Alumni Nature Documentary to be Screened in Ithaca as Part of World Tour

By Holly Habeck, February 10, 2017

Alumni Nature Doc to be Screened in Ithaca

Being Hear,” a short documentary by Ithaca College alumni Palmer Morse ’16 and Matthew Mikkelsen ’16, is being screened around the world as part of the esteemed Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour. The film profiles Emmy-Award-winning acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton, who works to preserve nature’s quiet places from noise pollution.

The documentary will be shown at Cornell University’s Bailey Hall on Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online.

“Being Hear” has won several awards, including “Best Short” at the 14th Portland Eco Film Festival and the Roy H. Park School of Communications’ “Best of Park” award. It has been screened at the 41st Banff Mountain Film Festival, the 15th Wild & Scenic Film Festival and the 14th Big Sky Documentary Film Festival. As part of the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour, the documentary will be shown in over 40 countries.

Filming for the documentary, which served as Mikkelsen’s senior thesis, wrapped in the spring of 2016, but the idea for the film emerged several years earlier, after he developed interests in both audio production and environmental studies.

“My freshman year here at Ithaca College, I was really into the audio stuff that I was doing, but I was also taking some classes in environmental studies,” said Mikkelsen. “I didn’t necessarily want to give up the audio and film stuff, but I really wanted to continue learning about nature and the environment.”

Shortly after this internal debate, Mikkelsen learned of acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton and his quest to protect nature’s quiet spaces. A quick email and two-hour phone call sparked a long-term friendship and the groundwork for the award-winning film.

After being accepted into the Banff Mountain Film Festival and later being invited to be a part of the international tour, both Mikkelsen and Morse still find themselves in disbelief at the traction they’ve received.

“When we found out we had gotten in, we were so pumped. I definitely cried a little bit,” said Mikkelsen. “People had said it was good but, up until that point, those were just our friends and family. To have a pretty prestigious film festival look at our work and want us to come out to the festival was amazing.”

The world tour isn’t the only event in store for the documentary. Being invited to Banff was a launching point to spread the film to an even larger, more diverse audience.

“[Being accepted] set off so many things for us,” said Morse. “Other festivals have been contacting us. Schools across the country have been contacting us to try to get the film to be a part of their classes on sound, and a few publications have reached out to us as far as buying rights to the film.”

Reflecting on the film’s success, Morse also emphasized the efforts that went into the project and Ithaca College’s role in bringing the team’s vision into fruition.

“Generally just seeking the counsel of professors and students alike who really have a passion for filmmaking as a process is really important. Also, taking classes in the humanities and educating ourselves about things outside of cameras and audio and all the technology was important too,” said Morse. “Overall though, it definitely wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the Park School and Ithaca College in general.”