Meet the Team – Kit Tyler

  • Kit Tyler — Producer / Director “Becoming California”

Constantly on the move, Kit Tyler is not easy to track down.

Reaching him by phone, a whoosh of air in the speaker gives away his all too common location – the great outdoors. This time he’s at the Coleman National Fish Hatchery near the Battle Creek Tributary of the Sacramento River shooting the annual Return of the Salmon Festival.

With a career that spans over 25 years of stage, film and broadcast experience, Tyler is unexpectedly humble. Reluctant to boast about his accomplishments, which include being a co-Producer and Director of Photography for the award winning PBS documentary, Saving the Bay, our conversation turns to his passion for his work and the Legacy Project’s public television film, Becoming California.

How did you get into documentary film making in the first place?
“I started my career in photo journalism working for TV news but found that the content there was ultimately superficial. The stories I wanted to tell were longer than TV allowed – I found the longer form more rewarding. Documentary film making was not in my plan when I graduated from college but somewhere along the line, fate intervened.”

Why did you get involved with this project?
“I love to do environmental documentary film work. I think this is the critically important work of our generation – to forge a new relationship with the natural world.”

What would you like people to know about the film, Becoming California?
“We can no longer afford the gap created by extreme viewpoints when it comes to the environment of California. This film is meant to provide an understanding of California to a broad audience regardless of ideology – it attempts to mend conflicts.”

For Producer, Kit Tyler, many days begin before dawn. Though he sometimes curls up for the night in a tent or the back of his Land Cruiser, he usually tries for a Motel 6. Midway through field production on Becoming California, we take a look at a typical day in the field for Kit. Camp stove coffee fuels a long day of filming in the eastern Sierra Nevada. Up at 4:30 AM, Kit begins the day by framing a quiet sunrise over Mono Lake in the northern Owens Valley. A quick jaunt across the Valley takes him to the White Mountains, where he captures the evening’s sunset just as it offers up its magnificent golden colors. Other days might be spent hiking…toiling even. Four miles up to Dana Glacier, at over 11,000 feet in elevation, he and his crew carry fully loaded packs of camera equipment, “that one almost killed me!” says Tyler.Still others are spent choreographing on-camera interviews with distinguished scientists such as Michael Barbour, Eldridge Moores and Terry Jones – key members of the project team and experts in biodiversity, plate tectonics, and ancient human colonization of California.

Of course, many of his hours are also spent doing the more mundane and less glamorous tasks of filmmaking – research. But this is what allows him to tell the story of California as it’s never been told before. “This film is different from others in its scope – it is the grand story of California. It is documenting the big picture of environmental change in the state, from its geological formation 200 million years ago to today; it emphasizes civilization’s relationship to this place,” says Tyler.

With the production’s aerials starting soon, cutting edge animation work underway and upcoming interviews with renowned scientists like Kevin Starr, there is still plenty left to be done.


  1. charlie ferrell

    Just watched Becoming california – The abuse of the state brought tears to my eyes-then to see so many people out trying to help reverse that abuse brought a different tear to my eye-It totally inspired me – I realize it’s time to get involved for the long term. I’ve always sat and complained about how us humans have kept a steady march into wildlife,destroying everything in our path, but never did anything to help – I will now, this show opened my eyes.
    Thank you
    Charlie F.

  2. Kimberly Foster (maiden Irwin)

    Dear Kit,
    I was recently explaining to my husband about climbing the big tree in the front of your house, and telling him about your well crafted pully system, and described the feeling of freedom and no fear. It led to describing my rich youth of growing up in your house, the love of Aunt Charlotte, and Uncle Russ, the memories of all that I experienced with you all.
    I cant smell pipe tobacco, turpintine, great smelling soap, brunch, pine needles from Big Bear Lake, and so much more without warmly thinking of the Tylers. Stained glass, sounds of piano music, fushia, strawberry pots, sail boats, a refinishing project with the smell of turpintine, feeding squirrells at the window at Big Bear Lake, Balboa and Newport beach, Terry singing at the top of her lungs, Mr. Freeze and swimming lessons or shall I say swim or drown and no crying lessons, climbing on top of the roof and eating apricots off the tree, and so very much more, and then suddenly you were gone from me.
    I moved from Calif. 20 years ago to the mid west. I visit as often as I can. Last summer I did something I had never done. I drove the California coast with my husband from San Diego all the way to Napa and down to San Jose. What an incredible trip. I think I cried every day. I miss home.
    Before my trip I decided that while in Santa Barbara I would try to see your mom and dad. Mom tried several times to call and sadly never got an answer.
    Ever since my trip your family has come to mind. My recent conversation brought me to try to look you each up and you were the only one I could find.
    The first picture I saw was like looking at both your mom and dad all at once. But it was the Kit I grew up with and knew instantly it was you just a little older than last I saw you. The picture of you standing at the edge of the lake is your dad! How adorable! However I had always thought you would have become a chef.:)
    Anyway, this has turned into more than I planned on leaving you.
    I would love to hear your voice, and know how everyone is. I cant explain how touched and proud that you are doing all that you are for our California. It is dear to me in so many ways, and is my center. So very precious! There is no where like it.
    Sending you love and best wishes,
    Kimberly Foster (Irwin)

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