Mike Lemery never really thought of himself as a birdwatcher, until he got a really good look at a bald eagle.
“It’s kind of a new interest for me,” said Lemery, a Waterville native and Schenectady resident who turned some video footage of bald eagles into a short documentary that is one of four finalists in the Short Film Competition at the National Geographic/Sun Valley Film Festival next Wednesday through Saturday in Ketchum, Idaho.
“It all began when I saw that first bald eagle. It was pretty cool and a lot of fun to film.”
Lemery’s film, “Conowingo Dam Bald Eagles,” tells of the resurgence of the eagle population at the Conowingo Dam in Maryland.
"Conowingo Dam Bald Eagles"
“I heard about the contest in January and I had just come back from filming some eagles in Maryland so I put it together and entered the contest,” said Lemery, who also served as the film’s narrator.
“When I heard that I was one of four finalists I was in shock. You want to win and you hope to win, but you never really know what you’re up against. But I knew I had some good footage, and I was hoping it would catch someone’s eye.”
Lemery will be flown out to Idaho this week; the winner will be announced at the end of the festival.
The other three finalists are “In Search of a Moment,” by David Fontneau of Honolulu, Hawaii, “To the Explorers,” by Alex Goetz and Justin Grubb of Toledo, Ohio, and “Wild Heroes of Uganda,” by Marlina Moreno of Los Angeles.
Lemery, who works for Potratz on Lafayette Street in Schenectady, says he will incorporate his short film into a full-length documentary about eagles.
“I’ve had eight years of video-producing experience, and a lot of what I do at Potratz is documentary style,” said Lemery, who graduated from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington with a degree in Communications with a focus on video production. “I’ve always had this idea of making documentary films, and that’s what I hope to do in the future. I did some freelance for a while after I graduated from college.”
When Lemery isn’t producing videos for Potratz, he’s working on his eagles documentary.
“It was about three years ago I went to the Cohoes Falls and saw my first bald eagle,” said Lemery. “I had a new camera and I got some great footage of the eagle. Since then I’ve put together tons of footage on eagles, all along the Mohawk and Hudson rivers. I’ve even seen them in Schenectady.”
While he’s enjoying learning about eagles, Lemery isn’t about to classify himself as a wildlife documentarian just yet.
“Making documentary films is what I want to do, and my next one could be about anything,” he said. “I would enjoy making a film on anything that’s of interest to me and other people.”
The winner of the Sun Valley competition will have the opportunity to participate in a National Geographic expedition to Africa to document wildlife for viewers of the television show, “National Geographic WILD.”
Reach Gazette reporter Bill Buell at 395-3190 or firstname.lastname@example.org.