True Wolf – Executive Producer’s Statement
By Bruce Weide
The making of True Wolf began more than twenty years ago, in 1991, when Koani entered our lives. At first, I borrowed a video camera from Missoula Community Access Television. Later, when Wild Sentry could afford it, I bought a 3-chip camera. Filming our life with a wolf was done on the fly without the luxury of multiple takes and in terms of priorities, it lay well below caring for Koani, running Wild Sentry, and presenting programs. Nevertheless, I shot footage for sixteen years with the belief that this was a good story.
But it wasn’t until 2006, that I truly felt compelled to make a film about Koani. If you live a life with a wolf, you understand that they are meant to live wild and free. I saw a film as a legacy to a wolf who spent her life in captivity and thereby provided many people with a new understanding of wolves. So I set about looking for another filmmaker to work with. I wanted to collaborate with someone for two reasons: Fifteen years had passed since my second documentary aired on public television. During this time I’d engaged in a career entirely apart from filmmaking and much had changed in that world. But of even more importance, I believe in the creative power that comes from team work.
As I searched for a partner, I set about the arduous task of fundraising and eventually, due to the loyalty and generosity of people who had supported Wild Sentry in the past, succeeded. During this period, I also wrote draft after draft of the film. I knew the story I wanted to tell and the three primary elements I wanted to see included:
- the importance of education;
- the role stories play in influencing our perceptions and attitudes;
- the critical need for civil discourse.
Also, I wanted to make a film that underscored the fact that wolves (and hybrids) are not good pets.
Over the course of that three and a half year search, I found people more interested in co-opting the project than collaborating on it. I came quite close to calling it quits… after all, there comes a point when perseverance can turn into stubborn silliness. But I decided to give it one more try.
I explained the story to Rob Whitehair of Tree and Sky Media Arts. This was not an ‘elevator pitch’, this was a full description of story as well as the themes I wanted to see woven into that story. And something unusual and fantastic happened; Rob listened. As I told the story, Rob’s eyes grew more animated and after I finished he said, “Awesome!” And so began a richly rewarding relationship and collaborative effort that resulted in True Wolf.
I hope you enjoy the film. I’m proud of it and I’m delighted to have worked with Rob, but more importantly I now feel a sense of relief because I’ve fulfilled a vow I made to Koani, a commitment to create a legacy to the educational work she achieved and the sacrifice it cost her.