THE WILD CONNECTION
A FILM BY
& PAULA SPRENGER
ABOUT THE FILM
Although they can seem far removed from our lives we have an innate connection to the animals we share the earth with.
The relationship between us is complex, ever changing, and unique to each species.
The Wild Connection seeks to understand the link between us at a time when the future is uncertain.
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REVIEW by Jason Peters from www.wildlife-film.com
Although they can seem far removed from our lives we have an innate connection to the animals we share the Earth with. The relationship between us is complex, ever changing, and unique to each species. The Wild Connection seeks to understand the link between us at a time when the future is uncertain.
It is an oft-said thing by those that are engaged with wildlife, in natural history or ecological circles, be they biologists, birders, conservationists or even mere film-makers, that we’ve lost our connection to the natural world. By “we”, we mean everyone else. Those city types, kids of today and the like ... Increasingly losing touch with nature. So, I was immediately invested in the idea behind this film. Can “we” reconnect?
This documentary aims to show us inadvertent connections at various sites across the USA ... Antelope Island, Utah, where herds of large mammals roam the mountainsides and grasslands and its shores are home to millions of animals but where the early impact of people on American wildlife is illustrated; Crystal River, on the Nature Coast of Florida, where species collide as the large populations of both humans and animals intersect, often with deadly but unintended consequences. There are great success stories but protected species are still under serious pressure, and not just from people, there are invasive species adding to that pressure exacerbated by climate change too; Palo Duro Canyon, located in the Texas Panhandle, is the second largest canyon in the United States. Its’ unique topography creates a climate that offers shelter to wildlife year round. Human-introduced invasive species are also a problem here and massive persecutions of rattlesnakes are unethical, whilst upsetting the balance too. The plight of turkeys and that of cattle, including their impact on the environment are shown ... One billion cows, in the US alone, are seriously contributing to global warming; Baxter, Maine, a testament to conservation that remains largely untouched, despite being a pristine wilderness the animals here are still affected by human activity miles away. An aquatic animal, a conservation success story, that shows the ecosystem is healthy and the surprisingly aquatic moose that is plagued by insects that are exploding in numbers further North due to climate change; Okefenokee Swamp, Georgia, which may seem like a foreboding place, but is full of life. In the black waters of the Okefenokee nature is on full display. Charismatic keystone species are suffering due to hunting, loss of habitat and human development and alligators are impacted by climate change in surprising ways. Even more surprising interconnections link a woodpecker, pine trees and fire, or lack of it.
The cinematography is exceptional in this film, well edited and good flow with appealing graphics used to illustrate historical points and data. An appropriate use of music nicely balanced with natural sounds with a well-paced narration that helped to keep the attention, even though the film could’ve been shorter.
I found the film incredibly informative, with lots of things learnt about the animals and environments studied, not least the interconnectedness of threats to wildlife in the US and climate change. It felt like a well-researched film but the imparted knowledge was easily digested. I loved the inclusion of the segment on cattle, the cruelty injustices, exploited for meat and dairy products, but also their very significant negative impact on the environment. Not preachy, but part of a wider story including their auroch ancestors. Well done and I would very much like to see more of this kind of truth-telling in wildlife film-making.
The points made about the “wild connection” were immersed in the wider biology of the animals and ecosystems helping the viewer to understand the fuller context with ease. There’s still a chance for all of these animals and their ecosystems ... Our connection to the wild.
“We” need to remember our shared history, remember our relationship to the land and animals ... realize past mistakes and recognize what we are doing now. We have a chance to modify and reduce our impact as humans on the natural world ... i.e. live in a way mindful of our wild connection. I recommend that you watch this film, immerse yourself in the stories, understand the connections and then find your wild connection, not just to these stories, but in your local patch too. By “we”, I mean all of us.
-Jason Peters from www.wildlife-film.com
Antelope Island is the largest island in the Great Salt Lake. Here herds of large mammals roam the mountainsides and grasslands and it’s shores are home to millions of animals.
Baxter is a testament to conservation and remains largely untouched. Despite being a pristine wilderness the animals here are still inadvertently affected by human activity miles away.
The Nature Coast of Florida is often overlooked in regards to it’s enormous capacity to support wildlife. Here species collide as the large populations of both humans and animals intersect often with deadly consequences.
While the swamp may seem like a foreboding place it is full of life. In the black waters of the Okefenokee nature is on full display.
PALO DURO CANYON
Located in the Texas Panhandle, Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon in the United States. It’s unique topography creates a climate that offers shelter to wildlife year round.
Carter McCormick and Paula Sprenger own and operate Habitat Productions, a non-profit based wildlife and environmental film production company. They met while attending SCAD in 2015, and later got married in 2017. They have been working together since the moment they met, and today they reside in Ireland, where they are working on their third feature film. Their first feature film, ‘The Wild Connection’, was released this year. They have also previously worked as DP’s on ‘Free Puppies’, a documentary film that explores the relocation of shelter animals that come from abusive portions of the United States. Before founding Habitat Productions they worked with various organizations such as Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, and The National Parks Arts Foundation. Separately, both of their careers in filmmaking began in 2012. In earlier years Carter’s filmmaking had already taken him around the globe, to Ghana to work with Children Inspiring Hope, to Belize to work for the People’s National Party of Belize, and to Costa Rica to document the dangerous link between crocodile predation and the tourism industry. He is originally from Rising Fawn, GA, where his close proximity to local wildlife fostered his passion for animals and conservation. Today Carter is finishing his PhD in University College Cork in Ireland, where he is studying how to better formulate wildlife films to have a greater conservation impact. Paula is originally from Santiago, Chile, and has had a camera attached to her hand for most of her life. Though she has always been passionate about the welfare of animals and conservation, she kick started her career by diving into photography, where she garnered attention for her portraiture and fashion photography. She has been featured in PhotoVogue + Art Commerce, Format Magazine, Kaltblut Magazine, Southern Living Magazine, Prodibi Magazine and others. Her filmmaking projects, which took center stage in 2015, have been featured in various film festivals and in 2016 she won a RedDot award. Today both Carter and Paula focus solely on their company Habitat Productions, where they are working on their third feature film, ‘Forest Beneath the Waves’, which hopes to impact the decision to harvest over 2,000 hectares of pristine Kelp Forest in the Irish Supreme Court.
Statement from the Filmmakers
Many wildlife films, though captivating, seldom impart knowledge in a way that can change how a viewer engages with the world around them. With The Wild Connection, we set out to create a film that was artful and entertaining but that also examined our relationship with wildlife in a way that promoted deeper understanding and empathy. Making this film we navigated sweltering heat waves off-grid in our RV, filled our wetsuits with hot water on cold winter mornings, walked rough terrain with heavy gear in search of wildlife, and faced a multitude of other obstacles. Despite all of the challenges of making a documentary (especially with only two people) every day in the field or working from home was a labor of love. Making this film only furthered our love for the land, plants, and animals we share this planet with and we hope that you share that love when watching our film.