Summer Rayne Oakes Hosts Private Screening of New Environmental Short Film "Extinction" (Photos)

summer rayne oakes clayton haskell photo

Summer Rayne Oakes with director Clayton Haskell. Photo: Emma Grady

We've seen Summer Rayne Oakes in action before -- she's no silent advocate for ethics in the fashion industry -- but what her new short film, "eXtinction," reveals is a personal heart-wrenching look at the pressing environmental issues of our day and, more specifically, in her own lifetime, from birth to death.

On July 7, I got a first look at her new environmental art film, directed by Clayton Haskell and written and produced by Oakes, at a private screening hosted with Above Magazine at the Phaidon store in New York City.

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Film screening scene at Phaidon. Photo: Emma Grady

"Most of my career has really been about telling the positive side of the green movement," Oakes says, "but for us to really recognize the challenges we face, we have to understand the extent of the challenges." And so, the model and author turns to film to share statistics -- to the sound of chilling classical music -- juxtaposed with striking imagery.

Summed up in three words, Oakes says, it's about "nature: chillingly beautiful." She continues, below.

I think it's shocking when you look at some of the statistics about what is happening in our world. You can read those statistic until your blue in the face and it doesn't mean anything but when you see it compared to your life and projected on to your child's life, it has more meaning.

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Extinction film screening. Photo: Summer Rayne Oakes

Though the film is already a highly personal look at Oakes' connection with nature, it hit an even deeper note when Oakes spoke to the passing of her mentor Tom Eisner. While at Cornell University, she took his class called, "The Love of Nature." She recalls the experience, below.

Some people took the class for an easy "A." Others, like me, took it for the reason it was made in the first place: to remember why they love being out in nature, which surprisingly we can so often forget when we're caught up in our work, in the science, or the competitive mindset that is so often instilled in a first class academic institution.

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Photo: Andrew Bicknell

So this film, I hope in some small way, memorializes his work, what he inspired in me, and the great loss I feel with him gone.

The film came into fruition through a "shared vision," Oakes says, with director Clayton Haskell. Summer Rayne Oakes, like the architect, "crafting the blueprint and laying the foundation for the work," and Haskell, like the "creative mason, building the outward-facing edifice brick-by-brick."

extinction premiere photo

Photo: Andrew Bicknell

In an interview, post film screening, Haskell tells me what he wants viewers to get out of the film:

Film is a powerful medium and I love that it demands your time and can, hopefully, invoke something in you. For me, it's all about the dialogue after. This film is asking a question and I hope people go home and continue to ask questions: Why is it like this? What can we do? Is this for real?

In response, to one of the environmental catastrophe referenced in the film, the shocking state of world's reefs, Haskell points out that there are reef awareness programs and people who are actively trying to stop the fact that the world's reefs are rapidly disappearing. In short, "there are things people can do," but dialogue is where it all starts.

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Photo: Andrew Bicknell

According to Oakes, the film will likely go directly into the film festival circuit as an environmental art short. It won't be available for viewing until it is screened at a film festival; a date or location is not yet confirmed.

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