Updated: Jun 24
Last December, we announced The Paper Bear to the public with an immersive art gallery that shocked attendees. Our co-founder, Arix Zalace, showcased up-close-and-personal images of black bears that most have never seen. He spent thousands of hours tracking through wetlands and forests to find these wild bears. He then spent countless more hours waiting for them to arrive daily and studied their behavior. His presentation sparked an overwhelmingly positive wave of support. Visitors understood that black bears hold the key to helping protect and restore countless endangered habitats and species. The momentum from that event has helped us make some exciting progress.
We are thrilled to announce that we have completed filming the live-action part of our first feature film! With the overwhelming support from those who attended our event last December, we raised the funds needed to complete this tremendous step.
Cinematography is a critical component in capturing the essence and beauty of the Florida Panhandle for a feature film. It is pivotal in transporting viewers into the region's heart, immersing them in its natural wonders, and evoking a sense of awe and connection. To help us achieve this goal, one of our lead producers and native Floridian, Savage Bell, helped us recruit Brad Richard. For nearly 30 years, Brad has worked on some of the biggest television shows and films that have won numerous awards, including a project that won an Oscar for Best Picture. Brad was excited to return to his Florida roots with his team from Los Angeles and share a new perspective of his old home area.
Biodiversity is at the core of the film's narrative, and each real-world set was treated as a character that must be filmed carefully. Brad's team worked closely with Arix, the film's director, to capture intricate details of the region's richness and diversity through close-ups, wide shots, and dynamic camera movements. From the delicate dance of a butterfly flying over a field of pitcher plants to the sun breaking through the canopy of the long-leaf pines, these visuals become a testament to the vibrant life in the area, and audiences will be immersed in all of it.
To help bring our characters to life, we auditioned with over 1,000 boys and 1,000 men to play the leading roles of the father and son. For the father, we cast Jason Burkey, an actor with a diverse background in various roles on successful television shows and films. For the son, we cast Max Ivutin, a young up-and-coming child actor who has already created an impressive work resume. Together, these two have tremendous chemistry that will lead audiences through various comedy, drama, and action story arcs.
Every crew department played a specific role that helped us complete the live-action part of the film in three weeks across the Florida Panhandle. We filmed in various challenging locations that were difficult to access or secret to only a few. All necessary to showcase beautiful gems in a way that has never been done before. We also navigated severe weather and successfully filmed in a control burn zone. Their collaborative efforts have resulted in a visually stunning, emotionally resonant, and educational experience that will raise awareness and inspire viewers to protect and preserve the precious natural heritage of the region.