The British Overseas Territories are an amazing side of the United Kingdom.... scattered across all seven seas, the territories comprise an area 7 time the size of the British Isles, they are home to 350,000 British subjects, and harbour many of the greatest wildlife spectacles on the planet. From lush tropical rainforests, to arid deserts, glaciers and polar ice fields to pristine coral reefs, the territories are the UK's greatest natural heritage, yet few in the UK (and even fewer abroad) know that they exist... let alone that they are connected to the UK.
The territories are the opposite of colonies - they are mostly self-governing entities that have chosen to remain connected to the UK. Despite that many of the territories are tiny pin-pricks of land in vast oceans, they are disproportionately important for wildlife - many being critically important breeding sites that seasonally contain enormous populations of animals that migrate across entire hemispheres... for example, some of the greatest concentrations of penguins, sea birds, seals, sea turtles, land crabs on earth, as well as thousands of unique, endemic species that occur no where else.
NOTE: this is not just a project about British islands. The territories are of global importance as concentrated breeding sites for keystone wildlife that migrates across entire hemispheres. As the territories are scattered across all seven seas, conserving them is of direct benefit to countries across the globe. As 12 of the 16 territories are in the Caribbean, Atlantic and Southern Ocean, the ecological importance of the territories is particularly linked to the Americas.
STEWART MCPHERSON'S JOURNEY
Over the last three years, natural history film-maker Stewart McPherson has undertaken a self-funded project to visit all of the UK Overseas Territories. He took with him professional cameramen and broadcast-quality camera equipment to film the astounding diversity of wildlife across the territories and the inspiring conservation efforts that are being undertaken. This journey is now complete, and the exceptional footage is currently being edited to make a 4-part broadcast documentary series that will be broadcast on TV in 2015.
WHAT WE WANT TO CREATE
Stewart and team captured more than 300 hours of beautiful, high-quality footage documenting the wildlife of the territories. As the broadcast documentary series is just 4 * 1 hour episodes, there are hundreds of hours of unused video footage, covering countless wonderful natural history stories which we desperately want to tell, to showcase the unique wildlife of the territories, raise awareness of how important the territories are, and to support the inspiring conservation work that is being undertaken.
OUR GOAL: to create 16 * short documentaries showcasing the natural history of the UK Overseas Territories. Each documentary will be 3-7 minutes long, and each one will be dedicated to a different territory (see list at the bottom of this page). Each film will explore the rich natural history of the territories, to take the viewer on a journey to these extraordinary places to inspire better understanding of the wildlife of the territories and their conservation. The films are intended to be short, beautiful, action-packed, but graceful, and above all, celebrate the natural history of the territories for a wide audience.
We have made the following draft version as a preliminary example of our vision for these films - see below the wildlife of the beautiful Falkland Islands. The final Falklands film will be much longer and go into sub-stories in greater detail, but this example conveys the general idea:
WHY DO YOU WANT TO MAKE THE FILMS?
Making these films is extremely important to raise awareness of the territories, their wildlife and the urgent conservation work that is being undertaken.
When the films are complete, they will be given for free to conservation organisations, governments, tourism boards, schools, universities and newspapers across the territories, in the UK and internationally. Anyone who wants them on their websites can use them without cost. The wider the usage, the better! The films will also be released on youtube and vimeo, and a permanent website will be set up to display them as a resource for all to enjoy. Through this collaboration, we hope that the films will reach tens of millions of people across the globe.
This matters because so few people know that the territories exist, let alone the critical importance of conserving the wildlife of these remote places, and what is being done, and what still needs to be done. The territories receive a fraction of the UK's conservation budget (despite having the overwhelming majority of the UK's endemic species), and hundreds of species of plants and animals across the territories are on the brink of extinction.
PLEASE NOTE: we are not asking you to fund travel - we already have all if the footage, all that is need is the resources to professionally edit and create these important films.
WHY ONLINE FILMS?
The broadcast series on TV will reach a wide audience... but it cannot tell all of the stories due to time constraints, cannot systematically showcase each territory, and can only be accessible when it is played on TV (which will be infrequently). The online films will support the broadcast series, build interest in the territories and remain available (and free) to watch by all for decades to come.
HOW YOUR MONEY WILL BE SPENT?
We want to make these films as professionally as possible, but also extremely cost-effectively. They will take months of hard work to complete. We have persuaded a producer and editor to work for a fraction of commercial rates and have managed to negotiate away almost all equipment costs. To make the documentaries, we need to raise the following funds:
Editor 32 days work(@ £150 a day) = £4,800
Producer 16 days work (@ £150 a day) = £2,400
Music, graphics and recording narration = £1,800
Campaigning, setting up a website for the videos and publicity = £2,200
The resulting films will then be free for all to watch, enjoy and learn from.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU GO OVER TARGET
If we're lucky enough to go over our target, we'll use the extra money productively – we will be able to make the 16 documentaries even more beautiful by using extra graphics, effects, music and more.
PLUS, we have dozens of ideas of short stand alone short documentaries concerning themes across all of the territories that we want to make beyond the 16 films films, for example, (1) a specific film summarising what we can learn from conservation across the territories, (2) the story of what visiting the most remote territories is like (several are the most remote inhabited islands on earth, and accessible only by RAF military flights, the last working postal ship, ice breakers, freight ships, trawlers and charter yachts!)
The ideal scenario would be to make the 16 short films on each territory, plus a series of stand alone supporting films on various subjects that bridge across the territories (such as conservation, island endemism etc.).
Basically, the more money we raise, the more films about the territories we can make and the better quality those films will be! We have an almost unlimited number of stories we could follow in the hundreds of hours of footage already captured!
Every penny pledged will be used to make beautiful films that raise awareness of the UK Overseas Territories!
WHAT STAGE ARE YOU AT?
We have all of the footage we need. We have a professional team. We have negotiated excellent rates with a producer and editor, and we have access to all of the equipment we need. We just need to cover the most basic costs to make this possible! As soon as we have the basic funding in place, we can start immediately!
WHAT IS YOUR TIMELINE?
This campaign will run until January 31st. If this campaign is successful, we plan to enter production of the documentaries immediately through February and March. We then plan to create a beautiful website during April and May, and disseminate the films to all conservation and government partners, to release the films on line in June 2015.
APART FROM PLEDGING, IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE I CAN DO TO HELP?
Yes! Get involved. If you pledge, we will send you links to draft (pre-release) versions of the film on line to watch. We would love your thoughts and feedback.
Also, support our campaign. Tell your friends, tell your family, tell anyone and everyone – tell the world! Shout about our project from the rooftops! Or, failing that, Tweet and Facebook a link to this page!
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU DON'T REACH YOUR TARGET?
We don't get a penny. Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing platform, so if we don't reach our goal, then we can't make the films. So please do help in any way you can, from giving us a donation to spreading the word – it all helps!
HOW COME YOU'RE ASKING FOR SUCH A SMALL AMOUNT OF MONEY?
We have the footage. We don't need to film anything. We just need to edit the films. We have negotiated incredibly low rates with an editor and producer, and have access to all other equipment for free or extremely low cost.
WHAT WILL I GET IF I HELP YOU?
Well... we have developed the list of rewards on the right! There are some wonderful rewards which we hope you may enjoy!
WHAT IF I DON'T WANT A REWARD, I JUST WANT TO HELP?
Then, you are just awesome! Thanks so much for believing in us!
SOUNDS GOOD, BUT I'D LIKE TO SPEAK TO YOU
It would be a pleasure to speak - please email the team via Stewart McPherson - stewart*at*mcpherson.net
WHO ARE YOU?
This project is organised by Stewart McPherson. Stewart is an award winning author of natural history books, and presenter of numerous wildlife documentaries broadcast on the BBC and internationally.
During his degree at Durham University (England) and Yale University (USA), he wrote two wildlife books. On graduating, he spent 8 years climbing 300 mountains across the world (some of which previously unexplored) to study and photograph carnivorous plants for a further 20 books that he has since written. During his travels, he discovered and named 35 new species / varieties of carnivorous plants, including the largest pitcher plants ever discovered, one of which was internationally declared the most important new species of 2009.
During 2011-2014, he self-funded a project to visit all of the UK Overseas Territories scattered across all seven seas, including the most remote inhabited islands on earth. During this three year voyage, he filmed and photographed the globally important wildlife of the territories, and the inspiring conservation work being undertaken to safeguard the biological riches of the territories for the future.
Stewart has received international awards for his conservation work safe-guarding species that are extinct in the wild.
OVERVIEW OF THE TERRITORIES
There are technically 14 UK Overseas Territories, although one of them consists of three distinct groups of islands (Ascension, Saint Helena and Tristan da Cunha), which we will treat separately. So for the purpose of this project, there are 16 territories! As follows:
IN THE ATLANTIC: Ascension, Saint Helena, Tristan da Cunha
IN THE CARIBBEAN: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos Islands
IN THE SOUTHERN OCEAN: Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, and the British Antarctic Territory
IN THE PACIFIC: Pitcairn
IN THE INDIAN OCEAN: British Indian Ocean Territory (Chagos)
IN THE MEDITERRANEAN: Gibraltar, and the Sovereign Base Areas on Cyprus (Akrotiri and Dhekelia)
Below are a few images of the incredible wildlife of the UK Overseas Territories. Who would have thought the UK is responsible for this incredible diversity of animals and plants scattered across the world! These still photos are only a taste of the video footage that we captured!
Risks and challenges
There are no risks with this project. We do not need to film anything. We already have all the footage we need. We have the equipment to complete this, and the editors and producers keen to work if we can raise the money. All we need is the funding to employ an editor and producer to get started, and approximately two months later, the films will be complete! Nice and simple!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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