About a year ago I wrote a column describing my visit to Indianapolis to meet with fishing and hunting guide, outdoor TV host, and martial arts teacher Eddie Brochin regarding a documentary film covering Eddie’s trip to Mongolia, where he learned about flying golden eagles for falconry.
One of the things that convinced me that I wanted to work with Eddie was the attitude he takes with him when he meets the Mongolians who fly eagles. He could have come on as “I am a master falconer, a TV show host, and a former world-renowned martial artist. Show me what you got.” Instead, on the film he says humbly up front that he comes to the Mongolians as a student, to learn from them.
In writing about a film, one normally expects an objective review. I can’t do that because I co-wrote The Falconer: Sport of Kings with Eddie. After a year’s work of writing and editing, the 70-minute film has just been released. And I am proud to say that it drew a standing-room-only audience at its premiere in Indianapolis, and it has already been entered into 17 film festivals.
Most of these festivals are still in the early stages of judging, but in the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, which is the “Cannes of wildlife film festivals,” Eddie’s film made it to the semi-finals, competing against all the big guys from PBS, Discovery, National Geographic, BBC, NHK, and so on. A real accomplishment for his first documentary.
Earlier in his life Eddie was a national champion in tae kwon do, and competed in 500 matches all around the world, winning all but 37. During his days of competition he earned the nickname of “the Bird” for his extraordinary high-flying kicks. In one demonstration of his ability to become airborne, which you see in the film, he leaps over an automobile and breaks a board with a kick the other side before landing. Today Eddie runs a popular martial arts dojo in Indianapolis where he trains many people in self-defense and competitive martial arts, including mixed martial arts. He also leads customers on fishing and hunting charters.
Eddie traces his fascination with predator birds beginning when he was eight years old, when his family would drive along a road and point out the birds sitting on telephone wires. When he would go out hunting as a child, he felt drawn to the birds.
In 2003 Eddie, “the Bird,” began to learn the art of falconry, apprenticing under the tutelage of Master Greg Thomas. He has since become a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Master Falconer in his own right, and he owns a red-tailed hawk named “Chase” and a great horned owl named “Radar.” But true to form, when Eddie gets hooked on something he likes to go for the gold. He became so passionate about falconry that he decided that he had to go seek out the real masters of the sport.
When he got committed to going to Mongolia, Eddie quit doing his Ultimate Outdoors TV series on hunting and fishing and took his film crew with him to Mongolia, where people have hunted with birds of prey for over 3,000 years, to learn from the pros about hunting with golden eagles. And Eddie did learn about flying eagles, birds big enough to take down a wolf. They spent nearly a month in the field, living with the Mongolian sheepherders. Then, he came back, and he has spent three and half years making the documentary.
After the film fest tour, Eddie plans to return to running fishing charters, guiding hunters and running his martial arts dojo. However, there are two changes in the works. The first is that Eddie wants to make a sequel, The Falconer: Sport of Kings 2, in which he brings the Mongolian eaglers over here to introduce them to flying our falcons, hawks, and owls.
And, Eddie and his documentary have caught the eye of Hot Snakes Media and producer Tony Biancosino. Tony and his crew recently spent a couple weeks with Eddie and his family shooting a sizzler and a pilot. They now are hard at work selling it to a major TV network as a reality TV series. Several networks are already circling the bait.
The Falconer: Sport of Kings, is a hero’s quest story that bridges cultures and time. It should be seen not just by falconers and their advocates, but by hunters and anyone with a fascination for wildlife. Copies of The Falconer: Sport of Kings are $29.95 and posters are $19.95.
Image courtesy James Swan