When presented with an opportunity to go “pursue a personal passion,” it can be hard to focus your flights of fancy and reign in the imagination. How far can you really travel and how many days will you need to complete this pursuit? Can you really afford it? Well, I did manage to reign in my No Boundaries entry enough to be within two of these constraints…
Weber Shandwick chose to generously support me in shooting a short documentary film about the struggle of the American Gray Wolf in and near Yellowstone park through their No Boundaries program. My interest had been mounting on the subject over several years of reading about the controversy in the news and environmental newsletters, so I dove in. What interested me about this topic aside from admittedly loving wolves from a distance, were the diverse opinions and fiery ideologies that stemmed from the wolves re-introduction into the area after having been formerly eradicated from the lower 48 states. Across the nation, people seem to either love or hate the predator, and possibly to an even greater degree, hate the people that hold opposing views about the animal. My goal was to capture the real human stories and perspectives of those directly impacted by the wolves return, so that the public can see past the political agenda to what is really going on.
I was awarded $1,000 and a week off through the No Boundaries program, which served as a seed to get me started thinking, planning, and booking the shoot. I assembled a small but necessary crew because well, after all there is a reason you almost never see only one name in the credits for a film. It’s just too many hats to wear! Then, spending my lunch breaks and weekends making calls, I got the film permits approved and began sketching out the trip. I feel very lucky that I was able to make so many amazing contacts before I left and as a result, my time in the Yellowstone area was filled with many intriguing interviews amidst gorgeous scenery.
We spent seven days in the Yellowstone Park area and managed to see (and film) a wolf too. However, despite using the largest lens I thought was possible, the footage only showcased the magnificent creature as speck moving briskly across the screen. The focus of the trip was to capture the human story, so although a beautiful close-up or two of a wolf would’ve been brilliant, I’m just happy we managed to see one in the wild. I knew when I got back I could work on getting more wolf footage from other sources. The film will no doubt take some time to pull together into the final edit but I plan to continue filling my free time up, happily working on a project that means a lot to me. Weber Shandwick was the shove my boat needed to get out into the water and make this project happen, and I’m really grateful that I had the opportunity to do this. Stay tuned for the film, which will hopefully end up in a couple of festivals next year. In the meantime, enjoy these stills from the trip.