In what might just be the coolest summer gig ever, a short documentary has captured one Vancouverite’s journey for meaning through… falconry?
Michael, a twenty-something local who dropped out of college in search of purpose, tends to the majestic and deadly birds at a sustainable blueberry farm in Cloverdale. Once the summer is over, he’ll shed the falconry gloves and embark on a soul-searching journey by motorcycle through South America.
The resulting four-minute short, Lost in Flight, is the passion project of filmmaker Justin Pelletier, who documents the quiet heroism of ordinary people under the pseudonym Stray Matter.
We spoke to Pelletier about the project, and what is says about millennials struggling to find meaning in Vancouver.
Why do you make short films?
A year back, I was searching for my purpose in life. When I stumbled across filmmaking after a stint with photography, I knew I had found what I was looking for. It’s a pull that can be hard to explain, but it makes sense right now.
How did you find Michael? What made him interesting to you as a documentary subject?
Michael is actually a very close friend of mine. After being absent for months, I heard that he was working a summer job as a falconer before heading off on the trip of a lifetime – a journey to South America by motorcycle… I gave him a call and the next day we were out on the farm, bright and early, documenting everything. It was a very organic process.
I was interested in Michael because his situation is wildly unique – he’s handling and flying hawks as a summer job. On the other hand, it’s also very relatable because he is caught in life’s transition, searching for his true purpose.
Tell us a bit more about Michael.
Michael is now 27, the son of Polish immigrants who came to Canada to create a better life. Having been raised throughout Metro Vancouver, his parents provided him a very supportive environment. Michael excelled naturally in academics, and was accepted to Medical School in Poland, with high hopes of becoming a doctor. Halfway through his education, Michael mentioned that he was confronted with strong ideals of life and death.
After his third year, he dropped out and made his way back to Vancouver with no post-secondary degree to show. Through deep contemplation, Michael is now on a new path and is about to head down to South America in search of, well, something more…
Any unique moments filming with the hawks?
The hawks were wildly majestic animals. They were both graceful and calm but at the same time intense and unpredictable. As you can see in the film, there were moments where the hawks came within inches of my camera. Amazing experience.
Michael is searching for something ‘deeper than a college degree.’ What does the doc say about young people in the city?
I think it says a lot about young people in the modern age. With so much information at our fingertips, people are finding it harder and harder to choose a path and live their purpose. At the same time, the idea of living your purpose is more important than ever. As many of the great visionaries say, finding passion and purpose is an essential part of living a happy, healthy life.
It can be easy to forget, though, that a big part of the process is enjoying the journey.