Back From the Brink

Directed by Melissa Peabody
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Back From The Brink tells the uplifting and unusual tale of the Franciscan Manzanita—a plant that had been extinct in the wild for 70 years, until a passing commuter spotted it growing on a small freeway traffic island, at the northern edge of San Francisco.This half-hour documentary film chronicles a year in this small shrub’s extraordinary life, starting with its unlikely discovery in the middle of a billion-dollar freeway expansion project, just weeks away from breaking ground.

The film follows the fascinating, hilarious, and even poignant ballet of human efforts to save this plant—its removal from a busy midnight highway and transplantation to a compatible and secret location; the development of techniques to coax plant cuttings to root; and the endeavors of many to establish a whole new population of Franciscan Manzanitas in the native landscape where it once flourished for thousands of years.

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In the end, Back From The Brink is a heroic tale. When called upon, so many people took the big leap, and did the right thing—for this last remaining wild plant that had somehow managed to live.

Melissa Peabody is an award-winning video producer and editor, and founder of Living World Films. Her most recent film, a wildlife TV documentary entitled San Francisco—Still Wild At Heart, is airing on PBS, and has won a 2009 Telly Bronze Award for Videography / Cinematography and a 2008 Best of Fest Award from the Hazel Wolf Environmental Film Festival. Melissa has also edited wildlife programs for Turner Broadcasting, Animal Planet, and other international TV broadcast venues; co-produced and edited award-winning, nationally distributed videos on workplace health issues; produced award-winning TV talk shows for Dr. Dean Edell’s national NBC medical talk show series; and edited numerous educational programs for Stanford University.

Melissa received a B.A. degree with Honors in Humanities from Stanford University, and an M.S. degree in Journalism from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

Larry Good began working with Living World Films when he composed and produced the musical score for San Francisco—Still Wild at Heart. He has since scored several other Living World Film projects, including the CID-sponsored film, Back From The Brink For the Franciscan Manzanita. He is an accomplished pianist, guitarist, and programmer, and brings the breadth of forty years of musical experience to his projects. For documentaries, Larry looks for a timeless classical influence that will accept the cultural and natural references of real acoustic instruments.