Creative Collaboration with Young Filmmaker Jordan Hauber

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Over the past three years, the Kansas Land Trust has had the good fortune of partnering with young filmmaker Jordan Hauber to produce a series of videos highlighting some of the Kansas Land Trust’s conservation easements.

Jordan, a 2019 Lawrence Free State High School graduate, recently moved to Ecuador, where he will work on creating a documentary through the Global Citizen Year program. Before he left, he reflected on his time with the Kansas Land Trust, how the experience helped him grow as a filmmaker, and what he learned about the land of Kansas.

Jordan’s work with the Kansas Land Trust started in 2016 when he partnered with us to create a video for a Land Trust Alliance video contest about the Bacon Ranch, a 500-acre conservation easement in Morris County. In 2017, KLT was able to hire Jordan through a grant from the Elizabeth Shultz Environmental Fund of the Douglas County Community Foundation to create five videos documenting conservation easements in Douglas County.

Having never spent time in rural areas previously, Jordan said that his first road trip with Director Jerry Jost to the Bacon Ranch to gather footage for the video contest was eye-opening, and that the beauty of the Bacon Ranch was striking to him.

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“The best way to describe it is rolling hills as far as you can see,” Jordan said. “As boring as that sounds, it is literally everything beautiful about Kansas in one property. Once you get down and look at everything in the grass you can see that there is so much life in there. It’s gorgeous -- the perfect Kansas picture.”

When Jordan started working on his series of videos about five Douglas County conservation easements, he said that he was, once again, pleasantly surprised by his discoveries.

“I wasn’t expecting for each place to be so unique - both in story and in landscape. I was just expecting rolling green hills, but what I found was an entirely different world for each property.”

As a filmmaker, Jordan said that the experience of creating videos for KLT illuminated the differences between theory he learned in the classroom and practice in the field. Whereas his film classes had emphasized creating storyboards and planning shots, Jordan said he found that being flexible in the field allowed him to discover new angles and create richer videos.

“These pieces were evolving until the moment I uploaded them,” Jordan said. “Sure, there is planning that goes into it, but it is important to have the ability to recognize that there is more to a story than you first thought there was.”

Although conducting interviews with landowners was tougher than Jordan expected, he said that peeling back the layers of the various personalities was fun for him. Jordan said that Larry Akin, owner of the Akin conservation easement, is a perfect example.

“When casually conversing with him, he was pretty reserved,” Jordan said. “But in the interview, he started talking about this place where he lives and the meaning it has for his family, and you can just see him opening up. His eyes sparkled throughout that interview. It was beautiful to watch.”

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Jordan said that the most difficult part of creating the five videos for KLT was when he experienced his first-ever creative slump. During the depths of winter, Jordan said he became so bogged down with technical issues and senior-year stress that he had to put the project and all things film-related aside for a few months. He said he is thankful that he was able to take that time, that his creative spark eventually rekindled, and that he has a great body of work to show for it.

“There’s a sense of relief when you finish a big project, and this was the biggest project I have ever been given,” Jordan said. “Knowing that you have the ability to do the project, and then to finish it, it feels like you have wings for a couple of weeks. It’s amazing and beautiful and I loved it."

Click here to watch Jordan’s Bacon Ranch conservation easement video.

Click here to watch Jordan's Douglas County conservation easement videos.