I've just got back from India having filmed for the past week for The World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Shooting with Tinderflint, I travelled out to Kanpur to make a film about the leather industry there and how WWF has established a platform to help businesses here in the UK have a positive influence on the ground in India.
Through the Leather Buyers Platform, brands here in the UK and around the world are able to put pressure on the tanneries in India to ensure that the treatment of the effluent that is a by-product of producing leather, is handled properly. Until this project, I had no idea how toxic and dangerous producing leather is.
For centuries, India's struggling infrastructure has allowed gallons of this effluent to flow into the Ganges River every day. WWF has stepped in, with the aid of major supporters like HSBC to make positive steps to try to slow and ultimately stop the pollution to the river system before the damage done is too late.
On our shoot in Kanpur, we visited three different tanneries to see the positive impact of the Platform and how it has enabled them to clean up their production process. This is by no means an overnight fix... and there is still a long way to go. We spent a couple of days filming on the Ganges and saw at first hand the dangerous pollution flowing freely into the river system.
Whilst in Kanpur, we crossed over the dates of the religious festival of Diwali. The holy festival of light, this saw thousands of people lien the banks of the Ganges in the morning to salute the rising sun. Bathing in the water and praying it was an amazing spectacle to see.
Working on this project with WWF & Tinderflint was a real pleasure. For both myself and Director of Photography, Jeremy Wright, seeing at first hand the effects of the leather Industry and water pollution in the Ganges was quite alarming but I hope that this film has the necessary impact to drive positive change throughout the industry.
**Bonus: After filming was finished, we happened to be in town the day that the New Zealand cricket team was playing a one day international against India! We managed to get tickets to the game, supporting India along with about 50,000 other supporters!!! ***