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The very touching ITW with Amy Taylor

Amy Taylor: documentary is a humane adventure

_MG_0502(1)Amy Taylor has always been passionate about dolphins. A marine biologist by training, this young woman had no hesitation in going back to study cinema and natural history, so as to better understand and, above all, film her preferred mammal close up. Her end of course thesis was moreover a documentary about endangered dolphin species. ‘Beyond the Kelp’ which was broadcast on Maori TV, proved highly successful with the public. With Soul in The Sea, her second documentary, Amy Taylor not only enamoured FIFO festivalgoers who all, more or less, left the screening with tears in their eyes, but she also entered the big arena. Already selected at the Jackson Hole Wild Life Festival in the United States Soul in the Sea is one of the fourteen films in competition at FIFO. Over almost six months, Amy Taylor filmed the story of this wild dolphin looking for company. The arrival of Moko in Wakatune in New Zealand changed the life of Kristie Carrington who devoted herself to protecting Moko, but also that of sailor Erin Hallen or Grant who feared the sea and discovered it due to this contact. Everyone is seduced by Moko; a popularity that could become dangerous for the dolphin. Should this closeness continue or should some distance be created? Amy Taylor asks these questions intelligently and emotionally in her film. This young mother who regrets not being able to benefit a little more from FIFO because of her infant, talks to us about directing a documentary that marked her life…

How did you hear about the story of this dolphin Moko ?

One day, whilst reading the paper, I came across the photo of this dolphin: he was jumping with a boogie board on his nose. I liked his story, so I went to Wakatune in New Zealand to swim with him and see what happened. The first time that I swam with Moko, he took me offshore then he played taking me out of the water before returning to play with a dead hammerhead shark. It was very strange but I quickly saw that this dolphin was an original character. It soon became obvious to me to film his story. I spent more than six months with him, I became attached to him. When he died, I cried so much that I could no longer hold the camera.

You spend a great amount of time in the water with Moko, did you have any material problems?

My budget was small so I had to film with an amateur camera. I succeeded in obtaining a professional camera just for the interviews. The longest part in the end was editing the different versions of the documentary. Finally, I produced three versions, two for New Zealand and international television, and one for the festival. I didn’t have a team, I did it all on my own. Even if there was this material constraint, spending eight hours per day in the water with Moko was really wonderful.

Throughout your documentary you follow Kristie Carrington, Moko’s ‘nanny.’ How was your relationship during the production of the documentary?

She was there whenever I swam with Moko. As I was on my own filming, It was easier to establish a relationship of trust between Kristie and myself. Today we are great friends. She now lives in Australia with her little boy, Moko’s death deeply affected her. She tries to fill the hole left by Moko, so to help her get over this she has reconnected with Maori culture. Kristie was adopted by a European family so she knows very little about her culture. When the dolphin died, the Maori community was very much there for her and supported her. In the Maori culture dolphins and whales play an important role: they are considered guardians, protectors. That is how Kristie decided to reconnect with her culture. Somehow Moko showed Krisitie the way….

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