About the Film

Bring Your Own Brigade poster

In early November 2018, raging wildfires forced the frenzied evacuation of thousands of terrified residents from the cities of Malibu and Paradise, two very different California communities. In the new documentary Bring Your Own Brigade, two-time Oscar®-nominated filmmaker Lucy Walker captures the heroism and horror of that unfathomable disaster. Embedded with a team of firefighters during the deadliest week of fires in the state's history, Walker's film takes viewers on an eyewitness journey into the very heart of the inferno. The result is a remarkable character-driven investigation into the causes of — and solutions to — the global wildfire epidemic that's engulfing the planet. Drawing on hundreds of hours of astonishing video footage shot by fleeing residents who found themselves surrounded by walls of flames, the film offers a palpable "you-are-there" intensity that serves to highlight the severity of the crisis.

Told from the kaleidoscopic perspective of a compelling array of people from all walks of life, including fire battalion chief Maeve Juarez, whose courageous efforts saved countless lives, quick-thinking bulldozer operator Joe Kennedy, who risked death to clear an evacuation path for trapped residents, and warmhearted local Brad Weldon, who opened his house to 20 neighbors left homeless in the aftermath of the Paradise blaze, this visually immersive exposé addresses a question humanity can no longer afford to ignore: Why are these catastrophic wildfires increasing in number and severity, and can anything be done to mitigate their staggering destruction?

Featuring candid interviews with shell-shocked survivors, firefighters and rescue workers on the frontlines, scientists and historians studying the issue behind the scenes, and indigenous tribal leaders whose generational knowledge holds a vital piece of the puzzle, the film reveals the shocking failures of our nation's misguided fire suppression policy — an approach that ignorantly casts fire as a villain to be obliterated at all costs rather than an invaluable tool, which when wielded effectively, can prevent future wildfires and restore health to forests that have been mismanaged for far too long.

As Bring Your Own Brigade makes abundantly clear, although climate-driven alterations to the environment have created the perfect conditions for the harrowing "Fire Age" we now find ourselves living in, this situation doesn't have to become the new normal. Short of solving global warming itself, there are numerous, often simple steps that could be taken to not only lessen the death and destruction caused by wildfires, but help balance and revitalize our natural woodlands and wilderness for future generations. But do we as a society have what it takes to put aside short-term interests and outmoded thinking to confront a crisis that's quite literally burning our world to the ground?

  • Directed by:

    • Lucy Walker
  • Produced by:

    • Lucy Walker
    • Holly Becker
    • Julian Cautherley
    • Lyn Davis Lear
    • Martha Mitchell
  • Directors of Photography:

    • Battiste Fenwick
    • Carmen Delaney
    • Grant Smith
  • Editors:

    • Wes Lipman
    • Christy Denes
    • Daniel Oberle

Where to Watch

  • August 6:
  • In select theaters
  • August 20:
  • Streaming on: CBS News Paramount+

Press

"…Inherently optimistic"
A.O. Scott, The New York Times
"Incendiary"
Jason Gorber, Slash Film
"Remarkable"
David Poland, Movie City News
"Required viewing"
Bradley Gibson, Film Threat
"Amazing… scary, sobering and yet full of humanity."
Herb Stratford, KMSB Fox 11 Tucson
"Gripping… revealing. Powerful stuff."
Michael J. Casey, Boulder Weekly