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Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Birder's Guide to Everything

Our friend Rob Meyer spent the good part of the past five years working on his first feature-length film, A Birder's Guide to Everything, and it officially opens tomorrow. We are so thrilled for him! (We're going to this 7:20pm show, if any of you guys are in the mood to see a great movie. Come join!) Here's the trailer...
Below, Rob answers five questions about the ups and downs of making the movie...
What's the movie about?
It's the story of a 15-year-old birder named David. His mother died a little over a year ago and his father is getting re-married, so he's struggling. Right at this critical moment, he sees what he believes may be a Labrador Duck, a bird generally thought to have gone extinct over a hundred years ago, so he convinces his birding buddies (and a new girl from his school) to come with him on a road trip to find the bird, take a photograph and prove his claim.

Why did you want to write this particular movie?
Escaping to the natural world has always been big for me. I recently went on a canoe camping trip with some friends and as soon as we left all signs of civilization and I could just focus on the water and my surroundings, I could almost feel my brain relaxing. I've always always loved animals—I was big into tropical fish as a teenager (yeah, I was pretty cool). Finally, struggling with issues of mortality, looking for answers and connecting (or not connecting) with people is generally what I think almost everything boils down to. Which makes the film sound serious and depressing, but I swear it's actually funny!

What unexpected things happened during the shoot?
One one of our last days of shooting, we were running out of light and the camera was moving to a new angle. I was pretty worried we weren't going to get our shots off in time, and the kids and Ben Kingsley were looking out at a lake and just waiting. After a minute of waiting (and the whole set was really quiet, because everyone knew we were running out of time), one of the stars, Alex Wolff, who in addition to being a great actor is also a very talented musician, started humming the bass line from Miles Davis' "So What" on the "Kind of Blue" album. It's a sort of call-and-response thing between an upright bass and the brass. So Alex hummed the bass line, "do dum do dum do dum do doo dum..." and then, from the silence, Ben Kingsley made a terrific trumpet noise "daaaa.... daaa" and Alex came back in with the bass, then the other kids joined Sir Ben with the brass. It was so silly and muppet-like and was a great reminder that shooting a movie should be fun, even at the most stressful of times.

Things are always more complicated behind the scenes than people realize. What are some snags you guys hit during the process?
You would not believe how many airplanes fly overhead until you're up against a tight schedule and have to record sound. Oh, and the amount of noise that bugs make in the woods was shocking! I was never sure what they were—katydids, cicadas, or crickets—but they were LOUD!

Do you now see why people are obsessed with birding?
I'm absolutely into birding now. I actually think everyone would love it, which I know sounds crazy so I'll try to make my case: Imagine that it's early morning and incredibly quiet and you and a friend have been trekking through gorgeous woods looking for a particular bird that you've never had a chance to see in real life. Maybe a hooded warbler, which only passes through your state during a specific window of time during its long migration from Central America. And then you actually hear its call. So you stalk it—like a hunter—moving silently towards where you may have heard it just moments before. Then, from the corner of your eye, you see a movement and think you can guess where it may have flitted, so you move that way. Suddenly—miraculously!—it flies right onto a branch in front of you. You're able to get your binoculars up, knowing you don't have long, and you fumble to get the bird into your view. And then, like magic, it comes into focus, and it's stunningly beautiful. It's almost like a 3-D image if you have good binoculars, and you hold your breath, hoping the moment will last. It's so delicate and such a joy to watch its behavior, and each bird has a very distinct personality. And then, suddenly, it's gone—it disappears into the sky. It's all a total rush and there's something truly magical about it.
You can find A Birder's Guide to Everything on Facebook and Twitter. Huge congratulations, Rob!

(Photos courtesy Rob Meyer)

40 comments:

Sarah Spitz said...

That one looks so so great!

Love from Germany and have a sunny day!

Birdy and Bambi

http://lasagnolove.blogspot.de/p/about.html

What's Delicious? said...

This looks so absolutely fantastic. Congrats to your friend. The trailer/subject matter almost give it a slightly Wes Anderson feel - and I mean that as a complement.

Annika said...

My husband (avid, addicted, life list birder) and myself (a tag along birder) watched the movie a few nights ago on Amazon instant video. We both loved it! And I, admittedly, teared up. Made us laugh. We loved all of the inside birding jokes. And loved seeing the Eagle Optics binocs. The birding community in Wisconsin is definitely praising this movie. Well done!!

bodhi said...

We saw Birder's Guide this past fall at the Woodstock Film festival and we loved it. It's heartwarming and funny. Definitely recommend!

letsgetgreening said...

Sounds great! I wonder if it will get to Spain though...

Congratulations to Rob Meyer and have a nice day!!

http://letsgetgreening.wordpress.com/

MissRis said...

So sweet. Finally a film that's as diverse as the world today.

Kelby said...

This looks like an adorable movie! A must see.
newenglandoutlook.wordpress.com

Joanna Goddard said...

@what's delicious—i agree!!

Joanna Goddard said...

no way, annika! that's so awesome that you guys are birders!!!!

MrsD said...

That looks like a great movie. Thank you for sharing. Will have to wait until it comes out online, we live overseas (I miss going to the movies!)

MrsD said...

That looks like a great movie. Thank you for sharing. Will have to wait until it comes out online, we live overseas (I miss going to the movies!)

Joy Acoustics said...

"There's nothing like the feeling of discovery" - nice line and nice scene with what I presume to be a first kiss in the back.
We also had our share of discovery in the woods this past weekend:
http://joyacoustics.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/stairway-to-poenari-castle.html

Thanks for sharing, I will definitely try to watch the movie, I hope it comes to Romania , too

Christa Tubach said...

This sounds wonderful! This story is so close to home because my great grandfather became an evolutionist and ornithologist after identifying a thought to be extinct duck in Germany in the 20s! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernst_Mayr) Congrats to your friend, this looks great!

xo
Christa

Megan Ritchey said...

This looks really good! I love Ben Kingsley. Too bad there will be no showings in Baltimore.

Caroline said...

This looks amazing! The preview made me smile and I'll definitely check it out. Huge congrats to Rob!! :)

emily said...

You know Rob too? He is one of my best friend's best friends....

(Caribou A2 Emily)
x

Kara said...

It looks great! I will be seeing it. Congratulations to your friend!

www.aredapron.blogspot.com

michael said...

Awesome.

Doubly so for them filming in the neighborhood where I grew up. I can't even tell you how much time I spent in that house with the stone front or how many times i've biked down that hill shown 50 seconds into the trailer. We used to have contests to see how long someone could ride down that hill with no hands on the handlebars. It doesn't look that big, but at seven years old it was a mountain.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for posting, Joanna! And thank you for the kind words, Cup of Jo-ers. This is truly a tiny film: we have no studio spending money to market it to the masses. So we need your help! Please tweet, FB, tell your friends etc. And try to catch a screening this weekend, if you can -- I'll be doing a Q&A after the 7:20pm on Saturday at Village East. Finally -- if you don't live in one of the cities we're playing, it's now on iTunes and Video On Demand! -- Rob Meyer

emy said...

This looks great! I took a birding class in college and got hooked. Will definitely be renting soon!

Megan M-R said...

That description makes an excellent case for birdwatching!

wabisabiwife.com said...

Oh my! I cannot wait to see this one. That notion of going into nature to feel your brain relaxing is so lovely and true, at least for me.

jessd6 said...

Congrats to Rob! He's a good dude. I used to work for his manager and I remember when he signed him and the film was just getting started in production. Such a long, but rewarding journey! Can't wait to see the finished product.

Meredith said...

Can't wait to see this! What a unique, funny plot!

bisbee said...

I might watch this on Amazon Instant Video (I always forget about that) - I'm only a bit reluctant, because my ex-husband was (and I'm sure still is) a birder, and I tagged along for a good part of our 28 year marriage. Well...I guess not all of the memories are negative!

Joanna Goddard said...

oh! and if you don't live in the cities where the film is playing, you can watch it here, if you'd like!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/a-birders-guide-to-everything/id829710821

Leah said...

This looks wonderful! I can't wait to watch it :)

Kelly R said...

Just booked tickets for Saturday night! Thanks for the tip, Jo!

O_Emaline said...

I would love to see it, hopefully it there will be a screening in Minnesota (The Knickerbocker theatre is in Michigan, not in Minnesota...they should fix the website ;) ).

emilieDwolf said...

This is definitely a movie I want to see!

Jillian said...

Great awkward humor (the kind that's endearing and not too painful to witness) and a story that's honest and very relatable. I would recommend this weekend adventure to all!

Jillian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
emily k. melton said...

Making this part of a girls' night tonight. My friend, Mollie, and I booked tickets for the 7:20! So excited!

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Caitlin Millar said...

Too bad there are no screenings in San Francisco... Joanna do you know how can you watch it online?

Kate said...

I'm a birder who works for Eagle Optics and have been reading your blog for a long time. So glad to see birding show up here and congrats to your friend! Can't wait to see the movie!

Laura Tischler said...

This reminds me--While I know next to nothing about birding, I read a great book about a birder a while ago called Life List. Would highly recommend it--a fascinating biography.

Bethanne said...

This looks delightful!

Bethanne said...

This looks delightful!

Bethanne said...

This looks delightful!

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