A short film exploring the watery landscape of Dartmoor, scripted and narrated by Clearing editor Ben Smith, filmed by his brother Max Smith and produced by FatSand films.

Here, Max and Ben explain a little about the inspiration and thinking behind the project: 

“In the U.K. we often regard moorland landscapes, such as the Highlands of Scotland, The Lake District and Dartmoor, as symbols of wilderness. However, these places have been farmed, mined and inhabited by people for millennia, and have felt the presence of humans longer than many of our urban centres.

The ecologist Frank Fraser Darling coined the phrase “wet desert” to describe the landscape of Dartmoor, such was the lack of biodiversity that he found there. But in hidden corners of the moor, relics of its past cling on – stands of trees coated in moss and fern, supporting a range of plant and animal life – relics that point to the bizarre fact that when humans first arrived here, these open landscapes were temperate rainforests.”


Max Smith is a freelance filmmaker and motion graphic designer based in Brighton. Since Graduating in Graphic Design & Visual Communication from the University of Brighton in 2012, he has worked as a Motion Designer, Camera Operator, Camera Assistant and Editor on a range of projects for clients including the BBC, Discovery Channel, Canal+ & London Fashion Week. He was shortlisted for a British Wildlife Photography Award in the Wildlife in HD Video Category in 2014 for his film A Sense of Place.

Ben Smith is on the editorial team of The Clearing and is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at Plymouth University. His first chapbook of poems, Sky Burials, is published by Worple Press. He lives in North Cornwall.