The Vulture Project is a film that follows the lives of Griffon Vultures in the Himalaya and their intimate relationship with humans.
WHAT? _______________________________ For thousands of years, life in the windswept grasslands of the Tibetan Plateau has fostered a unique relationship between man and the natural world. In it, pragmatism, spirituality and ecological integrity are woven so tightly, their edges bleed together. This is illustrated nowhere better than in the startlingly intimate relationship between the Himalayan Griffon Vulture (Gyps himalayensis) and the Tibetan people.
While drawing nourishment for themselves and sustenance for the next generation, the Griffons regularly consume human dead in a burial ritual known as Jhator. In this Buddhist practice the body of the deceased is left undisturbed for three days. It is then ritually prepared, transported to sacred burial grounds in the highest hillsides of the world, and offered to the Griffons. Jhator has been the standard of burial amongst Tibetans for millennia, but with the modernization of Western China and dwindling Griffon populations, it is beginning to happen less and less.
While THE VULTURE PROJECT will consider the event of Jhator, it will focus great attention on developing the worlds of the Griffon Vulture and the Tibetan people independently. This film will be unique from both nature and social documentary genres in that it will give equal weight, in one film, to the narratives of the birds and the humans. The audience will come to know the human and animal characters of this film in incredible detail before the two ever contact one another.
In this film, instead of portraying Tibet sentimentally as the epitome of spiritual enlightenment, or resorting to ‘vulture’ as a visual shorthand for death, we will consider them both with a strong commitment to reality. Our goal as filmmakers is to disappear, withholding tricks of motion picture technology and allowing the subjects to speak for themselves.
Viewers will be confronted by what it really takes to live within the ecological limits of the planet. They will witness the direct ways in which humans influence and are influenced by other living things. For most of western society this is an unusual story that shows death in a way strikingly different from anything we’ve seen or practiced, and because of that, it will also come to reveal life in a way we never known it before.
At this crucial moment, when traditional practices such as Jhator are being eroded by cultural assimilation and environmental degradation, the story of the Himalayan Griffon Vulture offers a gripping parable of ecological connectedness in a changing world.
In May, 2011, our crew of four will spend three weeks filming the vultures in their natural habitat: at their nests, feeding their chicks, soaring on mountain thermals, scouring the hillsides for carrion, feeding at carcasses, and participating in Jhator.
Kickstarter will supplement grant-based funding and give us the means to reach as broad an audience as possible.
The film will be edited in Fall 2011 and be available for distribution by January 2012.
WHY FUND IT? ______________________________
The largest expense is to pay for the crew's flights to and from the film's location. Travel in the Himalayas is also very expensive, and we will need to hire all-terrain-vehicles to transport our equipment. We will also hire one or two local researchers to translate and guide us to Griffon Vulture nesting locations.
These are the major expenses, but there are literally hundreds of smaller ones that add up: crew immunizations, meals for the shoot, spare batteries for our equipment, gear insurance, travel insurance, a first aid kit and permits. Every small donation counts.
Anything you donate brings this project that much closer to reality, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
pledged of $10,000 goal
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Feb 6, 2011 - Mar 9, 2011
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A salute, hand shake, or high five on our way to Asia... You choose.
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(buys 15 packages of ramen noodles): Special Thanks noted on the website of the film, and the knowledge that you've filled the bellies of 4 thankful filmmakers.
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(buys a pack of batteries for our mics): Special Thanks noted on the website of the film, a postcard signed by the crew sent from location, and our unreserved thanks.
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(postage for five film festival applications): Special Thanks noted on the website and in the film credits, a postcard from location, streaming access to the film before its release, and our deepest gratitude.
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(vehicle rental for one day): Special Thanks noted on the website and in the film credits, a postcard from location, a packaged copy of the final film, and our deepest gratitude.
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(a visa for one crew member): A postcard from location, a packaged copy of the final film, a Vulture Project official T-shirt, a 'made possible by' credit in the film, and our broadest gratitude.
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(pays for the entry fee for the protected area where the vultures are found): A postcard from location, a packaged copy of the final film, a Vulture Project official T-shirt, a direct download of four on-location 'Making of The Vulture Project Episodes', a 'made possible by' credit in the film, and our keenest gratitude.
Pledge $150 or more
(buys our bus fare into the protected area where we will shoot): A postcard from location, a packaged copy of the final film, a Vulture Project official T-shirt, a direct download of four on-location 'Making of The Vulture Project Episodes', a 'made possible by' credit in the film, a series of 8 ½ x11 production stills chronicling the production, and our highest gratitude.
Pledge $500 or more
(Immunizations for one crew member) A postcard from location, two packaged copies of the final film, a ‘made possible by’ credit in the film, 5 ‘Vulture Project T-Shirts, a personalized video thank you note shot on location, and streamed over the web (can customize if you would like this to be personalized as a gift for someone else), a framed production still from our online gallery, and our endless appreciation.
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(Covers hotel costs for one crew member for the shoot): Associate producer credit, two copies of the doc, a signed poster, snapshots of one of the crew making a donation of 10% of the value of your donation to the monastery nearest our location (in your name if possible), and our profound appreciation for your generosity.
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(Pays our local guide): Associate producer credit, two copies of the doc, 3 signed posters or a series of production stills (your choice) with the opportunity to view and comment on the rough cut of the production, snapshots of one of the crew making a donation of 10% of the value of your donation to the Monastery nearest our location (in your name if possible), and our most humble thanks for your contribution.
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1 backer Limited (3 of 4 left)
(Pays for crew member’s flights): Executive Producer credit, with the opportunity to view and comment on the rough cut of the production, two copies of the doc, 3 signed posters or a series of production stills (your choice), snapshots of one of the crew making a donation of 10% of the value of your donation to the Monastery nearest our location (in your name if possible), invitation to the festival premier of The Vulture Project... AND we will CALL you FROM LOCATION either via skype, cell, or payphone to express our deep, deep gratitude for making this incredible film a reality.