A Big Adventure:
For Alexandria Schmidt’s documentary film making class during her sophomore year at the University of Detroit Mercy, she was responsible for creating a short documentary of her choice. For her, the topic was easy to decide on. A long-time animal lover, she jumped at the opportunity to use her film for a cause. Ambitiously, she planned to use her spring break to travel to Florida to learn about manatees, speak with experts and to get up-close footage of these gentle, endangered animals. Her goal was to raise awareness about manatee conservation.
“I do everything I can whenever I can to help an animal in need and when the opportunity to swim with manatees and cover them in a documentary came along I had to take it,” said Schmidt.
She borrowed a camera from the university, enlisted the help of mom, Connie, and friend, Jillian, and the three of them hit the road, driving from Michigan to Florida. They spent about a week filming in Florida and were even able to get some amazing underwater footage of the animals while swimming with them. When Schmidt got home she spent about a month editing the documentary.
That’s where a platinum-selling band comes in.
Imagine Dragons Lends a Helping Hand:
In the spring of 2012 Imagine Dragons’ success was just starting to pick up speed. Also at this time, Schmidt happened to be looking for just the right royalty-free music to use in her documentary. Background music can serve to enhance a documentary immensely, and one of the biggest struggles for a small-time or student filmmaker is to find free or affordable music that’s not super cheesy.
Schmidt had heard Imagine Dragon’s music and decided to take a shot in the dark and ask for their permission to use one of their songs in her documentary. “I really liked their music and could completely envision the intro with their first single ‘It’s Time,’ but after I started listening to their EP a little more, ‘On Top of The World’ fit better and I decided to go with that one. I contacted the band maybe two weeks or so after ‘It’s Time’ Debuted on the radio,” she said. “The address on the website happened to be the direct email to the manager. I basically asked him if I could use one of their songs and the manager thought the idea was cool and said I could.”
Schmidt said that the manager told her that they were happy to let her use their music for her cause. She considers herself lucky for having contacted them right before they “blew up.” A short while after she completed her project, Imagine Dragons had a music video air on MTV, which helped to catapult them to success. Their jaunty, fun song, “On Top of The World” is used for an intro montage and for the conclusion of Schmidt’s completed work, “Saving HuManatee,” which educates about manatees and manatee conservation.
“I feel the intro song made the video,” she said. “It really set the tone that I was looking for and it really bring people into the video. To this day I still love watching the beginning.”
See The Earth In a New Light Because It’s Beautiful:
Since her documentary debuted, Schmidt has been busy with video production jobs. She hopes that people will continue to watch “Saving HuManatee” and that it will help encourage viewers to learn more about conservation.
“I can only hope my documentary will influence others to not only be conscious of the environment and all the great creatures we share with it but also to take chances and explore this world and try new things. Step out of your normal life and see the earth in a new light because it’s beautiful,” she said. “That’s really the underlying message being told in the documentary. Once people understand the earth and love it, endangered animals, deforesting, mass pollution and abuse won’t exist and one amazing moment like swimming with a manatee can make the difference.”
Watch Alexandria Schmidt’s documentary about saving manatees here: