The "Wild America" Series documents the behavior of virtually every representative North American Mammal, Bird, Fish, and Reptile, as well as the Natural Wonders and Scenic Beauty of the North American Wilderness. This spectacular and irreplaceable collection - the most comprehensive Film Library in existence on the subject - is the quintessential Natural History Video Encyclopedia. There is nothing else like it in existence!
The Series Collector's Edition DVD Set consists of 12 Years of production, with 10 Half-Hours in each, for a total of 120 Programs on 24 DVDs.
Over the past forty years, Marty Stouffer, America's foremost authority on the subject, has created productions that are specifically focused on presenting the flora and fauna of our continent. They stand alone as the first and only to exclusively celebrate this rich natural heritage. The Series is an incredible array of experiences. It will entertain, enthrall, enlighten, educate and empower. Millions of people, young and old, continue to enjoy the award-winning brand “Wild America”.
"Birth of a TV Series"
Marty Stouffer grew up in rural Arkansas with his two brothers Mark and Marshall, their sister Mari, and an ever-changing menagerie of animals - both wild and domestic. The Stouffer parents allowed the children to keep orphaned wild animal babies until the animals were old enough to release back into the wild.
After a trapper took his parents, young Stanley the Beaver lived in the family bathtub and nibbled the bark off willow branches for nearly a year. Leona the Owl fell from her nest, was brought home, and soared through the Stouffer house while learning to fly. Foxy the Fox shared the food dish with the family dog.
Marty describes the childhood beginnings of his career, "We had an old Kodak 8 millimeter movie camera and one of the first Polaroid cameras that was ever made. Our parents would film various things, and then they would hand the camera to us and we would all take turns filming each other. My interest in photography continued through the years."
"I also had a strong interest in Wildlife and the outdoors, and our parents had instilled in us a great love of Nature. So, it was kind of natural that we would end up in the woods with friends, filming our jaunts. We would put the film together into a corny little story and then show it to other friends."
Before he was even out of college at the University of Arkansas, Marty began his film career in earnest by producing a documentary about our northernmost state called "ALASKA - AMERICA'S LAST FRONTIER."
Even though Marty had no formal photographic training, one of his brothers, Mark, did attend Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, California, where he is now living. Mark helped extensively in the filming of many sequences while working together with Marty. He was also very involved in his own film projects, including the ABC-TV Specials with John Denver - "ROCKY MOUNTAIN REUNION," "THE HIGHER WE FLY," and "MUSIC IN THE MOUNTAINS."
After graduating from the University of Arkansas with a degree in English, Marty went to Botswana, Africa where he worked for a safari company for six months. He recalls of his African experience; "Even though I grew up hunting, I went to Africa to film the vast herds of game, not specifically to hunt. But I knew that I needed the trucks, tents, and equipment of a professional safari company to be able to get around."
"So I wrote more than a hundred companies all over Africa and offered to do a promotional film of their operation in exchange for the trip and expenses. I did exaggerate my talents a little and failed to mention that all the films I'd done up to that point were 8 millimeter, not the professional 16 millimeter format."
"When one company finally accepted my offer, I purchased my first 16 millimeter camera and learned how to use it." Six months in Botswana near the Angolan border and in the sweltering Kalahari Desert turned the 20-year-old boy into a man. He witnessed men and animals by the hundreds dying bloody, tortured deaths on the dusty African plain.
Tony Challis, the professional hunter who invited Marty to Africa is now dead, as are most of the other hunters he met there. In 1970, things were just starting to heat up in equatorial Africa, and Marty and the safari guides would often find themselves near the Angolan border. Some of the guides - the ones who had also been mercenaries in the Congo - looked forward to run-ins with the terrorists. Since they were usually armed with machine guns and Marty was usually armed with a camera, he stayed very busy just trying to keep out of the line of fire.
He was not able to escape other aspects of Africa, namely malaria, tuberculosis, and blood poisoning from leeches. But he finally finished his filming and headed for the Rocky Mountains.
He was often alone in his travels, but sometimes two close childhood friends, David Huie and Clyde Lockwood, joined him. And, at that same time, Marty changed directions. In Africa, he had filmed death. In America, he filmed life.
On the plane back from Africa he had read a Life magazine article about an individual saving Bighorn Sheep in Idaho at his own expense. Thus blossomed the idea for Marty's first Program to appear as part of the "WILD AMERICA" Series: it was entitled "BIGHORN!"
To produce the film, he lived and worked with Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep for over two years. The plight of the dwindling Bighorn herds made him aware of plight of all of America's vanishing Wildlife species. This aspect, and perhaps the haunting memories of animals being slaughtered in Africa, turned his attention to the plight of the many Endangered Species in America.
The parallels between Africa and America were striking. Marty recalls, "When I was in Africa, I had this great revelation...the people on the move, the farms springing up, the government 'bore holes' or stock watering tanks, the herders with their flocks grazing the grass down to the dirt, the Bushman moving deeper into the desert in the face of advancing civilization, and the huge thundering herds of Buffalo. Cape Buffalo, of course, not American Bison - but falling, falling, falling as the rifles thundered. It was like a slow-motion dream and I can still see it. It was the American West all over again."
Stouffer continues on the parallels between Africa and America, "In Africa, it was the end of an era. And, I was there. Now it's over... just as it was over here a hundred years ago. We humans cannot go on the same way, but we still do. We cannot keep slaughtering the endless herds. They're not endless. But preserving wild creatures is no longer as easy as simply not shooting them, since the steady destruction of their habitat by humans is the major problem that they face today. It is up to all of us to protect our rapidly vanishing wilderness. This realization led me to devote my life to filming Wildlife and to sharing our films with others."
In 1971, he began "AT THE CROSSROADS: THE STORY OF AMERICA'S ENDANGERED SPECIES." Camping out and living in a truck, Marty traveled across America for four years. Again, he was sometimes alone and sometimes with friends.
Childhood chums David Huie and Clyde Lockwood traveled along on many adventures to help out with camera and sound. Eventually, every species of Mammal and Bird covered by the newly created (1973) Endangered Species Act was filmed.
While Endangered Species were the focus of the work and kept the filmmakers in the field for months at a time, over the course of their travels they were also able to locate and film virtually all of the "easy stuff" - the relatively abundant non-endangered Deer, Raccoon, Coyotes, Elk, Bear, and other American species of Wildlife. In this way began the varied and tremendous Library of footage that was eventually to become the nucleus of the Television Series "WILD AMERICA."
The undertaking was paid for in large part by Marty's parents - Martin and Agnes Stouffer. A $350 per month allowance (repaid 20 years later) and payments for raw film stock and processing kept the operation going. Marty also intermittently worked for his father while on the road by searching junkyards for rare carburetors to be sold through the family's automotive parts business, Arkansas Rebuilder's Supply in Fort Smith, Arkansas.
Says Marty of his parents' backing, "They were amazingly understanding of what I was trying to do. I couldn't possibly have done any of it without their support, partly the financial, but mainly the moral support - discussing and planning projects, viewing films I sent back for processing, and - even helping out with the editing!"
Marty reminisces about his travels across America, "When we were on the road, it was one of the greatest feelings of freedom I've ever had. Besides capturing Wildlife on film, the biggest highlights were things like stopping in at a truck stop for a 50¢ shower. Checking into a Holiday Inn for room service was a major once-a-month celebration. Finally, after years as a nomad, I ended up getting a travel trailer - mainly for the Rocky Mountain winters."
"The travel continued for years until I finally decided to settle down in the-then, small mountain community of Aspen, Colorado where I met my wife Diane.
Like Aspen, I have grown up a lot over the years; I now have a family, with 27 year old daughter Hannah and 21 year old son Luke, and I have something I never dreamed of during all those years of traveling and filming, a successful Wildlife Television Series.
Producing the Series "WILD AMERICA" has changed me from a cameraman into a businessman because I am supervising every aspect of it myself - from budgets to editing to music. I look forward to getting out into the woods and becoming a cameraman again...soon."
Marty Stouffer's dedication and commitment to his chosen profession is stronger than ever as he seeks to convey his heartfelt and timely message about America's precious natural heritage - the wilderness and its creatures through the unique Television Series "WILD AMERICA."
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About the Specials
The “Wild America” Specials are twelve One-Hour Specials presenting warmth, jeopardy, comedy and drama in the natural world. Focusing on the flora and fauna of our Nature, Wildlife and Wilderness, the Specials are THE PREDATORS, OUR FAVORITE ANIMALS, GREAT ESCAPES, DANGEROUS ENCOUNTERS, SPECTACULAR SHOWDOWNS, TENDER TIMES, FANTASTIC FOLLIES, WACKY BABIES, WILD WINGS, AMAZING LEGENDS, DEADLY BEAUTY, and MARTY’S WORLD.
The Specials Companion Edition DVD Set consists of 12 One-Hours of fast-paced excitement and entertainment on 12 DVDs.
Over the past forty years, Marty Stouffer, America's foremost authority on the subject, has created productions that are specifically focused on presenting the flora and fauna of our continent. They stand alone as the first and only to exclusively celebrate this rich natural heritage. The Specials contain both humor and action. Some are silly, some are scary and some are downright special. Millions of people, young and old, continue to enjoy the award-winning brand “Wild America”.