Everett Bumstead (centre) and his crew share a picture from a tree planting location in Sayward on Vancouver Island from when they were filming for ‘One Million Trees’ last year. Photo courtesy, Everett Bumstead.

Everett Bumstead (centre) and his crew share a picture from a tree planting location in Sayward on Vancouver Island from when they were filming for ‘One Million Trees’ last year. Photo courtesy, Everett Bumstead.

The tree-planting life on Vancouver Island featured in new documentary

Everett Bumstead brings forth the technicalities, psychology and politics of the tree planting industry in his movie

Vancouver-based filmmaker Everett Bumstead and his three-member crew produced a documentary detailing the experiences of people who are part of the tree planting industry on Vancouver Island.

Filmed on north Vancouver Island – around Campbell River, Woss and Sayward – where tree planting takes place almost throughout the year of the movie, One Million Trees aired last month on CBC Gem.

The 27-year-old filmmaker was also a tree planter in his early 20s – a job that he says was not only “hugely impactful” in shaping his life, but also one that developed a “high tolerance for pain” and paid off his student loans back in the day.

Environmentally, the experience provided him a realistic understanding of forestry and conservation and “how these things really play out in the real world.”

Coming back to the Island with his camera and crew last year, Bumstead told Black Press that he wanted to show the different nuances surrounding the industry.

The film crew took an Indie-style approach to make this documentary, visiting several planting sites managed by different companies.

“It was a wild experience trying to plan a film around tree-planting conditions,” he said about the chaos that comes with being weather-dependent.

While one part of it looks at the technicalities and intense labour involved in planting trees in rugged terrain and harsh weather conditions, the other part is all about “human experiences.”

“We’ve untapped a very complex world of forestry in this work with a lot of different opinions,” he said

Interviews with tree planters form the crux of the documentary. They talk about the brutal back-breaking labour involved to get anywhere between 10 to 35 cents for each tree planted. On average, a worker plants 1,000 to 4,000 trees every day.

While some of them reflect on the isolating experience, there are others who find their zen and reach a meditative stage by “shutting out the pain and the thorns” and focusing on planting one tree after the other.

Then there’s the crying and the breakdowns, which according to Bumstead is a rite of passage for most tree planters.

“Everybody is expected to cry at least once.”

He too wept, in a planting season right before his sister’s wedding.

Between scenes, there’s also a glimpse into the parties, camaraderie, music and laughter that echo around campfires on late evenings. These campfires are where profound conversations about politics, environment and other reflections take place.

Bumstead recalls his conversations with tree planters who were ex-oil rig workers, law students and climate change deniers among others, before saying “everybody’s experience is vastly different.”

A segment of the film also dives into the gender politics involved in a “mostly male-dominated” tree-planting industry. A female interviewee – who planted around 450,000 trees – reflects on her experience that was marred by a male co-worker’s inappropriate behaviour. And complaining was futile as “he wasn’t getting fired because he planted the most trees.”

The documentary is fast-paced, goes from extreme highs to lows, and touches on a wide range of subjects. But Bumstead likes to look at it as an “adventure story” – a universal adventure that any tree planter goes through in Canada.

The idea of the film dawned on Bumstead after reading the obituary of a co-worker who planted a million trees before he died at 30.

“I was thinking about his life and how he spent a lot of time to plant all those trees,” said Bumstead, adding, “we don’t know what the achievement of planting one million trees looks like.”

And it is this feat that the film chronicles by taking viewers through the intricacies of planting the first tree to presenting some hitherto unseen insights of complex experiences.

The film has entered several film festivals and Everett said they would like to continue working on the subject of forestry and silviculture and hopefully make a series going forward.

He already has an idea for the next film – it might look into Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s plans to plant two billion trees across Canada over the next decade.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Campbell RiverSaywardvancouverisland

Just Posted

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

The remains of the Mid-Island Co-op in Whiskey Creek along the Alberni Highway on Friday, June 18, after a blaze the day before devastated the gas station. (Michael Briones photo)
VIDEO: Whiskey Creek gas station destroyed by fire after camper van explosion

Nine fire departments responded to the incident, no injuries reported

New Vancouver Island University chancellor Judith Sayers was sworn in at a virtual ceremony June 17. (Submitted photo)
VIU’s new chancellor seeks innovation and equality in post-secondary education

Judith Sayers officially sworn in as Vancouver Island University chancellor

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Karl and Stephanie Ann Johanson were thrilled to spot a pair of Sandhill Cranes in the Panama Flats this month, an unusual appearance for such birds. (Photo by Stephanie Ann Johanson)
WATCH: Sandhill cranes an unusual, joyful sight in South Island parkland

These birds don’t often touch down on their way between northern B.C. and Mexico

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

(V.I. Trail/Google Maps)
Now 90% complete, Vancouver Island trail forges new funding parnership

Victoria Foundation takes on Vancouver Island Trail Association; fund valued at $40,000

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Freighters have becomd abundant in the Trincomali Channel on the east side of Thetis Island.
Nanaimo ponders taking on waste from nearby anchored freighters

Vancouver-based Tymac petitioning the Regional District of Nanaimo to accept waste at its landfill

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read