Project Wild Thing brings to light the nature-deficit disorder that afflicts most children today. Filmmaker David Bond uses his own kids, Ivy (5) and Albie (3), and their city-dwelling lifestyle to illustrate how the stream of advertising and marketing along with the dependence on screens keeps kids inside.
Bond decides to use marketing to his advantage, coins himself Nature’s marketing director, and begins his quest to “sell” a connection to the outdoors. Throughout the film we watch as he consults with other advertising and marketing experts. Every single one agrees Nature is an amazing brand, and it should be an easy sell. Turns out, parents and kids prove not to be as easy to convince.
The first three minutes show a typical struggle that parents will relate to — David tries to get his kids to play outside, but they are watching iPads and TVs and therefore unwilling.
Capturing a typical day of Ivy’s through camera footage, David determines that one-third of her life currently involves screens.
Project Wild Thing
Directors: David Bond and Ashley Jones
Cast: David Bond, Susan Greenfield, Michael Depledge, Chris Packham
Studio: Green Lions
Format: DVD, digital download
Run time: 87 min
MPAA rating: NR
But what’s interesting is that the resistance to going outside isn’t just coming from the kids. In his interviews with parents, Bond finds out that most were worried about, and many were afraid of, letting kids play outside.
But once kids get outside, their resistance falls away. Children and youth who were against the very idea of being outside are now actively involved in exploring trees, flowers, and their environment.
The film is worth watching to see the variety of ways you can get outside, and listening to parents and kids talk about their own experiences and fears about getting outdoors. Watching these barriers and successes together can set your active family up for an enlightened discussion in your own home about wild play outdoors.
Resources for parents and teachers
Projects featured throughout the film that may help parents and educators get kids outdoors: