Looking Back: Film Production For Ducks Unlimited

Ducks Unlimited is the nation’s largest organization dedicated to wetland conservation. They have chapters in all 50 states, and do work across the country to preserve land for waterfowl. Ducks Unlimited North Carolina approached Amazing Studios about a video production that would work in conjunction with the campaign for their new Sportsman for Tomorrow program.

We asked our Studio Production Director, Peter Scheibner, to look back on this project and give some insight into the projects creation – from conception to the final product. In this article he’ll pull back the curtain and provide some interesting detail into the nuts-and-bolts of this beautiful piece of original branded content.

Legacy | Ducks Unlimited from Amazing Studios on Vimeo.


So where did the concept for this video come from?

As I was sitting there, listening to their needs I felt this was an ideal opportunity to tell a compelling story, in a more narrative format. They were talking about the need to mentor students, and teach them the importance of being outdoors. As I learned more about the conservation efforts of the Sportsman for Tomorrow program, I really felt this was the best direction.

What were your goals going into the script writing process?
I wanted somebody hearing the read for the first time to be able to go back to their childhood, just like I did. So the process started there. Then I began to develop the characters. I knew that we wanted a father and a son, but the idea of the Grandpa was a second draft concept for me. That was when the story really began to come together.

How did you envision the look and feel for DU? Inspirations?
I was very inspired by the Derek Jeter film Re2pect. I wanted the audience to walk away with that same feeling as I left that film with. So as we developed the story, I began to create color palettes and scene looks that I felt would capture that for the outdoor audience.

How did you find the locations?
We knew that finding the correct locations would be pivotal selling the idea that this story was grounded in reality. We worked closely with Rodney Warren with the NCDU to identify several options. We spent two days scouting before we settled on the locations. Honestly, the easiest location to settle on was the Lake Mattamuskeet scene found at the end of the film. It was ideal in every regard. For the kayaking we found a river in Erwin, and the fire scene was in Benson. Everybody that we worked with was great, and the locations were perfect.


What was the most challenging shot to capture?
By far the shots from kayaking. We had just purchased the DJI Ronin, and were shooting with the RED Scarlet out of the back of a canoe while paddling through the rapids. We nearly capsized several times, and had a couple of pieces of equipment go overboard. But at the end of the day, some of my favorite shots came from that shoot, and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.


Talk a little about the editing process.
The biggest challenge in the edit was decided what the soul of this film was. When we started, we weren’t setting out to create a true short film. However, as we edited the footage, I quickly came to see that this was more than just an ad for a great organization, it was a film with heart and soul. So there was a bit of a restructure, and the opening was tweaked to add a title sequence, allowing this to enter that realm.

Looking Back

What are some fun facts or hidden nuggets that viewers might not pick up on from watching this piece?
Thats a great question. There are so many small elements that I wish we could just grab the viewer and say “Did you know that?” But we can’t do that yet. I think that coolest thing is that the actors were actually a three generation family. Don Manley, the grandfather, was the longest serving member of DU in North Carolina and his son and grandson were great to work with. It was accidental, but in a way, this film was their story. Another interesting tidbit, is where we got our voice over talent from. He is an outdoor painter in Nashville named Ralph McDonald. He had never done a voice over before, but when he heard what we were up to he wanted to get involved.

Given the chance, what would you have done differently?
If I had it all to do over again, I would have a larger crew. This piece was amazing, but it was very hard to pull off with the size of crew we were running.

What are your hopes for how the piece is received?
My hope for this film is what I’ve already been told by those who have seen it. That it brings back memories of childhood, and creates a sense of pride in the viewer.