Move over David Attenborough and Barack Obama, there’s a new wildlife narrator on the job, and he’s here to both celebrate and conserve what makes Texas unique. Narrated by none other than Matthew McConaughey and coming to Texas theaters on June 3, Deep in the Heart is a visually stunning celebration of diverse landscapes and remarkable wildlife behavior that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
Featuring state-of-the-art cinematography, the film journeys from the highest peaks in West Texas, through our aquifers, rivers, and bays, and deep into the Gulf of Mexico. The story is told through the eyes of wildlife species like the elusive mountain lion, and showcases our ability to destroy, conserve, and recover wildlife and the habitat we mutually depend on.
With a masters in wildlife biology from Texas A&M University, the film’s director, Ben Masters, hopes the film will inspire audiences to conserve our remaining wild places, to show the connectivity of water and wildlife, and to recognize Texas’ conservation importance on a continental scale. Best known for directing the award-winning feature-length documentary The River and the Wall, Masters also founded Fin and Fur Films, a production company specializing in short films featuring wildlife research, conservation, and activism. We connected with Masters for a few questions about his soon-to-be released new film.
CultureMap: What was the inspiration behind Deep in the Heart?
Ben Masters: Growing up, I was always fascinated with the BBC and National Geographic shows of wildlife in Africa or Antarctica. It wasn’t until I studied wildlife biology at Texas A&M did I realize that Texas also has incredible wildlife spectacles and diversity. I started making movies ten years ago with this film as a dream, and four years ago decided to go for it. It’s been an amazing experience and a huge challenge to make Texas’ first wildlife movie. Lots of pressure to make it as good as possible and really show off our state.
CM: Why tell the story through the eyes of wildlife?
BM: Many of the animals and behaviors are super fascinating and have never been filmed. Take ocelots for example: They’re our most beautiful cat and there’s never been quality videos ever taken of them in the wild in Texas. Or alligator gar and their fascinating life strategy of spawning during floods: Texans love Texas, and we have amazing wildlife that a lot of folks care about — so it made sense to produce a film like this.
CM: When did you first start production on this story?
BM: We began filming in 2018 and finished the edit in 2022. It took hundreds of days in the field and some sequences, like the mountain lion, took nearly a year to capture.
CM: What was the hardest part about putting a film like this together?
BM: The most difficult part was filming rare animals that are hard to find and getting quality footage of them. It was also incredibly satisfying when we did pull it off though.
CM: What was a standout memory from the process?
BM: A big standout memory was getting the news that Matthew McConaughey would narrate. He has such a unique voice that fits perfectly for the film, which will definitely help launch the conservation messaging for the general public.
CM: The trailer touts the film as a call to action: What are you hoping audiences will be inspired to do after watching the film?
BM: You’ve got to watch it to find out!!! We also have a take action page on our website to get involved with organizations doing great work across the state.
Deep in the Heart comes to Texas theaters on June 3. Head to the film's website for more information.