First SFF. Next, PBS? Myakka Waters Inspire Filmmakers

The pristine environment of the Myakka River provides a backdrop to a short film, Expedition Florida: Moods of the Miakka, screening at this year’s Sarasota Film Festival. The team behind it hopes the work of cinema can also relaunch a PBS series exploring Florida’s natural world.Moods of the Miakka presents footage shot by photographer Jeff Palmer (pictured) over years living on the Myakka River. “This is my home,” Palmer says. “As a wildlife photographer, really you are always working.” His work also put in the same environmental circles as Jono Miller, a retired New College of Florida professor who has been active in conservation through years. And subsequently, it was Miller who connected Palmer to Leslie Gaines, a longtime filmmaker and television producer with a history of showing the natural world on the screen.

Gaines was part of the filmmaking team behind the former PBS series Expedition Florida, and he hoped to use Palmer’s footage to relaunch that show. “Sarasota has got some amazing stuff here,” Gaines says. “Very few people understand that.” His hope is to syndicate Expedition Florida to PBS stations nationwide once again, starting with an episode on the local resources here.

The version of Moods screening for festival-goers will offer a taste of the final product. This 14-minute film will be included in the “Shorts 10: Florida Showcase” program screening Sunday, April 12, at 10:30am and again on Monday, April 13, at 12:30pm at the Hollywood 20.

Miller calls the short film screening a “proof of concept,” something to show others that the material is rich enough—and the filmmaking team capable enough—to be expanded to an hour-long program. “This shows the quality of work these guys can do.”

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