Film: Remember, Mr. Daniels, You Love the Geese

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Outside magazine, September 1996

Film: Remember, Mr. Daniels, You Love the Geese

Crackpot no more, a biology buff's passion goes Hollywood
By Florence Williams

When we last met Canadian ultralight pilot and amateur biologist William Lishman, he had finally turned the corner in his quest to teach befuddled geese to migrate. His maiden voyage had safely delivered 18 Canada geese to Virginia, and all his charges returned home as scheduled the following spring. Even a few notable ornithologists started taking Lishman, whom most had written off as a crackpot, more seriously.

But that, it turns out, was merely a prelude. This month, Lishman's life comes to the big screen in Fly Away Home, for which he was paid a whopping $1.5 million. Better still, Lishman will be portrayed by, yes, Dumb and Dumber costar Jeff Daniels, who teams with sharp-tongued Anna Paquin as a father and daughter who bond while raising an orphaned flock and then, come winter, must climb into a rickety bi-wing to lead them southward.

Lishman says the Hollywood windfall will go toward his ultimate dream, reestablishing migration routes for endangered whooping cranes. Is there a lesson here for other under-funded biologists? "Well, let's just say that you really have to do something original to get this kind of attention."

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