Rather, Burtynsky said that, for him, the more interesting conversation is how to mitigate the enormous strain on resources while making sure biodiversity is left intact.
‘How do we go forward without destroying everything in our path?’
Burtynsky has worked with filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier since 2004, when he and his photos of factories and dams and quarries were the subject for the documentary called ‘Manufactured Landscapes,’ which was released in the U.S. in the summer of 2007.
They started collaborating for the next documentary called ‘Watermark,’ a look at humanity’s relationship to and with water in around 2010. While doing press for the film’s release in 2013, Baichwal and Burtynsky, noting the interest in the documentary, began thinking about an approach to tell the story of how humans are reshaping the planet.
‘So the film, you know, we felt was a great success and we thought was there something else that we can do,’ he recalled.
Baichwal suggested that they do a film on the Anthropocene.
Burtynsky said: ‘I was real skeptical at first because I felt that, you know, if you put a film out there and nobody knows what the word is, do you immediately kind of say, well, why should I go see that film?’
But eventually they decided to bring awareness to the word and its meaning.
‘”Anthropocene” seemed to be a kind of an umbrella that also contained a lot of the subjects that I had already worked on over a 30-year period,’ he explained.
Burtynsky had photographed mining, quarrying, agriculture, urbanization, urban sprawl, as well as other subjects throughout his career.
‘So of all these things were already in my repertoire and I had already done work along those lines in China.’