Four Santa Barbara High Schoolers Debut Elephant Doc
By Sheyla Molho
It isn’t everyday that you find five teenage boys
from California interested in making a documentary on, of all
things, African elephants.
Thanks to their love for film, four Santa Barbara
17-year-olds—Freddie Weston Smith, Freddy Meyer, Bradley
Lonson, and Spencer Spottiswoode—and one 18-year-old
university student from Pasadena named Toby
Eversole went to South Africa along with the Disney
Studios vet team. Once there, they helped tackle the overpopulation
of elephants problem in Africa in a somewhat controversial manner:
they captured the first vasectomy ever performed on a male
Exploring other methods besides vasectomies, birth control for
female elephants, and translocation, the group found many of the
alternatives unsuccessful. Through numerous interviews with
authorities and elephant conservationists, no side is left out and
all are debated on this divisive issue. Along their journey, the
boys even find themselves in one African village coaching the
people on how to use a computer.
Surprising for their ages, this isn’t the boys’ first film: Last
year, SBIFF premiered their first documentary Border of Hope, Border of
Despair, a film about the problems in Thailand and Burma.
The success of that adventure kept them going and influenced them
to tackle important issues all around the world.
See Desperate Measures: The Dilemma of the South African
Elephant on Saturday, January 27, at 7 p.m. in Center Stage
Theater and on Wednesday, January 31, at 4 p.m. in the Marjorie
Luke Theatre at Santa Barbara Junior High’s Cota Street campus.