Year in the Life of a Wildlife Documentarian: Part I

Tomas Koeck is an award-winning filmmaker, Canon USA-backed photographer, board member for the Connecticut Audubon Society, and expeditionist. In simpler terms, he’s a storyteller, an environmentalist and, most importantly, an optimist. In the lead-up to the release of his next documentary, he’s sharing three reflections from the field. This is part one. 


Photo by Collin Moura


Our natural world is filled with amazing stories that encompass what it means to be human, to love, and to have a soul. It’s this love of the natural world that first got me into natural history filmmaking, which is my way of spreading the feeling of community and love for our amazing planet.

I find immense satisfaction in showing people how cool nature can be, and how one can create an entire community through stories. Community is a powerful thing, and it’s community that creates lasting and impactful change. Alongside community, stories can inspire, leading to action and, in turn, a change for the better. 

Recently, I announced the production of my latest project, Flyway of Life. This documentary is about North America’s Atlantic Flyway, one of the most important bird migration paths in the continent. My friends and biologists at the National Audubon Society say that over 500 bird species use the Atlantic Flyway—a number that we hope to maintain. 



But this film isn’t just about birds. There are many ecological relationships that occur directly within this migration path, but many stretch far beyond, too. Large apex predators such as wolves, bears, and even aquatic animals like mako sharks, have relationships with the Atlantic flyway. For example, they help balance ecosystems so that environments remain healthy enough for other animals to survive. The documentary will look into many of these relationships, even tying in sharks and their unlikely relationship with seabirds—how cool is that? 

While wildlife will play a major role in the film, it's the people in the natural history field that I plan on covering extensively. Conservationists are often involved in research, education, and advocacy that inform stories, sparking a love and appreciation for nature among others. I aim to create that spark within this project for viewers. 


pine warbler

One of those conservationists is Dr. Jeff Wells, the vice president of boreal conservation and a well-known biologist at the National Audubon. Jeff has the amazing talent for getting so many different people of varying backgrounds to move in the same direction in the name of our natural world—a real-life superpower that empowers those around him.

I’m lucky to have gained so many awesome conservation partners for this film, some of whom have created educational programs that help inspire the next generation of conservationists. A few of the film’s partners include the Connecticut Audubon Society, the National Audubon Society, Audubon Florida, Greenburgh Nature Center, Friends of Sax-Zim Bog, Atlantic Shark Institute, and many others. Each of these organizations has become an advocate, helping to share the love of nature with others around them. 



I have many exciting expeditions coming up with this project. From lush everglades to the bone-chilling Superior National Forest, we plan on showing how these totally different habitats are more connected than you might think. Follow along @tomaskoeck and subscribe for updates via our website

Now grab your backpack and link up with your own outdoor community to experience what nature has to offer. Talk to you soon!


Photo by Collin Moura