How Camp Fire survivors can finally see Ron Howard’s REBUILDING PARADISE

This post is how Camp Fire survivors can see REBUILDING PARADISE, the documentary directed by Ron Howard and produced by the duo who have become friends to so many of us, Xan Parker and Lizz Morhaim.

If you want to see it this weekend as part of an online film festival, follow this link and sign up by Friday at 6 PM:

That said, I did want to add a few words about this film. If you’re like me, a resident of Butte County and onetime resident of Paradise, one of the awful worries that arose in the days after the fire is how outside TV producers and filmmakers would portray our story. Would they produce lurid, cheap, surface level treatments, where our homes, lives and friends are just props in a drama.

Or would they come and get to know us? Would they not only tell the story of the fire, but of US.

Well, now we know a lot. There were TV crews and filmmakers who made us their props. There were filmmakers who came to push their agendas. There were well meaning but amateur filmmakers who told earnest stories but were not talented enough to truly communicate what the Paradise Ridge was to us and what we lost.

And then there was the Imagine crew. Director Howard came to listen and talk. Producers Xan Parker and Lizz Morhaim came to get to know us. And they shot and gathered hundreds of hours of our story.

While working on THREE DAYS IN PARADISE, I’ve encountered a broad spectrum of filmmakers from newspapers, TV stations and world wide nes agencies, independent film producers and major Hollywood powers. None of them, not one came close to knowing us as Xan and Lizz did.

I was lucky enough to see REBUILDING PARADISE at the Sundance Film Festival in January. I was lucky enough contribute some small bit of producing for this film in what I think of as the end of my pre-COVID career.

What they did was worthy. This was made with a care and thought and sympathetic eye as though it was made by one of us. You will recognize the Paradise we knew and miss. You will recognize our struggle and strength.

I’m here to say they did it right, and if you have the hope to watch, you should see it. It’s something we can show our friends and family who were not here, did not live through it, to give them some idea what it was really like on that day and the year that followed.

And they wanted to show our Paradise Ridge community first. I talked to National Geographic and Imagine personnel at Sundance in January.

They were planning to show the film in Paradise April 27. There were even discussions of setting up a giant screen at Paradise High School’s Wraith Field and fill the field with survivors and first responders, bringing out community together to see it with the film’s crew. They also talked about showing it over two days at the Paradise Performing Arts Center.

This plan was literally days away from being announced in March. But Covid-19 overwhelmed this along with so much else. This was just another thing we lost, and another blow we had to absorb. I know it broke the heart of the producers and they wanted to share it with us, and do it first before the film rolled out to the rest of the world. But fate, as we know too well, had different plans.

National Geographic is also providing links to a spectrum of organizations still helping Butte County and Camp Fire survivors. You can find that HERE

Our first teaser for Three Days in Paradise


Hello friends, neighbors and readers,

Chris here with a bittersweet celebration. Today we reveal the first images from what we’ve been working on since November of last year. It was a week after the fire that I shot the first images for what I hope will be the definitive story of our experience in the Camp Fire.

We are more than fire victims, and this story is more than of just one wildfire.

As I’ve been telling anyone who would listen, Three Days in Paradise is a documentary series not on the fire, but on us–the people who lived on the ridge, the experience we had with the fire, and what we’re doing to rebuild after.

So thank you all for your encouragement and the footage you’ve all contributed. We’ll be announcing more exciting things soon, but enough talk and waiting.

We welcome you to watch the teaser.

Tell your Tales from the Paradise Ridge

Like many of my fellow Camp Fire survivors, I have been torn up since the morning of November 8, 2018.

The filmmaker in me… that part that’s worked to tell stories since Star Wars and Snow White and Ken Burns’ Civil War kindled my love of cinematic storytelling… wants to tell the whole story of what happened to our Paradise Ridge communities.

The citizen in me… that part of me who raised a family with my wife on Scottwood Road, took our boys to Paradise Elementary, watched little league games at Egleton Field and fled the town with neighbors and friends… wants to make sure the world remembers what befell us. I want our stories told whether or not it’s me telling them.

It’s that part, the town resident, that wants to help my fellow citizens tell their story to every worthwhile reporter, author, documentarian, director, etc. who cares to listen with respect. That’s why as we’ve been working on Three Days in Paradise, we’ve been looking to partner with other storytellers to ready to tell the story of the Camp Fire as we knew it.

Which brings me to Lizzie Johnson, the San Francisco Chronicle. She’s a reporter known for her coverage of wildfires. We’re happy to announce we’re partnering with her on a new initiative to capture your stories.

In a book she’s working on, Johnson is working to tell the story of the fire and what it’s meant to us all in facts and prose. In our documentary series, we’re looking to do the same thing in images, music and sound.

So we’ve created an easy to use document you can fill out to start telling your Camp Fire story. What happened to you. What you went through. What you saw and what we should all remember. We’ll be using those to get in touch and make sure your story is known.

So please take a moment to add your story. We want to hear it, and take it to the rest of the world.

These #CampFire survivors are being asked to carry a burden for all of Paradise, Magalia and Concow… and need our help

Usually, this a blog dedicated to tracking the production of Three Days in Paradise, a documentary series about our Butte County communities before, during and after the Camp Fire.

But today, this is a call to help a group of #CampFire survivors to which fate (and the Federal Government) has dealt an especially cruel hand.

Let’s call them Camp Fire Survivors 2.0. They are the first people who moved back to the burn area in RVs and trailers to begin the recovery and plan for rebuilding… and are now being ordered to evacuate again. The health of the recovery… of the entire town and all our fates… depends on them. So they need our help.

Here are a few stories about the situation:

Paradise Post, Sacramento BeeAction News Now

I’ll explain what I know.

The Background

One of the contracts for my business,, is to record and broadcast the Butte Board of Supervisors meeting. So I’ve been to these meetings, listened to the presentations, and talked to almost all the players involved.

In December, they passed urgency ordinances which allowed people with RVs and trailers to return and live on their own parcels in the county’s jurisdiction located in the Paradise, Magalia and Concow areas. This was to help them get back to living near home faster, get a jump on the community rebuilding and to free up living spaces in Chico, Oroville and other areas for people without access to RVs and trailers. These rules were passed in good faith after county staff and supervisors discussed the rules with the Federal Emergency Management Administration and Cal Office of Emergency Services and there were given verbal assurances the rules would be OK as long as the RVs and trailers were more than 100 feet from burned structures.

The Town of Paradise passed similar rules while also consulting with the county, FEMA and Cal OES. They did their due diligence to make sure these rules helped our community while at the same time making it possible for FEMA funds to help with the clean up. After all, the declaration of disaster allowed billions of dollars to be available to help clean up the unprecedented destruction of the fire.

As we all know, the cost to clean up over 15,000 destroyed structures far outstrips what the towns of Concow, Magalia, Pulga, Paradise, the county and all the other affected areas can afford. If we have to pay for this ourselves, these areas will remain in ruins for decades or more.

And so, with the rules in place, citizens returned. Thesy did what the county and the town asked. They applied for permits to return. In many cases, they paid thousands of dollars beyond their insurance payouts to make sure they were following the rules laid out. They did it the right way.

These were the first citizens of Magalia, Concow and Paradise to begin the rebuilding.

What FEMA gives FEMA takes

Well, apparently last week new leadership at FEMA overseeing the recovery informed county and town officials these rules would make it impossible to use FEMA funds to do this clean up. In fact if FEMA did fund this clean up, to the tune of $1.7 billion, there was a very real possibility the General Services Administration (which oversees the Federal budget) would audit the payouts in two or four or six years time and decide the payments were made improperly. At that time, the GSA could and would require the funds be returned.

The logic goes like this: The town and county can’t say these areas are so toxic and dangerous they require emergency disaster funds to clean up while at the same time allowing people to live in RVs and trailers the same areas. If they are allowed to live there, the funds cannot be used. If they don’t live there, the funds can be used.

My understanding is the FEMA leaders also provided examples of past disasters where the GSA had pulled back hundreds of millions of dollars from local cities, towns and counties.

The situation is stark: Get these Camp Fire survivors out of RVs and trailers on burned parcels, or lose this money. And as we all know, though it is hard to admit, if this money doesn’t come Paradise, Magalia and Concow will never be cleared. We will never have our communities to be rebuilt.

Two irritating side-notes… FEMA is fine with people living in unburned houses just as close for some reason, which is a point of illogic I’ve seen frustrate Paradise and county officials alike. Also, though FEMA was demanding these changes and was aware of the disruption to Camp Fire survivors, they did not send representatives to either the county or Paradise town meetings discussing these rule changes.

The burden these Camp Fire Survivors are lifting for us all

So here’s where we are: The fire’s pain was distributed almost equally. Rich and poor, old and young, new resident and 5th generation townsperson all lost. We all ran. We’re all looking for a place to live and a moment of normalcy.

We all wait for the day when we can return to the places we loved.

But the burden to make sure these funds are safe is not shared equally. It is falling on those most eager, most ready to return and begin the rebuilding. They are being asked leave the area of the Camp Fire again.

All of us survivors, those in Chico, Oroville, Gridley, Red Bluff and farther out are depending on the town, the county and these few survivors to get this right so we can rebuild.

That’s why these survivors need the help of all of us.

What we can do for them

I don’t have this all worked out, but listening to the hardships these citizens shared at the Paradise Town Meeting and Butte County Board of Supervisors Meeting, moving again is as cruel a blow as we can imagine.

For many, it’s a move too much. They spent what hard cash they had getting their RVs and trailers back to their parcels. Some just can’t afford to move again, and none deserve it. But they must so we can all have a town again.

The best information available is they need to move for as much as three months, while the CAL OES teams clear their plots first… which allows them to return in their RV and trailers with the minimal possible disruption.

So what’s needed? I think we need a movement of Camp Fire survivors to help these newly displaced neighbors. We need a portion of the funds, resources and programs already donated to be dedicated to these Camp Fire Refugees 2.0 to make it possible for them to move as easily and painlessly as possible.

I’m not in the position to orchestrate all this, but the internet is a beautiful thing to organize a lot of people quickly.

Please post below if you know someone who’s in this tough spot and could use help.

Also, please post below organizations or people who could help.

And if you have suggestions on how to do this, please let’s get this organized.

These are Camp Fire victims who are doing something tough, unfair and painful which will help us all. They are taking the hit. Let’s do what we can to help them.

January Update 1: Thank you for your footage… from the crew of Three Days in Paradise – A docuseries about those of us who lived here before, through, and after the #CampFire

What a year it has already been. From the growing production team at Three Days in Paradise, we thank you and wanted to give you an update on our progress what 2019 has already brought.

We just jumped on here to say thank you.

We’ve recently put out several calls for footage, asking for the video, pictures, voicemails and more our fellow citizens created that shattering day. What we’ve received is simply amazing. We’re confident when we begin to show teasers, trailers and scenes people will see a story so far untold.  Even after the wave of media from networks, papers and world-wide media organizations to say nothing uploaded to YouTube, Facebook and Instagram videos about the Camp Fire, most of this story remains untold.

So thank you for all the materials you’ve been getting to us your media, and keep them coming.

If you’d like to help send us your videos, your pictures, or most important stories you think should be included, please follow the links below.

To tell this story right, we need your stories, video & pictures. In addition to interviews and footage shot by our crew, we’ll be using footage from the entire range of sources, past & present: Phone videos, home videos, historical pictures, Polaroids, modern phone pics, VHS tapes, slides, news station footage & 8 mm films… Everything.
Get in touch with us and we can convert your images if needed.
To send digital pics or video from your phone or camera, here’s how:
There are two ways to get us footage.
1). Get on our computer and go to this link:
When asked, enter your name and email (this will tag each video you upload with your name so we know who contributed it). Only we will see the video you send.
2). Contact Chris below and he’ll get in touch about getting your footage.
Twitter: @3DaysInParadise
Chris’ personal page:
Or call 530-680-7125
#paradisestrong #magaliastrong #concowstrong #buttecountystrong, #campfireparadise #wildfires #paradiseca, #filmmaking #paradisefire #chico #chicoCA  #ResilienceIPA

Welcome to 2019 and your part in making Three Days in Paradise happen. We welcome what you’ve seen… stories, video and pictures

Happy 2019! Here’s hoping it’s better than 2018 for all of us.

To make a TV series, you need footage. To make this series, the Three Days In Paradise team needs YOUR footage.

The enthusiasm you’ve shown for this project has inspired and touched us even while many of us work to put our own lives back together in the wake of the #CampFire disaster. When it comes to Three Days in Paradise, many of the crew and subjects are in this together. As posted elsewhere, I’ve lost my home in Paradise along with many of you.

Since we announced the project, we’ve had hundreds of people offer the footage they shot on November 8, 9, 10 and beyond. So many, we collect them from you one by one.

So we’ve been working on the best way to make it easy for people to send us their high quality, uncompressed footage. We’ve found a way and here it is.

Why can’t you just send Facebook or YouTube links?

We’ll explain.

Most non-professionals understandably think they can just send us links to Facebook or YouTube postings. The problem is, modern cameras shoot surprisingly high quality footage, often 4K footage (advertised as UHD), or 1080 footage (advertised as HD). But Facebook compresses that down to 720 or less and YouTube also compresses the footage.

That compression takes sharp, vivid footage and makes it look blurry, degraded and less colorful. They do this to lessen the load on their networks.

So the upshot is, we need your original camera files if at all possible.

Best Way to Send Us Pictures and Video Files

One of the strengths of this project is we’ll be using footage from the entire range of past and present video sources. That includes phone videos, home videos, old pictures, modern phone pictures as well as old VHS tapes, slides, news station tapes and 8 mm films.

We’ll be announcing how to get some of that to us in the future, but if you have phone or camera pictures or video, here’s how you get them to us.

Get on our computer and go to this link:

When asked, enter your name and email (this will tag each video you upload with your name so we know who contributed it).

The nice thing about doing it like this is you can send us video but only we will see it.

If this method doesn’t work for you, check below.

Best Way to Send Historial Films or Video Tape files

As Three Days in Paradise is being produced by the Emmy-Award-winning company, we have just the ability to convert old video tapes, photos, slides, 8mm and super 8 film to museum quality digital copies. And we’re willing to do it, if you’ve got images of Old Paradise, Chico, Magalia, Concow or more.

For these transfers, at this point it’s best to meet in person.

Feel free to call me at 530-680-7125

Or email

Or find us on Twitter @3DaysInParadise

Or find us on

Or find director Christopher Allan Smith directly on his personal page:


The First Month and Next Steps

The next steps for Three Days in Paradise…

So I come to you today with an update and a few requests (see the CAPS below)…

Like many of my fellow Butte County citizens, the last few weeks have been a swelter of new developments, conflicting emotions and questions about the days to come.

Despite everything we’ve all been going through, it’s still hard for me to accept it was just 6ish weeks ago Paradise, Magalia, Concow and more were stolen from us by an inferno. But here we all are together in the aftermath.

Since then, I’ve been working on two fronts: 1). Getting my family a livable, safe place to live and some return to a feeling of normality and 2). Putting together the pieces on the filmmaking front to allow me (and many of you) to tell this story (now called Three Days in Paradise) in the most meaningful, compelling way possible. We live in an era where every new week drowns us in new media, and I’m committed to make sure our story is not lost in that sea.

1). On the personal front…
I’m happy to report my family and I are in an apartment in Chico. My sons are back in school (or will be after Christmas break).

2). On filmmaking front…
Because of the overwhelming response of all of you, things are very hopeful and I wanted to give you an update.

We know there are at least four other professional filmmaking crews in Butte County. One is from Netflix, the exact focus of which I’m not yet sure about. One is from Ron Howard’s documentary filmmaking division, purportedly focusing on the rebuilding of Paradise. One is from ESPN, about the PHS football team, and another is an advocacy film talking about the climate change aspects of these fires.

But as I’ve committed here, my story is the story of us all… what our community was like before, during and after the fire. We know our story best, and are in the best position to tell it right.

Here’s how that’s going:

Since November 15 (between helping my wife put our family’s life back together) I’ve been shooting B-Roll in Paradise, Magalia and Concow. I’ve also begun interviews and am lining up more in January.

I’ve also been in contact with several production companies and networks to find a way to get this production paid for in a full, professional way (which our story deserves) and to get it marketed and presented in the best way once production is finished. While it looks like Netflix is already spoken for, we live in an age of a million media players, so I have high hopes we’ll find something.

The plan now is to shoot through January and edit together a sizzle reel to give potential funders an idea of the quality we’ll be delivering. What shape that funding might take is still being worked out. It might be Hollywood-connected production companies, media-tech companies like Hulu or Amazon, more traditional art foundation grants (the Ken Burns avenue) or even a crowd funding source like Kickstarter or

If we do decide to the crowd funding route, we’re thinking now of creating a non-profit company which would fund the production of the series then take any profits and direct them towards relief efforts. But all of that is coming. We will be showing the sizzle reel online if we decide to go this route.

Know this: If I ever come to the internet for funding, I will make it 100-percent clear where the money is going even before I ask. I’m not doing this to get rich (which is true of every documentarian to be honest… a little documentary humor…)

SO HERE ARE MY REQUESTS (caps for emphasis)…

1). PLEASE KEEP SENDING ME YOUR STORIES. If you’ve experienced or heard something which touches your heart, sent me your story. You can email us at

2). PLEASE SEND ME YOUR VIDEO/PICTURES FROM THE #CAMPFIRE. Networks and streaming services are VERY interested in projects which can boast ‘never before seen’ video, and having a wide variety of video from your experiences will make this much more immediate and impactful.

3). PLEASE SEND ME YOUR PICTURES/VIDEOS/FILMS FROM BEFORE THE FIRE. I want to show Paradise, Magalia, Concow and more from BEFORE the fire. We are more than this awful disaster. I can convert video tapes or 8mm film and super 8 Film to HD video, and will do it for free. I can also convert slides and pictures at museum quality and will give you the digital versions if you allow me to use your pics.

Keep in touch with us. Find us on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. Set your Facebook so you get notifications on our posts. We’re not going to spam you, but want you to be involved with us.

That’s all for now. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and see you all soon.

Three Days in Paradise – A Docuseries of Paradise and the Camp Fire

Hey everyone,

I’m writing today to invite you onto a special project, something I hope will bring some meaningful hope to us all in the wake of the Camp Fire.

Like all of you, in the past three weeks I have lived through a tornado of emotions.

From the first minutes on November 8, driving my son to school when I realized that there was a fire nearby, to the rushing escape with everyone in town, to losing our home and realizing nearly everyone we knew had lost theirs as well, these days have been a trial of shocks, both bitter and sweet. Like nearly everyone in Butte County, these weeks will leave a mark on me until my days’ end.

But now, with the fire out and life settling to a new normal, we’re all sharing a new experience: Wondering what’s comes after. What do we citizens do after the Camp Fire has done its searing work?

I’m a filmmaker. I can’t rebuild a house, rewire a neighborhood or mend the wounds of people and animals injured in the fire. I can tell stories and that’s what I intend to do here.

And I’m starting with this post.

In the next months and years, there will be a lot people from around the country and the world looking to make programs about November 8, highlighting its details as the most destructive wildfire in US history, citing the deaths, the destruction and drama. They will be wanting to tell the story of the Camp Fire.

It’s my plan to tell the story of our community… What Paradise, Concow and Magalia were like before the flames, how we lived through the Camp Fire and how we will survive after.

Theirs will center on the fire and its drama. Ours will center on the people, and endurance (though it will get plenty dramatic). This community means something to us all, and will be dear to us long after film crews from Los Angeles, San Francisco or New York have left.

I’m calling this project Three Days in Paradise, as all disasters happen over three days.

The first day is made of all the days that come before. The history, the people, the choices, the mistakes that made what happen… happen.

The second day is the catastrophe. That’s the Camp Fire and I don’t need to remind anyone here of all its awful details.

The third day… and days… after the disaster when we knit ourselves back together and forge on with a new life, a new future, and a new town.

My plan, still in its formative stage, is to produce a documentary series equal in storytelling and production value to best of those found on Netflix (Wild, Wild Country, The Staircase), HBO (The Jinx), ESPN (OJ: Made in America) or PBS (The Civil War, The American Experience).

It’s a high bar I’m confident we can clear together.

So how can I help tell your stories? There are a few things we can all do together.

First, we need to gather all the stories out there to be told. We’ve all heard a lot of dramatic, moving, inspiring tales… but we’ve also all heard of even more which haven’t made it into the newspaper or on TV. Please feel free to send me messages, emails or tweets with your stories of the stories of those you know.

Second, we need pictures, video, footage of Paradise before the fire. Do you have film or pictures of Paradise from years past? I can get them transferred to video. Do you have video you’ve taken of loved ones in Paradise? Shots you took of the town as we all knew it? I would love to see them. I’m setting up the ability to gather images, videos, films and more of our communities before the flames. That will be coming to this, ThreeDaysInParadise.TV

Third, let’s get to know each other. While I’m a filmmaker who has traveled the country for my work, my home is here. My sons went to school in Chico and Paradise. Del played for the Bobcats. When I was lucky enough to be recognized for what I’ve done, I brought my Emmys home to Paradise and one of them is in the rubble of my home. I’m making it my work to get this story told.

To help I’ve created a variety of ways to connect and engage with this project. That’s all here…  Facebook page ( ), Twitter account ( ) Instagram account ( ) and email ( And, of course, YouTube ( ).

I’m here, and I’m not going anywhere. I want to help us all tell these stories in a way the whole world will watch. So Paradise, Magalia and Concow aren’t known just for the fire, but for the communities we all knew and still love.