Recently we got to connect with filmmaker Daniel Dietrich about a variety of things including his 2022 official selection “Tule Elk – The Killing of a Native Species” – enjoy!
Who are you? (where are you from, where do you live, why did you get into film, whatever you want to tell us really)
I originally hail from New York and am currently living in Point Reyes, California. I moved to California for high tech but gave it up about 10 years ago to pursue wildlife photography and filmmaking full time. My days are now dominated by my wildlife guiding company, Point Reyes Safaris, and my film business which focuses on wildlife natural history and wildlife conservation.
How many films have you had in the festival?
This is the first film that I have submitted to Wild and Scenic and I am honored by its selection.
When was your first Wild & Scenic?
How many times have you attended?
With it being virtual this year, I haven’t been able to attend a live event yet.
What makes Wild & Scenic Film Festival special or unique?
The types of films represented at this festival are very unique. I love the variety of films and the backgrounds of those that are making them.
What inspires you to make films? What are your favorite stories to tell?
I am very drawn to wildlife conservation and natural history. We are at an incredibly tumultuous time in terms of environmental protection. Our wildlife can’t speak for itself, so those that care about protecting it must do so for them. Film is a very powerful medium for telling these stories.
What inspired you to make this film? Have you seen any results with the issue since the film began making the rounds?
The issues in Point Reyes National Seashore are numerous. Private ranching dominates the landscape, despite it being a National Park. Our creeks are polluted from cow manure, air quality suffers horribly from ranching operations, endangered species are threatened by cattle, the list goes on and on. The final straw was the National Park Service’s decision to kill native Tule elk to free up grass for cows. This goes against every principle of environmental protection and the very foundation of our National Parks System.
Sadly, from a policy standpoint, the National Park Service is pressing on with its decision to expand private ranching within Point Reyes National Seashore at the expense of our natural resources. A lawsuit was recently filed to challenge their decisions.
Are there any updates since the film completed?
The National Park Service has filed the Record of Decision, finalizing the park’s general management plan amendment. It will include commercial sheep and goat introductions into the National Park, the potential for chickens and pigs, as well as the planting of industrial row crops such as artichokes. It will allow mobile slaughter houses, the killing of Tule elk, and a host of other environmentally destructive practices.
Do you have any projects you are currently working on?
I continue to work on projects based on the Point Reyes National Seashore issues. I am working on conservation stories surrounding pumas and bobcats. I have also been filming for various wildlife documentaries.
How has COVID impacted your filmmaking?
Covid has restricted travel to some of the destinations I have needed to get to for some of the current work I am doing. I am hoping this barrier will be removed soon. It had also closed the National Park that I operate in, making it difficult to film and perform my safaris. Thankfully this is no longer the case.
Filmmaking is a laborious job, so what keeps you motivated?
The motivation really comes from protecting our wildlife. The thought that our own government would choose to kill native Tule elk to give more grass to cows in a National Park is remarkable. Without these stories being told, our wildlife and wild places would suffer even greater damage.
What are you currently reading/watching/listening to?
I am very consumed with the private use and access of our public lands. It is amazing how so much of our public lands are being given away to private companies for extractive, private profit driven businesses where the public receives no benefit, and even worse where the public suffers from these destructive decisions.
What is on the horizon for you in 2022 and beyond?
I am hoping to have a couple new short films completed this year that focus on conservation and coexistence. I will continue to guide photographers in Point Reyes National Seashore who hope to photograph wild bobcats. And I will continue my contract work filming for various network documentary needs. It has been a busy year already and showing no signs of slowing down, which I welcome. 😊