Watch Patrick’s “Under Pressure” on TERRA.
Patrick is currently working on his MFA in Science and Natural History Filmmaking at Montana State University, Bozeman. His latest credits include the assistant editor for a variety of projects, content producer for the science and natural history website Lifeonterra.com, and producer for the 2015 Element Film Festival.
TERRA: What inspired you to make a film about the diving capabilities of elephant seals?
PT: I grew up in Southern California, and visited Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery many times throughout my life. Their diving ability is truly amazing, and I wanted to share that information with my audience. I tend to gravitate towards incredible animals that are misunderstood and/or unknown to the general population, so northern elephant seals offered a great opportunity.
TERRA: Give us a behind-the-scenes snapshot of creating this film.
PT: Lots of driving and rain throughout the shoot. Filming in the winter made it challenging even on the California coast. But sharing the experience with close friends (my crew) made it a great experience.
TERRA: Why did you decide to approach this story with a presenter?
PT: I think a presenter adds a more personal and relatable experience for viewers. The challenge is making that individual likable to a wide audience. I also grew up watching science and natural history shows that included presenters, so I knew it could be a very effective way to communicate information.
TERRA: Did you have any particularly challenging moments during production?
PT: I had an interview confirmed with a spear fisherman/free diver for the final scene. He canceled on me the night before the shoot, so I had to scramble a bit to find another knowledgeable individual. Huge thanks to Brian Potkin for coming through for me!
TERRA: What are the 3 things you’d never go into the field without and why?
PT: Options – As I learned on this shoot, things rarely go exactly to plan, so having multiple plans and options will allow things to run smoothly regardless of the challenges that get thrown your way.
Plenty of Water and Snacks – My crew drank a lot more water than I was expecting, so keeping them hydrated was key. Also, salty and sugary snacks can go a long way for crew morale.
Spare Batteries – You can’t do much if nothing has power.
TERRA: What inspired you to become a filmmaker?
PT: I loved studying anthropology in my undergraduate career, but I wasn’t so keen on writing papers that get published in journals that few people read. Filmmaking allows me to study what I enjoy, and share what I discover with a wider audience in a more creative way.
TERRA: What would be your dream project?
PT: One word: Sharks. I have always had a deep fascination with sharks and would love to add to the collection of great shark films. Working on a project that uncovers the mysterious lives of great white sharks would be amazing!
TERRA: What’s your favorite aspect of filmmaking?
PT: I really enjoy the pre-production and research stage of filmmaking.
TERRA: Do you have a favorite project you’ve worked on and why?
PT: I am currently researching for a short film about sport fandom. Right now, my focus is on how humans gravitate towards rituals and understanding patterns for enjoyment and survival. Sport fandom offers an excellent example of how humans around the world have ritualized an aspect of their lives for a variety of reasons.