I started filming Birds of May on the stormy full-mooned-but-clouded-over evening of April 22, 2016. Which means I've now been thinking about the film most every day for eleven months. It premieres tomorrow at the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital. I'm happy to let it loose.
A few months ago I wrote this, thinking I'd use it on a blog post somewhere down the line:
As I stood shin deep in the waters of the Delaware Bay, at a place called Reeds Beach, one hour before midnight, a few things happened seemingly all at once. A steady rain began to fall. As if on cue, the helmet-like shell of the first horseshoe crab appeared in the waves, like a 400-million-year-old monster emerging from the deep. Moments later, more crabs joined her, and soon there were dozens of them plodding toward the beach to perform their ancient spawning ritual, which involves hitching together like train cars and walking in circles.
Two weeks later I got my first look at red knots. Thousands of them had flown to the bay overnight, some of them had come from as far as the southern tip of South America. Now they were engaged in a feeding frenzy on the beach that involved gorging themselves on horseshoe crab eggs while sidestepping the bullying of the much larger gulls who were also partaking in the feast. The eggs, of course, had been left behind by many of the same crabs I had spied upon two weeks prior.
It bears repeating: If you look hard enough, and watch closely, everything in the natural world connects. That includes us. I hope that Birds of May, in some small way, reminds viewers to follow the threads, and to help safeguard them from becoming frayed.
Now that the film is finished, the sentiment holds. What excites me about Birds of May is that it's not just a movie about birds, and it's not just a movie about one special place in New Jersey. At the heart of the story is the age-old conflict between the needs of wildlife and the desires of human economic development. How humans should make decisions about what to protect and what to develop is an important and universal question. It's more important than ever.
director, The Creature Show
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