An exciting adventure story with personal drama and high stakes, as well as a glimpse behind the scenes of the highly regarded National Geographic brand
Jim and Elaine Larison spent years studying, exploring, and living in wild places, making more than thirty environmental films, most for the National Geographic Society. These films won more than forty international awards from leading environmental and broadcast organizations. This memoir tells the story behind the adventure and describes the rather substantial personal costs of this career.
While shooting film in Alaska, Jim Larison narrowly survived a devastating airplane crash in the Bering Sea. Later, while filming on the Great Barrier Reef, the Larisons fought off an aggressive twelve-foot tiger shark. Midway through their careers, the Larisons were nearly swept to their deaths by an icefall while filming on Mount Robson. Full of risk and personal conflict, On Assignment is also a touching look at the tender bonds that held the married couple together while they struggled to complete their many film assignments.
The Larisons were changed by what they saw and what they captured on film: the destruction of forests, the death of coral reefs, and global warming.
In the beginning, the Larisons wanted nothing more than to spend time in the wilderness. By the end, they were fighting for its very survival.
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“No one works harder on his films than Jim Larison…What drives these films—and what is integral to their success—is more than technical prowess with a motion picture camera and a refined aesthetic sensibility; it is, as well, a passion for the subject at hand and a depth of knowledge about it. Jim’s passion for ecology, biodiversity, and the health of the environment is what fuels his desire to make his films the most effective communication tools they can possibly be.”
Donald M. Cooper, former associate director and acting director, Educational Films Division, National Geographic Society