Vermont Arts Council

The People’s Choice Award: Gaelen Kilburn

41: Gaelen Kilburn

Create a documentary film on coyotes in Vermont

I’m a storyteller, first and foremost and my medium is documentary filmmaking. I strive to tell stories that make you feel, laugh, dream, and act. My hope is that through my filmmaking, I can engender positive change. I’ve had the opportunity to work with Vermont Social on a number of film shoots including a shoot in Sacramento about a criterium race hosted by two African American brothers promoting diversity in cycling, a film promoting inclusion in the gravel bike race scene, and a film focused on a gravel team from Kenya who are working to create opportunities for African cyclists. This winter, I’ve been helping Vermont Social and Eastern Adventure with a film on climate change that centers around a woman who’s attempting to ski the entirety of the Catamount Trail. My goals going forward is to continue honing my filmmaking skills through working on films that tell unique stories about passionate individuals addressing social or environmental issues, inequalities, and injustices.

Project description

Some call it a coywolf, others a coydog, and others a coyote. The eastern coyote is a cunning, secretive, and highly adaptable canine, comprising all three genes: coyote, wolf, and domestic dog. “They’re incredibly smart,” explains naturalist and professional tracker, Susan Morse. “If any wild animal in Vermont’s woods can go to Harvard and get a degree with honors, it’s going to be the coyote.”” Louis Porter, Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife commissioner explains the differing attitudes towards the animal within the state, “We would never advocate for the eradication of coyotes in Vermont. There are people who disagree with us about that.” This proposal seeks funding for a documentary film focusing on the eastern coyote in Vermont and the nuances of the controversies surrounding the creature in Vermont. Through a blend of intimate verité-style character study and striking nature cinematography, Coydogs will explore the controversial issue of coyotes in Vermont through the lens of how humans interact with nature or merely choose to destroy it.

My goal for the film is to explore the nexus and intersectionality of animals, humans, nature, hunting, individual land-use rights, communities, privatization, liberty, and the health of our ecosystem. Through an ethnographic deep dive on the eastern coyote in Vermont and the accompanying stunning visuals, revelatory interviews, emotional soundtracks and intimate stories, Coydogs has the potential to shape outcomes of both local and national attitudes and actions in a process that could potentially affect all of us. Coydogs will provide viewers with a window into the lives of both the eastern coyote and Vermont residents and the questions, issues, and risks Vermonters and the eastern coyote face. My hope is for Coydogs to change the audience’s notions of the eastern coyote and what it means to the Vermont ecosystem.

Media Sample 1

SRAMtv | L39ion Into the Lion’s Den. “L39ion of Los Angeles has a vision for the future of crit racing, and they put on a showcase in the first Into the Lion’s Den race.”

Media Sample 2

FURSA Part Two. “Out of the tragedy comes the increased motivation to continue creating opportunities for underrepresented athletes in East Africa.”

Media Sample 3

Wahoo Frontiers: Return To Unbound. “‘I want to cross the finish line…look at my competitors…give them a hug…and acknowledge we both had a phenomenal day out on the bike’ – Ian Boswell.”

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Acadia Klepeis August 22, 2023