New doc from The Land Between examines hunting

By Angelica Ingram

When Leora Berman was thinking of a star for a new documentary she was planning she never dreamt she would find such an ideal candidate.

Berman who is the founder and CEO of conservation group The Land Between thought it would be great to feature a vegan in the film.

Then Erin Carmody fell into her lap.

“Erin came up to help me with the Donald building” said Berman referring to a side project restoring a building near Haliburton.

She was a 26-year-old student who was completing her Masters of Botany at the time.

Carmody was raised in Los Angeles and does not look like your typical hunter. With long blonde locks painted fingernails and a (former) vegan the young woman had never hunted and had a fear of guns prior to starring in a new documentary titled My First Shot.

A film that delves into the sometimes controversial subject of hunting My First Shot was filmed over the past year in and around the Haliburton area.

Executive producer Berman said the venture was important because it fell into TLB’s mandate which is to research celebrate and preserve the social aspects of the region.

“This is a very sensitive political social project” she said about the documentary. “This is a very complicated issue. Hunting is not just about city and country or hunter and non-hunter. It’s about food sources. It’s also about conservation … there are so many complexities and so many buttons that can be pushed. So we wanted to make sure we hit them all.”

Going into the project there were already preconceived ideas about hunting something Berman was acutely aware of.

It was her and her film crew’s intention to challenge these notions which she said has already resulted in dialogue even though the documentary hasn’t even wrapped up filming.

“Even before it’s been released I’ve gotten phone calls from colleagues who are really esteemed friends of mine and we debate hunting and they were pretty upset with me” she said. “And then I’ve gotten calls from people who love The Land Between … and they’ve been very upset with me and I think that’s important. That’s what this film’s meant to do is to generate dialogue. That it’s already happening is great and they haven’t even seen the film.”

Three years ago Berman began thinking about the project after witnessing a lot of judgment and bias on the subject of hunting and hunters.

“Although hunting and hunters are not perfect … hunting was a scapegoat for our environmental issues or our wildlife management issues” she said.

Berman points to other factors such as the destruction of habitats and shorelines and development patterns which are a bigger detriment to wildlife.

“It was important to explore hunting without bias” she said.

And so she turned to Carmody to look at the subject with a fresh perspective.

Work on the film began last year and the hope is to release it in spring of 2016.

Shot north of Curve Lake the film doesn’t have a broadcaster yet however Berman is hoping to have it screened at the International Documentary Film Festival next year.

Berman was behind the release of The Land Between a documentary which aired on TVO.

That project was viewed by 600000 people.

Berman thinks My First Shot will be even more popular given the subject matter.

Once completed it will be less than an hour in length and include a variety of interviews representing differences of opinions.

Keith Hodgson and Kim Roberts area advocates for wildlife and forestry management are featured in the film.

The primary funder of the project was Wildlife Habitat Canada however the project is still seeking sponsors.

My First Shot is not yet finished as Carmody went out for her first hunt just a few weeks ago.
Was she successful?

Viewers will have to tune in next spring to find out.

For more information on the documentary including a trailer available for viewing visit www.myfirstshot.ca.