Growing up my best friends were a variety of pets and farm animals. As an adult I trained horses and taught people how to ride and show horses. In 1996, I became aware that we are all born with the ability to communicate with animals, but in childhood we usually shut down our gift when told by adults that it is not possible to talk with the animals. Some animal communicators teach workshops so others can learn to redevelop their natural ability. During the mid-late 1990’s, I studied with several of the most respected animal communicators in the U.S.
I first visited “Keiko” the orca whale at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in 1997, and later began writing this screenplay as a way to help Keiko's wishes be known. The story continually grew and changed to accurately follow the events of his life. I also participated in screenwriting classes and writer’s conferences to continually develop the script.
In 2004, I wrote the book, “Keiko Speaks – Keiko’s True Story Based On His Communications With Bonnie Norton” which is specifically written about Keiko's life after his starring role in the movie, "Free WIlly." The screenplay is different because it provides for an A-list actor, a variety of other animals, and a more in-depth view of animal communication.
I promised Keiko many times that I would never give up on helping him and telling his story for him. I accomplished part of that by writing his book, but today people are more inclined to watch a two-hour movie than read a book. Unfortunately, with the economic downturn several years ago and the usual challenges for a first-time writer, I pretty much gave up on making Keiko's movie.
Lately though I've been doing a sort of life review and my only major regret is that I failed Keiko. I know that what I learned about Keiko through our communications was absolutely unique to me, so if I don't speak for Keiko now his story will never be told, and people worldwide will never hear about Keiko's life from his perspective.
"Keiko Speaks - A True Story" is a delightful and insightful new look into the wonderful world of animals, our ability to communicate with each other, and the insights about life which animals can bring to people… if only we will listen.
In 2023, this script was submitted to a number of screenplay contests (sometimes under the title, "ANIMAL MESSENGER - A True Story." As of mid-May, it has been "Selected" six times; chosen as a "Quarter-Finalist" five times; and Nominated" three times, including at the Beverly Hills Film Festival.
In addition, "Keiko Speaks" was awarded Honorable Mention - Feature Screenplay at the Los Angeles Film Awards; Winner at the B & Halfilm Awards; and Winner for Best Screenplay at the March LA Indies Film Festival.