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Welcome! Here's why this project exists, and a little bit about me

By Mark Mutti on November 28th '20, 7:31pm PT

First of all, thank you for checking out the website and reading this entry. Hopefully you've seen the main page of the site already, which I hope lays out my plans for the series quite nicely. It also features this video preview of the series, and shamelessly, here it is again:

About me

My name's Mark Mutti and I'm a IT operations engineer at a financial technology company by day- a philanthropic one that has planted over 5 million trees, actually! My employer is not involved with Landmark 717, but I really do enjoy being part of a company that aligns with my beliefs and this project. I'm one of countless people who love and also need the great outdoors, and I think we should be doing everything possible to preserve and enhance these special places so that future generations can do the same.

"Some of us are drawn to the mountains the way the moon draws the tide. Both the great forests and the mountains live in my bones. They have taught me, humbled me, purified me and changed me." - Joan Halifax

By night and weekend (and a vacation day from work here and there), I'm an independent filmmaker who is absolutely in love with ANF. Like many, I wandered into ANF out of curiosity and at that point was hooked. Even now after years and what must be over a hundred visits, I'm still finding interesting new things and stories there all of the time. In 2016, I started jotting down some of my experiences and conversations, while bringing a camera along to take photos and videos just for fun. And in 2019, I realized a vision of sharing these stories, history, and lesser-known facts through what is now Landmark 717.

The Name Landmark 717

While avoiding something as obvious as "Angeles National Forest Documentary Series", I wanted the name to have some meaning, while also avoiding causing confusion with official Forest Service names. Being that The Angeles is California State Landmark Number Seven-Hundred Seventeen, this project's name is intentionally a bit cryptic.

What's Been Done so Far, and What's Being Done Right Now

A lot has changed, see updates below!

So far I've filmed around the forest for dozens if not a hundred hours by now. I am currently planning and writing episodes, emailing and talking on the phone with subject matter experts, planning activities with the USDA, and monitoring ANF activity via the web, a scanner, police logs, Facebook groups, and sub-reddits. Oh and my favorite part, continuing to film fire recovery efforts, recreation, and time-lapses in and of ANF.

USDA Cooperation

Our local USDA public information officers have been incredibly helpful and encouraging, and they have so far facilitated access to the Bobcat Fire incident command post, and ability to film the Bobcat Fire from within the forest while it was closed. This made possible some incredible footage I couldn't imagine Episode One ("Fire Year") without.

Current and Future Plans

Now: This Blog
I started this blog because people ask me questions about what I'm working on, why I'm doing it, the equipment I use, and so much more. My aim is to share moments good and bad that come into my life because of this project. I'll share what I've learned (and continue to learn) about cinematography, planning, finances, and more.

Early-December: Aerial Filming
While beautiful, stock footage found online doesn't focus on ANF discussion points, is expensive, and doesn't involve me jumping in a plane with a camera. For the cost of a single stock footage clip, I'll be reimbursing a friend for aviation fuel and capturing all of the footage I can get!
Update: this was done, and you can read about it here →

Early 2021: Prescribed Burn
In the works for nearly a year, I'm working to attend and film a prescribed burn. These burns are extremely important to good land management leading to decreased fires, and will play a big role in our first episode.
Update: it happened, and you can watch it here →

Spring 2021: Release First Episode
Sometime between now and Spring's end, June 20th 2021, more than two years of filming will reach a critical point. Images, interviews, thousands of miles of driving, hundreds of hours of work, writing, narration, and sound design will come together to tell a story. There are multiple episodes currently in the works, each at a varying degree of completion. As of now, the first episode released will be a deep dive on fires in ANF.
Update: we did this! And you can watch it here →