Giving Wolves a Voice Through the Documentary ‘Freedom of the Pack’

By in Timeline Tuesday, Video Editing

The Project Freedom of the Pack began with a visit to a wolf education center in 2014, where I learned how wolves have been systematically eradicated from our landscape since the first European settlers came to North America.  After meeting a wolf, face to snout, I was inspired to take action.

Documentary filmmaker Thomas Durant

On my journey to give wolves a voice, I found that the war on wolves continues today, as almost all protections for these creatures have been removed, and recovery programs for this critically endangered  sub species of Canis Lupus have been halted.  These acts of aggression stem from frightful fairy tales, allowing fear and greed, not facts and science, to fuel the war.

For my documentary, I decided to start with non-profit organizations and wolf experts, seeking honest answers about the true nature of these animals, and witnessing what people ‘in the trenches’ are doing to save this species from inhalation.  Through extensive interviews, we are getting to the bottom of both the political and scientific arguments while offering up solutions with non-lethal methods of co-existence.

With such a monumental editorial feat ahead, I labeled and sorted all clips by date, camera and location.  I knew that by working on an external RAID, AMA linking alone couldn’t cut it, so I transcoded the footage at DNxHD145, because it was the highest compression I could use while retaining enough information to color correct.

Once all the footage was in, it was time to give life to short episodes meant to fill out our fledgling website and build an audience.  These web pieces not only had to have an educational component, but needed to have heart and bond the viewer with the wolves.  I wanted the viewer to understand exactly how I felt the first moment I looked into the eyes of a living, breathing wolf.  To do this, I decided not to use voice over, so as to create a more intimate connection between the characters, the wolves and our audience.

Timeline of Webisode 3 from the documentary 'Freedom of the Pack'

The next hurdle, especially when shooting on DSLRs with limited lens Image Stabilization (generally at about 200-300mm focal length), was dealing with some shaky footage and the dreaded rolling shutter.  I had to rely on Avid’s Stabilize effect to smooth out the jittering in some of the shots, which worked nicely.

Luckily, as an editor by trade, I have compensated for many problems in the pre-production and production phases of this documentary, but only time will tell how this story comes together. If you’d like to learn more about this documentary and the issues facing wolf conservation, please check us out on Facebook or visit us at www.FreedomOfThePack.com.

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After graduating from RISD in 2005, I moved to Los Angeles to peruse a career in Television. I've been fortunate to work on projects such as The Deadliest Catch and Ice Road Truckers, but currently, I’m directing a documentary, Freedom of the Pack, about wolf conservation in the U.S.