WOLVERINE [working title] is a short documentary about a former first responder who became so overwhelmed by the death and trauma he witnessed in the backcountry, he couldn’t leave his house without experiencing a panic attack. Now, his obsession to photograph a wild wolverine— only rumored to exist in Colorado— is pulling him back into the mountains and his life.
*** PITCH DECK and PRIVATE TRAILER AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST ***
A year ago, James Beissel hit rock bottom. Simply walking to the corner store would trigger a panic attack. On his worst days, he’d sit for hours in his car in the hospital parking lot, unable to shake the feeling that he was on the cusp of sudden death. He dropped out of school and work.
Still, Jim’s heart remained in the mountains. As a child of rural Michigan, he spent his teenage years rock climbing, and as a young adult, found jobs guiding. When a knee injury forced him to slow down, he picked up a camera and and began chasing a career in outdoor photography.
But as a first responder in mountain search and rescue, Jim was haunted by the deaths he witnessed in the backcountry. Anxiety cast a dark shadow on his wilderness outings, and he grew fearful of straying too far from help.
In the Spring of 2018, panic attacks completely took over. But he found a lifeline in a project he began six years earlier: a conservation photography book of Colorado's wildlife. Nearly completed, he has just one species left to capture: the wolverine, an elusive predator only rumored to exist in Colorado.
Now, Jim’s obsession to document this animal is pushing him to become as fierce and fearless in the mountains as the wolverine itself. It is a search not only for the wolverine, but for himself.
THE SUBJECT: Jim is approaching the crux of his recovery. To accompany him with a camera opens the door to incredible cinema verité and real-time storytelling on his road to resilience.
THE WOLVERINE: The wolverine is an “indicator species” whose presence in Colorado matters. Now more than ever, we need to demystify the species and inspire more people to protect it.
MENTAL HEALTH: Jim’s mechanisms to recovery will help any viewer attempting to heal from PTSD, regardless of how and where that trauma occurred.
Executive Producer: John Keller
Director + Producer: Amy Marquis
Consulting Producer: Larissa Rhodes
Cinematography: Chuck Smith, Joey Schusler, John Mans
Editor: Dan Sadowsky
Story Consultant: Aidan Haley
Line Producer: Philip Higgs
Impact Producer: Katie Stjernholm
CURRENT STAGE OF THE FILM: * IN DEVELOPMENT*
We are actively seeking funding to help us launch into production this fall. Thanks to a fiscal sponsorship with the nonprofit LUCA Media Collective, all donations are tax deductible and help support a larger community of women filmmakers.