Lights, camera, action! MVCF gets a new video
In November 2021 , the Friends of the San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuges was awarded a $28,000 grant by the Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) to fund an enhanced marketing program. Matching Funds of $10,000 were added by the Rio Grande County Tourism Board and the Monte Vista Chamber of Commerce. The Crane Festival Committee contributed an additional $4,000. The Crane Festival Committee will be working on the marketing plan during 2022 with the goals of increasing visitor stays and spending during and around the annual spring festival.
With the funds from this grant, The Friends of the San Luis Valley National Refuges has partnered with Christi Bode of Moxicran Media to produce a video that captures the essence of Crane Fest, and can help further the CTO grant goals of diversifying local support for the Festival and increasing awareness about Sandhill Cranes and their link to wetlands and agriculture.
Christi Bode is no stranger to these topics: in her 8-year career as a filmmaker, Bode has produced dozens of natural resource films and other multimedia, making sense out of the West’s interwoven landscape. Most recently, her documentary Farm to Faucet (about how the value of water is defined by various Colorado communities) premiered at the 2022 DocuWest Documentary Film Festival, as well as being screened on Colorado's PBS12.
"About nine years ago, I witnessed my first sandhill crane migration through the San Luis Valley," says Bode. "Hearing their prehistoric calls was like stepping onto the set of Jurassic Park, but only much colder and less frightening! It's easy to be captivated by their movements and ability to adapt to a changing landscape for thousands of years."
For the MVCF video, Bode chose to explore the Sandhill Crane experience through yet another lens—that of an artist and Long Island transplant who finds inspiration in the landscapes and wildlife of the San Luis Valley. The artist in question is Amanda Charlton Hurley, and Bode was able to shadow her entire creative process while preparing for and then painting a crane for the 2022 Swoop of the Cranes in Monte Vista.
"Getting to watch the cranes at sunrise, for the very first time is a truly magical experience," Hurley explained to Bode during an interview for the film. "Getting to see this dance between the sun rising and the movements of these animals underneath—it just is a microcosm of everything else happening on our planet, and it's just here right in front of your eyes."
"How many times does mother nature let you get that close and allow you to witness something so natural, so unadulterated, so untouched by human society, and in its purest form?" continued Hurley. "That's what I felt like I was getting to witness...this really intimate thing that's so important to these cranes...and here they are letting me in right now. It was absolutely phenomenal."
Bode is excited to share Hurley's experience and vision in the upcoming short film, and by extension, help entice others to come experience the beauty of the Sandhill Crane migration. "The experience of filming these creatures is one thing; it's another to connect with audiences on why places such as the San Luis Valley are so special," says Bode. "I'm excited to share this short film at next year's Monte Vista Crane Festival— stay tuned!"
With the festival and majority of the spring crane-viewing months well behind us, shooting for the video has mostly wrapped up, and now the hard work of editing and post production is about to begin. Short cuts will be ready this fall with the full film set to premiere at the 40th Anniversary of the Monte Vista Crane Festival in March of 2023.
Stay tuned for more updates about this exciting project!