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Leading the Flock - the Making of Fly Away Home

Jeff Daniels "Thomas Alden": I just think it's a great story. Everybody is dying for a good story.
Terry Kinley "David Alden": It's a movie that whole family might appreciate it.
Dana Delaney "Susan Barnes": It's very very simple and very profound.
Anna Paquin "Amy Alden": It's about geese!
Reader: Amy Alden came half way around the world to live on her father's farm.

Thomas Alden: Make it just like you remember it.
Amy Alden: I don't.
TA: You don't what?
AA: Remember it.

AP: They don't really know each other, because she hasn't really spent much time with him.
R: He was a dreamer.
JD: He's just this guy with ideas, mind is always going. You know, like scattered genius.
AP: She has never been there... He has all these contraptions around the house.

AA: What's that?
TA: It's a refridgerator.

R: But he had forgotten what it meant to be a dad.

TA: I'm gonna be in the shop a lot.
AA: I'm not a baby. You don't have to hold my hand.

R: It seemed like nothing could ever make them a family.

Susan Barnes: Hi! You must Amy. I've heard a lot about you.
TA: This is Susan. She's a friend of mine.
AA: Excuse me!

R: Until one day.

TA: Hey! What do you think you are doing?? No!

R: An amazing adventure was born.

[The geese hatch from the eggs]

AA: Can I keep'em?
TA: Sure.

AA: Hey guys, hey geese, hey, heyhey.

R: Columbia pictures presents: a film by Carroll Ballard, Fly Away Home.
Starring Jeff Daniels. And Academy award winner Anna Paquin. With Dana Delaney and Terry Kinley.
R: Fly Away Home was inspired by the real life experiences of Canadian artist and inventor Bill Lishman.
Bill Lishman: We've been sitting here envious of the birds for millions of years. I'm the first one that got up and flew with the birds.
R: Lishman not only flew with them. He lead the geese on a daring trans-national flight knowing that migratory routes are a learned behaviour in geese handed down from gander to gosling. He attempted to lead his flock south.
BL: We raised a flock of 18 geese and we tried an experiment to fly them to Virginia, which was succesfull. They followed us to Virginia and we let them go. And the following spring they returned on their own.
JD: I remember seeing the thing on TV, Lisham going across lake Ontario with the geese and you just go: Woa!
DD: It's something we all dream about. I've had dreams about that, you know to be able to do that. We all wanna do that and Bill Lisham actually does it.
R: The key to Lishman's success is a process called imprinting.

AA: Heyheyheyhey!
TA: It's amazing, you know, how they follow her around like that.
Glen Seifert: Yeah, the first living thing a goose sees since it's born, it automatically assumes it is it's mother.

R: To expedite production, Lishman and his team began the process of imprinting before the actors even arrived on the location.
AP: They recorded my voice and they played it to the little baby goslings.
TK: Everyone that dealt with the geese in the movie had to imprint themselves into the psyche of the goose.
JD: Yeah, we had to connect with a bond with the geese. We were on a weekend retreat like individually. There's this cabin, which had like a half a dozen of geese and we in the same room with them.
DD: I was only with the female geese. It was a sort of a feminist thing.

TK: You had to make these sort of goose sounds at them.
JD: Basically you just get down on your hands and knees in front of the geese and make a lot of very stupid sounds.
DD: They love that.
AP: You're very good at them.
JD: Thank you, Anna.
DD: You have to throw your dignity outside the window.
JD: One way I can get them is a 'ha'.
DD: Because basically you have to become a goose.
JD&DD: [goose sounds]
DD: Come on, your turn!
AP: [shakes her head]
DD: She's too proud!

JD: I've worked with more difficult co-stars. Compared to say, spiders like in Arachnophobia, the geese are much better.

AA: C'mon, geese, c'mon!
TA: Where do they go?
GS: See, that's the problem. I get calls all the time. They land on people's front lawns, golf course... That's why we have ordinance 9314: all domestically raised geese have to be rendered flightless.
GS: What you do is take the wing and you just shave a bit off the cuticle.
AA: What are you doing this?! Stop it!
TA: What do you think you're doing, huh?

Jeremy Ratchford "Glen Seifert": Geese don't like ranger Glen.

GS: If your birds fly, I'm gonna have to confiscate them.

JR: But I am after them, because it's kind of my job.

GS: So they're flying, aren't they?
AA: What do you want?
GS: I just came by to say hello to your father.
AA: He told you to stay off our property.

[The geese aren't in the cages]
AA: Daddy!

JD: There are millions of small-minded, small-thinking people out there. Thomas is a guy who sees a bigger picture, who sees beyond it. He says, 'no, no, I'll figure out how to do it.'

TA: I have this idea. About the geese. I've been watching the way they follow you around. And it just occurred to me that they just might follow my aeroplane too.
AA: They're not gonna follow you.
TA: No... But they might if you help me.

Carroll Ballard: In my experience of making animal movies this was the easiest time ever. The geese are all handled by Bill Lishman and his son, Jordy. He knows what they are thinking and what they wanna do or what they don't wanna do. It's great to have someone like that, who is able to live in the world of goose, which is another planet.

[Amy and geese]
AA: Hey guys..

CB: And Anna.. The first day she arrived on the set there was an egg there that was hatcing and Bill put it in her hand and the whole bird hatched up in her hand. That made an impression on her.
CB: Anna is simply natural. I mean, she is really able to do it without thinking about it.
CB: She went through an enormous change during the making of this film. She changed fron beeing a little girl to beeing a little woman.

Barry Strickland: I've seen a lot of flyers in my time. I guess I'm trying to say is that I think you're a natural.
AA: Do you really think so?
BS: Some people own what it comes to fying. I think you're one of them.

CB: Hey that's terrific, because that's what happens in the film.
R: Unlike most directors, Carroll Ballard often directs from behind a working camera.
CB: I get a lot of my best ideas by shooting, because it's kind of where I come from. The camera to me is ultimately what's gonna be up there. And by sooting some of it, wether or not the shot that I shoot is in the movie, the important thing is that I get ideas that I can't get if I'm standing off the side, you know, observing a thing.
TK: Film-making has never been about dialog with him. It's been about images and that's what he concentrates on. He tells his stories through imagery.
R: Carroll Ballard chose Caleb Deschanel to capture the visuals of Fly Away Home.
CB: I've known Caleb for a long, long time and my first feature, Black Stallion, he photographed.

BL: Out of this first flying with the birds came this idea that it's possible that we could teach these birds a new migration route.

DA: And if geese can do this then really rare birds like whooping cranes and trumpeter swans, maybe they can learn it too. They can start new flocks and give them a crack at a comeback.

R: Lishman and his partner Joe Duff and doctor William Sladen have co-founded an organisation called Operation migration, dedicated to the restauration of migration routes for endangered or threatened species of birds.
BL: We're working with sandhill cranes this year. They're such a marvellous birds, they're so much different from geese. Now if we can apply this to the endangered species, in particular whooping crane. That's the most endangered bird in the North America, there's 140 left in the wild, so the idea is to get a secondary flock and then migrate it to a different location. If we can do that, if we can establish that migration route for another flock of whooping cranes, boy that's a dream.

JD: Lishman's one of these guys who won't take a no for an answer.
DD: He believes in deep ability to dream and make a dream happen.
TK: We have embellished certain areas of the story, but I think we've stayed close to the spirit of what he tried to accomplish.

TA: Suppose I built another aircraft and then taught Amy how to fly it.
AA: It's a great idea! You know, birds follow me, I follow you. We'll go south!

[TA&AA practising with the plane]
TA: Now we're gonna go hard to the right, lean to the right, just like we were flying.

TA: It will take four days on a good weather.

TA: You got it, I'm dot doing anything. It's all you, Amy.

TA: 30 nautical miles to Lake Ontario.

TA: A good push out of the bar, off we go.

BS: Mother goose, come in, they've formed a cueue! ---

CB: Most of the films that I have done, the scripts have been based on some values of people and environment. How good life could be.

AA: Dad! Look, they're really flying with me!
TA: Woooh!

AP: When Amy and her dad try to fly them south, she gets to be good friend with her father.

AA: Hello, papa goose! This is SO cool!

DD: They get connected. You know, to animals, to nature, to each other.
TK: This is a big family epic.
Holter Graham "Barry Strickland": It's something very original.
TK: It's just eccentric enough that it makes you feel kind of hopeful about life in general.

JD: If you have ever had a desire to be a goose, this film is for you.

Copyright 1996 Columbia pictures industries, inc.

Leading the Flock - the Making of Fly Away Home