In a dramatic attempt to bring awareness to the changing continent, an international expedition led by renowned explorer Will Steger embarked on the first-ever coast-to-coast expedition across Antarctica in 1989. Six men and their sled dogs braved howling storms, sub-zero temperatures, snow crevasses, and other perils as they traversed the icy terrain. Tasha Van Zandt’s enthralling feature debut catches up with Steger 30 years later as he embarks on a journey to the opposite end of the Earth, deftly weaving his contemporary journey with rare, dynamic footage of his original, treacherous seven-month odyssey.
Bay Area filmmaker Tasha Van Zandt has traveled the world documenting stories across all seven continents as a director, producer, cinematographer, and photojournalist. Her projects have been supported by The Sundance Institute, Film Independent, and SFFILM. After making a number of shorts, including One Thousand Stories (2020) about the artist JR, she makes her feature documentary debut with After Antarctica. Her latest short, Tehachapi, is also screening at the 2021 SFFILM Festival.
Read below for a full transcript of the conversation.
Lauren McBride- Sorry. I was on mute. Fantastic. Hi, Tasha. So Tasha Van Zandt, the director and producer of After Antarctica, which is having its world premiere here at the SFFILM international festival is with us. Hello, Tasha. Thank you so much for joining.
Tasha Van Zandt - Hi, everyone. So good to be here.
Lauren - We also have Will Steger, who is the incredible protagonist of this documentary. Will is an explorer and the founder of Climate Generation and the Steger Center in Minnesota. And I'm just so excited to meet you and to get to speak with you and learn more about your experience and your process of making this film. So welcome, Will.
Will Steger - Thank you, Lauren, for inviting me.
Lauren - Of course. So I think it's probably best to start at the beginning and how you two got together and how you connected and started working on this film to begin with. Tasha, can you tell us the origin story?
Tasha - It's true. Well, so I grew up in Minnesota, which is where Will's from. And as Will knows, Will was a hometown hero to me. And I really grew up admiring all of his work and his expeditions. I remember hearing so many stories about his treks to Antarctica and the North Pole and the Arctic Ocean and Greenland and reading National Geographic magazines and tearing up pictures of his stories and expeditions. And so had really admired Will and just the remarkable path that he's paved and using expeditions as a tool, really, to ignite people to get excited around our environment and our natural world. And then over the years, around eight years ago had the opportunity to meet Will after a talk. Will was just so wonderful and we connected right away, and pretty shortly after was able to come up to the Wilderness Center to see it for the first time and start getting to know Will and finding ways to volunteer and just use my camera in any way that I could. And so, yeah, that was about eight years ago now. And then we started production on film about four years ago.
Lauren - Wow. And Will, for you, The Steger Center, I've just seen pictures of it. It's breathtaking. I know so much of what you aim to do with that space is to get people excited about conservation and the environment and thinking about our planet in a different way. How have those goals fed into the documentary? What kinds of things do you hope to accomplish with this film?
Will - Well, all my life, I worked internationally the last 25 years and international cooperation and our solutions to our major problems now are through cooperation. We need international, but also, we need younger people. We need all generations involved. So my life has been one of an educator bringing awareness to people particularly about environmental issues. And the film is really great. And it's been a pleasure working with Natasha and Sebastian. We were talking the other day, we're better than family because we've been literally living together. We spend all the holidays and they came up to our last expedition. So they had the patience. And I just opened my life up to them. And just remarkable how sensitive they are and observant. And I seldom like looking at any documentary or film of myself but I have to compliment them that for the first time I feel after 50 years of doing media, it's a remarkable, I feel remarkable story that they were able to pull out of me.
Lauren - That's absolutely true. And I'm so glad that you're walking away from the film also seeing truth in yourself reflected in it, because that's not always the case. It's a testament, I think, to Tasha's skill and talent. I'm curious, Will, in the documentary you mentioned that you bought 200 farm acres in Minnesota when you were 19 years old. And I'm curious what did 19 year old Will think he was going to do with all that land?
Will - No, actually originally I bought, it was 30 acres, very remote land. it's three miles from the road. I put down a $5 bill and a $20 travelers check and it took me two years, it was $800 which was a lot of money back then. But my goal was ever since I can remember, I wanted to live in the wilderness and that was kind of a $25 down payment to that dream. I was very fortunate in my life. I was born in a stable family. We had nine kids and our parents allowed us total freedom. And I took advantage of that. So I had the freedom to explore and take my own risk. Even if things were dangerous, parents never stopped me. So I was raised in such a way I never saw barriers. And getting that property, I didn't think much of it because that's where I was heading for. That was at age 19. And when I was 25, after I finished my schooling and had three years of teaching experience, I moved up there in 1970. And I made my life there. I started a school, winter school and there was dog teams. And that eventually led me to exploring. I had done pretty major expeditions as the films reflects from 15 to 25 real major stuff. I was not new to expeditions, but the dogs opened up the whole new arena of the Arctic and the polar regions. A lot of geographical firsts that had never been done. And I was able to pretty much complete the last crossing of Antarctica was Shackleton's dream back in 1914 and their ship was crushed. And I was able to complete that dream at that time. But all along, I was a teacher, I was geology, climatology, glaciology. So I was very much aware. I taught climate change in my classes in the '60s. But then through my exploration with dogs, I began to see the first changes in the polar regions. And then eventually, all the routes today I've taken now are no longer possible. So I took 2002 when the Larsen ice shelf broke up, I left my life up in Ely, moved down to Minneapolis. And actually I've been there for 18 years through COVID, is my first time being home for a full year. But where I formed an organization called Climate Generation. That was my organization helped start the climate movement back in 2002. And now we're all eye witnesses to that.
Lauren - And I think your point about eye witnesses is so important. What I find most striking about the film, Tasha is we have grainy images from the 1800s of those early expeditions to Antarctica, but seeing in live color in video, the footage you have is really incredible. And I'd love to hear from you, what was your process of getting all of that archival footage, of getting through all of that archival footage. And has any of that transit Antarctica footage ever been used for any other films or documentaries before?
Tasha - That's a great question. I think like you said to Will's point of the eyewitnesses, just I think being able to see these spaces, like you said just really transforms what it means when we talk about the loss of ice shelf, the loss of ice to really see these incredible moments that Will and his team had of adventure and cooperation and connection on the ice. And then to know that parts of this route no longer exist on the ice shelves. For the footage itself, Will and his team such a large part of that expedition was their mission in drawing world attention to the international treaty and renewing the international treaty. And so they really wanted to be able to get the world watching to really understand what's at stake with Antarctica. And so by the finish line, they could meet with world leaders and really ignite and inspire that change to renew the treaty. But in order to do that, they really needed the images and the media as a part of that process. So they had a wonderful film crew from France that came in at checkpoints along the way. And that team, as you see in the film there's just so much beautiful stunning footage that really captures the adventure and each of the team members so beautifully. And then in terms of how it was used, there was a French broadcast for the media in 1990 after the expedition, but there was so many hours of raw footage that had never been used. So when I started working with Will, Will has just been the most gracious, wonderful and generous with his story and also with archives and has this incredible us face just films with all of these amazing archives from his life that Sebastian who worked with myself on the film, and I were able to go and look through everything. But we ended up going through around 35 to 40 hours of footage from French film crew team. And a lot of that was simply sound which is really remarkable, but what's even better is that Will, Will could speak more to this but in his tent along the journey, Will actually recorded audio journals along the way. So you'll see in the film that we have handwritten journals from Will based on Will's handwriting and real excerpts from his journals. But there's also when we're in the past, we're entirely in the past and you hear audio from Will's audio tapes. And so these journals and recordings are really amazing. Will did an exhibit once called Inside an Explorers Mind but it really takes you inside of his mind throughout the way. It's all been thanks to Will. We've been able to really build this in a way that we wanted to feel as immersive as possible, so that hopefully, people can really feel that connection to the loss of these spaces.
Lauren - I'm curious for you, Will, because I know watching the film and listening to your audio journals and hearing when things got really hard, and at stages in the expedition, what was it like revisiting some of that and seeing it again after 30 years or if you've seen it since then? What was the emotional, how did that resonate with you?
Will - The six of us we survived, We never really talked much about what we went through together, but we were so tight as six. And what struck me on the film was the cooperation the countries working together as a background of the social changes that we're facing very abruptly right here. And the hope lies that we can come together in unity, all races and all cultures. And I always thought back about international cooperation, what that did, it was, we preserved Antarctica through that. And when I need hope, when I see the reality of climate change I always often reflect back on that. But seeing it in film and so forth, these great friendships and brotherhood that we had between us. And then the journals, I did about 180 hours of recordings. And Natasha and Sebastian went through all that. And journals, I had about 700 pages of journals. So I well-documented. But it was just interesting reading through and listening to some of that again. And I had good feelings about it all. And at the time I was not in good terms with Antarctica, but, it was great looking back at that.
Lauren - I'm curious, you mentioned the international cooperation and how important that is in order to make the significant changes that are relative or to stem the dangerous repercussions of climate change. You guys were making this film, as we were withdrawing from the Paris Accords. There was a lot of work happening to push us in a direction away from international cooperation which sounds like it was the case in 1989, the U.S wasn't even one of the countries that actively participated in the trans Antarctica. And so I'm curious, how, Will, for you, but also Tasha, for you as a filmmaker, what urgency do you feel around getting this out and telling the story? We're back in the accords now, but still the international cooperation that's important. How do you hope that the film influences that?
Will - Natasha, you go first.
Tasha - Sure. That's such a great question, Lauren, because it really had such an impact on us when we were looking at Will's story and looking at just how urgent and timely his story is. Will gives these fantastic talks called his eyewitness talk. And that really inspired us a lot in our story and looking at the structure of just hearing how Will has talked about the changes he's seen from then to now. But also, we've been really struck by just how much so many of the themes and messages from their expedition then ring true today in this present moment, and how much we need international cooperation now just as much as ever before. But also, what really has inspired me about Will and Will's story is that Will, as an individual, has taken so many steps to draw together people in collective action. And I think that's a really inspiring call to action for all of us as there's so many steps that we can take individually. But when we can bring together people around a common goal such as the climate crisis, so much change can happen.
Lauren - Sorry, Will, were you going to say something?
Will - No. I'll make a statement. There was a certain comment you made about the Paris Accord and withdrawing from that. I've been in this long haul, so it was discouraging but when something like that happens, working on the environment, it's like pushing a heavy ball up a hill and sometimes it rolls back on your toes and it really hurts, but you just keep moving. I worked a lot with a lot of young activists that were very discouraged at that time, but you just have to keep moving, just keep up what you're doing, and the right thing will prevail, eventually especially when you're cooperating and working. And this is a great thing to work on climate right now because we're having some victories out. We do have to adapt. I think it's what our society needs. It's social engagement is one of the solutions. We all have to be together on it working together because it's our climate. And it's something that you have to have persistence on but that persistence really pays off in the long run.
Lauren - It's interesting you said, it's like rolling a ball uphill and sometimes it rolls back. And watching this film, it's a lot about endurance and sticking to the plan, even as things get difficult. And honestly, that reminds me a little bit of filmmaking how it can be. It's a lot, it's a marathon. It is not a sprint. And so Tasha for you, like you mentioned you started shooting this film four years ago and here we are four years later and you have a finished movie. What was the process of getting this film made like, getting it funded, what kind of support did you need in order to actually get the ball uphill?
Tasha - Well, that's such a good question too, because it is such a sport of endurance and perseverance. I look back at our filmmaking journey in itself, we talked with Will about this the other day. It felt like our own trans-Antarctica expedition in the making of this film. It's really was such an expedition in itself. And I think in times of hardship, we really looked to Will and his perseverance and endurance and the way that he's kept putting one foot in front of the other throughout his life in those times. And it's really inspired us to keep going throughout this journey. But in terms of the process itself, for me, Will had been such an inspiration in my life. And once I got to know Will, I just knew that I wanted to be able to share his story in the hopes that it could inspire others as much as it had inspired me in my life. But in order to do that, there's so many obstacles and challenges. And so Sebastian who worked on the film with myself, we largely worked as a two person team, filming and doing sound and trading off the camera and just doing everything we could to push that ball up the hill as Will says as far as we could, until we had something where we could really start to bring on the other wonderful members of our team and get it to the finish line. But really, it's been so inspiring looking at Will and how he's persevered. And a lot of times when it can be so challenging in getting to that finish line with the film, we thought, "Well, Will brought together "an international team, crossed Antarctica. "And made it through 60 days of storms, "we can finish this." So it was very good to be able to share it and talk about it with Will and you now.
Lauren - That's so true. That will humble you to anything it's like, If Will can, I can probably make this movie.
Tasha - Yes, very comforting.
Lauren - To that point, Tasha was talking about the team sport that is movie making, having other collaborators and folks involved. And there's a moment in the film where you call your solo trips mobile monasteries, and that you say it's safer to go alone. And I'm curious, doing this film and even this trek that we get to see in the film, obviously, Tasha was there, since someone was shooting with you. And what was that like for you to have company on your mobile monastery? Did it change the texture of a trip or anything for you?
Will - That was good observation. Natasha and Sebastian always came in at the end of the expedition. So I'd been out there 75 days and so happy to see someone else. But then when you're on an expedition and you're doing a movie, you have to be extremely patient. And we had one team member, Jeff Summers from England that he had a problem with the film crew because whenever they came in, because it was difficult because you have to slow down and you'd freeze your feet so forth. So it's a different pace. But in this case, it was at the end of the expedition and it was great seeing them. But then we just shot and reshot and reshot and reshot. And when you're doing film like that if you're the subject, you've got to put in your best because if you don't, you have to redo it again. So you have to be at your best, the best you can. There's a misconception there. It's cool having a film made of you. No, it takes a lot of effort, a lot of time, but through all that comes the footage and the story comes out of it. But it's the genius of Sebastian and Natasha they have pulled all this complexity of thousands of hours of film and audio and interviews, and many, many interviews with various people and then pulling it together and getting it to a tight 147 minutes. That's where the art form is. And I would have to say it is like a Zen Monastery doing a subject of the film because it's that type of patience too, you just get with it and enjoy it as much as you can although you might be freezing. But the filmmaker is always freezing more than you are.
Lauren - Is that true, Tasha were you freezing more than-
Tasha - Oh my gosh, it was pretty amazing seeing Will in his element because here Sebastian and I were completely bundled up. But you'll see some of the shots, Will's down to his sweater and just ready to go and pretty amazing. Towards the end of the film you see one of the last days of Will's expedition where the ice is very blue and melty and slushy and it started to melt really rapidly at the end. I remember we were just keeping up the pace with Will because to see him in his element and going, we were very impressed to see him out there in that way. So it was really special. I think we've also been inspired because Will, in addition to being an educator and activist and incredible explorer, he's also a really incredible documentarian. So Will had a camera. We used some of the clips in the film along the way. But whether it's his audio journals or his written journals or his dispatches, it's been really special to get to hear Will's story through his own voice as well and see how to bring that to life in the film.
Lauren - That's so interesting, Will, because I think I read somewhere that you actually release your journals and your dispatches for students to learn about exploration. Is that part of your education work?
Will - Yeah, actually, I was fortunate to be around, I was into twenty-five years of expeditions already when the internet came on board in the late '80s. I've worked with Al Gore and I read his research papers on in 1987. And at that time I was considering getting out of expeditions because the expedition wasn't enough. But with the internet coming on board, I realized, the whole world is going to change and I'll be able to bring real time adventure into the classroom. It's the adventure that catches the curiosity and the dogs and the Arctic is such a fascinating subject, and then along with that, the environment. So the internet and developing the earlier programs when people did not have a concept of what it was and the technology wasn't there and then I formed a number of nonprofits, some are still going right now, some projects that I've done. So as an educator was really an opportunity all along. And for me, it's very important to share my stories and the more live the better. And because that's what really influences. Some of our expeditions, we've had millions and millions of younger kids following us on a day-to-day basis. And that's been a very, very good experience for me is being able to share that and to use it and inform people about this incredible environment, and how it's changing right now. And then telling people it's changing is not good enough. You have to have solutions and everything else. You can't leave people hanging, what do you do? What's the solution? I work a lot in that through my nonprofit, Climate Generation.
Lauren - Can you tell us a little about the work, what Climate Generation does and for folks listening, how they might be able to get involved or learn more?
Will - Climate Generation, you can go to climategeneration.org. And we work in K-12 education, youth organizing. We started climate justice 14 years ago, so we're way ahead of that. We're right on top of that. And I worked a lot in policy to get clean energy policy that favored the wind. And I did a lot of politics on that behind that. But presently, we have 18 staff, a lot of educators on board. We're very active with the youth movement and climate justice in Minneapolis. We're at ground zero of all the changes that you're unfortunately seeing on TV, that's where our offices right near were Floyd episode happened there. So our youth and our people live in that area. And it's really an incredible organization but we're online. There's a lot of ways if you're a teacher or a student of getting involved, so climategen.org is on that one. The other one is Stegers, Stegercenter.org. We're doing a new website right now. So it's just a one pager up right now.
Lauren - That's awesome. And I love that you mentioned climate justice because for me, admittedly, I grew up in Atlanta. I've never been in the woods before when I moved out to California. And so I felt very removed from what climate change was and what the earth means to my own existence. And climate justice is really what helped connect me to the climate movement and understanding how it's impacting communities that I grew up in, and that I know people in, and things like asthma rates and access to clean water and things like that are really climate problems that we're not addressing and thinking about. I'm really encouraged by the fact that you're supporting young people in those communities in thinking about climate in that context. And Tasha, I'm curious, what are you working on now? You have two films in our festivals. You've got lots of films done. Are you in the works with anything else?
Tasha - Well, right now, what's really exciting this is our first launch of the film and we're going to start bringing it into festivals. But we're also starting to develop our education and impact with the film. And with this film it's so much Will's eye witness story but everyone has an eyewitness story to tell now whether it's here on the West coast in California and seeing the wild fires. And we're also going to see these changes in our own backyards. So we're currently taking steps to launch that this year. And then starting to develop what comes next as well in early stages.
Lauren - That's very exciting. Well, I want to make sure we take some questions from our audience. So just to reminder audience members, if you have questions you can submit them in the Q&A. We have a couple of that have come in so far. So one question, actually, I've got a couple of questions about the dogs. And so one question is about what breed they are. So are they Greenland dogs Alaskan Huskies, Canadian Huskies? What breed of dogs do you generally work with?
Will - We bred our own breed of dogs called the Polar Husky. I live in a remote area. So back then we used dogs to move in our supplies. I ran a school with dogs. So dogs were for 25 years, a big part of my life. But we bred a special dog, which mostly Northern breeds. We use a lot of the Eskimo dog which a really huge dog, real tough, strong. We bred in the Alaskan Husky, which is a more of a racing dog with great spirit, a little bit of Wolf Siberian. And what we did is we lengthened the legs a little bit for the stride for this longer trip but they had a really tough paws, the toughest animal. Our dogs were toughest animals. The Eskimo dog is really you can't beat that for toughness in cold weather. And they're right at home at that, 40 below is no problem for them. They have more of a problem if it gets above zero, they overheat. So which we didn't have that trouble on that trip. So, and then our dogs are extremely friendly. The little ones are raised in families, so they're socialized real well. They're trained real well. We take good care of them, lots of attention. They love people. They like snow and they like pulling. So they have this remarkable spirit that they just want to run and pull. And they're really cool dogs. They're fun to be around. They haul, they don't bark, but they haul like wolves. And the whole team will haul together. The teams, we had three teams and each team is like a family unit. Each team, we raise them within a family. And they have a bloodline. A lot of the bloodline goes way back too. So they're very stable that way. And our biggest concern all along was I mentioned in the film the dogs, not so much our welfare, but the dogs. And so they're really a wonderful animal.
Lauren - That's incredible. Some of my favorite moments in the film were how you all were really possessive and defensive and protective of the dogs. And they need time. They need sleep. They need rest. It's too cold. It's too much. It was really encouraging. We have another dog question. How did you bring enough food for the dog on your Antarctic expeditions?
Will - That was a difficulty because it was 3,700 miles. We couldn't do it unsupported. So we had to lay out the first 2000 miles. We went down through a Russian ship and then a plane and we laid out depot spots every 250, 300 miles caches with supplies. But then there was also in fickle weather even in summer. But the problem there is we lost three of these caches in the storms. Fortunately, we lost every other one or else we would have perished. And so there was no GPS back then. Nothing was certain at all. And then on the other side of the continent the last 2000 miles, we crossed what's called the area of inaccessibility, it's the coldest place on the planet. And no one had ever crossed it. The temperatures there in the winter are 120 below. But we had record warm one day, it was 13 below. But there, we relied on an airplane but the radio did not work. So what we did is every two kilometers, every mile and a half, we stopped and made still Karens, like a little snow person. And then we were at 10,000 feet of plateaus. So these little Karens or snow people would cast a shadow. So when the plane would take off at the South pole, it'd fly maybe 3000 feet above and they would see this line of shadows and then they would follow that line of shadows. And our last resupply was from San Francisco to Denver, and they followed that whole distance on the shadows. And then sure enough, at the end, there we were, but it was possible there if we got lost, we would have just disappeared. No one would ever hear from us again. It's that type of stuff. But getting the food in, the resupply was very difficult. That was a big logistical- The reason why we were successful, One reason we were successful is that we managed. But we came very close a number of times of perishing. We were talking about dogs. If the dogs go, you go. You're tied in there real particular here. If one goes the other's not going to live either. And then as a leader, a couple of times I made a decision to feed our food to the dogs. And at first people, questioned my decision but later, there was no problem. In fact, Victor wanted feed them too much. I said, "No wait a second, "we need some for ourselves too." But that's how closely tied we were to our dogs.
Lauren - We have another question about, so the person asks, "what would you recommend to young people to discover "and experience solitude in nature?" Maybe if they don't have as much experience or access to the great outdoors.
Will - It depends on, when you're in the city, New York, for example, Central Park we have parks, we have nature's short walks and then some of us are more lucky to access wilderness and also too, if you're younger in the summertime you might be able to join a group, that could give you transportation or people that have the knowledge of climbing or canoeing. There's lots of clubs to do that. I take things always to extreme. It'd be difficult I think to get a solo type trip but you can still do that. We're very lucky in the United States and with Canada, North of us, we have incredible amount of land. I live right by the Canadian border and there's really virtually no private land there, it's by the bounty waters. So we have all our state parks and beautiful national parks too. So if you have a desire to do that, connect with other people and make some friends that way, that's a great way of making friends. But it doesn't have to be a major expedition, just getting out in nature. It's so important for us to get grounded because we get so involved in our media. We just get too involved in it. We need to take a break and get out, look at the clouds and the birds and the beauty of this incredible creation that's around us. And if you're ever so fortunate to get away from the night lights to the stars which is I always try my soul is from that.
Lauren - Thank you. I'm taking some notes on that, myself, how to get away. Tasha, this is for you. We have another question. What was your favorite part about working on this project?
Tasha - That's a good question. There's so many. My favorite part has really just been the incredible friendship with Will and getting to work on this together. I have learned so much from Will, more than I ever thought I could, just even outside of the film in terms of perseverance, endurance through hardship, learning about our natural world and how to take action but also just personally, how to really persevere. And that's been the most special thing. Like Will said earlier, we've spent so much time together, holidays and time at the homestead. I think the journey itself has just been such a beautiful process and friendship in addition to the creation of the film which has been really exciting to be able to hopefully then share some of that inspiration that I felt over the years with other people too.
Lauren - That's one of the beauties that I feel of documentary filmmaking or I guess of any filmmaking, it's some of those relationships that you build in unexpected ways. Another question for you, Tasha. Did anything scary happen during your trip? Were there any falls, any animal encounters, anything like that?
Tasha - Nothing too much. Will is such an expert on the ice. I think my first few times walking on the ice, I always felt a little nervous but I always tried to follow in Will's footsteps. I think the biggest challenge was filming in remote locations as a two person team with Sebastian who worked with me is just all the pre-production and trying to plan any little thing we might need because when you're out there on the ice there's nowhere to go for extra batteries or extra media. So I think a lot of those details going into it were the biggest challenges and then a few close calls with some of the equipment. But other than that, we didn't face anything like Will has out on the ice.
Lauren - That is very fortunate. And Will, there's another question for you. Were there any problems communicating among your team from different nations and cultures? Any nuances that became problems?
Will - Fortunately for me, English was how we communicated. But it worked out really well, working with other cultures from six countries this way. We communicated in many different ways. It wasn't always through language. We could communicate quite well We didn't get into lofty ideals like politics and religion because you can't communicate that in that situation. But we communicated during the storms. You talked to your whoever you're tenting with, and then you had lunch hour break which was really miserable and cold. So we'd joke around, or we wouldn't really talk at that time but you're alone a lot but we'd communicate a lot through feeling and action. It was a great experience. And I didn't feel there was any lack of communication, any communication problem. We had trained the year before in Greenland. We did a remarkable 1600 mile unsupported trip, that ice cap which is 10,000 feet. And if it wasn't for Greenland, we wouldn't have been able to do the trip. But we worked through all of our communications, our diet everything you could imagine, our team contract. We had a real thorough team contract which is difficult because you have to think of everything and everybody's concern and book rights and whatever you do, it's gotta be right in there. Because if you can do it together before the expedition on contract then that does not haunt you or get in the way for you. So you really have to be prepared that way too. It's tricky leading teams. I like leading international teams. I've had really good luck with it. And teams with six people from the same culture can always be a lot of problems on that. But you really have to think it through. Communication is everything. If you're a leader and something's going wrong, it's your communication. You're not communicating. So it's gotta be aware of everybody. Other team members, they pull hard and work as hard as they can and we go through the same suffering but they sleep at night. And as a leader, you're responsible for not just the lives of your people, but the lives of your dogs and your film crews and everything that's moving around. That's your responsibility, which I don't mind. I like that. And it takes a great reward if you can do it right. And it's really tough if it does go wrong on the ice.
Lauren - We have another question, just about the logistics of the trip. And that is do you build a new shelter each night during your trip? And what is that process like? Someone asking just about how the actual sleeping works.
Will - Good question. We have three dog teams of 10 dogs each, so three teams, we have six people. So on each dog team, there's enough food and supplies for 10 dogs and two people. Then on that sled would be our tents, the tent for those two people, all the dog food, all the communication. So each dog team is totally self-sufficient. So if you lose a team a dog team in a canvas, or you get lost or so forth. But then, so that means we have three tents, two-person tents, and then we rotate about every six weeks. So you get to know the other people. we know each other quite well because we worked together for two years. But clicks will develop if the same people stay together. and it's a very important to rotate away. But when you're traveling real tight quarters with another teammate, like from China or USSR at that time, it's remarkable because you get to know the culture so well through the team. It's a very rich experience. During hard times, you spend that real close time together taking care of each other and the dogs. It's really quite remarkable.
Lauren - I'm curious for both of you. You've both seen quite a lot of the world through your work in different travels and are there other places that you want to explore? You, Will, is there anywhere else you want to go?
Will - Not really.
Tasha - You're like my backyard in Minnesota.
Will - Although I have traveled- I've been honored to meet world leaders in that internationally. So I've traveled through expeditions and so forth, which is an incredible honor. But I'm 76 and I would like to go to maybe Israel or Iran. I would like to see those countries maybe, but I'm not too fond of jetting around. I do like to pull my own sled. How about Natasha there? You've got a whole life ahead of you. Where do you want to go after this?
Tasha - Right now after being home for the past year I want to go anywhere and everywhere when I can. But my first thing is I definitely want to go back to Minnesota. That's first on my list is once I can. I want to see Will at the homestead and see my family there. But I've just really missed being back there. There's so many places. I definitely want to go on more adventures. I feel very inspired by Will and want to do more travels and more adventures.
Lauren - We have a couple more questions and a couple more minutes. So first Tasha, what advice do you have for filmmakers who are interested in pursuing these adventures and exploratory film projects?
Tasha - That's a good question. I think for me, so much of the process has really, I think I said it a little bit earlier, about that theme of endurance and perseverance is it can be so challenging when have such a big task or a big goal but just keeping your eyes on that north star and keep putting one foot in front of the other and really enjoying the journey along the way. But with film making in these places, I think also one of the biggest things that we've learned is just the importance of pre-production and planning ahead of time, because when we filmed and we were really able to just have everything completely prepared as possible ahead of time, then once we're in the situation, we can adapt and completely go with the flow as much as we need. So I think those are a few things that have been really good lessons and experiences.
Lauren - Nice. Our next question Will, is for you and it's about for people interested in visiting Antarctica what tips do you have and are there resources for them to learn more about it?
Will - The only way to visit Antarctica right now unless you're on scholarship as an artist with National Science Foundation, there are ships that go down. It would be our winter time, which is their summer. They're expensive. It's a trip of a lifetime. So it's something. And then you could check in with National Geographic to begin with. And if you're a younger person, there might be a possibility of getting a scholarship on maybe some of these ships too. But it's well worthwhile. It's expensive, but if you want to go to one place. And the great thing about that is once you go down to Antarctica, you become an ambassador of Antarctica. And when negotiation on the treaty, I actually negotiated for a small degree of tourism down on the Antarctica peninsula because we needed the ambassadors down there, the people, because the way it was before it was all government. And as we saw the treaty, 80 nations behind closed doors 27 of them voted to open up Antarctica for mineral exploration. That's when we took this on, we had to change. In order to change that we had to have all 27 nations reversing that which we were able to do afterwards. And that was a lesson there that we do need have, there's nothing wrong with some tourism. But once somebody goes down there, there'll be more aware and so forth. So if anyone ever gets a chance to do that, it's remarkable. Natasha saw it and Sebastian for the first time. And I came back down there, I came back on good terms again. So that was nice.
Lauren - I'm curious. Is there any risk of a mineral drilling situation arising in Antarctica, again? What's the statute of limitations on that treaty?
Will - I'm not too concerned. They're going to renew it. It was 50 years after, 2040. But however, if they're going to open it up they have to have all the treaty nations. That's the catch. That's the deal. But it's not the minerals that we're concerned with anymore in Antarctica, it's the melting ice and that is going to change humanity and life on this planet, absolutely. We should be concerned not so much about the exploration down there, but everything that we do that causes Antarctica, the warming and the problems that we have with the climate change.
Lauren - So in our last minute, I'm going to ask our last question for you, Will which is for all of our audience members listening what are three things that we can do to help with climate change? Three practical things.
Will - Well, I would say, first of all, think of the power of one individual. And so we would say in Antarctica, if we were a one straw we'd be blown over but we were six straws and we were strong. So I would join with other people, other groups. because once you get a collective spirit together, then you got real momentum. I would say, number two would be educate yourself, take that initiative. You shouldn't be expecting someone to give you 10 things to do, just get on the internet and figure it out and take your self initiative. And I think number three is let's all be very hopeful. Let's have faith in the human spirit and we do have big challenges ahead of ourselves and we're going to have to adapt. But it's not the end of the world, but we need everyone now especially younger people to stand up here for our rights and our climate rights as humans. And we have to also recognize the creation of life, that's what's threatened too. It was not just our society, but it's life. So it's a moral imperative for me. And I think it should be a moral imperative if you really understood it, it would be. But more than anything, be hopeful and stand strong, and unite with other people. That's how we're going to do it.
Lauren - Will, thank you so much. Tasha, thank you so much. I really appreciate you both sharing and being so thoughtful and so open both with the film and with this conversation. So with that, I'm going to hand it back to Mike to close us out.
Mike - Great. Well, very quickly on behalf of First Republic as the host, I just want to thank you Lauren and Tasha and Will, very inspiring. And thank you for bringing attention to such an important issue. And Will, your life's work toward this is just phenomenal.
Will - Thank you.
Mike - Just as a reminder. And I want to thank our audience for joining us. This was really terrific. We have recorded this. So this is on the First Republic website, That's firstrepublic.com. And also as a follow-up, attendees you'll get a personal voucher and it will be sent to you. You'll have a login opportunity to watch the film After Antarctica. And with that, I just wish everybody a great week and great health. Thank you.
Will - Thanks, Lauren.
Lauren - Thank you, Will.
Tasha - Thank you.
Will - Thank you.