Matt Maraynes

Creativity, 2024, Grantee Link >

Filmmaker Matt Maraynes received a grant for The Loneliest Shrimp in the World (working title), a short documentary about the last surviving Hawaiian reef shrimp living in a self-contained ecosystem gifted to him over a decade ago. The ecosystem—a glass sphere about the size of a softball—once contained a lush environment filled with shrimp and other biota and abiota, including algae, bacteria and a piece of coral. Now, after years spent gathering dust on a shelf in the filmmaker’s childhood home, a single shrimp remains.

The short film will explore what it might be like to be a shrimp living alone in a decaying ecosystem and will serve as a microcosmic metaphor. As the catastrophic effects of anthropogenic activity on Earth grow more apparent, humanity is at a pivotal juncture in the trajectory of our relationship to the nonhuman world. The way in which we relate to animals raises questions about our ability to coexist and support the continued flourishing of life on the planet. Along with the film’s meditative approach, the story will be grounded in the filmmaker’s attempt to build the shrimp a better habitat.

Matt Maraynes (pictured with his companion animal, Finn) is the Deputy Director of the Whale Sanctuary Project, and a founder of Place for Animals, a creative collective formed to use storytelling to improve the lives of nonhuman animals. Matt graduated with an MA in Animal Studies from New York University in 2022, where he took Animals, Art, and Technology, a class taught by 2017 grantee, Gal Nissim. For this course, he made two films: Looking at Animals and Leather Memories (with Laura Alvear Roa). He also produced, for the Whale Sancutary Project, How Does a Whale Say Thank You?