Note: Although this project will be completed in the UK, the resulting films will be a free online resource intended to inspire millions of young people across the world. Please support this project regardless of where you are from, as the output is intended to benefit young people across the globe, including in your neighbourhood.
WHAT WE WANT TO DO
We will make ten films, each 5-7 minutes long, with up to thirty more planned if the stretch budget is raised. Each film will be targeted specifically towards young people (6-18 years old) and will reveal an amazing range of exotic pets that they can keep at home safely and legally.
We want to inspire passion and interest in young people for the natural world. By introducing them to an amazing range of creatures that they can keep at home, we hope to make the next generation passionate and excited about wildlife through personal experience, driving them towards studying science, especially biology, ecology and conservation.
Every penny raised here will be used to create this webseries of films - the more that we can raise, the greater the number of films that we can make and the better they will be.
How many times have you heard that "young people only care about computer games and social media and aren't interested in the great outdoors" - well it's time to change that!
This project really matters - never before have young people been so disconnected from nature, but never has passion for wildlife and conservation been so sorely needed!
The films we create will be a free online resource available to everyone to watch and enjoy. We hope they will be particularly useful to schools and educators across the planet!
The target age group of 6-18 might seem like a broad category, but we will make each film engaging, entertaining, enthusiastic and informative. Each subject will be treated sensibly, but with passion, and we believe this will capture the interest of young people of all backgrounds and ages.
THE WEIRD AND WONDERFUL PETS
We have carefully selected groups of exotic and unusual creatures which can be safely and legally reared at home. Most are widely available in many countries and can be sourced ethically and sustainably from specialist breeders without any negative impact on wild populations.
Each "weird and wonderful pets" episode introduces young naturalists to different zoological families and biological themes (e.g. metamorphosis, camouflage etc.).
A breakdown is provided below.
STRUCTURE OF EACH FILM
Each film will be 5-7 minutes long, presented by Stewart McPherson (presenter of the BBC's Britain's Treasure Islands), and shot in a studio setting. The films will be concise, entertaining, punchy and visually stunning. They will be aimed at inspiring young audiences and filling viewers with passion, also providing key information and knowledge.
All of the films will follow the same basic structure:
- 1 minute introducing each weird and wonderful pet.
- 2-3 minutes about basic biology, ecology, behaviour and diversity (covering key subjects such as hunting behaviour, camouflage, metamorphosis etc.).
- 2-3 minutes of instructions and tips on how to keep and care for each pet.
- Where applicable, 30 seconds to 1 minute covering conservation status in the wild and threats that they face.
EXAMPLE FILM: Stick and Leaf Insects - Masters of Disguise
- 1 min - introducing one of nature's masters of disguise (close up macro shots) and their camouflage, which makes them the best mimics of sticks, leaves and even twigs on the ground. Origins of the English name.
- 2 mins, 30 secs - explanation of reasons for camouflage and diversity of species worldwide, showing the most weird and wonderful examples - from gigantic, thin, 60 cm long Phobaeticus, to armored Eurycantha, prickly, but beautiful Extatosoma, to bright green, giant Heteropteryx, rainbow-coloured Oreophoetes and unbelievable leaf-mimic Phyllium. Each one type explained and the reasons for its unique characteristics briefly explored. Each species builds excitement and amazement at the diversity of forms and adaptations!
- 3 mins - we then look at the easiest-to-keep species, how to hatch eggs, rear nymphs, what foliage is required for feeding, temperature ranges, humidity, life spans and how to breed and collect eggs. We then a look at some of the more challenging species and their requirements in culture.
- 30 secs - overview of life in the wild and threats to their survival (deforestation and habitat loss), as well as information on how to obtain them ethically from breeders (with listings on the www.weirdandwonderfulpets.com website).
We believe that each film will REALLY excite young minds, make them more passionate about nature and more eager to learn more about the fields of biology, ecology, science and conservation. Each film will build on the last.
WHERE WILL THE FILMS GO?
The website www.weirdandwonderfulpets.com will be set up to host the films that are made. All of the films will also be available for download from the site free of charge.
All of the films will also be released on Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and through other social media platforms.
Individuals, conservation organisations, schools and zoos (and everyone else) will be free to download the films, re-post them on their websites, and use them to educate the public about weird and wonderful pets!
We want to make these films as professionally as possible, but also extremely cost-effectively. They will take months of planning and hard work to complete.
A truly incredible team of professional film-makers with decades of experience is behind this project, and will offer their services, expertise and state of the art camera and editing equipment at a fraction of the commercial rates because they believe in the importance of these films and want them to succeed (see Team section below).
The resulting films will be made to the highest standards - they will be shot on state-of-the-art 6K cameras (Red Weapon) in a studio setting.
The goal of this KickStarter campaign is to raise £11,000 to make the following ten films:
- 1. butterflies and moths
- 2. stick and leaf insects
- 3. mantises
- 4. giant millipedes
- 5. tropical arrow frogs
- 6. harmless snakes
- 7. jewel beetles
- 8. land hermit crabs
- 9. tree frogs
- 10. chameleons
Filming will require up to 10 days, with up to 15 days editing and post production.
We have negotiated rates down as much as possible, and need to raise:
- Studio hire (£100 per day) up to 10 days: £1,000
- Lighting hire (£67.50 per day) up to 10 days: £675
- Studio assistant / runner (£40 per day) up to 10 days: £400
- Cameraman (£120 per day) up to 10 days: £1,200
- Camera hire (£100 per day) up to 10 days: £1,000
- Director whilst filming (£120 per day) up to 10 days: £1,200
- Editor + editing equipment (£170 per day) up to 15 days: £2,550
- Logistics in borrowing / returning livestock from breeders: £500
- Music: £500
- Recording narration: £300
- Setting up a website: £500
- Kickstarter fees (5%) / payment processing (approx 4%): £900
Should we be lucky enough to exceed our fundraising goals, we intend to make up to 30 additional weird and wonderful pet films. If we reach £35,000, we can make the original 10 films and the 30 below:
- 11. geckos
- 12. iguanas and dragons
- 13. Triops tadpole shrimps
- 14. axolotls
- 15. tarantulas
- 16. scorpions
- 17. fiddler crabs
- 18. salamanders
- 19. giant land snails
- 20. tropical freshwater fish
- 21. tropical marine fish
- 22. freshwater lobsters
- 23. sea horses
- 24. land crabs
- 25. mudskippers
- 26. carnivorous plants
- 27. orchid terrariums
- 28. silk worms
- 29. bush crickets and katydids
- 30. harmless piranhas
- 31. whip scorpions
- 32. locusts and crickets
- 33. water bugs
- 34. assassin bugs
- 35. terrapins and freshwater turtles
- 36. giant beetles
- 37. hissing cockroaches.
- 37. giant stick insects
- 39. giant butterflies and moths
- 40. leaf-tailed geckos
THE STUDIO SETTING
The premise of the Weird and Wonderful Pet films is to show young people the mini-zoo of amazing creatures that they can keep at home in their bedrooms. To this end, we will construct a visually beautiful, explorer-style room in a studio located in Bristol, England. This will give the films an exciting and mysterious 'explorer' undertone to capture the imaginations of young people.
The team behind this project successfully constructed a similar studio setting for the opening sequences of Stewart McPherson's recent BBC series Britain's Treasure Islands. We will build a similar studio, with walls of tanks and enclosures in the background as the setting for these films.
ABOVE: A photo of the studio in Bristol which the production team created for Stewart McPherson's recent TV series Britain's Treasure Islands. A similar "explorer's" studio will be created to form the setting for the Weird and Wonderful Pet films.
THIS APPROACH WORKS
We know that this approach works.
The films created from that project can be viewed online.
These films were launched in April 2016, and some of them have already received over a quarter of a million hits, e.g.:
- British Indian Ocean Territory - coconut crabs
- Life on Tristan da Cunha - World's most remote inhabited island
The Weird and Wonderful Pets films appeal to a much broader audience base and we believe they will be watched many millions of times and play a major role in inspiring young people across the planet to become engaged with nature and more aware of current conservation issues.
The team behind this project brings together decades of experience in the wildlife film-making industry and state of the art camera equipment. Producer Steve Nicholls and cameraman Kevin Flay have been involved in creating many of the biggest TV wildlife series of the past decades for the BBC and channels across the globe. Both Steve and Kevin have too many TV credits and documentary awards to list here, but a full listing is available on www.weirdandwonderfulpets.com
The Weird and Wonderful Pet films will be made to the highest standards, and are intended to be as sleek and beautiful as the wildlife documentary series seen on mainstream TV channels.
Here is an overview of the team:
STEWART MCPHERSON (project manager and presenter)
Stewart is an award winning author of natural history books and the presenter of numerous wildlife documentaries broadcast on the BBC and internationally. He spent 8 years climbing 300 mountains across the world (some previously unexplored) to study and photograph carnivorous plants to complete a series of 25 books. During his travels, he discovered and named 35 new species and varieties of carnivorous plants, including two of the largest pitcher plants ever discovered, one of which, named after Sir David Attenborough, was declared the most important new species of 2009 by an American University. For his most recent TV series, he visited all of the UK Overseas Territories scattered across all Seven Seas. He directed and presented the resulting 4-part wildlife series titled Britain’s Treasure Islands and wrote the accompanying book by the same name. Stewart organised and successfully completed a previous Kickstarter project to make educational films from the unused footage from the Britain’s Treasure Islands TV series. He founded ArkofLife.net to safeguard species extinct in the wild and has raised and donated more than £30,000 for conservation. He has received international awards for his conservation work including, most recently, the IUCN David Given Award for Excellence in Plant Conservation.
STEVE NICHOLLS (producer and editor)
Steve is a multi-award winning freelance producer and director of nearly 30 years’ experience. He holds a PhD in entomology from the University of Bristol and is a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society. He worked as a research scientist for six years at the University of Bristol in the Zoology and Physics Departments before leaving to join the BBC’s Natural History Unit. He spent 10 years producing films and series at the BBC NHU, followed by three years at Partridge Films. Following that he set up Burning Gold Productions with Victoria Coules and together they ran this independent production company for more than 10 years. In 2010 he joined Parthenon Entertainment which was subsequently acquired by BSkyB in 2012, and then became Warehouse 51 Productions in 2014, where he was the Senior Executive Producer. He is now co-owner of Hooded Crow Pictures, enabling him to operate as a freelance producer and director. He is also an award-winning wildlife stills photographer and Vice Chairman of Avon Wildlife Trust. In 2009 he wrote the highly regarded "Paradise Found" for the University of Chicago Press.
SELECTED CREDITS FROM MAJOR BBC SERIES:
- Alien Empire – A journey to the World of Insects
- Land of the Eagle – a natural history of North America
- Atlantic Realm – 3 parts on the natural history of the Atlantic Ocean
- The Living Isles – an exploration of Britain’s natural history, from the end of the Ice Age to the present day.
KEVIN FLAY (cameraman)
Kevin has been a wildlife cameraman for over 25 years and has worked in every imaginable environment across 50 countries, from 20,000 ft up in the Andes to the shores of the Dead Sea, and from the Arctic to the Amazon rainforest. Mainly working for the BBC Natural History Unit, he has been involved in many of their landmark series such as Trials of Life, Blue Planet, Alien Empire, Life in the Undergrowth, Life in Cold Blood, Nature of Britain, Wild Down Under, Life, and Wild Madagascar. He has also been involved in the Unit's two main strands over the past twenty years, Natural World and Wildlife on One. In addition to his BBC work he has worked on projects for National Geographic, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, Smithsonian Networks and ORF, Austria.
SELECTED CREDITS FROM MAJOR BBC SERIES:
- Trials of Life (presented by David Attenborough)
- Life in Cold Blood (presented by David Attenborough)
- Life in the Undergrowth (presented by David Attenborough)
- The Hunt (narrated by David Attenborough)
- Life Stories (narrated by David Attenborough)
- Life (narrated by David Attenborough)
- Planet Earth II (still shooting)
A Weird and Wonderful Pets book will be produced alongside the films for distribution across the world. The publisher, Redfern Natural History Productions, has already offered a contract for the book.
The book will be a full colour work aimed at young people and intended to accompany the online films. It will showcase and explore each group of weird and wonderful pets in greater detail and provide more specific rearing and breeding advice and information.
Redfern published the book that accompanies Stewart McPherson's last Kickstarter project (see www.britainstreasureislands.com/books-dvds ), and managed to secure sponsorship from a London-based philanthropist to send one copy to every secondary school across the UK to educate millions of students.
We hope to secure similar sponsorship to donate copies of the Weird and Wonderful Pets book to schools in countries across the globe.
Regardless of sponsorship, the Weird and Wonderful Pets book forms an important element of the system of rewards that we are offering to supporters of this project.
WHY DOES THIS MATTER?
This project really matters. We hope to touch millions of young lives through this project and inspire young people across the globe to become passionate about wildlife, interested in learning about biology and science, and actively engaged in conservation issues. We hope to help nurture the next generation of nature enthusiasts and conservationists - please help us to achieve this goal!
CONSERVATION AND ETHICS
While we want to inspire young people to become actively engaged in nature and to encourage further learning about science and conservation, we absolutely do not wish to impact upon wild populations of any animal or plant in any way, and certainly do not wish to promote poaching of exotic animals.
All animals used for filming will be borrowed from a network of ethical livestock breeders in the UK, and all of the films will end in conservation messages relating to the species documented (for example the arrow frogs will include a message concerning the impact of habitat loss and the chytrid fungus epidemic in the wild).
We will list recommended suppliers on the Weird and Wonderful Pets website. Those suppliers will consist of ethical breeders who multiply pets sustainably in captivity without any impact on wild populations.
In addition to the main Weird and Wonderful Pet films, we also intend to film an interview-style piece as an introduction to the series of films. This will address subjects relating to conservation and ethics, specifically explaining the need to purchase livestock only from ethical suppliers. None of the species covered in these films are potentially invasive in the UK or most other cool-temperate countries, but the subject of never releasing pets into the wild and the dangers of invasive species will also be addressed.
WHAT IS OUR TIMELINE?
If this campaign is successful, we plan to film the ten films during November/December 2016 and edit them during January 2017 for launch in March 2017 along with the launch of the Weird and Wonderful Pets book.
If we exceed our funding goals and can create more than ten films, we will require a little more time to complete filming and editing, but will aim to launch all of the documentaries around June/July 2017.
APART FROM PLEDGING, IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE I CAN DO TO HELP?
Yes! Get involved and spread the word! If you pledge, we will send you links to draft (pre-release) versions of the film to watch online. 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 know the exact costs for creating the studio setting, filming and editing these short films. We have negotiated incredibly low rates on all costs, and have access to the required equipment for free or at extremely low cost. We are certain that we can create these films on the budget outlined above.
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 will enjoy!
WHAT IF I DON'T WANT A REWARD, I JUST WANT TO HELP?
Then you are just awesome! Thank you 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 project manager Stewart McPherson - stewart*at*mcpherson.net
Risks and challenges
The production team is very confident that this project can be completed on schedule and within the budget stated above. We already have been offered all required livestock from breeders and suppliers, and have all equipment required to film and edit the films. The production team has decades of experience creating similar films to date, and has already created a studio setting similar to that which would be created for this project. If the funds can be raised, we are confident we can complete these films to the highest level and inspire young people across the globe!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (60 days)