A documentary film and stills photography of the Asian Elephants, their Mahouts and the untold story of the Elephant Spirit Men
With the Thai elephant population in sharp decline due to loss of habitat and forestry bans, our project focuses on promoting the survival of the remaining elephants and comprehensively recording the Mahout (keeper) culture surrounding them. Through the production of a documentary film, a gallery of fine art photography and a book we intend to create long-term funding streams to help the survival of these wonderful creatures.
We are asking your help to create the documentary film, which will be distributed through media channels and at awareness events – film festivals throughout the world, a self-distributed theatrical release and online outlet such as iTunes, Netflix and Amazon. We will also be submitting the project to the PBS, Discovery and other TV channels.
The film will follow three characters: a mahout who bonds with an elephant for life; one of the Elephant Spirit Men (the Khru Ba Yai); and a baby elephant, whose future is uncertain. In this way the film will show the past, present, and future for the elephants and their mahouts.
Another focus of the film is on the Kui people, a minority indigenous to Cambodia and Thailand who are the traditional carers of elephants. In Kui culture, elephants live as part of the family and their training techniques do not include a 'crush', or breaking of the elephant's spirit. By promoting and recording the techniques of these people, we aim to publicize a 'best practice' for the treatment of Thailand's remaining domestic elephants - according them the respect and dignity which is their due.
By working with experienced linguists and anthropologists ,the project also aims to identify similarities between the stories of the Kui people and other traditional elephant caring peoples, such as the M’Nong of Vietnam, the Thai Lue of Laos and the Karen of Burma, as well as the traditional mahouts of India and Sri Lanka.
The story of the Elephant Spirit Men has never been told before. For centuries, they have provided the spiritual elements of the elephant/human bond amongst the Kui people; but with only five elderly Spirit Men remaining, this irreplaceable piece of Thai cultural history will soon be lost forever.
The project is in collaboration with the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, Thailand (www.helpingelephants.org). GTAEF is a refuge for 30 elephants and their mahouts in Chiang Rai, Northern Thailand.
The creative team
Noted conservation filmmaker, Tim Kelly of Fridays Films, will lead the filming, editing and production. Fine art photography will be done by Carol Stevenson, as part of an ongoing five-year commitment to documenting the elephants and Mahouts at GTAEF.
The photography project has increasing awareness worldwide and been featured by companies such as Nikon USA, Lowepro, Equestrio magazine, liveBooks, LightSource SF, Anantara Resorts, Four Seasons Hotels and a number of supporting partners who have all promoted the photographic series and its cause.
The full story of our project is available at www.carolstevenson.wordpress.com
How your donations will be used
The actual creative work is all being provided pro-bono, we just have to be able to get the artists to their subjects! We require funding for travel and accommodation, production assistants, supplies and post-production costs.
Please join us by donating as much as you can - every US$5 will make a difference. We'll send you updates and we will blog along the way together with posting video snippets already taken by a number of our elephant friends.
Links to other elephant information and news:
See Knight&Hammer's jewelryfeaturing the elephant charms at http://www.knightandhammer.com/
Follow our Director of Elephants Blog http://news.helpingelephants.org
Follow him on twitter http://twitter.com/elehelp
Follow Carol's ele photography on facebook Elephant Photographer
Read Nikon's feature of Carol's project at
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
pledged of $7,500 goal
seconds to go
Oct 19, 2010 - Nov 28, 2010 (40 days)
Pledge $1 or more
You become one of our Elephant Angels and we will send you an thank you email with some Elephant Magic Dust
Pledge $10 or more
Digital photograph of one of the 30 elephants along with the elephant's story full of fun and interesting snippets of the featured elephant.
Pledge $10 or more
Donations of $10 and above will also get a credit in the Special Thanks section of the film
Pledge $20 or more
$20 Breakfast with Meena Video: Exclusive access/video download of our shoot as we spoil Meena and her baby elephant friends with a sumptuous fruit breakfast
Pledge $25 or more
Elephant Blessing: A card with a unique quotation from one of the blessings (unwritten until now) by the Elephant Spirit Men (Khru Ba Yai)
Pledge $35 or more
2 backers Limited (18 of 20 left)
A limited edition 2011 calendar with photographs from the Elephants & Mahouts series by Carol Stevenson AND the Breakfast with Meena Video
Pledge $45 or more
0 backers Limited (5 of 5 left)
5 only toy elephants. Modeled after our GTAEF elephants, these are the last 5 available for purchase. I snagged them for you!
Pledge $50 or more
A mini fine-art print, a 4x6" print of an elephant portrait from the Elephants & Mahouts Series plus a $100 Knight&Hammer online Gift Card for unique, one-of-kind jewelry by renowned jeweler, Joseph Knight
Pledge $75 or more
0 backers Limited (12 of 12 left)
LIMITED ITEM! We have 12 beautiful 100% Thai silk Shawls, with a unique story! These shawls are hand weaved by the mahouts wives & carried in the boutiques of some of the top hotels in the world. All generously donated by ANANTARA Resorts & Hotels. First come, first served get their choice of color/pattern. Plain or with elephants! PS June, our ele ambassador doesn't come with it!
Pledge $100 or more
A DVD of the final Elephant documentary film. Total value: Priceless
Pledge $250 or more
A DVD of the final elephant film together with a signed 11x14" fine art elephant portrait print from the Elephants & Mahouts Series plus a $100 Knight&Hammer online Gift Card for unique, one-of-kind jewelry by renowned jeweler, Joseph Knight. (Total value $650)
Pledge $500 or more
A DVD of the elephant film plus a signed and editioned 20x30" fine art elephant portrait print from the Elephants & Mahouts Series by photographer Carol Stevenson (value $1800)
Pledge $750 or more
0 backers Limited (1 of 1 left)
Your choice of an original fine art photograph by renowned photographer PETER MALINOWSKI. Peter's work is collected by the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Any size up to 20x30" from his collection at www.petermalinowskiphotography.com + DVD of final film
Pledge $1,000 or more
Lynchee Elephant Charm Necklace from Knight&Hammer designed especially for the elephant foundation plus a Elephant Print: 20x30" fine art elephant portrait print from the Elephant & Mahouts Series by photographer Carol Stevenson and a DVD of the elephant film (Total Value $2550)
Pledge $1,150 or more
A $1000 Knight&Hammer online Gift Card for unique, one-of-kind jewelry by renowned jeweler Joseph Knight plus a signed and editioned 20x30" fine art elephant portrait print from the Elephant & Mahouts Series by photographer Carol Stevenson plus a DVD of the elephant film and Executive Producers Credit on the film (Total value: $2800)