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The true story of 11-year old Abril’s struggle to protect Holbox island from the impacts of mass tourism in the Mexican Gulf.
The true story of 11-year old Abril’s struggle to protect Holbox island from the impacts of mass tourism in the Mexican Gulf.
96 backers pledged MX$ 114,440 to help bring this project to life.

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Documentary: Abril, and the whale shark island project video thumbnail
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MX$ 114,440

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¡El 13 de junio llegamos a la meta original! Vamos por una nueva SUPER-meta para cubrir todos los gastos del viaje, vean el UPDATE del 14 de junio. Nos quedan 7 días.

$130,000 pesos mexicanos

On 13th June we reached our original goal! Lets try to raise a new SUPER-goal to cover ALL the expenses of the trip. Please see the 14th June UPDATE for a detailed break-down.

¡Muchas gracias! Thank you to all our backers!
¡Muchas gracias! Thank you to all our backers!

 

-------------------------------

Descripción del proyecto en español a continuación del inglés: Abril, y la isla del tiburón ballena 

Holbox (pron. Holbosh) island is in trouble. In this documentary we want to show the lives of 3 individuals, Abril, Don Arnoldo and the whale shark, who live in and around the island, and how they are facing the dilemmas of their everyday life, which is being disrupted by the massive waves of tourists that are drawn to the island.

Our purpose is not to disuade people from visiting Holbox, but to engage the viewer in thinking about the contrasts between responsible tourism and destructive tourism, about raising public awareness of what our responsibilities are, as global tourists.

Holbox is a small strip of sand on the Gulf coast of Mexico, where the Mexican Caribbean begins, held together by mangrove roots and home to a small human community and hundreds of endemic and endangered species, in particular the whale shark which spends several months each year in the waters around the island. The beauty of Holbox and it's waters has attracted many tourists since 1994, when it was declared part of the Yum Balam Natural Protected Area

Abril on the beach
Abril on the beach

There is a management plan for the reserve, designed to protect the whale shark and other species and the eco-system as a whole, but it has been in the process of implementation for 20 years and it has never been fully achieved, for lack of funds to maintain permanent supervision over such a large area. 

Twenty years ago, Holbox was simply a small fishing community which focused primarily on catching octopus and lobster, as Abril’s father used to do. Today on Holbox, the rate of construction of hotels is unsustainable and the infrastructure is not there to cater for the overwhelming numbers of tourists. 

Our concern, and that of Abril’s family, is that the island will be drastically transformed and the eco-system irreparably damaged in the not-so-distant future if it continues to be exploited as it has been in the last few years. Abril sometimes goes with her father on the whale-shark tours and likes to talk to tourists about the importance of looking after their fragile ecosystem. Our documentary will seek to give her and other community members a voice, to promote ecologically responsible tourism.

Abril, ready to swim with the whale shark
Abril, ready to swim with the whale shark

 The wildlife

Holbox island is a refuge for more than 420 species of birds (30% migratory). It is also home to the American and the Mexican crocodiles and several species of marine turtles: the hickatee river turtle, the leatherback, loggerhead and hawksbill sea turtles, and 70 more species of reptiles and amphibians. On land there are cacomistles (Bassariscus sumichrasti, a small, nocturnal, arboreal, carnivorous mammal, related to the ringtail), spider and howler monkeys, ocelots, jaguars, anteaters and tapirs. In the waters around the island, besides the whale shark, there is a profusion of marine life including manatees, molluscs, echinoderms (a grouping of marine animals which includes starfish and sea urchins), crustaceans and many species of tropical fish.

The whale shark (Rhincodon typus) is the largest known living fish. It is a slow-moving, filter-feeding shark species that originated about 60 million years ago. In the summer it comes to feed on plankton in the waters of the Mexican Gulf. It is a supremely peaceful animal and it is therefore fascinating and safe for tourists --even snorkel novices-- to approach and swim with it, but we need to be sure that we are not harming these fascinating creatures. In recent years, the people of Holbox say the whale shark is congregating further and further from the shore and many of the local whale sharks now have scars from their encounters with the propellers of the observation boats.

A whale shark and a tourist
A whale shark and a tourist

The documentary

The documentary will be narrated by three intertwined voices: 

  •  Abril and her family; 
  •  Don Arnoldo (a defender of the island) and his dog, Lobo; 
  •  the whale shark, so silent and majestic, who always prefers to move further away rather than “discuss” with human beings and their harmful propellers, or fight for a territory that has been theirs for 60 million years. 

Each voice will tell its story with its key acoustic context and musical score. 

Abril painting a whale shark
Abril painting a whale shark

 How we would use this money:

A team of 4 will be travelling to Holbox at the end of June to do more research and start filming the place and the people. This fundraiser is in order to go on this trip and edit a short teaser which we will use to apply for more funding for the feature length documentary (it is very hard to get access to these funds if you don't already have some footage). Here is a breakdown of how we would use the funds (in Mexican pesos, with USD in brackets):

  • $30,000 (USD 1,600) will enable us to rent a Sony A7S II camera, the smallest (cheapest) professional quality camera on the market 
  • $10,000 (USD 411) will cover rental of sound equipment.
  • $10,000 (USD 411) is the cost of insurance for people and equipment for the trip. 
  • $24,000 (USD 1280) will cover transport to Holbox and back to our homes (including flights, bus and ferry) 
  • $22,000 (USD 1170) will cover hotel stay for 4 people for 10 nights (breakfast included) at low price. 
  • Abril’s mother will help us enormously with food, because she has a little restaurant and she will feed us one main meal each day, but we would like to be able to contribute at least the price of the ingredients. 
  • $21,000 (USD 1120) will cover 3 boat-trips to see the whale shark, the mangroves and flamingos  
  • $36,000 (USD 2000) will cover the cost of post-producing the teaser (this means sorting through the hours of filmed material from the trip, editing, cleaning up sound and fixing colours that vary depending on the light and time of day, and leaving us with a clean, finished and subtitled product).

These costs add up to more than $150,000 Mexican pesos (about $8000 USD or 6200GBP) which is more than this kickstarter campaign. Because of the way Kickstarter works, if we set a very high target and do not reach it, we cannot receive any of the funds you pledge. So we have set a lower target than we really need, and hope that you will be able to help us surpass our target. (In addition, 5% of pledged funds go to Kickstarter, and 3-5% to payment processing fees.)

We mean to go to Holbox anyway, but so far the director and producer have covered all the expenses and we are in the red!  It would be a dream come true if we managed to raise double our target so that in addition to covering costs as detailed above, we could also start to pay our crew for their great work and dedication!!

Our crew:

  • Isabel Cárdenas Cortés (director/scriptwriter/soundwoman)
  • Dora Napolitano (producer/assistant photographer)
  • Diego Cruz Cilveti (photographer/data wrangler)
  • Dení Rayn Villalba (scientific adviser)

Thank you for taking the time to read about our project, we hope that you're inspired to support us by:

1. Contributing financially to our campaign!

2. Sharing this Kickstarter with your friends, family, and followers!

With great thanks!

Dora & Isabel

Photo credits

The photos of Abril in this Kickstarter campaign are courtesy of her family.

The photos of the whale shark were taken by Valeria Mass.

-----------ESPAÑOL----------

Abril y la isla del tiburón ballena

Esta película nos muestra, desde la perspectiva de una niña, el impacto del turismo en una de las últimas islas prístinas del Caribe mexicano. Abril, una pelirroja de 11 años, ha crecido junto al tiburón ballena y ahora lucha por salvar su habitat.

The whale shark (Rhincodon typus)
The whale shark (Rhincodon typus)

Antecedentes

La isla de Holbox está en problemas. En este documental queremos mostrar las vidas de tres individuos, Abril, Don Arnoldo y el tiburón ballena, que viven en y alrededor de la isla, y que enfrentan dilemas diarios con los cambios provocados por las oleadas de turistas que llegan a la isla. 

Nuestro objetivo no es disuadir a los visitantes, sino hacer pensar al espectador sobre los contrastes entre el turismo responsable y el turismo destructivo, para concientizar al publico sobre nuestras responsabilidades como turistas nacionales y globales. 

Holbox es una isla de arena blanca en la costa del Golfo de México, donde empieza el Caribe mexicano, sostenida por las raíces del manglar. En ella viven una pequeña comunidad humana y cientos de especies endémicas y amenazadas, en particular el tiburón ballena que pasa varios meses de cada año en las aguas alrededor de la isla. La belleza de Holbox y sus aguas ha atraído a muchos turistas desde 1994, cuando fue declarada parte del Area Natural Protegida Yum Balam. 

Hay un plan de manejo en la reserva, con el objetivo de proteger al tiburón ballena y otras especies y el ecosistema en general, pero lleva 20 años en el proceso de implementación y no se ha logrado plenamente, por falta de fondos para mantener una supervisión permanente en una extensión tan amplia. 

Hace 20 años, Holbox era simplemente una comunidad pesquera que se dedicaba principalmente a pescar pulp y langosta, como hacía el papá de Abril. Ahora en Holbox, el ritmo de construcción de hoteles es insostenible y no existe la infraestructura para alojar a la cantidad de turistas que llegan. 

Nuestra preocupación, y la de la familia de Abril, es que, si no se detiene la explotación acelerada de la isla, muy pronto los daños y transformaciones al ecosistema ya serán irremediables. Abril a veces acompaña a su papá en los tours a ver el tiburón ballena y le gusta platicar con los turistas sobre la importancia de cuidar su frágil ecosistema. Nuestro documental busca darle a ella y otros miembros de la comunidad la palabra para promover el turismo ecológicamente responsable.

Abril, jugando con las gaviotas
Abril, jugando con las gaviotas

La fauna

La isla de Holbox es un refugio para más de 420 especies de aves (30% migratorias). También hay cocodrilos americanos y mexicanos, varias especies de tortugas marinas y otras 70 especies de reptiles y anfibios. En tierra firme hay cacomistles, monos araña y aulladores, ocelotes, jaguares, osos hormigueros y tapires. En las aguas alrededor de la isla, además del tiburón ballena, hay muchísima vida marina como el manatí, moluscos, crustáceos y muchas especies de peces tropicales.

El tiburón ballena (Rhincodon typus) es el pez más grande del mundo. Es una especie de tiburón lento y tranquilo que se originó hace 60 millones de años. Viene a las aguas del Golfo de México a alimentarse del plankton entre mayo-septiembre cada año. Sus cualidades lo hacen un animal fascinante y seguro para que los turistas se acerquen y naden con él. Pero hay que estar seguros que no les estamos provocando daños a estos animales enormes. La gente de Holbox dice que el tiburón ballena se está congregando cada vez más lejos de la isla y muchos de los individuos locales llevan cicatrices en sus aletas dorsales de las heridas que les han provocado las helices de las lanchas turísticas.

El documental

Abril, y la isla del tiburón ballena estará narrada a través de tres voces entrecruzadas: 

  •  la de Abril y su familia, 
  •  la de Don Arnoldo (un defensor de la isla) y su perro “Lobo”; 
  •  y por supuesto la del tiburón ballena, que es tan silencioso y majestuoso, que prefiere irse cada vez más lejos que “discutir“ con el ser humano y sus propelas que le hacen daño, o pelear por un territorio que le pertenece desde hace 60 millones de años, y al que nosotros deberíamos respetar como un santuario. 

 Cada personaje tendrá un tema musical y un contexto acústico.

Abril hablando del tiburón ballena con la hija de la directora
Abril hablando del tiburón ballena con la hija de la directora

Como usaríamos el dinero 

Un equipo de 4 viajaremos a Holbox a fines de junio para hacer más investigación y empezar a filmar el lugar y la gente. Esta campaña de financiamiento es para juntar los fondos para este viaje y la edición de un corto con el material que filmemos. Este corto o teaser lo usaremos para solicitar fondos más grandes para volver varias veces más para juntar el material del largometraje (es muy difícil acceder a los fondos si no tenemos ya algo filmado).

Aquí les hacemos un desglose de como usaríamos los fondos (en pesos mexicanos, con dólares USD entre paréntesis):

  • $30,000 (USD 1,600) nos permitirá rentar una Cámara Sony A7S II, la cámara de calidad profesional más económica
  • $10,000 (USD 411) la renta del equipo acústico.
  • $10,000 (USD 411) cubrirá el seguro para el equipo humano y el equipo técnico. 
  • $24,000 (USD 1280) será el monto por el transporte a Holbox (incluido vuelos, camioneta, ferry)
  • $22,000 (USD 1170) será el costo del hotel para 4 personas, 1 semana a precio amigo.
  • La mamá de Abril nos va a ayudar muchísimo dándonos una comida al día en su fondita, pero quisiéramos poder contribuirle por lo menos el costo de los ingredientes.
  • $21,000 (USD 1120) es el costo de 3 viajes en lancha a ver el tiburón ballena, los manglares y flamingos
  • $36,000 (USD 2000) cubrirá los costs de la post-producción del teaser con amigos (esto incluye la calificación del material filmado, edición, ajustes de sonido y color, los subtítulos, para terminar con un producto pulido).

La mamá de Abril nos va a ayudar muchísimo dándonos una comida al día en su fondita, pero quisiéramos poder contribuirle por lo menos el costo de los ingredientes. 

Estos costos suman más de $150,000 pesos mexicanos (unos $8000 USD o 6200GBP) que es más que el monto de esta campaña de Kickstarter. Dada la manera en la que funciona kickstarter, si poníamos una meta muy alta y no lo alcanzábamos, no nos tocaría nada. Así que pusimos una meta más baja que lo que realmente necesitamos, pero esperamos poder superar la eta. (Además los donantes deben saber que un 5% del financiamiento se los queda kickstarter y otros 3-5% se cobran para los tramites de pagos.)

Tenemos toda la intención de ir a Holbox de todas maneras, porque nos están esperando en la comunidad, pero hasta ahora la directora y la productora han cubierto todos los gastos. sería un sueño hecho realidad si pudiéramos alcanzar un financiamiento de 200% de la meta y que pudiéramos empezarles a pagar a nuestro equipo por todo su trabajo y dedicación.

El equipo:

Isabel Cárdenas Cortés (directora/guionista/sonidista) 
Dora Napolitano (productora/asistente de fotografía) 
Diego Cruz Cilveti (fotógrafo) 
Dení Rayn Villalba (asesora científica)

Muchísimas gracias por tomar el tiempo de leer el proyecto. Esperamos que te haya inspirado a apoyarnos en alguna forma:

1. Con una contribución económica a la campaña, por más pequeña que sea.

2. Compartiendo esta campaña de Kickstarter con tus amigos, familia y seguidores.

¡¡Mil gracias!!

Dora & Isabel

Créditos de fotos

Las fotos de Abril en esta campaña de Kickstarter son cortesía de su familia.

Las fotos del tiburón ballena son de Valeria Mass.

 

Risks and challenges

This trip:
We will be travelling to Holbox during the hurricane season, and even if a storm doesn't reach hurricane force, it will limit our possibilities of going out to sea to film and completing our work plan for this trip. On the upside, if this does happen, we plan to take interesting footage of how the community manages at a time like this, which will contribute to painting a full picture of Holbox island for the feature documentary!!
We also depend on our people, who are not actors, being available to take time out of their busy lives, to explain their reality on camera. They are looking forward to our arrival, since it will contribute to their attempts to protect their island, so we hope to be able to work around other urgent activities they may have.

Este viaje:
Viajaremos a Holbox durante la temporada de huracanes y aunque una tormenta no llegue a clasificarse de huracán, limitaría nuestras posibilidades de salir al mar y completar el plan de trabajo tal como lo imaginamos. Por otro lado, si llegara a pasar, podríamos filmar escenas muy reales de como la comunidad de la isla enfrenta esta realidad, lo cual contribuirá a dar una imagen más completa de la isla para el largometraje.
Dependemos, también, de la disponibilidad de los personajes, que no son actores, para que nos cuenten sus realidades a la cámara. Nos están esperando, dado que el documental contribuye a sus esfuerzos para proteger la isla, así que tenemos muy buenas esperanzas de que tendremos tiempo para filmarlos en sus contextos normales.

The overall process:
This request for financial support is for our first filming trip to Holbox in order to enable us to make a teaser, with which to approach other funders so that we can return at least three more times over the next 16 months to complete the feature-length documentary. This is going to be a long process: there may well be glitches at various times, for example as developers and authorities become aware of our film which they may not like if they perceive that our final product may be critical of their work. We plan to approach everyone as part of this process, so that all parties can give their perspective, and let the viewer come to their own conclusions.
In addition to the process of filming, the post-production of a documentary is lengthy: the footage has to be transcoded and organised, edited, colour corrected, composed, finalised and distributed.
Each of these steps requires creativity and for several different people to coordinate in time and space, so there is always a chance that our projected completion date will be pushed back.
We are working passionately on this project, and we will carry on putting our best effort into finishing it as efficiently and meaningfully as possible.

El proceso general:
Esta solicitud de apoyo económico es para que podamos hacer nuestro primer viaje de filmación a Holbox, para que podamos luego hacer un corto para presentarnos a otros fondos para continuar filmando en 3 ocasiones durante un año para completar el material para un documental largometraje. Este será un largo camino: puede haber inconvenientes por el camino, por ejemplo a medida que otros intereses se enteren de nuestro proyecto y si no les gustara. Nosotros tenemos la intención de acercarnos a todos los que están involucrados en los procesos de la isla para que todas las partes den su perspectiva y que el espectador llegue a sus propias conclusiones.
Además del proceso de filmación, la post-producción de un documental toma tiempo: el material debe ser calificado, organizado, editado, corrección de color, la música compuesta y grabada, luego todo finalizado y distribuido.
Cada uno de estos pasos requiere creatividad y que varias personas se coordinen en el tiempo y el espacio, así que siempre existe la posibilidad que las cosas tarden más de lo que quisiéramos. Estamos trabajando de todo corazón en este proyecto, and seguiremos dando nuestro mayor esfuerzo para que lo acabemos de la manera más eficiente y coherent posible.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge MX$ 100 or more About $5

    5.50 USD or 4GBP: Thank you!

    ACCESS TO THE TRAILER:
    As soon as it is ready, you will receive a link and password to watch the teaser.

    Thank you! Every peso, dollar or pound counts!

    NB Currency equivalencies were calculated on May 3rd, so they may not match exactly at time of payment.

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    Pledge MX$ 250 or more About $13

    13USD or 10GBP: Thank you!

    HI-RES DIGITAL PHOTOS:
    you will receive a personal email expressing our thanks and a brief report of our trip to Holbox, along with a digital download of three "Abril and the whale shark island" themed desktop backgrounds.

    ACCESS TO THE TRAILER:
    As soon as the trailer is ready, you will receive a link and password to view it. (August or September 2017)

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    26.5USD or 20GBP: Thank you!!

    SEE THE FILM:
    you will receive a link and password to watch the finished documentary online (estimated: January 2019) + a link to watch the teaser (August/September 2017) + and hi-res photos + a personal email from us.

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    53USD or 40GBP: Thank you!!!

    SPECIAL EDITION DVD:
    you will receive a signed hard copy of the DVD including extra footage of interviews that will not be used in full for the final film (est. Jan 2019) + a digital copy + hi-res photos + access to the trailer as soon as it is ready (Aug/September 2017).

    Thank you for your support!!

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    Pledge MX$ 5,000 or more About $263

    265USD or 205GBP: Thank you!!!

    Thank you so much for your belief and support. You have truly made this project viable!!

    ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK:
    you will receive a digital download of the original score + a signed DVD + a digital copy + hi-res photos + access to the trailer as soon as it is ready (Aug/September 2017).

    ON SCREEN SUPPORTER: We would like to include your name under "Special Thanks" in the credits of the final documentary, with your permission.

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    Pledge MX$ 10,000 or more About $526

    553 USD or 413GBP: Thank you!!!

    Thank you so much for your belief and support. You have truly made this project viable!!

    CONSULTANT PRODUCER:
    We would like to invite you to a rough cut screening of the film (towards the end of 2018) where we will be happy to receive your feedback.

    In addition you will receive a digital download of the original score + a signed DVD with extra footage + a digital copy + hi-res photos + access to the trailer as soon as it is ready (Aug/September 2017).

    Your name will appear, with your permission, in the credits of the final documentary as Consultant Producer (December 2018 approx).

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    Pledge MX$ 20,000 or more About $1,051

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    Thank you so much for your belief and support.
    You have truly made this project viable!!

    FRAMED PHOTOGRAPHS OF WHALE SHARKS: you will receive one (of only 2) limited edition professional photographs of the whale shark in Mexican waters by Valeria Mas.

    CONSULTANT PRODUCER:
    We would like to invite you to a rough cut screening of the film (towards the end of 2018) where we will be happy to receive your feedback.

    In addition, you will receive a digital download of the original score + a signed DVD with extra footage + a digital copy (January 2019) + hi-res photos + access to the trailer as soon as it is ready (Aug/September 2017).

    Your name will appear, with your permission, in the credits of the final documentary as Consultant Producer (December 2018 approx).

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    Pledge MX$ 100,000 or more About $5,257

    5534 USD or 4132GBP: OUR HERO!!

    Thank you so much for your belief and support. You have truly made this project viable!!

    We would like to put your name in the credits of teaser (July 2017) and final documentary as Co-producer (December 2018 approx).

    JOIN THE CREW:
    In addition to all of the above rewards, we would like to invite you to join us during filming. Unfortunately we cannot cover national or international travel costs, but we can offer you 2 places in the boat with Abril to see the whale shark, sting rays and whatever else we can see that day. This filming trip would take place in June or July 2018, if all goes to plan.

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Funding period

- (40 days)