In Ghana, a single bucket of water goes a long, long way.
With five gallons of water, a family can wash and rinse dinner dishes or do a load of laundry. Five gallons also provides enough water for one adult to take a “bucket shower.”
In a short film, “One Single Bucket,” Spokane videographer Megan Schuyler looks at how another culture conserves water. The four-minute piece, which focuses on showers, is one of six finalists in the Intelligent Use of Water Film Competition in Los Angeles.
A typical shower – a staple in most Americans’ morning routine – consumes two to four gallons of water a minute.
“Showers are something of a luxury,” said Schuyler, a producer and editor at Spokane film company North by Northwest Productions. “I don’t think we appreciate that not everyone gets to take them.”
Schuyler, 24, shot the film in July with a former college pal, Diana Opong-Parry, who works as a radio broadcaster in Seattle. The two women spent 2 ½ weeks in Ghana with Opong-Parry’s extended family. While the purpose of the visit was to introduce Opong-Parry’s new husband to her relatives, the friends – both graduates of Washington State University’s Murrow College of Communication – had always wanted to do a film project together. During the last two days of the visit, they shot the documentary.
“I had started looking into water conservation,” Schuyler said, “and I knew that we would see some interesting, different water practices in Ghana.”
Opong-Parry narrates the film, which opens with her mother, Rosina Opong, lowering a bucket into a well at a home she owns in the town of Ampabame, Ghana. The film follows the water use in Ghanaian cooking practices, washing and especially bathing.
The village’s water conservation ethic followed Opong-Parry to the United States, where her family moved when she was 3.
Their bathtub in Bellevue, Wash., had a 5-gallon bucket in it – the allocation for bathing.
“Water conservation was such an everyday thing that I never really stopped to think about,” Opong-Parry said.
“The biggest impact was on the way in which I bathed. … I didn’t take a real shower until I was in high school.”
Schuyler edited the film, which they sent off to meet an August deadline for the competition.
“We knew it was good,” said Opong-Parry, “but it was still sort of shocking to know it was so well-received.”
The Intelligent Use of Water Film Competition, which is in its third year, uses films to create discussion about responsible water use.
The contest is sponsored by Rain Bird, an international manufacturer of irrigation equipment; the nonprofit FilmL.A.; and Questex Media Group.
Schuyler and Opong-Parry will fly to Los Angeles tonight to speak at a roundtable discussion Wednesday with the other finalists and be present for the judging.
The winner or winners will take home a $6,000 prize.