An Inside Look at the Locally Made IMAX Documentary 'Backyard Wilderness'

The film investigates the incredible cross-section of wildlife in and around the filmmaker’s Croton home.

Croton-on-Hudson’s Andrew Young and Susan Todd are two major-league filmmakers. The duo received an Academy Award nomination for their documentary Children of Fate, which also took home the grand jury and cinematography prize at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival. Plus, the accomplished couple has garnered an Emmy Award and founded the acclaimed production company Archipelago Films. Beginning March 24 at Norwalk’s Maritime Aquarium, Young and Todd will be debuting their newest creation: the eye-popping IMAX documentary Backyard Wilderness.

Produced in conjunction with SK Films and The Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the film investigates the incredible cross-section of wildlife in and around the couple’s Croton home. “Our movie grew out of our experiences and observations in the woods around our backyard in Westchester,” says Todd. “We’ve lived in the same place for two decades, and we’ve spent a lot of time outside with our two kids, making gardens and exploring the ponds, wetlands, and forest.”

According to the couple, the film grew organically from their life experiences — though they also sought some outside help. “With input from our science advisors, we worked on filming scenes of the animals that actually live in our backyard, which is part of the eastern forest ecosystem,” says Young. “For the human characters, we drew on the experiences of our own family.”

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The IMAX format and compelling subject matter combine to immerse audiences in a familiar yet wholly unique outdoor environment. “One of the film’s goals was to put the audience into the world of our animal characters: soaring with blue jays, inside a tree den with a raccoon family, on a chase with coyotes,” Todd explains. “This would allow people to experience familiar animals in a completely new and intimate way.”

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