Experiencing Interruptions?

The Flock

Every summer 600,000 North Atlantic puffins nest on an island reserve off the coast of Witless Bay, Newfoundland. For the people of Witless, the Puffin is a symbol of their identity and a major economic draw fueled by tourism. But, as the local economy changes into a development hotbed a startling number of dead pufflings are found scattered across town. For many residents, the correlation is clear, but with no easy solutions the town becomes divided on what to do about it.

  • Beryl Shereshewsky
  • Philip Robibero
  • Adam Wolffbrandt
    Director of Photography
  • Ingela Travers-Hayward
    Senior Producer
  • Sadie Bass
    Executive Producer
  • Alexandra Straim
  • Ben Kruse
    Sound Editor
  • Justin Matley
    Re-Recording Mixer
  • Wayne Maloney
    Drone Operator
  • A.C. Hunter Library
    Special Thanks
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Runtime:
    27 minutes 14 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    May 10, 2019
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
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  • Language:
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  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Beryl Shereshewsky, Philip Robibero

This is Beryl Shereshewsky and Philip Robibero’s first short-form documentary together. They are both producers at Great Big Story. Together their work has been nominated for two Emmys and won a Vimeo staff pick.

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Director Statement

When we began this project, the story was simple: A German expat settles in a small town and builds a community of volunteers to save stranded pufflings. The organization was aptly called Puffin Patrol, and the story was going to be just as light hearted. As we continued researching the story, we found that Witless Bay was in the midst of a controversial development plan that wedged the Puffin colony in between a bitterly divided town.

What started off as simple turned into a complicated and sprawling story, which needed to be told with nuance and respect. For us, this was an opportunity to push ourselves as documentarians.

Along with our Director of Photography, Adam Wolffbrandt, we shot the documentary over the course of a week in August of 2018. The production was a nonstop cycle of sleepless nights, patrolling with volunteers to early mornings to film the Puffin releases. To make matters worse, we missed the high season by a few days. Before we arrived Puffin Patrol was rescuing over 100 pufflings a night, but by the time we got there they were averaging less than one per day.

The human subjects also revealed their own set of headaches and opportunities. With clashing agendas, we found ourselves unsure of who to trust and who was on the right side of history. In four words: the production was unpredictable.

But this unpredictability inspired us to produce the documentary in similar fashion. We wanted to surprise the audience by playing with their expectations—to get a sense of the similar whiplash we experienced while shooting it. Ultimately, what we hope people take away from this film would be the ability to look at both sides of a complex argument and form their own conclusions about this story.