“The Paper Bear” is inspiring all who love the biodiversity of Northwest Florida

Sep 30, 2023 | Communities, DeFuniak Springs, Freeport, Walton & Beyond

Photo Credit, Arix Zalace

By Wendy O. Dixon

Beyond the sugar-white beaches and emerald-green waters of the Florida Panhandle, there
is far more to discover. A vital part of the beauty of Northwest Florida is its biodiversity,
including more than 100 threatened and endangered species.

The Florida black bear is a beloved wonder, and the inspiration for an upcoming
documentary, “The Paper Bear.” Though the species was removed from the list of State-
designated Threatened Species in 2012, black bears are protected by the Bear Conservation
Rule, which states that it is still unlawful to injure or kill bears without prior authorization
from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The film project, set to release in 2024, combines live action film and old school animation
that will feature Florida’s black bear. The project is a testament to fostering creativity and
encouraging sustainable community. The goal of the project is to educate others about our
eco-system and the natural resources in Walton County.

The film’s director, Arix Zalace, is a conservationist and film maker who knows the area’s
history, its biological significance and the threats that the region faces. Arix spent
thousands of hours in the forests and wetlands, all to photograph wild black bears in their

Live-action filming is completed, with 70% of the film was captured in Walton County. Lead producer
and native Floridian Savage Bell recruited cinematographer Brad Richard, also a Florida native. Brad and
his team from Los Angeles captured the natural beauty and vibrant diversity in challenging locations.
The close-ups, wide shots and dynamic camera movements are expected to thrill audiences.

Moving forward, “The Paper Bear” project aims to continue to explore new ways to enrich
the community. This initiative has the potential to raise awareness about the importance
of conserving the area’s natural resources and promoting responsible tourism.

To watch more clips and learn more about the upcoming feature film project, visit thepaperbear.org.

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