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 Media file photo
Tofino sets municipal tax rates

Tofino’s residential property values are rising while businesses are declining.

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of a Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu on May 8. (Black Press Media file photo)
Indigenous woman shot by police was holding a replica gun, says Ucluelet First Nation

Woman has been identified as a member of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation

Amphitrite Point lighthouse on Ucluelet’s Wild Pacific Trail during a massive winter storm. (Westerly file photo)
Ucluelet’s Official Community Plan public hearing goes ahead despite push back

A petition calling on Ucluelet council to postpone the May 13 virtual event fails to deter

The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police “E” Division Headquarters, in Surrey, B.C., on Friday April 13, 2018. Indigenous leaders are calling for an investigation into the conduct of Mounties on Vancouver Island after two police shootings of members of a small First Nations community in three months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Indigenous leaders call for clarity, investigation into RCMP after B.C. shooting

The RCMP declined to comment on the requests by Indigenous leaders

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation elected chief councillor Moses Martin, who was also Chantel Moore’s grandfather, speaks to media in Port Alberni on Aug. 16, 2020, during a visit from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh following the police shooting of Chantel Moore. (Elena Rardon photo)
Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chief says community “devastated” by third police shooting

Woman shot by Ucluelet RCMP in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu on May 8.

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

Capt. Arpit Mahajan of the Canadian Forces Snowbirds - Snowbirds 2 - shows off his ‘Jenn Book’ dedicated to Capt. Jennifer Casey. Zoom screenshot
Homecoming for B.C.-raised Snowbirds pilot training in the province

Capt. Arpit Mahajan flies Snowbird 2 in his first year as a solo pilot with the team

A nurse asks screening questions at an immunization appointment in Nanaimo earlier this year. (Shawn Wagar/Island Health photo)
Island Health appreciates nurses answering the call in challenging times

Health authority draws attention to National Nursing Week

BC Housing minister David Eby. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Eby jabs back against Penticton mayor’s ad urging BC Premier to intervene in shelter dispute

Eby writes that Penticton’s ‘serious’ social issues won’t improve under leadership of the mayor

What3words was first created in the U.K. in 2013 and is credited to saving the lives of outdoor enthusiasts around the world. (Contributed)
‘This is a life saving tool’: App helps paramedics find capsized canoeists near Revelstoke

What3words pinpoints the person’s phone location to a three-meter range

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 rate creeps up again, 600 new cases Wednesday

One more death, 423 people in hospital with virus

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham takes questions in the B.C. legislature in 2017. (Hansard TV)
UPDATE: B.C. will fund another year of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in schools

John Horgan government working on school meal program

Surrey RCMP is releasing sketches of a suspect in an “indecent act” at the Coyote Creek Elementary playground on April 30, 2021. Police said the suspect was clean-shaven “during some interactions” and on “other occasions had stubble outlining a goatee and mustache.” (Images: Surrey RCMP handout)
Vancouver mayor-elect Kennedy Stewart addresses supporters in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver mayor says there’s no time to redo details of drug decriminalization plan

Kennedy Stewart says a federal election could see the small window of opportunity close on the city’s bid for an exemption from criminal provisions on simple possession of small amounts of drugs

Most Read