Interview with Filmmaker Rob McAllister (Motus Avium: A Mission to Save California’s Last Wetlands)

Motus Avium: A Mission to Save California’s Last Wetlands, 14min., USA, Documentary
Directed by Rob McAllister
Less than 5% of California’s historical wetlands remain, but there is hope in the world’s most productive agricultural valley.
Discover why tracking the movement of shorebirds could dramatically improve conditions for the entire pacific flyway. But capturing the necessary data is no easy task. Join scientists, conservation groups and farmers as they reveal a unique partnership that could have global implications for bird and wetland conservation.

Get to know the filmmaker:

Rob McAllister – Motus Avium: A Mission to Save California’s Last Wetlands

1. What motivated you to make this film?
We were approached by a group of conservation groups who wanted to tell their story in a creative and informative way. The work these people are doing to help birds along the Pacific Flyway was not only inspiring, but we knew the story needed to be told as it could have global implications for how habitat could be created and managed on a global scale. Documenting their efforts seemed like a no-brainer.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
It took almost 10 months based on the experiments in the field and the timing of bird migration patterns. Of course, it was not consecutive days, but it was spaced out to meet the needs in the field as well as time to edit the film.

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
Hopeful and Collaborative

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
We can’t demand the birds show up on cue and when the weather is optimal for filming. Working in the pitch-black early morning hours in the middle of flooded rice fields also presented a unique set of problems in filming the birds that flew into the nets.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
Was wonderful to hear them really take in the film and understand the mission of the people who make up the Central Valley Joint Venture.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
I have been telling a variety of stories in various forms for several years and began to explore the documentary space about 5 years ago.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
Shawshank Redemption. The emotional tug that film creates is the reason it is so powerful and a true rewatchable.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
This is one of the best festival experiences we have had.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

10. What is your favorite meal?
Sushi. A perfect combination of art and taste.

11. What is next for you? A new film?
We are working on a film on how rice fields are being used for juvenile salmon habitat. Literally putting salmon on the fields to help them feed on the proper bugs they are historically used to so that they get bigger before beginning their migration journey to the Pacific Ocean. This hopefully will increase their odds of migrating back to spawning sites in upper fingers of the Sacramento River as adults. Ultimately, the goal is to find a way to boost endangered Chinook salmon populations.


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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