Kevin, did the filming. Kevin also helped with the final editing process.

Dylan’s documentary is geared toward children and what they can do to reduce the number of plastic materials that end up in the ocean. She also said that the famous surfing company O’Neill has expressed interest in Dylan’s documentary.

“The goal is to go around the country and do screenings for kids,” said Dawn. “We try to help people, try solving problems.”

In March, the family will be traveling to San Francisco to attend the International Ocean Film Festival. Dylan said entering the film festival was exciting in itself.

“I didn’t know what to really expect. It was a mix of being scared and being excited,” said Dylan. “I never even realized that I would win.”

Dawn and Dylan are in the process of organizing an environmental summit at Orcas Center for April 11. Dylan has an Indiegogo page where interested parties can invest in his film: https://goo.gl/nT4wJE.