Opening March 17: ‘Saving Jamaica Bay’ 1

Dan Hendrick, right, examines the wildlife of Jamaica Bay with Don Riepe, president of the American Littoral Society’s northeast chapter, during the filming of the soon-to-debut documentary “Saving Jamaica Bay.”

It’s been close to five years since Dan Hendrick first started working on his full-length documentary about Jamaica Bay — he’s often joked that it’s been like getting a college degree.

“It took just about as long and it cost just as much,” Hendrick, a former Queens Chronicle reporter and editor-in-chief, said.

Now, Hendrick is preparing for some pomp and circumstance as he prepares to “graduate” from that journey and bring his film into the real world.

The film, “Saving Jamaica Bay,” has been given a release date and debut venue: March 17 at the Museum of the Moving Image, located at 36-01 35 Ave. in Astoria.

The debut will be a part of the Queens World Film Festival.

“I’m really thrilled to have a date on the calendar,” Hendrick said. “It’s very exciting to see it all come together.”

The film is the first-ever documentary about the South Queens estuary, the wildlife there, the effects Superstorm Sandy had on it and the people who live around the bay.

“It’s high time Jamaica Bay gets a little love,” Hendrick said.

Some of the film’s subjects will be at the first screening, where movie-goers can meet them as well as the filmmakers.

The film has been going through some finishing touches, such as editing and sound touch-ups, in the past few months.

Hendrick called putting the film together, “a little complicated.

“You have hundreds of hours of footage,” he said. “You’re thinking, what’s the right tone for the music? Did I leave out a certain species of bird that should’ve been in there.”

About halfway through the production, Superstorm Sandy struck Jamaica Bay and the surrounding area.

“The one thing we struggled with was Sandy,” Hendrick said, explaining that he grappled with deciding how much he wanted to focus on the storm without taking away from the message of the film.

Long before Sandy, Jamaica Bay had environmental struggles, ranging from pollution and habitat loss to a once-proposed expansion of JFK Airport into Broad Channel.

But just as in any creative process, he added, the artist needs to put an end to the project.

“At some point, you kind of have to put your pencil down,” Hendrick said.

The filmmaker said he’s now seen a finished version of the movie, which he is ecstatic to show to the public next month.

“It’s been an incredible journey,” he said.

Following his graduation, Hendrick plans on going straight into the workforce with his production — bringing it to film festivals around the country.

When asked what he hopes borough residents take from the film, Hendrick would like to see more people express interest in the body of water and its surrounding ecosystems.

“We really want to get people involved with the bay,” he said.

For more information, or to view the documentary’s trailer, visit the movie’s official website, savingjamaicabay.com.

To buy tickets to the premiere, visit movingimage.us.

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