Harvey Richards’ environmental film making started in 1960 with his film Perch of the Devil made in Butte, Montana about the 1959 United Mine Workers strike against Anaconda Copper Company. He went back to the subject of mining again, at the end of his filming career in the 1978, with Tales of Two Systems, a critique of corporate devastation of national and world natural resources, focusing on the great open pit mines that are devouring the earth. The film also contrasts capitalist environmental practices with the socialist practices of the Soviet Union.
Harvey’s photo images of mining started out in his Butte, Montana trip in 1960 making Perch of the Devil. He photographed miner’s homes, the streets of Butte, the mine gallows and tailing piles that dominated the town built over “the richest hill on earth”. He photographed the miner’s union hall, the small picket lines and the pall of depression that seemed to hover over the miners. The open pit mining displaced underground hard rock miners altogether. Ten years later, Harvey photographed the awesome gaping holes in the earth that swallowed up much of Butte, with the giant machines and immensely destructive impact on the earth.
Two years after completing Perch of the Devil, Harvey produced his second film on environmental devastation, this time about the destructive practices of corporations in the logging industry. His first logging film was The Stump Makers, followed year with the release of Wasted Woods which documented the destruction of the last of the old growth redwood forests. In 1971 he made Timber Tigers with footage from a national trip to record the rapid advance of forest devouring mechanization and its destructive impacts. His last film on logging came out in 1975 when he collaborated with conservationist Rudolph Becking at Arcata University in northern California to produce Vanishing Redwoods which explores the delicate balance of nature being disrupted by mindless corporate logging practices.
Harvey Richards drove into the forests on logging roads and filmed the cutting and transporting of logs and the wastelands left behind. He photographed the logging mills and the rivers full of cut logs on their way to the mills, and the ships fully loaded with logs on their way to Japan where cutting down trees is illegal. His photo images are a unique resource showing the destructive path that corporate logging has left on the earth.
In 1970, the Save the Bay movement arose to stop the filling of the bay at a time when filling the bay was legal. His film, Warning Warning, and photos in “When Filling the Bay Was Legal, 1969” gallery were part of his efforts to expose the corporate and municipal interests behind the systematic filling of the bay. The film was distributed by the Sierra Club and contributed to the Save the Bay movement that later put a halt to the systematic filling of the Bay by municipalities, corporate and real estate interests.
San Francisco Bay film: Warning Warning.