Young Film Team Unites People in Face of Drought

As California moves into its fifth year of drought, a young film team is determined to bring people together around mitigating its impact. The recently released documentary short As the River Goes captures the drought's effects on the East Porterville community in Southern California, and their hope that the situation will improve. 

The film team and people of East Porterville demonstrate humanity's ability to unite in the face of tough shared challenges. Please like and share this moving film, and spread the message that we can work together to address the impacts of drought and climate change!


We had the opportunity to connect with recent USC graduate and Director of As the River Goes, Katherine Espejo, in the personal interview below:

What prompted you to make this documentary?

We felt it necessary to make this documentary because of the hopelessness of the situation in East Porterville.  These people are at the mercy of the drought and rely completely on the relief that has been provided by government entities. Even though many efforts have been made by the government, non-profit organizations, and other community members, none of these measures are enough to help this community return to its normal way of life.  On top of that, several people that I met in Los Angeles were not aware of the drought and even those that knew of it did not realize how severely other communities were affected by the lack of water.  We want this documentary to reach those that don't think twice about wasting water and those that perhaps weren't even aware they were.  We want every person that watches this to be more mindful of their personal water usage and maybe even influence those around them to conserve water when they can.

How do you see drought connecting to climate change?

There is no denying that we have taken advantage of the Earth.  Our climate is changing in a way that no one had anticipated, and it is changing for the worse.  Our global temperature is rising, although I am not an expert, I feel as if this is one of the contributing factors to the prolonged drought in California. As our planet grows warmer, weather events, the likes of which we have never seen before have been occurring constantly. To deny that the drought and climate change are related is a bit short sighted I believe.  As a society, we need to look at the adverse affects that we have had on our planet.  Whether it be contributing harmful pollutants into the air, or dumping waste into the oceans, or even over-consuming water, whenever we take advantage of the Earth's resources, we are contributing to a potential number of future global disasters.

What do you want the viewer’s response to be after seeing your film? 

I hope that those that watch the film realize that what is occurring in East Porterville can occur anywhere in the country.  The people of this community have seen their way of life change drastically because of their loss of this simple resource.  Every day for them is a struggle. Activities that we take for granted every day have become luxuries in this community.  I hope that those that view the film see that if we continue to deplete our planet's resources and contribute to the changing climate, a disaster such as this can develop in their community as well.

Were there any partners involved that you would like to mention?

We received a great deal of help from Donna Johnson and Elva Beltran, the two women that have arguably contributed the most to the relief efforts in Porterville.  They introduced us to several residents affected by the drought and allowed us to take part in their relief efforts.  Also, Rick Elkins of the local newspaper, The Porterville Recorder, who kept us updated on the situation in the town. And, finally, we would not have been able to make this film without our mentor at USC, Tom Miller.  He was the greatest advocate for us throughout the entire process and inspired us every day.