Freddy Moyano is an avid filmmaker keen on creating short yet impactful documentaries. In his 2020 King of the Lake, the centerpiece is the majestic blue heron. In a little bit over 2 minutes, Moyano combines stylish sceneries to show not just the blue heron’s natural habitat, but also the animal’s majestic beauty.
Besides the visuals, Moyano gets the best out of the audio combined with engaging camerawork to create a complete masterpiece. Besides creating short documentaries, Moyano is also a voice actor, actor, and producer.
Cult Critic : Hello Freddy, nice to meet you. Tell us, how did you decide to make short wildlife documentaries your centerpiece? What about nature inspires you?
Freddy – Thank you. My pleasure. For over 2 decades, I have had the privilege of living surrounded by nature here in the Upper Midwest, in the USA. My wife’s family live near water (still today), with the Bay of Green Bay as their backyard. Visiting them so often made me a devoted fan of the wildlife in their area any time of the year. Seven years ago we moved to Green Bay to be closer to it all, and now I tour the Northeastern Wisconsin area often hoping to capture unforgettable wildlife stories.
Cult Critic :Besides wildlife, what other themes attract you as a filmmaker?
Freddy – Horror and mystery would be my best answer. You can see a tinge of that in other award-winning productions I have completed such as Road to Hades (2020), a horror experimental docu-short, or Enchanted Bay (2020). Westerns are my passion too, and that is my goal 5 or 10 years down the line (filmmaking or acting wise).
Cult Critic :If people check your IMDb page, they can see you’re a very active filmmaker. How do you manage to create so much, considering how crazy 2020 is?
Freddy – Thank you. This pandemic has fueled my production. I have renovated my equipment and spent many days in the field, collecting random footage, locating ecosystems and active wildlife spots not known to many. The research and creativity have aided me in revamping my production company, which I opened in 2016 (Moyano Lingua Consulting and Productions, LLC www.moyanolingua.com / www.mlcproductions.org) and, until 2019, was mainly focused on voice over work. The crazy 2020 made me rediscover wildlife in a new way, and fill in a niche that few folks take on these days—wildlife documenting. Also this niche does not require casting actors, and because it requires filming from a distance, it is the perfect social-distancing way, which is another reason why I have been so active this year. The actors in my wildlife production “fly or crawl in” and I need to be there, in the moment, very observant of what moves, listening constantly, to capture it all.
Cult Critic :Tell us a bit about your acting career. What are some of your favorite movies you starred in and why?
Freddy – One of my first appearances was in Milkshake, a modern urban western short that filmed in Chicago 3 years ago. I am passionate of Westerns (The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, etc) since many were filmed in Spain, where I was born and raised (spent half of my life there), and I enjoyed playing the bad guy in it. My background acting times was very nurturing. I learned the ins and outs of the sets, particularly in the Chicago area, with shows I worked such as Empire, The Chi, Easy, or movies like Rampage, Widows. Another favorite was Girl Assassin 2, because I am a father of 4 great children and it gave me the chance to play dad with a powerful inspiring message in the scenes I was part of. Some people think acting is such memorizing lines and spitting them out in front of a camera, but let me tell you that re-enacting or reacting is the true core, and the role I was given in Killer Couples in 2019 (playing millionaire Ed George) was very defining for me.
Cult Critic :Let’s move on to King of the Lake. What about the blue heron made you draw connections between this majestic bird and a lion?
Freddy – In ecosystems such as ponds or lakes, very few are as determined and avid hunters as great blue herons. It impressed me how active they are in their fishing, but also in enjoying the sun. Lions in the savanna spend many hours in the sun. They are widely respected. That connection gave me the idea over the summer of developing a visual metaphor such as King of the Lake.
Cult Critic :Usually, people associate wildlife documentaries with a hefty budget. Do you think a filmmaker needs a big budget to create wildlife documentaries or not? Maybe you could give a couple of helpful tips for people who want to create similar movies.
Freddy – Great question. Thank you. That myth is still around. Also many people approach me while filming thinking I am taking photos. I tell them I am a filmmaker and you can see the awe in their faces. Then I hear others tell me: “I bet you spent thousands of dollars in that equipment.” What they don’t know is you can be very resourceful and spend a fraction of the money big budgeted production companies do. I lens I started with a while back is a 500 mm T-mount style, and many don’t know these are available for under $100. You can also buy used lenses and save half the cost. Many cameras these days have 60 fps 4K components, and they are easy to use, and being made available to general public. The challenge is to step away from your phone when it comes to wildlife. You need that lens that can get you closer, but without scaring it all away. Determination, resourcefulness and a passion of the outdoors are the main 3. Editing will come to you with practice and trying out different software programs.
Cult Critic :Can you tell us how you plan and organize one of your short documentary filmings? When do you say to yourself: “this is done”?
Freddy – I always set goals in mind. For instance, I am now working on creating stories with bald eagles. So I set in mind the goal of looking for eagles and I research how they behave and spots and active times of the days. I go to the wildlife reserves (luckily we have lots in Wisconsin) and then I start collecting random footage for days. Once I have the angles I like, then that’s when the light bulb comes on and I can say my favorite line “I have enough material [to put together a neat audiovisual story]”
Cult Critic :Combining wildlife documentaries with experimental filmmaking is quite unusual. What would you say are the advantages of the experimental approach?
Freddy –It gives me an opportunity of be artistic, experimenting with colors. I also love the timing of scenes with the rhythm of the music. So you can add music and showcase the work of musicians like I did in Road to Hades with award-winning Indian composer, Vivek Abhishek, who tag-teamed with me, letting me use one of his theme songs. The experimental piece also allows me to use my voice over in unique ways, such as to motivate others (see productions such as The Pelican Spirit, Work for Food, Circle the Sun or Run Your Race)
Cult Critic :For people who like King of the Lake. What are the top three other short documentaries from your library you’d suggest and why?
- A Bay to Cherish: my longest piece at 16 minutes, which has collected multiple awards so far and has been a success on many streaming platforms, including RNV TV (streaming channel dedicated to all of my work) as it is a location-based wildlife documentary, which has inspired many to travel and discover similar experiences.
- Work for Food: inspired in The Lord of The Rings (Lady Galadriel’s voice is what I had in mind when I voiced it), it is one of my most recent pieces.
- Fair Weather Sandhill: a Best Film on Nature / Environment / Wildlife monthly edition winner at the CCMA’s over the summer, this one of my favorites when it comes to soothing the audience and telling good stories. Sandhill cranes are a staple in our ecosystems here.
Cult Critic :Finally, can you tell us a bit about what you have installed for the near future?
Freddy – I am working on a 30 – 40 minute wildlife documentary called FISHERONS, which will release in late November on RNV TV (some teasers of it can be seen already on my streaming platform https://xerb.tv/channel/rnv/watch-anytime) and will go to some festivals. It is my most ambitious project so far, now 2 months in the making. I am still collecting some footage for it. It’s going to blow the charts!