DIRECTORS

STATEMENT

Hear from our Directors about what making this film means to them and why it was important to put little Otto's story out there. Follow the link below to hear from Amelia McCarten and Paul Phelan, Writers and Directors of 'Sea Lion - Life by a Whisker'.

CONCEPT/WRITER/DIRECTOR

AMELIA McCARTEN

From the first moment I started working in documentary filmmaking, I knew that telling stories that inspired hope, called for change, but most importantly highlighted the need for a sustainable approach to the world’s oceans is where I wanted my creative focus to be.

 

I was a professional diver long before I started making films, so focusing on ocean conservation and the creatures that lived there, was always naturally at the heart of the projects I was most passionate about. As a filmmaker, and a diver, I do feel obligated to use my voice to talk about things are meaningful to me.

 

The more I researched the Australian Sea Lion the more obvious it became that was a story that hadn’t yet been told. And I thought that It desperately needed to be. I always want to make people fall in love with the natural world as much as I am, but I also want to offer an opportunity to experience the sometimes uncomfortable topics surrounding ocean conservation in a positive and fun way, full of hope and solutions. 

 

I spent a lot of time learning about who our audience was for the IMAX and Giant screen market which helped to shape the way these important messages were presented within our films. In this format we’re fortunate to have a huge reach, especially within the next generation. So science, education, and conservation are incredibly important threads in these films. Ultimately it is these kids that are going to inherit the natural world. In saying that, I think for me, having a strong, compelling and visually arresting story was always the most important place to start.

You can have a pixel perfect film that is sharp to the edge with a million dollar 3D conversion but if you don’t have a compelling story, your audience is still going to be asleep in the front row. It’s important to me to make the audience feel something. And continue to feel it even after they have left the theatre. 

 

Australian Sea Lions are one of the most endangered marine mammals on the planet, they are intelligent, curious, and playful, and are in danger of becoming extinct in our lifetime. They also happen to live on some of the most remote and difficult to access offshore islands in Australia, so unfortunately the sea lions plight is not necessarily one that remains in the forefront of people’s minds. We share our ocean them, we share our food with them, and they are incredibly important indicators of ocean health, so it was our hope that with Sea Lions – Life by a Whisker that we could begin to bridge that gap between our world and theirs.

 

The most rewarding experience for us as filmmakers is getting the opportunity to give a voice to a creature that doesn’t have one. That in itself is also a big responsibility. 

 

Finding a way to make a film that is both entertaining and informative is always a balancing act, especially in such a demanding format like the IMAX and giant screen. Mixing fact focused traditional documentary filmmaking with a narrative driven fictional approach, woven with an anthropomorphic feel of little Otto’s journey was a challenging blend and at times was difficult, but ultimately one the greatest joys of the project.

 

We were also fortunate enough that Ranger Dirk agreed to part of this project. It was really important for us to be able to illustrate that the real heroes are the regular people out there in the field every day, spending time away from their families and often with little financial backing or resources, trying to make a difference. Dirk inspired me everyday. The thought of being in front of the camera absolutely terrified him far more than the shark infested waters were filming in! But, he had the courage to say, okay, I’m going to use my voice, even if it shakes the whole time, I’m going to stand up and use it anyway.

 

Through our sea lion character Otto, and through our human character Dirk, there’s a really special interwoven dynamic that emphasises the fact that their ocean is actually our ocean, and that their story is part of our story, but time is running out. Sea Lions aren’t the puppies of the sea, they’re the watchdogs, and we need them!

financial backing or resources, trying to make a difference. Dirk inspired me everyday. The thought of being in front of the camera absolutely terrified him far more than the shark infested waters were filming in! But, he had the courage to say, okay, I’m going to use my voice, even if it shakes the whole time, I’m going to stand up and use it anyway.

 

Through our sea lion character Otto, and through our human character Dirk, there’s a really special interwoven dynamic that emphasises the fact that their ocean is actually our ocean, and that their story is part of our story, but time is running out. Sea Lions aren’t the puppies of the sea, they’re the watchdogs, and we need them!

"From the first moment I started working in documentary filmmaking, I knew that telling stories that inspired hope, called for change, but most importantly highlighted the need for a sustainable approach to the world’s oceans is where I wanted my creative focus to be."

WRITER/DIRECTOR/EDITOR

PAUL PHELAN

We live in strange times, we’re bombarded by more information in a week than our ancestors processed in a lifetime. In this noisy environment it’s hard to know what’s important and what’s trivial. It’s easy to think in this sea of media that we are hearing the full story. But we’re not. 

 

Animals don’t have a twitter account, they have no say in the future of the planet our their own existence. They are mute. That’s why I tell animals stories, to give them a voice, so their story is heard. It’s a wonderful job - to put yourself in their world, to experience the free and adventurous life of a wild animal, to revel in nature. 

 

Australian sea lions have been on the planet for 10’s of millions of years - a lot longer than modern humans - but they could disappear in our lifetime. Once they’re gone they’re never coming back. The good news is we can prevent that. We have an opportunity to save and protect them for future generations.  That fills me with hope and it empowers me to make movies with meaning. To entertain people, to enchant them, to show them the wonder, awe, and majesty of the natural world, and to introduce them to people who are making a difference like Dirk Holeman the marine ranger in this movie..

 

We’ll only take care of the planet and its animals if we love it. I hope in some small way this movie allows people to experience in full giant screen glory a part of the planet rarely seen and fall in love with a playful, intelligent, wonderful sea lion family that needs our help.

 

But most of all I hope people enjoy this movie as much as we did making it and that it leaves them with a sense of hope, that together we can make a difference.

"I hope people enjoy this movie as much as we did making it and that it leaves them with a sense of hope, that together we can make a difference."

FILM

SYNOPSIS

Read all about Life by a Whisker

BEHIND THE SCENES

See what we got up to on location

EDUCATOR GUIDES

Download our lesson plans

HOW TO TAKE ACTION

You can help save our oceans too

K2 Studios

880 Apollo Street, Suite 239

El Segundo, CA 90245​​

Tel: 310-563-2611

info@k2communications.com

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