Crescent Beach in Cape Elizabeth playing the part of Yosemite National Park on the set of “Wild Crime.” Photo courtesy of Lone Wolf Media

If you’re a Mainer watching the Hulu/ABC News true crime series “Wild Crime” (whose second season, “Murder In Yosemite,” premiered on Hulu last week), keep your eyes peeled.

Apart from this second series chronicling some of the most gruesome and notorious crimes committed in the nation’s national parks, “Wild Crime: Murder in Yosemite” also boasts some surprising Maine connections for a series set in California’s lush and lonely wilderness.

“A critical crime scene this season takes place in an Alpine meadow, with huge, West Coast pines – we shot it at Crescent Beach in Cape Elizabeth,” said series director and executive producer Lisa Quijano Wolfinger of South Portland’s Lone Wolf Media, whose quest for the perfect, far-flung locations for Lone Wolf’s many acclaimed documentaries and docu-series often sees her spotting just the right spots, right here in Maine.

“If you hit the ticket booth, there’s a field on both sides,” said Wolfinger of her Crescent Beach find. “We shot a whole day there, in the field and into the woods. Once you go off the main path, it really matched Yosemite.”

Wolfinger, who has run the award-winning Lone Wolf Media alongside her husband, Kirk, for the past 25 years, has made an art out of transforming locations into the site- and period-specific settings for innumerable documentaries and series over the years, often seamlessly dressing up Maine locales into everything from Yosemite to Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park for “Wild Crime’s” two seasons.

Wolfinger, who also sent out a casting call for Maine actors to fill roles in her reenactments of “Murder In Yosemite’s” 1983 wilderness crime tale back in June, cites Lone Wolf Media’s Maine-based resourcefulness for making the company a major player in the burgeoning true crime and reality documentary scene. In addition to “Wild Crime,” Lone Wolf’s works can be seen everywhere, from Smithsonian Channel (“America’s Hidden Stories,” “The Hunt for Eagle 56”) to History (“D-Day in HD,” “Deepsea Detectives,” “Alien Deep”) to Animal Planet (“Ice Cold Gold”). In addition, Wolfinger herself created the excellent PBS scripted Civil War series “Mercy Street” (starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Josh Radnor and McKinley Belcher III), which ran for two acclaimed seasons from 2016-17.


It’s an undeniably impressive roster of work from a company whose South Portland home base has remained steadfastly remote from the established media centers of New York or Los Angeles. It’s a fact that Wolfinger is understandably proud of, and one that offers a blueprint for other Maine filmmakers pondering the ever-present “should I stay or should I go?” career question. “The thought is that Maine doesn’t have the crew infrastructure for big series and movies,” said Wolfinger. “But what we’ve done is bring people in and train them. We’ve done that consistently in growing our Lone Wolf family, hiring people who’ve graduated from Bowdoin, Bates, Colby, (Southern Maine Community College) or (University of Southern Maine) and training them up. They’ll work loyally for us, then maybe go away and do other things and then sometimes come back, because they love Maine.”

That Maine spirit extends to Lone Wolf’s choice to film in-state as often as feasible, Wolfinger’s extensive experience in making the most out of single locations and small budgets an invaluable skill. Wolfinger recalls how her work on Lone Wolf’s Smithsonian/Paramount Plus documentary series “America’s Hidden Stories” taught her, out of necessity, how to turn a scant number of houses in Richmond, Virginia, into everything from George Washington’s childhood home to a Pearl-Harbor-era family setting. “Every single hour was like a self-contained little indie film,” explained Wolfinger. “With no time and a tiny budget, it requires imagination and a lot of talented set dressing.”

For “Wild Crime,” Wolfinger, in addition to plying her trade in directing the series’ meticulous reenactments of real-life murder investigations, is effusive in her praise for the National Park Service Investigative Services Branch, whose hard work forms the backbone of the Hulu/ABC production.

“In doing the show, we found out a lot about this elite group of special agents,” said Wolfinger. “Millions upon millions of people visit America’s national parks each year, and when that happens, there’s going to be some crime. Serious crime is rare, but these are the agents who jump right on it, often hiking or helicoptering into remote crime scenes. There are rarely any witnesses, there are animal predators, and yet these agents, as seen in the series, solve crimes under the most impossible circumstances.”

Wolfinger also notes how “Wild Crime” serves to illuminate the “nightmarish bureaucracy” that has seen these agents’ numbers cut down to just 33 to cover all 85 million acres of national parkland. “These aren’t FBI agents in cushy offices,” said Wolfinger. “There are some who want to deny that crime in national parks even exists, or to let the Ranger Service deal with them, even though they don’t have the training. Nobody knows about these investigators, but now they do. I’m very proud of this show.”

Continuing the theme, Wolfinger urges viewers of true crime and Maine-made programming to keep a lookout for January’s Hulu true crime series “The Lesson Is Murder,” whose period-set, decidedly from-away tale of murderous firefighters was filmed at the South Portland police and fire stations.

“We shot the reenactments this past summer all locally,” said Wolfinger, laughing. “Both the police and firefighters were thrilled and amused that their facilities were perfect for the 1980s setting, since none of them have been fixed up since then.”

To learn more about Wolfinger and Lone Wolf Media, check out the company’s website, And check out both seasons of “Wild Crime” streaming now on Hulu.

Dennis Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Auburn with his wife and cat.

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