Skip to content

The Wetlands Initiative

The Wetlands Initiative asked us to produce two short brand films during the height of Covid for inclusion in their Irreplaceable Wetlands: A 25th Anniversary Celebration online campaign.  We jumped at the opportunity to craft these cinematic pieces that highlighted the importance of ecological restoration throughout the Midwest,  the differentiating impact of TWI on people’s lives, and the shared the achievements of the organization while looking toward the future.  


The Project

Anniversary Films


Environmental Nonprofit

Wetlands Management


Film Production

Creative Development


About the Client

The Wetlands Initiative is dedicated to restoring the wetland resources of the Midwest to improve water quality, increase wildlife habitat and biodiversity, and reduce flood damage.   Our vision is simple:  Wetlands are more valuable wet than dry.  For years, many believed that wetlands were more valuable dry than wet.  With more than 90% of Illinois’ original wetland systems now drained or degraded, we focus on returning healthy wetlands to the Midwestern landscape to bring back the crucial natural services they provide society, wildlife, and the larger environment. 



We’d been stymied for years by the assumption that professional-caliber video production and branded content would cost a whole lot in both time and money.  In late 2019, we were introduced to Josie and her team, and had some great first conversations. 

Like everyone else, we were gobsmacked by the onset of Covid-19.  Our entire fundraising and strategic communications plan for 2020 was abruptly blown apart, including the largest event in our organization’s history.  We had to pivot fast and Curmudgeon was central to making that happen.  During the summer, we redirected our costs into creating two high-quality short films.  Curmudgeon’s team made all of this happen despite Covid restrictions.

We released the films in mid-October, and everyone who’s seen them loves them.  The Curmudgeon team was absolutely terrific to work with, and we couldn’t be happier with the results!

Paul Botts, Executive Director

The Challenge

Creating professional, cinematic brand films during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic with talent scattered throughout the Midwest region and rural Greece. 

The Opportunity

The films were an opportunity to create compelling, professional brand content that resulted in a fresh appreciation for The Wetlands Initiative as a leading force in wetlands restoration, with increased volunteer engagement and sustained donor support.  At the same time, connecting audiences to restoration efforts at both an international and local level, celebrating the achievements of the organization while kicking off the next phase of growth, and showcasing the range of challenges and opportunities that come with ecological restoration projects in the bi-state and Chicagoland area. 

Director:  Meg Halski

DP:  Mark Halski

Editor:  Mimi Wilcox

Producer:  Josie Davis

25th Anniversary Film

The anniversary film involved a small, nimble two-person crew, ensuring the safety of everyone involved through social distancing and PPE.  We filmed on-site interviews of TWI leadership alongside wide-landscape shots, aerials, stills and b-roll at three active project sites.  Using a high-end drone, we captured incredibly detailed and vast footage of program areas from sunrise to sunset.  All ground-based production at the Sue and Wes Dixon Waterfowl Refuge, Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, and Calumet Region in Northwest Indiana were filmed on Canon Cinema, rendering cinematic results with strong performance in natural light.  We worked with TWI staff to develop interview talking points that reflected the recently completed strategic plan and the accomplishments, impact and goals of the organization. 

Irreplaceable Wetlands

Havens of Life:  A Short Film

Unable to travel due to the pandemic, scheduled keynote speaker and award-winning author and naturalist Julian Hoffmann worked with our team to shoot his own footage remotely from his home among the Prespa Lakes in rural Greece.  Collaborating remotely with Julian, we provided a detailed shot list, camera and lighting direction, and a script that relayed his expertise and experiences living in the wetlands of northern Greece.  Rough footage was edited to include additional stills and b-roll from the midwest region, creating a short film that spoke to the importance of ecological restoration and wetlands as they connect landscapes, wildlife and people in both the Midwest and around the world.

The Results

We produced two short films with a minimal crew and remote production, successfully capturing the message of our keynote speaker from his remote location in Greece.  Along with each film, we provided TWI with an extensive content library, including 30+ hours of raw footage and transcripts for use in future brand content pieces.  Both films helped to drive engagement for the 25th Anniversary campaign, launched alongside the campaign’s booklet, e-blast and social media materials. 


Anniversary Brand Film

Keynote Film

Media Content Library


Do you have a hankering for Impact?

Contact Us
Back To Top