The Atlantic Flyway encompasses some of the hemisphere’s most productive ecosystems, including forests, beaches, and coastal wetlands. It is home to a wide variety of wildlife and people. In fact, more than a third of the human population in the US lives there, creating conservation challenges and opportunities. The upcoming documentary Flyway of Life focuses on several amazing conservation movements along the Atlantic flyway, as well as many ecological events that occur there. Scheduled for release in 2025, it is the first feature-length film by award-winning filmmaker Tomas Koeck. The following is a short interview with Tomas covering his love of nature and his passion for storytelling, while also providing us a glimpse into his latest project.
Q: Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started as a nature photographer and filmmaker.
A: It started when I was very young. Ever since I was in a stroller, I enjoyed the outdoors and nature—a credit I give to my mom who always got me outside at a young age. As I got older, my interest in the natural world progressed and eventually led me to Pennsylvania State University’s Forest Ecology program. Yet after a short period of time, I realized I enjoyed telling nature’s stories more than examining them in a lab. A transfer to Sacred Heart University set me on my current path where I went on to graduate with a BA in Media Arts with a focus in journalism. During my undergraduate years, I was lucky enough to produce two documentary shorts, both of which involved the amazing Audubon network.
Q: Can you talk more about these two short films you created?
A: Sure! My first film was Sentinels of the Boreal, a project that showcases the amazing Great Gray Owl and the conservation efforts happening across the boreal forest. My second project, Keepers of the Blue, examines several different oceanic environments as well as the people that work to protect them. This film included animals from Brown Pelicans to great white sharks and shares the same ecological focus as Sentinels. Both of these projects allowed me to meet amazing conservationists up and down the eastern American coastline, many of whom I still keep in touch with today.
Q: Tell us more about the new project?
A: The new film will focus on the Atlantic Flyway and the conservation movements that occur along its stretch. We will also spotlight interesting ecological relationships that occur there. For those that do not know, the Atlantic flyway is the easternmost (and often overlooked) migration path in the Americas. We plan on traveling along the path, from the warm and humid Everglades to the frigid Boreal Forest. This flyway remains one of the most important migrations that occur on the planet; a migration that is being put to the test with rapid urbanization along the eastern shore. We have managed to assemble an amazing team of like-minded scientists, conservationists, entrepreneurs, and storytellers who all feel the tale of the Atlantic flyway is a story worth telling. Birds featured in this project will range from regular migrants such as Common Loons, raptors, many species of warblers, as well as Great Gray Owls. The project team is very excited to be working in association with the National Audubon Society, Canon USA, Cotopaxi, and others on this new film. It is produced and sponsored by Sacred Heart University and we have partnered with different conservation groups such as several Audubon chapters, the Atlantic Shark Institute, Friend’s of Sax-Zim Bog, the Connecticut Audubon Society, NOAA Shark Tagging Program, and many others.
Q: Tell us about your production team!
A: We currently have a good-sized team of biologists, camera-persons, and media experts, all who keep the wheels turning. I will list the core group who have been here since the beginning: Dr. James Castonguay and TC Schultz will be our acting executive producers, they always offer unrivaled support and guidance. Seth Macey, a digital creator based in Canada, is one of our associate producers and cinematographers. Eric Torrens and Emily Gentile worked with me on my past two projects, Eric being a talented cinematographer and tech specialist while Emily works as our resident animation guru. There are many more involved and I wish I could list everyone. To view the full team, click here.
Q: Remind us of when the film is scheduled to be released and where people can find more information.
A: Anyone who is interested can subscribe to get the latest updates on the production of Flyway of Life. You can also follow me, @tomaskoeck, on Instagram for in-the-field updates on the latest shoots. See you in 2025!