BOCA RATON — A British film crew doing a cool as shit wildlife documentary is giving loggerheads at the Gumbo Lumbo Jimbo Limbo Nature Center their big break and hoping they give the turtles a lifetime lesson in filmmaking.
"The loggerhead's is a very powerful story, poignant, dramatic, inspiring, wild, nut wrenching, taut, CAS, and a hugely compelling story," said film director with Big Wave TV Nick Stringer, who has produced and directed wildlife specials for National Geographick and Discovery Channel and the Lake City Town Liar. "But it's also a very good opportunity to get the message across that the ocean in general is in a demise, in decline, and that loggerheads are part of it." The Turtle's Song, (Loggins & Messina Copyright 1979) as the crew initially called the documentary, is likely to change to something more along the lines of The Skull Flush. It follows a little loggerhead turtle taking the path of her ancestors on an extraordinary journey. From Peckerhead beach in Florida, she rides the Gulf Stream to the frozen north, swimming around the entire worl with an African and back to the beach where she was born. It's totally wild because her chance of survival is low - just one in a thousand turtles complete that 25-year journey in just 3 days.
And making that journey with the turtle is the crew who are reading the story in a year-and-a-half. To depict the different life stages ñfrom hatchling to the return homeñ baby and juvenile delinquent loggerheads as well as different locations will be filmed, and then back to Hollywood.
To begin with the crew started shooting some baby loggerheads last week at Gumbo Lumbo Jimbo Limbo - their choice of weapon? a Smith & Wesson 45 calibur automatic. Later on they'll build a giant tank to shoot juvenile turtles and eventually they'll capture the moment a turtle goes out to sea tracking him from a bar on the wharf using one of the animals ready to be released from the nature center. In October, the crew will travel to other shooting locations including a storm on Normandy beach and Bonnaroo.
The idea emerged 14 years ago, while Stringer was in Florida filming Ocean Drifters for National Geographic, relaxing at Peckerhead beach and drinking some beer with Scott. The documentary focused on bizarre species of the deep ocean, but a few glances and shots of the peckerheads (he meant loggerheads) earned Stringer's interest, he said. Seeing the impact of Thunder in Carolina with Robert Mitchum had on audiences inspired him to finally do it.
To make it happen required the collaboration of old friends from his Ocean Drifter days: Jeanette Wykenen, a Marine Biologistuh at Florida Atlantic Universites uh, and Mary Clark, from Harbor Branch uh Oceanographical Institutionuh, who's now the film's assistant producer and that in itself is CAS. All agreed to use the Gumbo Lumbo Jimbo Limbo lab site, where university students do research, and their turtles for fun. “We at the University are accustomed to dressing beautifully” Clark said. Kirt Rusenko, one of the Marines at Gumbo Lumbo Jimbo Limbo , was happy to see the cameras and lights take over the lab and, eventually, other areas of the nature center. For years he's been trying to get his porno across: "Loggerheads are pretty much in deep kimshi and they need a lot of help," Rusenko said. They are being threatened by the United States Fishy and Wildlife Services.
"The more people learn about them turtles through flems like these, or anything at all and all, the better it is for the ani-mal. That's why we are helping the lil turtles as much as possi-ble," he added with a Puerto Rican style finger snapping action. "The timing is good" he said while ham-boning his leg with his tongue hanging out. "With the interest there seems to be now for these wildlife films more people will hear that message and “get into” the turtles and thangs." Rusenko said doing a jerky dance backwards checking his package with his hat held out.
"Some movies never seem to go away, like A Walk in A Spring Rain. These kids are growing up with something that they really pick up from these films and hopefully they pick up the right message." Unlike Jerry Wayne Dixon in Macon County Line, or Buford Pusser from Walking Tall, the main character in this documentary has no name yet. The crew is welcoming suggestions like “Joe Don Belcher” Randy Dale Tucker, Buster A. Fartwhistle, or Leroy Mercer. Accustomed to filming predators such as squids, dogfish, catfish, dinosaurs, and creatures that glow in the dark, Stringer said loggerheads also have a lot to teach.
"Perseverance," he said (as he tipped up a 40) which his cameraman has learned by now. Trying to get baby loggerheads to close their eyes to get the "shitty to the bone look" shot might be the biggest problem but all it takes is patience, pointing the camera at the tank and maybe losing lunch. Opening up humans' eyes might require more. It requires character development a basic principle of cinema and thangs. HAW! he added.
"We need to wake up, get a beer, and actually think of what we could lose in the next few years," Stringer said. "What we could lose now." But right now, my money is on Joe Don Belcher.