Posts Tagged ‘Feeding Frenzy’

February 28, 2014

February 28, 2014
pelicans roosting at Sutro Rocks, San Francisco

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!


August 27, 2013

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 10, 2012

August 10, 2012

These days I think about each documentary film shoot as a “rendezvous with destiny.” I might want one thing, but often, nature hands me something else. That’s what happened on our recent production trip to the Pacific Northwest, where I wanted shots of pelicans flying from the ocean to the Columbia River, the northernmost stop for many of them on their northward migration. I did get those shots, but Fate or the gods or whoever plans these things gave me two other sequences that I’ve been hoping to get for years.

We set up the camera on a wildlife viewing platform at the confluence of the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean the afternoon of July 24. It happened to be high tide, the sun was out, and small fish were schooling in the ocean near the platform. Hundreds of cormorants, Caspian terns, and pelicans were diving, eating, fighting, resting, flying – the feeding frenzy I’ve wanted for years! We got some nice slow-motion footage of pelicans literally dropping from the sky like rain. It’s hard to pull a good still photo from this footage, because the magic is in the motion, but here’s one anyway.

Feeding Frenzy

The next morning we set up on the same platform in completely different conditions: low tide, grey skies, no fish, no feeding frenzy, BUT there were surfers and a paddle boarder heading out into the waves, and lines and lines of pelicans flying north. I was able to get my longed-for surfing sequence that day, completely unexpectedly. It looks like a ballet.

Paddle Boarder and Pelicans