Dear Friends and Family,

I hope that you are doing well! I thought I’d drop a quick note to give you a little update with what I’m currently working on. As you may know, two years ago I moved to Washington, DC to attend American University for a Master of Fine Arts program in order to become a better filmmaker. Well, my program is going great and I am finishing up this year! I am in the midst of making my thesis documentary film and I wanted to share with you where I’m at in the process. I’ve also included a few pictures from the film that might spark your interest!

My short documentary film is about an artist who, in her spare time, takes care of wild birds on St. Croix. Known as “the bird lady” on the island, Toni Lance is the go-to person for all bird-related incidents. From pelicans with fish hooks stuck in their beaks to baby red-tailed hawks who have fallen out of the nest too early, Toni is the person to call. She is a strong and committed person and she’s really carved out her niche on the island, but the responsibilities and overwhelming nature of caring for such fragile, wild creatures is wearing on her. The looming thought of who will do this when she can’t lingers. This film follows Toni’s daily life, focusing on the story on one bird, one painting, and a whole lot of crazy activities that illustrate what it takes to care for birds on St. Croix. (at this point the film is called Birds by the Sea but I’m open to other ideas!!!)

I spent nearly a month of my summer on St. Croix and filmed with Toni everyday. I have so much footage! I was lucky enough to shoot with a fellow student (Crystal Solberg), I am fortunate enough to be working with a fellow student (Becca Castaneda) to edit this project and I am currently in discussion with a professional pianist to score the film (she’s scored films for Ken Burns before… so that’s exciting!). I am also frantically working on revising the script right now, which I’m sure my editor will love!

My goal is to complete the film this winter so that I can begin to enter it into film festivals. I plan to have a rough cut done by mid-late November and score the film in mid December. If you’re at all interested in providing feedback on a cut, please let me know!

If you’re interested in following this crazy adventure let me know and I can send more updates as the film progresses. I hopefully will be creating a website, trailer and facebook page soon… so I guess stay tuned for all that!

I hope you enjoy the pictures below:

And finally, my script writing process right now… I’ve cut out all the good quotes, separated them into themes/areas of focus and am now taping them to giant post-its to organize on my wall by scenes… my room is filled with Toni’s story!

PS: In case you are curious, Toni was hit pretty severely by hurricane Maria… while it sounds like the trauma of going through a category five hurricane is still very much reeling the island, her house and birds are all fine and she is ultimately fine. The damage done to her property and the fact that power and internet have not been restored (with no date set in the near future) means a long path of recovery for the island. In many ways I am amazed when I look through the footage and think about the atmosphere I captured before this horrific storm season.

Elizabeth Herzfeldt-Kamprath


Contact if you would like to be connected with Elizabeth regarding her documentary.

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Update from Intern Graduate Elizabeth Herzfeldt-Kamprath

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