Laurie did a pre-interview with Michael Sherwood, retired attorney with Earthjustice who argued the original Palila cases in the 1970s and 1980s. The next day we did a second shoot at the Bishop Museum, and flew Hoku (our native Hawaiian intern from Miloliʻi) out for the day to work as a Sound PA. We filmed Michael Sherwood recounting his first-hand experience the case Palila v. Hawaii. Marjorie Ziegler joined us again, and we shot a brief sequence of Marjorie and Michael greeting each other, who are old friends. When Alan Ziegler was working with Michael on the case, he stayed at the Ziegler’s residence while Marjorie was living there, still in high school. It had been about 10 years since Marjorie and Michael had last seen each other.
Michael described how he and Dr. Ziegler decided to include the bird as plaintiff, brought his “client” to court, and the events and aftermath of that week. He also described subsequent cases Palila II, III, IV, V, VI (the case is still open) and the impact of the case. The highlight of the shoot was when the cameras followed Michael as he looked at the museum’s collection of palila and identified his “client” – the palila specimen who accompanied him in the courtroom.
From this interview, we discovered that we had a meatier story regarding the legal significance and precedence of this case. Palila v. Hawaii is taught in law schools presently, and is a historic and landmark environmental case defending the Endangered Species Act. We have begun to research this developing storyline, and we are continuing to search for Hawai’i media coverage of the cases.
We did a one-day Bishop Museum shoot interviewing a new character, Marjorie Ziegler, who is the daughter of Dr. Alan C. Ziegler (deceased), who started the lawsuit on behalf of Palila. Marjorie is currently Executive Director of Conservation Council for Hawaii, infusing the film with a more personal, intimate element to the story of the Palila and the court case.
Our contact at Bishop Museum, Vertebrate Collections Manager Molly Hagemann, provided us access to the museum’s collection of Hawaiian birds. We also filmed sequences with the mounted Palila specimen used in the court case and documented extremely rare, mounted extinct Hawaiian birds specimens.
In January 2017, Laurie, Anne Misawa (DP) and Jay Hubert (2nd Camera/Sound) flew from Honolulu to the Big Island for a three-day shoot at Mauna Kea. Our student intern Hoku, a Native Hawaiian media maker from Miloliʻi, assisted as Sound PA, and we also had three volunteer helpers who live on the Big Island on hand as well. The primary purpose of the shoot was to document the week-long annual Palila Point Counts. This survey’s purpose is to approximate palila populations in Palila Critical Habitat on Mauna Kea, where about 40 volunteers participated.
We knew going into the shoot that this would be an important event to capture, as several of Hawaii’s bird experts would be on hand. During this shoot, we interviewed a new main character, Kalā Asing, Project Coordinator for the Mauna Kea Forest Restoration Project. Kalā is a Native Hawaiian conservationist from Waimea (on Hawaiʻi Island) with a background in Hawaiian Cultural Studies. He spoke very passionately about his dedication to bringing a Hawaiian perspective to conservation, which is a relatively new way of integrating natural resource management with science practices with indigenous knowledge. We interviewed Kalā, as well as several supporting characters, including Dr. Paul C. Banko, the premier Palila expert who works for USGS as a Wildlife Biologist, and Dr. Chris Farmer, the American Bird Conservancy Hawaii Program Director.