An award-winning independent documentary filmmaker in North Dakota recently released a film called “Kindred Creatures” on iTunes.
Samuel Sprynczynatyk is 32 years old and grew up in Mandan. He says he’s been into videography from a young age and is self-taught. He does everything from pre-production all the way to the final color grade.
Q: When did your interest in videography come to life?
A: I first started filming when I was a teenage skateboarder. We wanted to learn to make videos like the pros so my grandparents bought my brother and me our first camera.
Q: What are some of your other interests besides film?
A: I like to play folk music and skateboard.
Q: You have a love for animals… tell us about your new documentary.
A: I have a profound love for animals. “Kindred Creatures” is my first feature-length documentary exploring the ways of life of the animals used in animal agriculture. The film explores these animals’ personalities, the bonds they share with humans, and the impactful stories of their rescue. “Kindred Creatures” also highlights farm animal sanctuaries and the wonderful work they do to help victims of animal agriculture and neglect.
Q: You had a health scare. Was that in the middle of filming the documentary? Talk about your journey back to health and how you were able to finish the film.
A: I had been working on the film for about two years when I had two widowmaker heart attacks in one day and almost died. This left me in a coma for two weeks and medically paralyzed. The doctors weren’t sure if I would have brain function if I even survived. I finally woke up from the coma and spent the next two months fighting for my life in two different hospitals with more complications than I even knew existed. I still remembered the film through all of this and kept asking when I could continue working on it. When I finally returned home, I spent another few months learning to walk and rehabilitate my body again. I spent weeks on the couch trying to learn to use my fingers again by editing this film. As I kept up rehab, I spent the next year and a half finishing the film.
Q: Why only launch on iTunes? It was originally going to air in the theatre, right?
A: It was going to be in theaters last year when I realized I needed to re-edit parts of the film. It was 90 minutes long but I spent another eight months fixing and finalizing it until I came up with a 70-minute version I was even more proud of. After that, I felt like the film needed to live only online for the initial release. As of right now, it is on iTunes only, but I’m hoping to have it on more platforms eventually. I know we will be doing some screenings in Minneapolis over the next few months.
Q: Talk about Medora and how she has helped you with your film and life.
A: I couldn’t have done this film without my partner, Medora Frei. She was there from the very first shot and was continuously by my side with audio and lights and support and driving from day one. She helped me when I was stuck with edits and gave me ideas on how to structure the film. The filming only took place outside of the state and so she kept me company during the long traveling hours. When I was having hard days, she would be there to get me through it.
Medora and I had flights to California to film the biggest animal rights march taking place in San Francisco. A week before our flights, I tore a ligament in my knee and couldn’t walk. I was scheduled to have knee surgery a few weeks later and was unable to walk without support. We decided to go on the trip anyway. Once we got to California, Medora pushed me in a wheelchair through the streets of San Francisco as I filmed 1000 activists marching through downtown.
This has become one of my favorite and most impactful scenes in the film. And without her strength, determination, and love it never would have happened.
Q: Any advice for people who are looking to dip their toes into videography?
A: I’d say that film can be so impactful and important. Telling stories can help change the world. You don’t need the most expensive equipment to tell a story properly. You just need a story that needs telling and some experience with shooting and editing. Just go out and make anything you can. Practice and learn by doing. If you have a passion for it and continually practice, you can truly do anything.
Q: What do you hope for people to learn and know from watching this documentary?
A: All I want is for people to understand that these animals are someone, not something. Brock the pig sits for treats just like a dog. Wally the pig jumped off a slaughter truck at 70 mph and saved himself. These stories are true and inspirational and in the film. They have deeper and richer lives than most of us are led to believe. And if you give them a loving place where they can be free, their characteristics really come out. What these sanctuaries are doing to rescue and rehabilitate these animals is inspiring and so needed in this world. These animals are just like our dogs and our cats and these sanctuaries are saving them and giving them a second chance at life.
Q: Any words of wisdom or advice for people in general?
A: Have an open mind and continually learn and grow.
Q: Final thoughts? What do you want readers/viewers to know?
A: Just that I’d appreciate anyone giving this film a shot and checking it out! You can rent it for $5 or buy it for $15 on iTunes and it’s all supporting a local filmmaker on his dream project.