A Texas ocelot, a pale spotted wild cat, creeps directly towards the camera out of a stand of trees, looking ferocious and adorable at once.
Courtesy: Deep In The Heart

A ‘Love Letter’ To Texas Wildlife

From ocelots to egrets, Deep in the Heart features breathtaking footage of 12 of the state's rarest animals.

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With vibrant natural colors and beautiful cinematography both underwater and aboveground, Deep in the Heart: A Texas Wildlife Story is an immersive documentary that showcases the wonders of Texas wildlife, and introduces the audience to aspects of our environment that most people never get to see. An in-depth look at Texas’s diverse ecosystems and jaw-dropping landscapes, this documentary not only showcases the natural splendor of our state but also what we can do to preserve it. Narrated by Matthew McConaughey, the filmmakers tell the stories of 12 unique Texas animal species, and the fight to keep them alive.

This documentary takes viewers on an adventure through Texas’ varied ecosystems, examining the plants and animals that sustain them, from the Gulf of Mexico to the Panhandle. Director Ben Masters called the film a “love letter” to Texas wildlife. “[We] really wanted to do justice, to really show off the beauty of where we live, and to show other Texans how special our state is,” he said.

Deep in the Heart gives viewers a glimpse at rare animals like the Texas ocelot. Living in dense shrublands close to the coast, these wildcats are critically endangered and only found in this state. Just over 30 remain. With their habitat lost to cities and farming, the ocelots are concentrated in a small area prone to hurricanes and wildfires. Other vulnerable animals seen in the film, such as bison and blind catfish, each play a special role in Texas ecosystems. Masters explained that, through filming a dozen species, his film takes us to almost every part of Texas: 

“We filmed the buffalo up on the high plains of the Panhandle. We found the deer in South Texas in some coastal forests along the Texas coast near Port Mansfield. We saw black bears at Big Bend and cave critters just right outside San Antonio. That was all done in Texas. We also filmed the coral [reefs] out off the Gulf of Mexico, so we really tried to cover every corner of the state, and represent the [different] major regions of Texas.”

The film also highlights the importance of water to Texas wildlife, from bubbling springs to the oceans, rivers and rain. We also learn how human intervention has disrupted the natural flow of Texas waters. As the human population increases in Texas, so does water consumption. While the demand for water grows, so does the intake of water from important sources like aquifers and rivers. Despite this frightening occurrence, Deep in the Heart is also sure to tell the audience what we can do to stop this. From dam demolition to using different sources, there is a way we can save our precious natural resources.

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A Great Egret cares for her young in a nest at the edge of a wide blue Texas waterway.
An adult great egret and its babies by a Texas waterway Courtesy: Deep in the Heart

From dams and artificial waterways, to the numerous species we’ve hunted to the brink of extinction or beyond, Deep in the Heart does not shy away from showing us the ugly truth about humans’ impact on the environment. However, the documentary and its accompanying website also highlight vital conservation efforts and other ways Texans can help. Available on Google Play, Amazon Prime, and Apple TV, Deep In The Heart can be seen from almost anywhere, which can spread the message of the need for conservation in Texas. 

Masters created a film that shows “how special our state is, how important it is for migratory birds, bats, butterflies, and how it’s something that should be celebrated naturally.” 

With its breathtaking landscapes and varied wildlife, Masters hopes to inspire pride in Texans. “Not only of our state, people, [or] culture, [but] our natural history as well.”