Produced for: MFA thesis film, independent film production
Location: Beringia, remote area near Kotzebue, Alaska
Awards: Science Award, Imagine Science Film Festival (2011); read the NYT Article about ISFF with filmmaker interview
Official Selection: Imagine Science Film Festival (NYC, 2011), European Imagine Science Film Festival (Dublin IR, 2012), Society for Conservation Biology Conference (2012), MemberCentral (AAAS/Science)
Aired: Life on Terra (episode 716)
Enter into the ultra-adventurous world of bush-pilot biologists chasing wild birds in the no-man’s-land north of the Arctic Circle. Their world is one of beauty, grit, humor and science. The tundra swans they study venture back and forth across the narrow stretch of water that separates Alaska and Russia. This east-west connection is what endangers the birds, and potentially the humans that interact with them. (2010, 9:30 minutes).
“Filming with Stephani (Open Boat Films) was like having a trusted crew member aboard our team. She was able to capture the heart of our project, people, and the landscape with an unobtrusive, curious style, seemlessly integrating with our team. She immerses herself into your story, coaxing beauty and wonder out of the damnedest places and documenting the adventure and science of your work with a researcher’s precision and an artist’s eye.” Heather Wilson, PhD, lead scientist on the field research featured in Chasing Birds.
“This piece is a beautiful and refreshing alternative to the now-standard authoritative, -est (biggest, awesomest, coolest, whatever-est), more selfish science/natural history approaches. Well done! I can’t wait to hear where else it screens and what you make next. It was beautifully shot, and I appreciated its gentleness. There is something about your voice in this (filmmaker voice) that reminds me of the voice in your dipper film: inquisitive, caring, fascinated. Evelyn Fox Keller says in her book, A Feeling for the Organism, ‘The ultimate descriptive task, for both artists and scientists, is to ‘ensoul’ what one sees, to attribute to it the life one shares with it; one learns by identification’ In both those films, you do just that. You ensoul not only the animal you look at (dipper, swan, scientist), but also the processes (personal, scientific, etc) of coming to know, and the process of looking quietly and honestly.” Kate Lain, filmmaker.