Documentary 'Whirlybird' looks at pioneering helicopter reporters who changed the way LA covers news

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Monday, August 9, 2021
Documentary looks at helicopter reporters who changed LA news
The new documentary "Whirlybird" shows us a different Southern California, this one through the lens of two of the first helicopter video journalists. Zoey Tur and Marika Gerrard also happened to be be married, and dealt with how the high stress world of breaking news would eventually break apart their lives.

LOS ANGELES -- The new documentary "Whirlybird" takes audiences up, up and away, high over the Southern California, through the lens of journalists, and one time married couple, Zoey Tur and Marika Gerrard, who changed the way we cover the news... via helicopter.

"We kind of created a monster," laughed Gerrard. "I think it would've happened at any rate, because of technology, but there are some things that should be live and some things you can wait a little while to show and we've kind of lost track of that."

Tur did the reporting and flying, with Marika shooting the camera, right by his side. Director Matt Yoka takes us back to the 1980s, and looks at the way high flying breaking news came to be. It also tells the complex story of their personal relationship.

"When I first started exploring Zoey and Marika's story, I thought of it like they would be tour guides of L.A. That was just sort of the entry point," said Yoka. "I think that as we got deeper into the story we all decided not to look away and we decided to embrace the complexity."

That complexity: a married couple living and working together, running a 24/7 business, raising two children, and eventually, Zoey's Gender transition.

"I think that's one thing I was thankful and humbled to Zoey about...for taking me through her journey and what's important to her and how to tell her story," said Yoka.

Yoka was equally grateful to discover, and highlight, Gerrard's work.

"Thinking about Marika's career, it's absolutely groundbreaking female journalism," said Yoka. "I was excited to give Marika her due."

A career Marika is happy to keep in the rear view mirror.

"It's the past," said Gerrard. "I hear a siren and I don't automatically want to go outside and see what's going on!"

"Whirlybird" is in theaters and on video on demand Friday, Aug. 6.