July 24, 2014
Thanks to 356 Kickstarter backers, we’re now able to finish post-production on “Pelican Dreams,” including all those pricey items like: final sound recording, editing, and mixing; transferring standard definition footage to HD via “Dark Energy” and “Teranex;” transferring film shots directly from 16mm negative to HD; color finishing with wizard Gary Coates; designing a theatrical movie poster; working on a theatrical trailer and press kit; and starting outreach to long-lead-time publications like Audubon Magazine and Cornell Ornithology Lab’s Living Bird. Could not have done it without you! Bookings so far:
World Premiere – October 24th, Balboa Theater, San Francisco, and Elmwood Theater, Berkeley.
San Jose Premiere – October 31st, Camera 3 Theater.
East Coast Premiere – Nov. 7th, Angelika Theater (downtown NYC) and Lincoln Plaza Theater (uptown NYC)
Southern California Premiere – Nov. 7th at the Royal Theater (LA), the Playhouse (Pasadena), and the Town Center (Encino)
Santa Cruz Premiere – Nov. 7th at the Nickelodeon Theater
San Luis Obispo Premiere – Nov. 14th at the Palm Theater – with a special appearance by avian film star “Morro” on Nov. 15th!
More bookings to come. Check back for details. The film will play at these theaters as long as people come to see it, not just the first day, so please help spread the word. We will plan something special for the San Francisco World Premiere: Maybe we’ll meet out at the beach, look for pelicans soaring along the coast, then walk up to the Balboa, see the movie, and have a party nearby afterwards. Save the date!
May 1, 2014
Our Kickstarter campaign is LIVE today! Please consider contributing, and spread the word. Thanks!
April 25, 2014
draft movie poster by Zina Deretsky
flier by Zina Deretsky
Thanks to the graphic talents of fellow Southender Zina Deretsky, we have a movie poster taking shape and a lovely flier publicizing the May 9th preview screening of “Pelican Dreams” (see both, above).
Our Kickstarter campaign launches May 1st, runs for the month of May, and will hopefully result in $50,000 finishing funds. Shadow Distribution, the same company that distributed “The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill,” will do the same for “Pelicans,” but we have to finish it first, and you can help. There will be 8 Kickstarter perk levels, ranging from $10 to $10,000, so there’s surely a level that can work for you.
We previewed our new 3-minute Kickstarter trailer last night at the Aquarium’s Pier 39 theater, and it looked great (I can say that because I didn’t edit it; Andrew Harmon, who has a gift for the short form, did a wonderful job with the edit, and Bruce Kaphan, our esteemed composer, provided a custom score.) The trailer will go live on May 1st and we’ll link to it from here. Stay tuned and please help us with this last push! All donations are tax-deductible.
February 28, 2014
pelicans roosting at Sutro Rocks, San Francisco
The photo of pelicans roosting on Sutro Rocks above was taken in December, our second attempt at that location to get a “sunset-roost-settle-in-for-the-night” sequence that could be a backdrop for the rolling credits at the end of the movie. Finally got it!
The Aquarium of the Bay screening was “sold out” (even though it was free) within a few days of tickets becoming available. Not only was it a big audience, it was responsive, enthusiastic, and very helpful; about 175 people filled out questionnaires afterwards, which inform my final editing. To everyone who shared in this creative process, thank you!
One person suggested that I include a normal-speed pelican feeding frenzy in the film, since all of the diving footage was (then) slow-motion. I happened to have some normal-speed shots from a feeding sequence at Half Moon Bay, and put those in. The new sequence fit easily into a slot after Monte says, “Two things a pelican has to be able to do: it has to be able to see, and it has to be able to fly. And I mean fly well.” Many thanks to that anonymous audience member who made the suggestion. It shows us how wild and crazy it gets out there, how fast they actually fly and dive, and how easy it is to get hurt; and it comes before a sequence about Morro, who hurt his wing, probably while diving.
We now have what they call in the film business a “fine cut,” and we’re on our way to a “picture lock.” Kickstarter campaign details coming soon!
December 2, 2013
“A Wonderful Bird is the Pelican”
by Dixon Lanier Merritt, 1910 (not Ogden Nash!)
A wonderful bird is the pelican
His bill will hold more than his belican
He can take in his beak
Food enough for a week
But I’m damned if I know how the helican.
I’d been trying to figure out how to include this classic limerick in “Pelican Dreams,” and two serendipitous events over the past month made it possible. First, Donna Shore sent me the photo above, taken by Tyrone Crossman. This pink-backed pelican with his wild and crazy hairdo made me laugh. I contacted Tyrone, a professional photographer in Durban, South Africa, who generously allowed me to use this photo plus several additional shots of the same bird to illustrate the limerick (which he remembered from his childhood also).
Next, a friend in Ireland, a radio/tv broadcast personality whose soul is essentially comedic, agreed to record the limerick at his studio in Dublin and send me the tape. So now I have a wonderful recording from Myles Dungan to go with Tyrone’s fabulous pictures!
Many thanks to the Henry Mayo Newhall Foundation and to Bob McIntyre of the Wheeler Fund for recent grants that will help us get to the finish line. Lucy Massie Phenix, consulting editor, has been suggesting subtle tweaks to the movie’s structure and tone. As I mentioned in my last post, it really helps to have a fresh set of eyes on this footage. And speaking of fresh eyes:
“Save the Date!” We will have our final “Pelican Dreams” rough-cut screening on Thursday, January 16th at the Bay Institute’s theater at Pier 39 in San Francisco. I’ll hand out questionnaires and ask for written feedback from the audience. The screening is free. We hope to have a reception beforehand. Come be part of the creative process! Details to come.
October 22, 2013
A goose, a duck, a chicken, and a pelican!
That’s Dani Nicholson in her “magical kingdom” yard in Cayucos. We just got back from a trip to southern and central California that included some lucky film shoots, including a visit to Morro in his yard, and a visit to Pebble Beach, where we finally got some slow-motion shots of pelicans “surfing” the wave crests. Lovely!
When a pelican’s life in the wild is going well, it goes very very well. They were so clearly enjoying themselves, it was a joy to watch. Pelicans are such accomplished fliers!
Meanwhile editing and fundraising continue. We’ve now shot almost everything we need and are working out the final structure. Lucy Phenix, a friend and colleague, has been consulting on the editing and it’s great to have another set of eyes on the footage.
We still have major lab expenses ahead of us, and look forward to working with “pelican angels” to bring in the funds we need.
August 28, 2013
Last night around sunset, I filmed some pelicans roosting at Sutro rocks, near the Cliff House. There were far more cormorants than pelicans, but still, it was a lovely scene as they all jostled for space and settled in for the night. I’d gone out there hoping for some shots of pelicans soaring along wave crests, but as usual, nature handed me something else. I’ll try again soon for the wave soaring.
Earlier in August, a friend who was driving by Half Moon Bay saw hundreds of pelicans diving into the bay and called me. Feeding frenzies are often over in a matter of minutes, when the fish move on, but Mark and I decided to give it a shot anyway, and an hour and a half later, after rush-hour traffic had slowed down our departure, the birds were still there! In addition to shooting wide views, I also tried following an individual bird flying through the chaotic scene and then diving, so you can see what one pelican’s experience is out there. I think it works, at least for a few shots. It was such a kick to see pelicans, gulls, and terns feasting on anchovies!
August 1, 2013
We are very happy to announce that the Dean Witter Foundation has awarded “Pelican Dreams” a $25,000 grant, which will go toward post-production expenses such as color correction, sound editing and mix, footage conversions, etc. We still have a big chunk to raise, but this grant helps a lot.
June 28, 2013
Several years ago I gave myself a photographic assignment: I wanted to shoot the elusive, endangered, tiny salt-marsh harvest mouse for our growing archive, which documents restoration progress in the salt ponds over the past ten years. No one had been able to do this for years, and people who needed an image of the little critter had to rely on old stock photos that got used over and over again. Long story short, “Salty” made it to the cover of the current (summer) issue of Bay Nature Magazine! Here’s a link to a blog about how the photo was taken: http://baynature.org/2013/06/26/filmmaker-judy-irving-gets-her-mouse/
And here’s a cropped image that shows “Salty” in close-up:
You can access the entire photo archive at the Resources Legacy Fund, which helped fund the ten-year project along with the California Coastal Conservancy: http://resourceslegacyfund.smugmug.com/
Funding has run out for now, but with Salty on Bay Nature’s cover, we’re finishing up in style!