Wildlife & Thinking By Filmmaking

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attending to encounters

I am interested in wildness,

our relationships with wild animals,

& what wild animals bring to not-so-wild places.  

The following is a video record of my thinking about wild animals.

Filmmaking can guide thinking in various ways.

You may think of the process: what did it take to meet this species?

How & where did we meet?

Or of your relation: How has our encounter changed my understanding of this animal? Does it affirm or challenge my beliefs about this species?

& you’re not just shooting but storytelling. Ultimately, you must ask:

What can & should I share about this animal? What did I find? What did I get? What does it mean?


Growing up, I memorized field guides & dreamed of meeting each & every creature.

I was particularly intrigued by the (to me) obscure. My favorite animal would be the black and white colobus, vicuña, uakari…

It’s always been more about curiosity than collecting. I want to know what each animal is like. As a child, I didn’t know how to meet them. I lacked the patience needed for wild animals & I thought they lived far away.

In university, I began to slow down.

I sat with spoonbills, storks & gators by my grandparents, deer & turkey in the cornfields near campus, grizzlies & bighorns over a summer of field courses in Glacier.

I graduated into a dream:

a Watson Fellowship to film wild primates for a year around Asia & Africa.

As I watched langurs use powerlines as vines, macaques guard urban temples, & sifaka dance in private reserves, the questions that bubbled in university around problematic ideas of wilderness and romantic notions of nature, crystallized. In some ways, the rare primates lingering in the most ‘pristine’ habitat, sheltered by stark boundaries, local exclusion, & strict conservation regimes seemed the least wild. The more wild animals I met, the less I understood what a wild animal was. & my craft was as confused as my thinking. I spent the next two years trying to catch up.

I went to Aotearoa for a Masters in Science Communication at the University of Otago, focused on Natural History Filmmaking. I studied in class & on foot. Dr. Benni Leutner & I walked around all over, looking for birds: kea, kiwi, &  hoiho.

For my thesis, I spent almost a year in Western Australia, trying to shoot as many species as possible but focusing on the wedge-tailed eagles with the eagle expert & master naturalist (soon-to-be) Dr. Simon Cherriman. We got bilbies, numbats, & bandicoots & I learned a lot.

In our hide for a Western bowerbird, I read Derek Bousé's Wildlife Films.

I wrote a thesis exploring what made a wild animal wild but left Otago only more curious. 

[abstracts via an earlier version of this page & story]

Desiring more school & understanding, I continued onto a PhD in Environmental Studies, focusing on Philosophy. I joined the Committee on Environmental Thought & co-authored papers exploring ideas of naturalness, wildness, & our relationship to nature...

but the summer before I began my doctorate, Dr. Ajume Hassan Wingo invited me to document the environmental ethics of his community, the Kingdom of Nso in NW Cameroon

With his invitation, Ajume planted the seeds for Folk Filmmaking. My studies slightly shifted.

I got into Political Ecology & landed in Feminist & Decolonizing Methodologies.

Folk Filmmaking became my thinking from here, but I continue to shoot animals as a way to attend to our encounters.

Though I'm stuck as a sucker for spectacle, I now aim to attend to the wild animals of the everyday, those near & familiar, common & persistent.

A Wedged Tale


What is Wild?


Trailer. Full Series follows.

In Wildness


(undergrad senior thesis)

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