Where is James going to college?
James is currently a freshman at UC Berkeley in Berkeley, California. He is studying Geology and Biology in preparation for graduate studies in Paleontology.
How did James get a job prepping fossils at the La Brea Tar Pits?
It's technically not a job; it's a volunteer position. He simply applied for a docent position, worked the museum floor for a while, and then was invited into the fossil prep lab. To date, he has put in almost 400 hours.
Why did you title the documentary, "Why Dinosaurs?"
We had brainstormed possible titles for months (Bones of Contention, Dinopalooza, Jurassic Doc, We Dig Dinosaurs), and then one day as we were travelling to an interview, James blurted, "Why Dinosaurs?" And we were like, yeah, that's it: Why do people love dinosaurs? Why do we study them? Why are dinosaurs so ingrained in pop culture? Why do they get more attention than other creatures that came before or after?
Also, www.whydinosaurs.com was available for $10 bucks. We couldn't pass up such a good deal!
Who designed the logo?
That would be James. He has quite the artistic talent (and is even considering a double major in Science and Art). Tony made a valiant attempt at a logo concept, which James constructively criticized as being "childish." So he went into his room and came back 30 minutes later with a draft that looked pretty close to the final design. Our good friend and graphic wizard, David Whittemore, expertly cleaned it up for us. We wanted something simple and easy to read, with a few dino-specific details.
Do you have any regrets on this project?
Not a one. If you have the opportunity for a father/son, mother/daughter, Aunt/nephew, mentor/mentee collaboration, go for it!
Do you have any advice for aspiring filmmakers?
Just go out and film something. Then edit it. Master Class (www.masterclass.com - again, not sponsored) is pretty awesome. And you can learn almost anything on YouTube. Look for the folks with a good follower base - Philip Bloom, Ryan Connolly (Film Riot), Tom Antos, Devin Graham / SuperTramp, Parker Walbeck (Full Time Filmmaker). We've learned a ton from those guys. But most importantly, practice, practice, practice...
Do you have any advice for aspiring paleontologists / scientists?
Read every science book you can get your hands on. Try to figure out what branch of science most interests you, if not dinosaurs and paleontology, and go as deep as you can. Maybe you're more into birds, or bugs, or fungi! Or like James' brother, maybe you're into Space. Participate in your school's Science Fair. Reach out to scientists via email and social media. They are way more approachable than you might think. Visit museums and attend events and open houses. Talk to everyone with a badge.
What are some of your favorite dinosaur books?
Here are just a few: "Dinosaurs: The Most Complete, Up-to-Date Encyclopedia for Dinosaur Lovers of All Ages" (written by Dr. Thomas Holtz, Jr. and illustrated by Luis V. Rey), "Dinosaur Odyssey" (Dr. Scott Sampson), "How to Build a Dinosaur" (Dr. Jack Horner), "The Children’s Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs" (Clare Hibbert; The first dinosaur book James ever read!), "If Dinosaurs Were Alive Today", and "Planet Dinosaur" (by Cavan Scott; James' inspiration for his Spinosaurus Science Fair project).