Posts Tagged ‘Judy Irving’

Pelican Dreams Opens in San Francisco

October 26, 2014
Opening Night

Opening night for Pelican Dreams at the Balboa Theater

Judy had her opening night party for Pelican Dreams Friday night at the Balboa Theater here in San Francisco. The film has been getting some excellent reviews, which is a relief. There was some concern that the general theme of the reviewers might be, “well, it’s not The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, but…” In fact, there has been little comparing. The new film is being taken on its own merits, which are considerable. The party was a lot of fun—and I say that as one who usually doesn’t do well at parties. I saw a lot of people I’ve met over the years all in one place. I met some new people, too. The party had a good feeling, which carried over to the screening.

The central location for all things pelican is http://www.pelicandreams.com. Theater dates, links to reviews, and so on. There will be more theaters added in the coming months. If you get the chance, check out the movie. It’s warm, smart, funny, and moving. It’s not really a nature documentary—not in the traditional sense. It’s a movie that stars pelicans and people. And it’s about real life.

I’m leaving tomorrow morning for Olympia, Washington, where I’m giving some talks at Evergreen College. I’m looking forward to it. Then back here to help Judy with more openings and back to work on Street Song.

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An Unashamed Pitch

May 3, 2014

My wife and wonderful filmmaker, Judy Irving, has started a Kickstarter campaign. For those of you unfamiliar with this, it’s a “crowd sourcing” means of funding creative projects. People make donations within a set period of time and if you meet your goal you get to keep the money. If you don’t meet it, you don’t get anything. Judy has a goal of $50,000 by May 31st. There are little (and big) perks that come with each level of donation, which ranges from $10 to $10,000. The new film is called Pelican Dreams. I’ve seen it several times now and it never fails to move me. Might I be a biased observer? Possibly. But I can never fake a lump in my throat, especially one I assume I’m not going to get this time around. All the information is right here. There’s a trailer, too. Please check it out.

At the moment, I’m in my old hometown of Vancouver, Washington working on my book. I call it “writing in place.” This is where the story begins. I’m staying in an apartment  in the block between old Highway 99 and Interstate 5. It’s a strip mall. Perfect place to begin a story of despair and longing.

Progress Report #83

September 14, 2012

I’m still on my break from Street Song. Besides allowing me some much needed rest, the long hiatus has allowed for the broader perspective to reemerge from underneath the flattening mass of details. I had imagined that I’d be posting here more often, but I haven’t felt like writing. I’ve mostly been reading (books! real books!) and helping Judy with her work-in-progress, Pelican Dreams. I’ve been transcribing interviews for her and trying to figure out how to contact the various copyright holders whose photographic stills she’s using. I have not been looking at her edits, so it was a pleasure to see finally what she’s been doing. A couple of nights ago Judy showed a rough cut of the film as a benefit for the Green Film Festival here in San Francisco. I figured it would be exactly that, rough, and probably a bit slow in spots. But from beginning to end I was awake and I was often moved. More than once I felt a twinge of jealousy or envy. I want my book to be that good. While I certainly won’t be regarded as an objective observer, it appeared that the audience of around sixty souls felt much the same as I did. She still has a ways to go. I’d say the film is around 75% complete.

It looks like I’ll be resuming work on Street Song during the last week of September. And then it’s going to be one disciplined romp through to the end. Once I’ve started I won’t be making a lot of these progress reports. The work on the last draft is going to be exacting and, as I’ve said before, it would make me feel too self-conscious, as though I were writing the book in a department store showroom. I’m looking forward to getting back to work. I feel good about what’s to come.

Life With Alex

August 16, 2012

DVD Cover

A few years ago Arlene Levin-Rowe, the lab manager for Dr. Irene Pepperberg, the scientist who is studying the language and cognitive abilities of the African grey parrot, contacted Judy to see if she could recommend someone to make a film about the lab’s primary subject, Alex. Judy did have a recommendation for Arlene, a local fledgling filmmaker named Emily Wick. Judy ended up mentoring Emily on the film, and last night, I got to see the final hour-long version. I was impressed. It’s quite well done. The film is going to be available on DVD in early September, and if you want to see the trailer, you can find it here.

A Different Kind of Progress Report

March 16, 2012

Last night my wife Judy Irving screened a 34 minute rough cut of her work-in-progress, Pelican Dreams, for the local chapter of the Audubon Society. She also showed 15 minutes of assemblies (rough sequences) that she threw together in the four days just prior to the screening. So many people showed up that they had to put out more chairs. The film is not being made for “birders,” per se. And it’s not a scientific-type documentary. Pelican Dreams attempts to capture the wonder of these birds. It’s really being made for any human being who loves the natural world. The audience understood that and responded warmly. There was a good feeling in the room.

Judy expects to be finished in around two years—around the same time that I foresee my book being finished. After completion there will be distribution issues—we hope! So yes; both projects still have a long road ahead of them. But eventually the wait will be over and they’ll be ready to go.

Take Me to the River

August 23, 2009
Judy on the jetty at the mouth of the Columbia River

Judy on the jetty at the mouth of the Columbia River

My wife Judy Irving recently received permission to film on East Sand Island, a mile long spit of old dredge spoils near the mouth of the Columbia River. There’s a large Caspian Tern breeding colony on the island, and in recent years it’s become a giant summertime roost for Brown Pelicans. Judy is working on a new documentary about the Brown Pelican, called Pelican Dreams. She needed my help—driving, hauling gear, and so on—and I was happy to have the opportunity to go. I grew up about 100 miles upstream from the island in the town of Vancouver, Washington, and while I’d seen many different sections of the river, I’d never been to the mouth. It’s enormous—nearly five miles across at one spot.

We were taken out on a flat-bottomed whaler, and to get to shore we had to wade in wearing hip boots. All her film gear had to be carried on our heads, and it was a major task. Because of her dissatisfaction with the quality of video cameras and images, she still hasn’t made the move to the world of lighter, less cumbersome digital equipment. When we arrived on the island there were around 14,000 pelicans lined up along the beach. It was a thrill to see such a massive grouping of that strange-looking bird. We camped on the island one night, and I spent a lot of the time just sitting and gazing at the river.

My family’s camping trips were the only part of my childhood that I enjoyed much. I remember most of the rest of it as being dreary and tedious. [When you leave the Astoria Bridge heading into Washington State, you’re given the choice of going left to Cape Disappointment or right to Dismal Nitch (sic), which is how I still tend to remember my old home.] I always appreciate having the opportunity to reconnect with the natural world. Living in a city it’s all too easy to forget that our technological creations are pitiful compared to Nature’s. I mean, who can get genuinely excited about 64 bit computer processing?