Posted on 8/25/2023
If you’re a fan of the Emerald Coast, film, and good causes, then you are going to LOVE The Paper Bear!
The Paper Bear is the title of a new feature film coming in 2024, which shares a coming-of-age adventure in the Florida Panhandle through the eyes of black bears. From this film arose a new, local non-profit organization—also called The Paper Bear. The non-profit is focused on bringing awareness of the stunning biodiversity of Northwest Florida, again through the lives of black bears. The film and non-profit are part of a conservation movement to inspire locals and visitors to love, protect, and discover more beyond our iconic coast.
Filmmaker, director, and co-founder of the Paper Bear, Arix Zalace was inspired to create this movement by his immense pride for the beautiful place where he grew up—right here in the panhandle. As one of North America’s most biodiverse locations, the Florida Panhandle features 57 distinct ecosystems and is home to a diverse range of plant and animal species. One of these is the black bear.
Black Bears: The Keystone of the Narrative
The black bear is considered a keystone species, meaning it supports and can help protect the diverse habitats, wildlife, and landscape as a whole. Black bears have a home range that extends across multiple ecosystems. Because of this, black bears provide a key role in maintaining balance and keeping these ecosystems healthy and thriving. This, of course, made black bears the perfect focal point on which to build the film and conservation organization!
The film uses incredible cinematography to showcase the coastal landscape that we all know and love—and areas that are rarely seen. It will immerse audiences into the heart of the Emerald Coast. You’ll get a close-up look at the natural wonders that make this slice of heaven a one-of-a-kind oasis—from long-leaf pine forests, steephead ravines, seepage bogs, coastal dune lakes, miles of crystal sands, emerald-hued Gulf waters, and more!
In addition to the cinematography, the film incorporates animation to spin a tale of wonder, adventure, and love for the wild. It allows the story to connect audiences with a perspective on the region not otherwise seen in our daily lives. The animation also appeals to children and adults alike, creating a beautiful motion picture that the whole family will enjoy. The mixture of storytelling, camera work, and animation weave together in a way that aims to encourage greater understanding, excitement, and passion for wildlife and the environment
Fortunately, this brilliant story doesn’t end when the screen turns black, and the lights come on. The goal is for audiences to feel inspired to take action in the pursuit of conservation, preservation, and restoration. The film is only the beginning!
The Non-Profit Behind the Film
The Paper Bear non-profit is sponsored by the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center located within the Nokuse Plantation in Freeport, Florida. In keeping with the center’s mission to educate the public on the importance of biodiversity, The Paper Bear also aims to create short- and long-form content that helps educate the community and inspires action to protect the region’s biodiversity.
Want to get in on the action? There are many ways to support The Paper Bear’s mission! Make a donation. Visit or donate to local charities focused on preserving biodiversity in the area. Some charities include the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center, 30A Sea-life Discoveries, The Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge, and Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance. Share your experiences and knowledge. Social media can be a powerful tool to spread education and awareness. And finally, continue to take steps to learn more about the importance of the world’s ecosystems and discover other ways to make a difference!
Explore Beyond the Beaches
While many people flock to the Emerald Coast for the picturesque beaches, there’s so much more to see! Next time you’re here on vacation, be sure to explore the unique landscape and wildlife in the area. Our reservation specialists are experts in all things local, so if you need help creating the perfect itinerary or finding the ideal Northwest Florida vacation rental, don’t hesitate to reach out.