Ron Howard will direct Nat Geo’s Camp fire documentary, ‘Rebuilding Paradise’

Producer Brian Grazer, left, and director Ron Howard will make a documentary about the aftermath of the deadly California wildfires with National Geographic Documentary Films.
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Ron Howard will make a documentary film about November’s catastrophic Camp fire, which decimated the Northern California town of Paradise.

The director and producer Brian Grazer’s Imagine Documentaries have partnered with National Geographic Documentary Films to chronicle the community’s efforts to rebuild after the devastation of the 2018 California wildfires, according to a Thursday statement from Nat Geo.

The project’s working title is “Rebuilding Paradise” and will take “a microcosmic look at the growing global repercussions of climate change through a community destroyed by one of the deadliest and most destructive wildfires in U.S. history.”


The densely populated town in the Sierra Nevada foothills was ravaged by fire in November, leaving 86 dead, scorching 153,000 acres and displacing more than 50,000 people, Nat Geo said.

Over the course of a year, the documentary will follow families, volunteers on the front lines of town restoration, community leaders, school and government officials, and first responders in the aftermath of the destruction.

The fires hit home for Howard, who spent time in the town and has relatives who live in the area, Nat Geo said. The two-time Oscar winner believes the tragedy is a universal human experience that could have happened to anyone.

“The people of Paradise lost everything in the blink of an eye,” Howard said in the statement. “The way in which the citizens are coming together to rebuild is beautiful and hopeful — but no one should have to live through this. Theirs is a cautionary tale about the impending effects of climate change and what it takes to restore the communities ravaged by it. Paradise could be any of us.”

The announcement came out of the Sundance Film Festival, which is underway in Park City, Utah. It comes as Nat Geo rides the success of “Free Solo,” Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin’s documentary about rock climber Alex Honnold, which was nominated for an Academy Award earlier this week.

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