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Margo Ragozzino: “Animals don’t take direction”

Right now, my focus is environmental conservation and protection. I’m beginning with documenting ocean conservation efforts since our planet relies heavily on the health of our oceans and waterways. My goal is not to lecture — people tend to get very defensive when being scolded about how they need to make adjustments. I want to present a […]

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Right now, my focus is environmental conservation and protection. I’m beginning with documenting ocean conservation efforts since our planet relies heavily on the health of our oceans and waterways. My goal is not to lecture — people tend to get very defensive when being scolded about how they need to make adjustments. I want to present a thoughtful and inspiring look at how average people are making small changes that have huge positive impacts. I want to show how our quality of life can improve when we’re mindful of what we consume, how we consume it, and the benefits we get out of it. I also want to show that taking care of our ecosystems is NOT political — an unhealthy planet does not care what side you’re on, it affects everyone equally.


As a part of our series about “Filmmakers Making A Social Impact” I had the pleasure of interviewing Marco Ragozzino. He grew up in West Palm Beach, FL, where he discovered an interest in filmmaking at a young age. After graduating from the School of Visual Arts in New York City, Marco relocated to Los Angeles and worked on a variety of Blockbuster films and TV shows. Currently, Marco is using his movie-making experience to produce and direct his own original content starting with a documentary about the Loggerhead Marinelife Center and its ocean conservation efforts.


Thank you so much for doing this interview with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit. Can you share your “backstory” that brought you to this career?

I was always interested in science, nature, and drawing when I was a kid — especially when it came to dinosaurs. Originally, I had wanted to be a paleontologist so when Jurassic Park came out, my parents took me and some friends to see it. Although it was absolutely terrifying for a 10-year-old, I fell in love with movies at that point. I felt that it was the perfect medium to explore since I could combine my passions for art and science and share my work with an audience.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your filmmaking career?

Unfortunately, I can’t name names because I’ve had to sign NDAs with every studio I’ve worked for, but I once worked for a well-known filmmaker and producer in my late 20s. One afternoon I was tasked with dropping off a film at a legendary Academy-Award winning actor and director’s house. I expected to only have to drop off the reels with his assistant and pick them up later, but when I arrived he was home and saw me in the doorway. He asked if I had seen the movie I was delivering and when I said “no” he kindly invited me in and offered me lunch. We spent the afternoon watching the film and casually chatting about making movies. I’m sure he has met many people throughout his life and probably doesn’t remember me, but that will always be one of the highlights of my fledgling career.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

I have been fortunate to work on many films written, directed, and starring people I grew up admiring. However, I was never one to be “star-struck”. I just wanted to learn how to be a better filmmaker by assisting and observing the masters at work. One thing I realized early on is that this business is HARD and the people who are successful are incredibly focused, resilient, organized, and collaborative. You can read, take classes and watch as many tutorials on YouTube as you want, but nothing teaches you the craft like being in the trenches with professionals, experiencing the process first-hand.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

Despite the pandemic, right now is an exciting time for the next phase in my career. I’m beginning to launch my production company, Marc-o-Vision Studios, and getting a slate of original projects (documentaries, feature films, and episodic series) prepared to film as soon as we’re safe and clear to do so. One of the first projects to roll out will be a documentary on a sea turtle rescue facility called the Loggerhead Marinelife Center and its Ocean Conservation efforts, a subject that is very important to me. We have filmed a substantial portion of it already and I’m planning to go back to Juno Beach, FL where the facility is located to get more material in November.

Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?

I am most inspired by the change-makers in history. People like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Emmeline Pankhurst who saw social injustices and decided to do something about it, fighting for equality at great personal costs. I also admire people like Galileo and Charles Darwin who discovered new truths through scientific study and stood by their research despite stubborn beliefs at the time. I think we can learn from these people now more than ever — do the work, be the change.

Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview, how are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting social impact causes you are working on right now?

Right now, my focus is environmental conservation and protection. I’m beginning with documenting ocean conservation efforts since our planet relies heavily on the health of our oceans and waterways. My goal is not to lecture — people tend to get very defensive when being scolded about how they need to make adjustments. I want to present a thoughtful and inspiring look at how average people are making small changes that have huge positive impacts. I want to show how our quality of life can improve when we’re mindful of what we consume, how we consume it, and the benefits we get out of it. I also want to show that taking care of our ecosystems is NOT political — an unhealthy planet does not care what side you’re on, it affects everyone equally.

Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and take action for this cause? What was that final trigger?

My wife was the trigger (haha). She is a top-notch activist and I’m amazed at how many things she’s able to accomplish in a given day. When I kept voicing concerns about climate change, plastic in the ocean, extinction, and all the other stress-inducing planetary problems we’re facing, she just asked me, “well, what are you going to do about it?”. That’s when I decided to call the Loggerhead Marinelife Center and offer my skillsets to tell their story.

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

It’s a little early in my particular project to determine if anyone has been impacted by the film itself, but I have received help from so many people to get it going! When I started the project a lot of friends and family were not aware of the importance of sea turtles within our ecosystem. Thanks to my updates about the project on social media and keeping everyone informed of the progress, I have been getting messages from people who have decided to stop using plastic bottles or have purchased reusable stainless steel straws and have even donated to the Loggerhead Marinelife Center — and the film is not even out yet!

Are there three things that individuals, society or the government can do to support you in this effort?

Three things that would be incredibly helpful would be for individuals to make small adjustments to their everyday lives such as purchasing reusable products made locally. On a larger society level, we should pay more attention to how and where our products are made. On a government level, having access to officials who are willing to have a non-biased conversation (on camera) about how we can protect our ecosystems would be amazing.

Also, documentary grants are hard to come by so that would be a huge help, too, since making a film is not exactly inexpensive.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

Five things I wish someone told me before I started:

  1. Animals don’t take direction. Ever. We had an opportunity to film sea turtles who live in the San Gabriel River (surprisingly) and although we saw many of them, you could never tell when and where they would surface! I have about 3 hours worth of footage that’s just the surface of the water with no activity.
  2. The weather won’t cooperate. Nesting season in FL happens in the rainy season. We encountered a tropical storm and non-stop downpours during our initial shoot.
  3. Footage will come from multiple sources — since this is my first documentary, I assumed everything in the doc is filmed by the director (like films and TV shows). I started getting overwhelmed when I realized I couldn’t document so many things happening at various times throughout the year, especially since I live in Los Angeles and most of the doc takes place in FL. Thankfully there were other people willing to share footage that I could include.
  4. People want to help, you just have to ask. Working in the film industry has conditioned me to be accustomed to the word “no”, but this particular project has been met with open arms by people outside of Hollywood. I was hesitant to start the long process of convincing someone to let me do this project until I called the Loggerhead Marinelife Center and asked if I could make something for them. They were so excited and accommodating that it invigorated my passion and made me determine to deliver a quality project to them.
  5. Filming turtles in pitch black darkness is hard, even for professionals. I was a bit disappointed in how some of our nighttime nesting footage came out the first time we filmed on a pitch-black beach. But after watching some National Geographic footage to hopefully get some pointers, it seems we did just fine compared to what is possible given the current camera technology.

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

I’d say that if you have something you’re passionate about, a subject that’s so important to you that it gnaws at you throughout the day, take charge and do something constructive about it. We only have one life and one planet. If you really want to make them better, take charge. Speak up. Exercise your rights. Be the change. Don’t let anyone make you think that you can’t make a difference.

We are very blessed that many other Social Impact Heroes read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would like to collaborate with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂

Recently Zac Efron made a docuseries on Netflix called “Down to Earth” that I thought was brilliant, informative, and entertaining. It had a lighthearted approach to important environmental and social issues that I felt were accessible and useful for everyone. If he ever does a follow-up I’d love to be a part of it.

There is also a paleontologist named Steve Brusatte I’d love to collaborate with on a dinosaur documentary based on his book, “The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs.”

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“The greatest discovery of my generation is the fact that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.” — William James

This quote really resonates with me because it reminds me that anything can or can’t be accomplished depending on how you choose to approach a given situation.

How can our readers follow you online?

My professional work can be seen on www.marcovisionstudios.com

My IG handle is @marcovisionstudios

This was great, thank you so much for sharing your story and doing this with us. We wish you continued success!


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