We reached out to our festival filmmakers to ask them five questions about the experience of making their films.
What inspired this story?
Director and Cameraman Rick Rosenthal: After filming whales for many years, I felt it was time to tell a different story- one that would focus on whale intelligence, and ask the question- how smart are whales?
Were there any surprising or meaningful experiences you want to share?
RR: Yes. We did not expect to film (1) Humpback whales outsmarting humans to get what they want, (2) Gray whales surfing, (3) Sperm whales playing ball and (4) Killer whales catching the dangerous Whiptail sting ray.
What impact do you hope this film will have?
RR: I hope that we will finally accept the fact that there are highly intelligent species in the ocean that are capable of figuring out complex problems, with feelings not unlike our own. There is much more to whale behavior than just instinct. Learning and passing on knowledge is a key component of whale behavior and it’s one of our definitions of culture.
Describe some of the challenges faced while making this film.
RR: One of the main challenges were uncertainties with weather, especially in working out in the open ocean. There were also difficulties in getting reliable information about the location of the whales, and challenges with having the budget to spend enough time in the field to capture the behavior.
What drove you as a filmmaker to focus on our oceans and marine life?
RR: I have spent more than 50 years doing research and filming marine life, so it was a natural to tackle this subject.