WILD TERRITORY, 27min., USA
Directed by Samuel Steiner Riley
Wild Territory explores the relationship between a daring wildlife photographer, Etienne Littlefair, and the vast freshwater ecosystems that define Australia's far north. From free-diving in murky water to find crocodiles and rare turtles, to spending days on end staking out drying riverbeds for parrots and finches, Etienne and his wife Cara go to extreme lengths to photograph rare and under-appreciated species - all with the hope to spread awareness and appreciation for the wildlife and waterways they have come to care so much about. This film is a combination of beautiful imagery, exceptional wildlife, and true human connection with nature. It is a testament to the importance of protecting what we have before it's gone.
Get to know the filmmaker:
1. What motivated you to make this film?
My initial motivation for creating the film was Etienne's extraordinary underwater photography of aquatic freshwater reptiles. The reason that his photography stood out to me was three-fold. Firstly, it is no secret that swimming in the Northern Territory is notoriously dangerous due to the prevalence of Saltwater Crocodiles, and he is undoubtably the only person doing this type of photography in the region. Secondly, he is representing a largely unseen, little known, and widely misunderstood selection of wildlife that is generally swept under the rug and poorly prioritized when it comes to conservation policy and public opinion. And thirdly, I felt that the range of photography that his work encompasses tied together various realms of a larger ecosystem that is critical to the preservation of Northern Australia's beauty and biodiversity.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
The idea for the project actually started in 2019 as an Idea for an extended road trip the following year in 2020. That trip was ultimately delayed exponentially as a result of COVID-19, and slowly evolved into an idea for a film by March 2021. After that, it took just over 1.5 years to complete the film.
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
The Pandemic. We were heavily impacted during filming as a result of frequent border closures, lock-downs, and state-sanctioned quarantines within Australia that led to major setbacks with regards to financing, timing, and overall mobility.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
It was really great to receive some public feedback on this film, and I was really happy to hear all of the positive reactions to it. It is awesome to see that people are taking in the message of the film and enjoying it at the same time.
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
At the beginning of the pandemic I was working as an expedition guide and lost all of my contracts due to a shut down of the travel industry. I then applied for and was accepted into a Master's program in New Zealand, but was shortly informed that I would not be able to attend due to international border closures. At this point (early 2021), I decided to attempt to make a film myself. This was the beginning of my journey into filmmaking.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
I watched all of the crocodile hunter series more times than I can count.
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
I am pretty new to the festival scene and am really enjoying the experience. I really appreciate the feedback element of this festival as well as the various platforms for promoting the film! One thing that I would love would be to have the opportunity to meet and network with other filmmakers from the festival.
9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
My experience has been good. It is an easy platform to submit on and I have been pleased with the results.
10. What is your favorite meal?
Freshly caught wild salmon and veggies
11. What is next for you? A new film?
I would love to write and direct another film, but at this point in time I would prefer to get involved with a larger team or film crew where I can learn from other filmmakers and really hone my skills. That being said, if I come across an important conservation issue relating to wildlife and can source some decent funding, I will be on it.