Spirit Lands: An American Desert Odyssey is a visual and musical journey to some of the most spectacular, beautiful and awe-inspiring natural wonders of the American desert.








LENGTH: 52 Minutes
MSRP: $24.95
CATALOG #: 20475
UPC #: 6-4603204759-2
ISBN #: 1-56839-400-4
PRODUCER: David Fortney Productions in association with Janson Media

In addition to being available as a DVD for home-use only, this title is available to colleges, universities, non-profit institutions and community groups with both Public Performance Rights (PPR) and Digital Site Licenses (DSL). For PPR and DSL ordering information, click here.


Emmy Award winning cinematographer David Fortney spent four years collecting imagery for this project, traveling to every desert location in America, including seven National Parks.

A variety of innovative filming techniques were used in the production of this non-narrated, visual masterpiece, including motion control, time lapse and low level aerial cinematography.  The film is accompanied by a music score featuring evocative Native American music by John Huling and R. Carlos Nakai. Also included are beautiful and inspiring texts by Native American Wisdom Keepers, with quotations and prayers celebrating our connection with the earth and the need to respect and honor her.

On this magical journey, you’ll visit the surreal and beautiful Mono Lake in California, and these national parks:

► Arches National Park
► Grand Canyon National Park
► Death Valley National Park
► Zion National Park
► Canyonlands National Park
► Bryce Canyon National Park
► Joshua Tree National Park

Whatever befalls the earth,
befalls the sons and daughters of the earth.
We did not weave the web of life,
we are merely a strand in it.
Whatever we do to the web,
we do to ourselves.

- Chief Seattle, Duwamish

A David Fortney Production in association with Janson Media
Produced and directed by David Fortney
Executive Producer: Stephen Janson

Fortney’s last film, Timeless: A National Parks Odyssey, premiered in primetime on PBS stations nationwide in 2008 as a pledge special.


David Fortney, Producer & Director

David Fortney is an award-winning cinematographer whose footage is distributed by The Image Bank, and has been seen in hundreds of national and international televisions spots, shows and specials. He often functions as director, cinematographer and editor, combining supreme artistic skills with the technical expertise needed to develop and extend the current state-of-the-art in cinematography. His PBS documentary on Denali, Alaska’s Great Wilderness (The Living Edens) won an Emmy Award for outstanding individual achievement in cinematography. His full length video album, Lightdance, with music by Santana, explores patterns of color, light and form found in nature along with a special filming technique that transports the viewer over surreal landscapes. His visual music album Earthscapes features music by Vangelis and Patrick O’Hearn. It utilizes a specially-designed technology that allows the camera to pan the landscapes while filming in time lapse.

The following review of Earthscapes is representative of what many say about David Fortney’s work:

“Sheer cinematic genius… there simply is no one alive with a better eye for beauty…clearly at the pinnacle of its genre.” -P.J.Birosik, National Music & Video Reviewer

Stephen Janson, Executive Producer

Mr. Janson’s resume is available here.


“In this visually stunning production, Emmy Award–winning cinematographer David Fortney captures the strange and beautiful desert landscapes of the southwestern U.S., including those within seven national parks—Arches, the Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Zion, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, and Joshua Tree—as well as Mono Lake in California. Recorded over four years across the seasons, Fortney employs a variety of cinematography techniques (including stop-motion, time-lapse, and low-level aerial) to create the sensation of hovering over the land, as if on an ethereal journey. Backed by an excellent musical score—featuring works from Native Americans John Huling and R. Carlos Nakai that range from freeform to highly rhythmic—the narration-less Spirit Lands serves up breathtaking scenes, ranging from snow-covered cactus in the Sonoran Desert to wildflowers near the majestic Bell Rock of Sedona. Each segment is prefaced with a Native American quote or proverb, such as: “Treat the earth well. It was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children.” Highly recommended.” Three and a Half StarsVideo Librarian

“Spirit Lands has no narration, but a handful of timeless texts, quotations, and prayers by Native American Wisdom Keepers enhance this wonderful and immersive journey. An excellent gift for nature lovers, Spirit Lands is the next best thing to experiencing the beauty of American deserts landscapes firsthand.”
Highly Recommended - Bookwatch