What follows below is the actual post I made to the Deconstructing Eden film crew:
"A crew, by definition, is a team. Although I may lead this team, I am not, nor would I be capable of being, the “star” of this team.
There will be several “pep talks” in the weeks ahead. This is the first, and somewhat the most important.
I've just returned from a trip to Canada where I had the amazing opportunity and honor to meet and talk with Dr, Jane Goodall. I was invited to meet her by one of her family members, for whom (at the time without fully knowing the connection to Jane) I dropped an entire day off of a very packed schedule for this film's research trip in October to help with a medical crisis in San Francisco.
To me, she was simply a friend in need.
Fast forward to this past Saturday:
I was an invited VIP and not only had a ticket to the event but also access to a meet and greet before the lecture and a private meeting after it.
During the meet and greet she spoke candidly with the 70 of us gathered in a special gallery area of the theater. She talked mainly about how important it was for her to have an opportunity to speak to supporters of the JGI Roots and Shoots Program. She also thanked the city officials and Mr. Robert Bateman (renowned wildlife artist and conservation advocate) for being there. After a short speech, Dr. Jane (she does not like being called Dr. Goodall, as it's too formal for her tastes) mingled and made her way through the crowd.
Then she stopped at me and smiled. I took it as an invitation to introduce myself. I told her my name, and instantly she stopped me in mid-sentence.
“You're making a film about sea otters!” she exclaimed in her gloriously soft, but beautiful British accent, and her face lit up in recognition. Her niece had already told her about me.”Aren't they just wonderful creatures?”
I think I said “Yes,” then rambled and gushed incoherently for the next minute. She tapped my shirt, which had a picture of an otter on it, and said I look forward to talking with you more later.
Her lecture was phenomenal. It was my second time at one of her lectures. This lecture she spoke of the Seeds of Hope, which focuses not on the dire aspects of the decay of our natural world but on the meaningful progress being made to restore the balance.
Our film – Deconstructing Eden – will be a part of that mission. We are tasked with bringing hope back to the table, and making people want to help rather than simply curl up into a ball, and shutdown. We hold in our hands, hearts and creative minds the task and responsibility of inspiring people and educating the world – nothing less – and, we WILL accomplish that mission.
After the lecture I was brought to the area where she would soon be signing books. The lines was already more than 500 people long. I admit I felt awkward being ushered in front of so many people. I know there were folks there for whom they scraped together pocket change in order to see Dr. Jane...to just be in her presence.
I am no one special in comparison to the people in that line. I'm not more important, nor more worthy of Dr. Jane's time and attention. Still, there I was, being given a few minutes to chat with her before she started signing books.
When she saw me her face brightened again and as she took my hand, I pulled her into a hug. I gave her a gentle squeeze.
This time I was far more composed.
“Dr, Jane, I know you hear it often but you are truly a hero of mine. I was inspired to study anthropology because of you, and later “People of the Forest” influenced the type of documentary films I wanted to make. I feel so lucky to be here.”
Immediately, she said, “I'm very glad you could be here tonight, Rick.”
That was not lost on me. She remembered my name from a 30-second meeting, more than two hours earlier. She then touched the otter on my shirt and told me she talks about the southern sea otters in a few of her books.
I gave her an “otter paw.” These handmade paws are the symbol and totem for our film. When I say, “Paws UP,” it has many layers of meaning. Sea otters conserve body heat by holding their paws out of the water, but they also go “paws up” in an alert stance, while floating on their backs, when faced with an uncertain danger or potential threat. Very quickly I told Jane about this behavior (which she probably knows more than I do about it) and asked if we could take a picture together, going “Paws Up!”
That's the moment you see here.
Dr. Jane wished me – all of us, really – good luck with the film.
I'll leave you with that for now. Consider that moment our official launch sendoff.
Award-winning filmmaker, Bestselling author and journalist.