Edward, or Eddie, is a documentary filmmaker who is currently a graduate student in Montana State University’s MFA in Science and Natural History Filmmaking program. He received his undergraduate degree in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation from the University of Florida. He is intensely egalitarian and biocentric, believing that the proper study of humankind is survival for all. He likes to incorporate bioethics and the ecological sciences into his films. In his free time he enjoys getting lost in the worlds of nature and music.
TERRA: Tell us a little about the WLA and how you got involved with them.
ER: Western Landowners Alliance is an organization that promotes connected landscapes and landowners who operate under a strong sustainable conservation-minded ethic. I first got involved with the WLA as a film-intern producing the first episode of a series of short films profiling conservation-minded landowners in the American West. The series is “Stewardship with Vision” and the first episode profiles Jeff Laszlo of Granger Ranches in Southwest Montana where he restored one of the largest wetlands in the west on his working ranch.
TERRA: Give us a behind-the-scenes snapshot of what life was like in the field.
ER: Life in the field was windy and cold but also really rewarding. I spent two days filming. It involved waking up early to film cattle ranching activities and interviews with nice early morning light and staying out all day getting aerial and fishing shots. I worked alone, so having to setup and take down tripods, boom stands, and camera gear and having to reconnect everything for the three different outside interviews was relatively troublesome but also really fun. I like the creativity and artistic expression of film production and I really like to try my hand at all aspects including the sound, visuals, and directing of talent.
TERRA: What surprised you the most about the ranchers in MT’s Madison Valley?
ER: Jeff, the rancher in the film, was one of the most friendly, accommodating, and down-to-earth ranchers I have met. But what surprised me was his clear dedication to incorporate sustainable land-use ethics on his ranch. Most ranchers take care of their land and take pride in it, but Jeff I felt took his appreciation of the surrounding environment to the next level.
TERRA: What types of equipment did you use? Do you have a favorite piece?
ER: I filmed on a Canon 5d Mark III with the Magic Lantern Raw Video hack that enables it to shoot 14-bit CinemaDNG sequences. I used the 5d3 for most of the B-roll shots and filmed all the interviews in 2.5K RAW on a Blackmagic Cinema Camera. The aerial footage was shot with a DJI Phantom 2 and GoPro Hero4 in 4k. Audio was recorded to a Zoom using a Rode NTG-3 shotgun microphone.
Each piece of equipment has its role but nothing can beat the simplicity, smallness, and functionality of a 5d. So the 5d is my favorite, hands down. I will never sell it. Unless a 5d mark IV that shoots 4k comes out ☺
TERRA: Did you have any particularly rewarding or dangerous moments in the field?
ER: The most stressful experience was when the battery of the drone ran out while I was filming aerials over a herd of cattle in a field of tall grass. The drone crashed down far away from where I was so it was hard to really get an idea of how deep into the field it was. I spent a few hours walking up and down trying to look for it in the waist high grass. I was also trying to fend of the curious cows that were confused as to why I was hanging out in their field. I was also worried they would trample it. Luckily it was found. Somewhere and somehow I also ended up loosing my iPhone. It was a rough day…
TERRA: What are the 3 things you’d never go into the field without and why?
ER: Aside from all the things you MUST go into the field with (camera, audio recorder, appropriate cables, etc.) I would never go without the $20 shoulder rig I custom made out of aluminum pipes from Home Depot. Even if I was awarded a large grant, I would still use that home-made shoulder rig. Partly because there is a certain amount of satisfaction that comes from making your own stuff and partly because it is so small and specifically designed for my needs. I love the look of handheld and I am trying to incorporate it more into my films. The DIY shoulder rig helps make it happen.
TERRA: What inspired you to become a filmmaker?
ER: I have always had interests in photography, music, and the outdoors, but it wasn’t until I was finishing up my bachelor’s degree in wildlife ecology and conservation at the University of Florida that I realized that I would enjoy communicating about the natural world rather than physically doing scientific research.
TERRA: What would be your dream project?
ER: Every project is a dream right now. I am happy to make any film. I don’t have an idea for content, but my dream would be one that creates significant cultural and political change to make the world a better place for all living things.
TERRA: What’s your favorite aspect of filmmaking?
ER: Making music, color grading, and really making the edit come alive. I also enjoy people’s reactions and feedback to the film.
TERRA: Do you have a favorite project you’ve worked on and why?
ER: So far my favorite project has been my film “Silencing the Thunder,” which investigates the controversial management of Yellowstone National Park bison.
TERRA: If you could be any animal in Montana, which would you be?
ER: In Montana I would be a buffalo. Internationally I would be a Sun Bear.
TERRA: Anything else you’d like to add?
ER: Thanks for featuring me and my film on Field Notes!