Writing and producing a documentary about the lemurs of Madagascar is no easy task. Transportation is difficult, roads can be in place one week and suddenly gone the next and some lemur habitats on the island are a little more than inaccessible. But that didn’t stop writer/producer Drew Fellman from achieving his dream of bringing the story of this fascinating primate to IMAX theaters in his new film Island of Lemurs: Madagascar. “Passion is contagious,” Fellman says. “Sometimes with these things, you just have to create them.”
ScreenwritingU sat down with Fellman to hear about how he brought the story of scientist Patricia Wright and her work with lemurs to the big screen. Here are some of the things he said about the challenging process.
- On constructing the narrative: “It’s kind of like adapting a novel. But the pages of the novel are spread out all over the world.”
- On the location: “It’s just one of those places that evokes a sense of wonder.”
- On keeping it short: “The challenge in a 40 minute movie is to condense that something into a satisfying, cinematic experience. That means absorbing as much as one can of the personalities and all the lemurs.”
- On getting up close and personal with the animals: “I had a lemur lick the salt off my face for about 40 seconds… That was definitely a life highlight.”
- On the most challenging moment: “Filming the ringtails was probably the hardest. The terrain is so difficult to navigate and carry gear on.”
Island of Lemurs: Madagascar is narrated by Morgan Freeman and is available in IMAX theaters April 4.
Photo credit: Warner Bros.