This project is where my working life and personal passions intersect.
Working on film projects with some of the Bay Area's best restaurants and most respected environmental institutions showed me the symbiotic relationship between artisanal food and environmental sustainability. Spending years traveling and living in Latin America; visiting farms and meeting producers; obsessing about food origins and learning about our global food systems led me to Setting the Bar: A Craft Chocolate Origin Story.
The specific inspiration for the project started over dinner with a cacao farmer in Guatemala. The next day, I happened to meet cacao consultant Steve Bergin, whose passion for chocolate and dedication to rainforest preservation was both inspiring and addictive. In the following weeks, I met farmers, chocolate entrepreneurs, and others involved in the bean to bar cycle. I was hooked.
Our film follows these passionate people who have dedicated their life to a better tasting and more sustainable chocolate bar. Their stories are fascinating, their dedication contagious and their final product, delicious.
Tim Shephard | Director, Setting the Bar Documentary
Tim Shephard, Co-Director & Co-Producer
Tim is passionate about telling stories to raise awareness of social and environmental issues and inspire people to take action. Mr. Shephard started his career as a video journalist at Australia's largest newspaper, the Sydney Morning Herald, where he produced, directed, and edited a range of videos on social equality and human rights issues. After moving to San Francisco in 2011, Tim’s film work has focused on food and the environment working with NRDC, the Public Education Network, Robert Redford, Dave Eggers, Four Barrel Coffee and NOPA. Tim currently lives in Oaxaca, Mexico pursuing his passion in the region with food and sustainability documentation.
Amy Burns, Co-Director & Co-Producer
Amy Burns works in film, accounting and finance mainly in the environmental sector focusing on budgeting, financial distribution and logistics. Her past employment and projects include work for California Environmental Associates, NBCUniversal Spanish and English Morning New Programs and Sustainable Bolivia. She now lives in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Melissa Neidich, Editor
Melissa Neidich is an award-winning documentary editor, working in the field for twenty years. Notable documentaries she has edited include: Soul in the Hole, which won an Independent Spirit Award; Dark Days, which also won an Independent Spirit Award and a Sundance Audience Award; and Two Towns of Jasper, which won a Dupont Award. Her latest feature—Out of the Clear Blue Sky— opened to rave reviews.
Jack Guy, Field Producer
Jack is a freelance journalist who has worked extensively in Guatemala and other countries throughout Latin America. Originally from London, he planned to learn Spanish during a six month trip to the region but ended up staying for four years. During that time he has produced stories on human rights issues, politics and culture, as well as acting as an interpreter and translator for non-Spanish speaking professionals.
Javier Briones, Film Consultant
Javier made his first documentary, El Puente, at the age of 22, which won him the Best of The Fest award at the San Francisco VideoFest. Since then, he has evolved to become an award-winning filmmaker, editor, sound designer with over 10 years of professional experience in production of independent films and commercials. His most recent film, The Earth Did Not Speak won the President’s Award at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in the short documentary category.He is currently the manager and co-owner of a video production company located in San Francisco called 32K Productions.
Melinda Hanson, Sustainability Consultant
Melinda Hanson is an independent consultant specializing in environmental sustainability and climate change. Over the past decade, Melinda has worked with a number of multilateral organizations, foundations, and NGOs to push for more sustainable ways of living. Originally from Portland, OR, she now lives in Brooklyn.