Considering that he has climbed his share of America's biggest and baddest rocks, Casey Anderson—star of Nat Geo WILD's America the Wild—is, quite literally a rock star. Nicknamed "the animal magnet" the Montana native's best friend as a young man was Brutus, a grizzly bear.
But Anderson was on terra firma Friday to help announce Nat Geo WILD's partnership with the African Wildlife Foundation and the Sun Valley Film Festival: a yearlong "Wild To Inspire" short film competition which will culminate at the 2014 SVFF where a filmmaker will be chosen to go to Africa and spend three months filming some of the wild cats of Tanzania.
"People ask me, 'How did you get the coolest job in the business?' Well, I can tell any budding filmmaker that this competition might be the fast-track," said Anderson. "I wish I had that opportunity when I was younger."
The Wild To Inspire competition will accept submissions of films—no longer than 5 minutes in length—from April through October at vimeo.com/groups/wildtoinspire.
Later, on Friday afternoon, the Nat Geo WILD folks unleashed their world premiere of The Wild West, starring rattle snakes, vultures (film narrator Timothy Olyphant called them "public enemy No. 1), scorpions and gila monsters, dubbed the "desert undertakers."
"I'm so happy to see so many kids and families here," said Candice Pate, SVFF director, to a nearly-full theater at the Sun Valley Opera House.
Indeed, scores of kids sat in mouth-gaping awe as the fast-moving, funny film entertained. The Smurfs should have it so good.
Nat Geo WILD's The Wild West was one of a slew of documentaries at this year's SVFF, showcasing natural wonders, including Idaho's Heart Rock Ranch, the Colorado River Basin and K2.