“Million Dollar Duck” made a splash on Thursday, Sept. 14 in the Dreyfus University Center Theater.
The showing of the documentary was planned in conjunction with the Federal Duck Stamp Contest that was held at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point on Sept. 15 and 16.
The feature-length film was released in 2016 and shows the myriad of processes that create the phenomenon that is the Federal Duck Stamp Contest, from creating the artwork to the final judging.
After the showing, there was a panel discussion with the artists featured in the film, Tim Taylor, Adam Grimm, Jim Hautman, Rebekah Nastav Knight and Rob McBroom, as well as the film’s director, Brian Golden Davis.
“Million Dollar Duck” provides a holistic view of the contest, since its beginnings in 1934. The stamp is purchased by hunters before they can hunt waterfowl, but birders also purchase the stamp for free entrance into any national wildlife refuge.
Ninety-eight cents of every dollar spent on Federal Duck Stamps go directly towards the conservation of American wetlands.
“The biggest takeaway from the film is understanding the relevancy of the contest to refuges and conservation,” said Stacey Bannach, communications specialist for the College of Natural Resources. “Duck hunters, stamp collectors and nature lovers invest in the Duck Stamp to conserve these refuges for ducks and other wildlife.”
The Federal Duck Stamp brings people together every year without fail in the name of art and conservation, as the film demonstrates.
By following the artists through their preparation, their painting and their experience in the actual competition, “Million Dollar Duck” brings viewers into the intimate and passionate world of Federal Duck Stamp art.
“I read a book about the contest, and I was just utterly fascinated,” said Davis on how the film got its beginning. “Seeing all the artwork and the history behind the stamp on the conservation side and also on the artist side that enter, I just became a Duck Stamp groupie just by reading the book.”
During the panel, the discussion turned towards how those with knowledge of and passion for the Duck Stamp can keep the tradition alive.
“I think we are making progress,” said Hautman.
In the years since the film’s release, the competition has seen a spike in entries.
“I know so many people have told me since we’ve made this film that they never even knew this thing existed, so Brian did a good thing,” said Taylor.
Though the film has helped tremendously in raising awareness for the competition and the conservation efforts it represents, there is still much that can be done by everyone with a passion for nature.
“We look around at the young people in our world, and those are the future generations that are either going to see things carried through or not,” said Grimm.
As the father of four, Grimm takes his children out into nature just as his father did with him in attempts to carry on the tradition and foster a love of nature in the next generation.
Grimm also believes that word of mouth can be a strong force in promoting the Federal Duck Stamp and the annual competition.
“Tell people. Talk to people about it,” said Grimm.
Beautiful, emotional and informational, “Million Dollar Duck” not only presents the details of the Federal Duck Stamp Contest but also encourages a returned connection to nature that will surely die if we do not conserve it.
Arts and Entertainment Sectional Editor