The Guitar: A New Kind of Endangered Species

April 04, 2013, 12:00 AM   |   posted by in

musicwoodjm.jpg

What do diapers, paper, tissues, construction materials and furniture have in common? They are things many of us use every day … and they all come from trees. But, as Filmmaker Maxine Trump found out, ask anyone, even a musician, where a guitar comes from, and he or she may not know the answer.

Guitars are made from wood, many of them specifically from old-growth Sitka Spruce from Alaska’s Tongass rainforest, the U.S.’s largest National Forest. Although the guitar industry uses very few trees – compared to the construction industry – to make the instruments, there may not be enough wood to sustain the acoustic guitar making trade indefinitely.

Trump’s documentary, “Musicwood,” focuses on this trend, which she says is a “casualty in this war on wood.” The film’s message: If things don't change, in less than 10 years the guitar as we know it will be no more.

“Wood is not an infinite resource,” explains Trump. “When these giant centuries-old trees are gone, they are gone forever.”

The filmmakers and guitar makers travelled to the Tongass. The forest “was so incredibly far away,” and even once they got there, the giant trees that were going to be the subject of the film were difficult to find.

“We knew this might be the case – this is part of why we were making the film after all,” she says. The journey to find the big trees to film took them deep into the forest, far from any civilization.

“We knew the film would be working if it felt like we were bringing this beautiful rain forest right into your living room,” she says.

She hopes that her film will be a useful resource for audiences to not only get the facts about logging, and about how guitars are made, but also about “this amazing forest right here in the U.S.” and about the Native American culture in Alaska – something “that the average American might have no idea even existed.”

Trump hopes that the Cleveland audiences will enjoy the way this film takes them to places they never thought they'd go, but she also wants those who see it to take the message home. It is up to all of us to preserve the natural beauty of the forest and protect the future of the guitar.

She hopes that people will buy sustainable woods, “just like with other sustainable methods like fishing,” she says, “they can make a difference to the future of these forests.”

– Anne M. DiTeodoro
Photo of Maxine Trump and Josh Granger by Janet Macoska

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Related Screenings:
04/04/13 @ 7:35 PM – Musicwood
04/05/13 @ 4:30 PM – Musicwood

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