I can't believe it... 38 days until filming starts!!!
It's been almost a year of prep, Scouting locations, research, script writing, fund raising, gaining sponsors, paperwork and finding crew have all been more enjoyable than pre-production should ever be. I mean that quite earnestly. Things came together in humbling, amazing and wonderful ways unlike any production of mine before.
Two things I'd like to talk about in this post: Methodology and Creative Vision.
Methodology is very important to put out there right now. Above all else in making these films is adhering to regulations and treating wildlife with respect. That's the central guide for this film, too. I can't tell you what I plan to film (exactly), nor will divulge the script, but I can tell you “how” footage will be acquired.
A very large percentage of the footage – both surface and underwater – will be done from shore and with the cameras set up quite a distance from the animal subjects. That may sound counter intuitive to getting decent shots, but because I have scouted safe locations with physical barriers between the wildlife and myself (and crew) I will still have many, many opportunities to film passing animals – without affecting their behaviors or being an obstruction to their movement.
We do not enter the water to film... ever. No divers, not even kayaks to film the movie. I did kayak the slough (without filming) during my research. That was critical for me to get a feel for the estuary and the ecosystem the otters live in. Our underwater footage will be shot via an 18-foot-long pole, with a 4K underwater camera attached, affixed to a static shore point or hand steadied on the jetty, near the ocean inlet. Here again, we'll hug the shore (up and away from the water's surface) and simply be “flies on the wall” as animals pass by.
In saying that, sea lions are very curious, as are the sea otters, and there will be times when they will swim near the pole just to check it out. The pole camera is neither designed to follow them, nor would I allow that. It is pressed up against the dock or rocks – out of the path of any wildlife. If they linger, or attempt an approach to touch the camera, it will be pulled up and out of their reach until they move on. Neither human being nor marine mammals will ever be close to making contact. The dock I film on actually has a fence in place to assure there won't even be accidental contact.
I do nothing to attract wildlife. Whatever happens to be the behavior they are doing naturally is simply filmed as it happens. The script is very forgiving that way, I don't need the manufactured actions – only the natural ones.
As for the surface camera, pictured below, it has enough telephoto zoom capabilities to keep me at legal and safe distance from the marine mammals, while still getting “close” footage. The law, but more importantly the safety and stress of the animals trumps EVERYTHING. Period.
That brings me to the creative process.
Deconstructing Eden is the story of an ecosystem first and foremost. It has many living parts. All of those parts combine to tell a story. There is inherent drama to this story. There's struggle: life and death.
Telling this story happens three ways. The first is visual; I want you to see the environment... “feel” the home of the sea otters. Next is through the spoken words. The script is written to not only be educational, but also inspiring and hopeful. Both of those are rounded out with music. The scoring is critical, as it will tell the story without words...sometimes, for those who are sight impaired, without images, too.
It all comes together through the collaboration and hard work of scores of people. People in California, Washington, various other states, and Canada.
When I slate the first shot on-location, I will have a team of four production assistants, a production coordinator, still photographer, and a local marine biologist consultant. Our “raft” of crew will turn these ideas into film artistry.
Thirty-eight days. I can't wait!
Award-winning filmmaker, Bestselling author and journalist.