The Messenger Canadian Campus tour kicks off

Toronto,  ON (September 21, 2016)

The award-winning documentary The Messenger is teaming up with Bird Studies Canada to tour Canadian University and college campuses this fall.  The tour kicks off this evening at Dalhousie University in Halifax.  Each screening will be followed by a discussion led by local conservation and biologists. For more information on campus locations, dates and times, see http://songbirdsos.com/screenings/canadian-screenings/

Confirmed campus locations and dates include:

  • September 21 – Dalhousie, Halifax, NS Hosted by professor Cindy Staicer.
  • September 27- McMaster University – Hamilton, ON Hosted by Instructor Greg Zilderbrant
  • September 28 -Ottawa University – Ottawa, ON Hosted by Professor Scott Simon
  • September 29 – University of Saskatchewan, SK – with Professor Christy Morrissey and Kiel Drake from Bird Studies Canada
  • October 2 – Mount Allison, Sackville, NB, followed by Q+A with Bird Studies Canada and Environment Canada
  • October 2 – Fleming College,  Lindsay, ON  hosted by the City of Kawartha Lakes Environmental Advisory Committee with Director Su Rynard and FLAP’s Michael Mesure in attendance
  • October 5/6 University of Victoria, followed by Q+A with Dr. David Bradley of Bird Studies Canada
  • October 21-23 The Antigonish International Film Festival, NS – Home of St.Francis Xavier Univeristy
  • October 25 The University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC followed by a Q+A with Dr. David Bradley of Birds Studies Canada
  • November 9 Queen’s University, Kingston ON
  • November 9 The University of Guelph, ON followed by a Q+A with Dr. Ryan Norris and others
  • November 10 – The University of Windsor, ON
  • November 10 McGill University, Montreal, QC, presented by Le Nichoir
  • November 15 Lakeland College, Vermilion, AB
  • Date TBA – The University of Western Ontario, ON
  • Date TBA – The University of Regina, SK
  • Date TBA – York University, Toronto, ON with Bridget Stutchbury

We are delighted to be introducing The Messenger to students and educators across the country” says Director Su Rynard.  “Since its premiere at Toronto’s Hot Docs Film Festival, The Messenger has wowed audiences the world over at more than 30 international film festivals and  played in over 100 Cinemas. We are really pleased the film has been so well received.  We hope it is will inspire people to make a difference for not just birds, but the planet too.”

 The Messenger is an international story with high stakes global consequences. The film argues that the decline of songbirds is due to human activity, signalling an uncertain shift in an already fragile ecosystem while warning the uncertain fate of songbirds might mirror our own.

A Hot Docs 2015 ‘Top Ten Audience Favourite’ The Messenger has received several awards including The Best Conservation Program from The Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival plus a Canadian Cinema nomination for Best Cinematography in a Feature Documentary and Ontario Nature’s Carl Nunn Impact Award.

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Filmed on three continents, The Messenger features a number of Canadian scientists including biologist Dr. Bridget Stutchbury, (Author Silence of the Songbirds and Professor, York University) Erin Bayne, (Biology Professor, University of Alberta)  and Dr. Christy Morrissey (Avian Ecotoxicologist, University of Saskatchewan) and citizen scientist Michael Mesure from FLAP. More on the film participants here. http://songbirdsos.com/featuring/

Without a doubt, The Messenger is the most outstanding film I’ve seen on birds. The fact that it is so strongly science-based, so emotive in its pitch, so beautiful in its design it captivates me and everyone who has had a chance to see it.” – Steven Price, President, Bird Studies Canada

A free study guide will soon be available for educators who wish to use The Messenger in classroom discussions.

Campus organizations wishing to request a screening as part of the tour should send request a screening here.

To book an interview or request an appearance by the filmmakers or the participating  scientists, contact:

Joanne Jackson, Producer, SongbirdbirdSOS Productions Inc.,

Email:  joanne@songbirdsos.com

Phone +1  416 801 1118

For US inquiries please contact Jeff Tamblyn at Kino Lorber. Jeff Tamblyn (edu@kinolorber.com) 212-629-6880

For more information visit www.TheMessengerDoc.com

 

JOIN THE MESSENGER ON SOCIAL MEDIA:

 
Facebook
— https://www.facebook.com/SongbirdSOSfilm/

Twitter — @themessengerdoc

#BirdFriendly

***

90 MIN  English,  (or English with French subtitles)
Directed by Su Rynard

Written by Su Rynard and Sally Blake

Produced by Joanne Jackson, Sally Blake and Martin de la Fouchardière,

Diane Woods and Su Rynard

SongbirdSOS is a Canada/France co-production
Produced by SongbirdSOS Productions and Films à Cinq/ARTE

Produced with participation from the Ontario Media Development Corporation Film Fund,
CBC, ARTE, Canal D and the Rogers Documentary Fund, Canada Media Fund, CNC,

Telefilm International Co-production office, Rogers Telefund, Procirep-Angoa
and the Documentary Organization of Canada.
Developed with the assistance of the CFC-NFB Documentary Program, OMDC,

National Film Board of Canada & David J. Woods Productions.

US Distribution Kino Lorber, International Sales ZED

Distributed in Canada by SongbirdSOS Productions Inc.

Marketing and promotion assistance by Telefilm Canada.

Special thanks to First Weekend Club, Women Make Movies, Hot Docs Deal Maker,

Sunnyside of the Doc and National Outreach partner Bird Studies Canada.

Soundtracks – where do they begin?

Many elements go into the creation of a good documentary soundtrack, but one key ingredient is great location sound2013-05-03 06.53.22.

I confess I feel a bit sorry for location sound people because they only get feedback when the soundtrack is BAD. As a Director I’m guilty of rarely saying “sounds great” – because we take great sound for granted, ironically, as if it is a natural occurring phenomena. Yet there is an enormous amount of skill and talent required to obtain great location sound.

In a film about songbirds, you can imagine how important location sound is to the final soundtrack. On The Messenger documentary we primarily worked with Jason Milligan. I truly believe that Jason has “dog ears”. By this I mean an aural range beyond the average human.

A super important element of location recording is not just the “sync tracks” i.e. recording the sound that happens in tandem with the image, but recording location ambient sound.

Because the birds would be different everywhere we went, we had to ensure that we recorded the unique sounds of every place we filmed.

Here’s a sample of an ambient track of Purple Martins songs and calls that Jason recorded for us while we were filming with Bridget Stutchbury and The Purple Martin Conservation Association in Erie PA.

Bridget Stutchbury passes a Purple martin to location sound recordist Jason Milligan

Bridget Stutchbury passes a Purple Martin to location sound recordist Jason Milligan

One of the very special audio events we recorded was in Ithaca New York during fall migration.

We were filming with Bill Evans, who designs and constructs his own microphones dedicated to capturing the night calls of migrating birds. A wonderful scene with Bill Evans is featured in our upcoming documentary SongbirdSOS to be aired on David Suzuki’s The Nature of Things. Below is a sample of the these night calls our sound recordist James MacDonald captured that evening.

Listen carefully, each species of songbird has a different call. They are only a fraction of a second long, and happen randomly ever ten seconds or so in this recording.

 

James MacIntosh records Bill Evans and friends.

James MacDonald records Bill Evans and friends.

Back in post production, all of the elements of location sync sound and ambiences have to be edited. The first step is to  sync all the sound – matching back to the picture, then the sound is imported into the edit suite. When our picture edit is locked – the edited sound is exported back out to another sound editor, who polishes it, takes out the umm and ahhs and clicks and pops, and prepares it for the mix. A super important element of location recording is not just the “sync tracks” i.e recording the sound that happens in tandem with the image, but recording location ambiences. Phil often mixes and merges these “categories” For example, a sound from the wilderness might be sampled and transformed into music, or a musical tone he created in studio may sound so organic, it feels as if it was part of the natural landscape. This is all done on the computer – and here’s what the soundtrack layouts looks like.

Phil Strong

One of the most important ingredients of a great sound track is music.

During our editing process the picture editors often work with temp music. This means pulling music that has the right rhythm, pace, emotional tone / feeling and / or instrumentation from one’s own music collection and cutting it into the soundtrack temporarily.

In creating The Messenger soundtrack composer Phil Strong worked in tandem with the picture editing process, often creating music for the scenes as they evolved.

PhilStrong_EamonnO'Connor

Composer and sound designer Phil Strong and Picture editor Eamonn O’Connor at a spotting session in Phil’s studio.

 

 

More on Jason Milligan http://www.documentarysound.ca/

Jason Milligan is a two time Gemini Nominated Sound Recordist (for “The Take” and “Memory for Max, Claire, Ida, and Company”) based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, who specializes in recording sound on location for Documentaries, Lifestyle, and Reality Programs.   Jason has travelled extensively around the world and worked in Argentina, China, France, India, Japan, Jordan, the Netherlands, Peru, Saudi Arabia, St. Vincent, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Stutchbury Tracks Tiny Songbird Migration with Geolocator

Dr. Bridget Stutchbury, Ornithologist and author (Silence of the Songbirds) was one of the first scientists to use light logger geolocators to track tiny songbirds. Watch this exclusive SongbirdSOS video of Bridget retrieving a geolocator from a Hooded Warbler for the first time.

Bridget told us how it came about…

I started tracking migratory songbirds in 2007, after discovering that light-logger geolocators had been miniaturized to only 1.5g by the British Antarctic Survey.  For the first time ever it was possible to attach this device to songbirds and, if they returned the next year, re-construct their start-to-finish migration routes and timing.  At this size it was only safe to track relatively large songbirds that weighed over 50 grams but most songbirds weigh far less than 50 grams.  As with any technology, the geolocators were soon made even smaller, allowing researchers to track smaller songbirds.

In 2010 I had the good fortune to test the smallest tags at that existed at that time (0.6g). The tags were built by James Fox from the British Antarctic Survey. I wanted to know if it was possible to track warblers, which typically weigh less than 15g.  In the spring of 2010, after receiving permission from the US Banding Lab to do a pilot study, I caught five Hooded Warblers at my long-term study site in northwestern Pennsylvania. It was with some trepidation that I gave these little birds a relatively large piece of luggage to carry for the next year. I followed them carefully over the next months to make sure they were healthy.

Bridget and Student

You could not tell that a male Hooded Warbler was carrying a geolocator unless you happened to get a really good look at his back.  They sang vigorously, chased other males, mated with their females, and all five males successfully raised a family.  That August, just before they were about to depart for their winter-time migration, I recaptured three of the males and I was pleased to notice that their weight was healthy and that they were moulting their feathers normally.

Then came the long nine month wait.  The next year two of the five males returned to re-claim their territories in May and seemed no worse for the wear.  Amazingly, Director Su Rynard  and her SongbirdSOS documentary crew was there when we captured the first warbler ever tracked with a geolocator! After analyzing the light data I discovered that this bird, 2430-41205, had flown south to the Florida panhandle, across the Gulf of Mexico, and spent the winter in central Nicaragua.  In spring, he flew up to the Yucatan peninsula, across the Gulf of Mexico and up the Mississippi River valley back to his exact same 100m x 100m territory in Pennsylvania.  Even after tracking several hundred songbirds, I still find it amazing that such a small bird can travel so far and with pinpoint accuracy.

Banded Hooded Warbler

What become of this infamous bird? Bridget’s colleague Dr. Ron Mumme from nearby Allegheny College has been studying Hooded Warblers in her backyard forest ever since. He reports that this bird survived to make a second round-trip the next year and again nested successfully, although he has not been seen since.

The second Hooded Warbler Bridget tracked also wintered in Nicaragua and has nested on the same breeding territory every year since 2010. He was at least two years old when first banded, which means he’s flown the 7000 kilometre round-trip at least four times in his lifetime for a total of 28 000 kilometres!!  He wasn’t spotted in 2014, and a new male has laid claim to his territory.

Bridget reminds us that Aristotle believed that migratory swallows buried themselves in the mud over the winter like frogs.  In many ways that seems far more likely than a little 12 gram bird flying over half-way across the globe.

The songbirdSOS experts talk about International Migratory Bird Day

On Saturday, May 10 2014 thousands of birders across the globe will be celebrating International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD). We checked in with the experts we interviewed in the film to see what they are doing on this special day.

Robert Rice is the acting director of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Centre, which founded International Migratory Bird Day in 1993 in Washington, DC. The event has grown to involve more than 700 events in North America each year. This year, Robert will be going to the Okanagan Valley’s Meadowlark Festival to give a keynote address at the opening event.

In Northern Alberta Erin Bayne is too busy with his fieldwork deep in the Boreal forest to plan anything out of the ordinary for Migration Day.  This spring field season involves coordinating fourty people with work like setting up recording devices, banding for migration studies, and teaching new students about banding, telemetry and behavioural observations.

Ornithologist Bridget Stutchbury will be spending the day with her husband Gene (also an ornithologist) birding around their farmhouse in northern Pennsylvania. She has been trying to attract her favourite bird, the Purple Martin, to the property for years and usually goes to the Purple Martin Conservation area in Erie, Pennsylvania to get her fix. The species’ natural habitat is tree cavities, which are very scarce, so Bridget built a birdhouse colony in hopes that they will thrive in the area. Bridget spotted a Purple Martin on April 6, her earliest sighting yet.

Everyday is Bird Day for Bill Evans. He works on his nocturnal monitoring project every day of the year. Each morning this spring, Bill has been analyzing migration flight calls gathered from six recording stations. Peak migration season is fast approaching, so this is an especially exciting time for his team. On Saturday, Bill will be doing his normal daily routine: crunching bird call data from across the continent to put online on his site OldBird.

Andrew Farnsworth has a busy day of birding in New York City planned for Saturday. The night before, he will be watching weather radar to see how migration is proceeding across the United States. If the skies are clear and the winds are southerly, he will be listening to flight calls in the early morning hours. He will be in New Jersey just after dawn, birding in the DeKorte, Liberty and Secaucus areas, and perhaps to Rumson and Sandy Hook. Later in the afternoon he’ll hit Central Park.

The team at the Aras Bird Banding Station in Turkey has a very busy day planned; they will be banding and releasing birds for an audience of children, students, and members of the public. The district’s director of conservation will also be there. Cagan Sekercioglu, the director of the Aras Conservation would normally be there but he is getting married!