Home Entertainment Paris-Based Goodfellas Snags Worldwide Sales Rights to Galapagos Adventure Doc ‘Lions of...

Paris-Based Goodfellas Snags Worldwide Sales Rights to Galapagos Adventure Doc ‘Lions of the Sea’ (EXCLUSIVE)


Vincent Maraval’s Goodfellas has seized the worldwide sales rights to Galapagos adventure doc “Lions of the Sea,” which wrapped principal photography in mid-January.

“Sea” is the latest from Ecuadorian explorer-filmmaker Luis Felipe Fernandez-Salvador, best known by his nom de cinéma, Jamaicanoproblem, and whose film “Son of Man” was Ecuador’s official selection for the 2019 Academy Awards.

Described by the filmmaker as “a fictional account grounded in science,” “Lions of the Sea” is set in the Galapagos Islands where a young sea lion struggles to fend for himself in the face of food scarcity and after his mother has been killed by illegal fishermen. Determined, he sets out to find a new sanctuary. “I hope to call attention to the problems that beset the islands, not only from climate change but from over-fishing and other factors that have led to the decline of the sea lion population by roughly 60%,” says Fernandez-Salvador, who has visited the UNESCO World Heritage site all throughout his life, calling it his “personal paradise.”

Along with lead producer Adam Leipzig, former president of National Geographic Documentary Films, and co-producer Mido De Santi, Fernandez-Salvador led a team of Academy Award-winning talent that includes executive producer Guillermo Navarro, the Oscar-winning DP of “Pan’s Labyrinth,” editor Hervé Schneid (“Amélie”) and sound designer Nicolas Becker (“Sound of Metal”), who will also compose the music soundtrack with Quentine Sirjacq (“Black Flies”).

They also assembled some of the best underwater cinematographers in the biz, including Jeff B. Hester, Dan Beecham, Jenny Baumert and Santiago Cabral. Digital imaging technician Jota Salazar and advance unit cameraman Joshua Vela completed the technical crew that were armed with the latest in gear, including drones, underwater sea scooters and tow cams.

“With this dream team of filmmakers, we are creating a tentpole adventure documentary filled with wonder and amazing animal characters,” says Leipzig, who led National Geographic’s Sundance acquisition of hit documentary “March of the Penguins.”

“The film will inspire audiences through emotional, entertaining connections with Galapagos sea lions and other creatures, and move people worldwide to care and caretake our environment,” he adds.

“The stunning images we captured have far surpassed our script, with unexpected scenes that have enhanced the original story,” notes Fernandez-Salvador.

The production plans for an Oscar or Grammy winner for the narration.

“Whoever is going to join us on this, I hope will fall in love with it as much as we have, as it’s not just a job or an opportunity, it’s a worthy cause, a mission,” says De Santi, who says that in the three weeks he was on location, he witnessed the highly experienced crew adroitly handle the logistical and creative challenges that came their way.

Towards the end of the two-month shoot, violence erupted in Ecuador as a gang leader’s prison escape triggered a series of attacks that peaked with gunmen disrupting a television show live on air. Its newly elected president, Daniel Noboa, immediately announced a state of emergency, which included an 11 p.m. curfew.

“Fortunately, it happened towards the end as travel was disrupted and it would have complicated the shoot,” says De Santi.

“The delays were mostly in filming the animals; sometimes we’d go for weeks without getting the shots we wanted,” says Fernandez-Salvador.

His U.K.-based Paracas Independent Films leads the multi-country production that includes Amaxona Studios (Canada), Keaf Production (Ecuador), Cinema Libre (France), Sunyata Films (Belgium) and Mescalito Films (Italy).

Post production, led by producer Chadi Abo (“The Matrix Reloaded,” “300”), begins this month.

Meanwhile, Fernandez-Salvador is prepping his next film, “Bananaland,” which he hopes to shoot across Ecuador in 2025. A recently introduced tax credit incentive of 37% for local and foreign location shoots will likely be in place before then.