Backcountry Pictures


California Forever is a two-part PBS television special that tells the story of California’s magnificent state parks from Yosemite in 1864 to the present day. Together the two one-hour programs remind viewers of the importance of California’s state parks as well as their priceless legacy. California Forever is scheduled to air nationally on PBS in the fall of 2012.  Check local listings.

California Forever was written, directed and co-produced by award-winning and Oscar®-nominated David Vassar and co-produced by Sally Kaplan of Backcountry Pictures. The idea for the film was sparked after David and Sally watched the battle between conservationists and developers over the proposed Orange County Toll Road which would have paved over a portion of San Onofre State Beach. David and Sally felt compelled to tell the story of California’s State Parks as a way to remind viewers of its value and to inspire its preservation and protection.

Episode One

California Forever: The History of California State Parks highlights the discovery and creation of California’s state parks system and celebrates the individuals and groups whose passion and commitment helped preserve and protect them for future generations. It takes viewers on a scenic, cultural and historical tour of California’s state parks highlighting the people, key events and locales that made California history.

Episode Two

California Forever: Parks for the Future presents the very real challenges that state parks are currently facing in California. Among these are habitat destruction by overuse, protection of native species at the expense of recreation; reclaiming industrial brown fields to create new parks in dense urban areas; establishing historic sites that commemorate people and events from diverse cultures; and imminent park closures. California Forever: Parks for the Future is an invitation to make state parks more accessible to people of all ages and cultural backgrounds and to protect the myriad resources that countless dedicated individuals and groups have fought the last 160 years to preserve and protect.`


Funding for the PBS broadcast of California Forever is provided by Destination Cinema.  With giant screen theaters in the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, Hearst Castle, and Victoria, Canada, Destination Cinema provides people with an enhanced travel experience.  Working with state and national parks, along with museums across the country and around the world, Destination Cinema creates opportunities for visitors to connect with extraordinary places. Additional support is provided by the Hoeffer Family Foundation and Active Network. Fiscal Sponsorship is provided by the International Documentary Association.


Director – David Vassar

Writer – David Vassar

Producers – Sally Kaplan and David Vassar

Director of Photography – Christopher Tufty

Editor – Christian White

Original Music – Tony Humecke

Narrator – Richard Doyle


“Best Educational Program” – International Wildlife Film Festival in Missoula, MT

“Merit Award for Historical Perspective” – Montana CINE in Missoula, MT

“Excellence in Feature Documentary” – Accolades Film and Video Awards


Backcountry Pictures captured the arresting visuals of California’s state parks at 4k resolution. The film was shot on a RED ONE camera, with the final master delivered in 2K HD with 5.1 audio mix.


Founded in 2001, Backcountry Pictures produces award-winning films, television programs and special venue content that celebrate the beauty of nature, and captures the history and culture of surrounding communities. Backcountry Pictures was founded by Oscar®-nominated director David Vassar, whose highly-regarded work is featured in renowned national parks and public spaces, and has been featured on television, in theatres and at film festivals around the world. The company excels in producing programs that impart a sense of wonder about the natural world and inspires viewers to establish their own personal bond with nature.