Chris Palmer delivered the 15th annual Aquinas College Wege Lecture at 4 pm April 15. Earlier in the day, the internationally known environmental filmmaker began sharing his films and stories with 120 enthusiastic sixth-graders from the Grand Rapids Public Schools’ Blandford School, Zoo School and the Center for Economicology, housed at City High Middle.
The students learned that the underwater camera he used to make the IMAX whale film weighs 300 pounds and has no audio; the battery only lasts three minutes so the divers have to constantly resurface. Eleven hours of filming resulted in the 40-minute whale documentary and cost $3 million to make. In the IMAX theaters, the Southern Right Whale film grossed $7.5 million.
In his talk with 7-12th grade students, Chris noted that wildlife filmmakers often have to “stage” the action, as his crew did by digging a den themselves to film the female wolf with her cubs. Palmer, who struggles with the ethics of staging such settings, asked the students their thoughts on the subject. In general, the students did not object as long as the staging did not harm animals involved.
The Wege Foundation-sponsored speaker was delighted to meet the students at the Center for Economicology because his own work reflects Peter Wege’s passion for ecology and education in balance with the economy. A faculty member at American University, Chris Palmer founded the University’s Center for Environmental Filmmaking, teaching his students how to make environmental movies that will educate theater audiences. Palmer takes advantage of his contacts in the movie business to bring world-class filmmakers to his campus as speakers and mentors for his environmental-filmmaking students.
***Pictured abover is Palmer posing with City students. Pictured from left to right: Joshua Eid-Ries, Timothy Larson, Roya Oliai, Alondra Vergara, and June Rayburn.