About this project
THE PENGUIN COUNTERS
Thank you, thank you, thank you! Thank you so much everybody, for donating and sharing. So many of you have been counted in, and we are grateful to each of you. Our updates describe how we will use additional funds to expand on the science, and create educational videos for schools and the web. Please keep in touch with our progress via our website. And for anyone who wishes to make a donation, you can do so on our website.
Armed with low-tech gear and high-minded notions that penguin populations hold the key to human survival, Ron Naveen lays bare his 30-year love affair with the world’s most pristine scientific laboratory: Antarctica. From the tip of Argentina to the ominous Deception Island, our film follows a 21st century Dr. Dolittle who dreams of conserving this stunning but fragile region for future generations.
Famed as a place that ‘wants you dead,’ Ron and his intrepid field-biologists have tracked the welfare of 200 colonies of penguins in an area of half a million square miles for over twenty years. And what they’ve learned is that penguins truly are the canaries in the coal mine. With some colonies thriving and others declining, Ron believes the penguins are sending game-changing signals about what it takes to cope with one of the world's most rapidly warming climates and increasingly volatile weather.
What we love about this film is not just the dedication of ordinary people whose day job includes some of the wildest, stormiest, coldest corners on the planet; or Ron’s perseverance over two decades, turning skeptics into supporters as he scrapes together funding, hitching rides on whatever ships can spare the room; What we love is that the film packs important science in with an emotive adventure, shifting perceptions about climate change from pessimism to empowerment along the way.
From a government lawyer to penguin counter, our film shows how one man’s passion for birds resulted in the world’s most comprehensive data-base ever achieved on the Antarctic Peninsula – information that would not exist if Ron hadn’t quit his job thirty years ago and headed South. This ongoing census details how colonies that tackle the changes in their midst flourish, while those that ignore the changes, decline. Known as the Antarctic Site Inventory, Ron’s data has become indispensable to polar scientists and all fifty nations of the Antarctic Treaty System, who collectively manage 10% of the planet.
Haunted by the ghosts of fallen explorers, charmed by the eccentricities of feathered bipeds, Ron may well be possessed by the spirit of Dr. Dolittle. Therein lies his conviction that we can tackle climate change in positive ways, starting with what penguins reveal as they respond to - and embrace - ongoing transformations in their surroundings.
WE NEED YOUR HELP
For six weeks our team – Peter Getzels, Erik Osterholm and Harriet Gordon – shot over 71 hours of material. This was a labor of love, a film we dreamed of for many years. Now we want to share this story. But to make this happen, we must edit a cut we can submit to film festivals around the world. This work will include two additional shoots about the science behind the Antarctic Site Inventory; securing archival footage to build a scene we filmed about Ernest Shackleton’s story; plus do the scripting, editing, music, voice-over, sound mixing, color correction and graphics.
As some of you might know, fund-raising through Kickstarter is an adrenaline-fueled all-or-nothing effort! But we chose this route because we like the inclusiveness of Kickstarter and the direct connection that builds between you and us. If we reach our goal, we will begin editing immediately. But if we fall short, we will get nothing and will have to delay our film about Ron's game-changing work. We are appealing to you to join our campaign. We value every donation large or small with enormous thanks and appreciation. As a benefit, we have arranged for the Kickstarter donations to go through ‘Oceanites,’ Ron’s non-profit science & educational foundation, which is a §501(c)(3) organization. That means all donations made in the US are potentially tax deductible.
A donation to our film means you will be supporting the greater understanding of oceans and wildlife in the Antarctic, and the welfare of our planet. You will also be joining our effort to inspire kids about scientific field work in the wild. To everyone who donates, we want to show our thanks with incredible rewards. And to everyone who reads this, we hope you will forward our Kickstarter link to family, friends, colleagues and penguin lovers of all stripes: Please join our effort!
MEET THE TEAM
Getzels Gordon Productions have produced, directed, filmed and written over 40 documentaries and series from their base in the UK and Washington DC. Their films have won multiple international awards including several Emmy nominations. Peter’s ongoing PBS science series, 'Closer to Truth' is now in its eleventh season. Our G2 post production team includes editor Catherine Shields whose work has earned two Oscars and two Emmys; editor, author & music critic Marc Masters; line-producer Kelli Serena; and unyielding assistance from Patrick Foust, Christine Ryan and Noah Bronstein.
A birdwatcher since childhood, Ron Naveen worked as a lawyer in Washington DC until he couldn’t stand it anymore. Leaving his job to travel in search of birds, he landed in Antarctica in 1982, lecturing and leading trips on expedition tour ships. Five years later Ron founded Oceanites with a mission to advance the understanding of oceans and wildlife. Ron and his counters have produced the most comprehensive database ever achieved in this fragile region, known as the Antarctic Site Inventory. In 2011 the US Board on Geographic Names named a bay in the Antarctic 'Naveen Cove'.
YOU GET AWESOME REWARDS
We are offering super rewards if you join our campaign: everything from original penguin and wildlife ringtones recorded in the Antarctic by Ron, to classroom talks, DVDs, a signed 'Opus the Penguin' poster by Berkeley Breathed, Ron's Antarctic Site Guide and more. In addition, we’ll keep you posted behind the scenes as our film gets made, and send you a beautiful desktop photograph from the Antarctic with every new email.
Listen to some ringtones
Just for fun, a penguin montage
Watch the burial of Frank Wild beside Sir Ernest Shackleton
Frank Wild, Shackleton's right hand man, always wanted to be buried beside his boss. 72 years after his death in South Africa, his wish was realized. This is the day of the burial of his ashes which we filmed in the old whaling station of Grytviken on South Georgia Island.
Risks and challenges
So far our entire production has been self-financed. But we cannot afford to self-finance post-production. Penguins are irresistible, and planting their story in the heart of an expedition film with a positive message will have wide appeal. In order to produce a compelling, paradigm-shifting, festival-ready cut we must reach our fund-raising goal! After that we may need more funding to cover finishing costs but what's crucial now is getting a really good first pass that we can show, and that will attract the level of distribution we know we can achieve. Every little bit on Kickstarter gets us closer to reaching our goal. By supporting our documentary, you will join our quest to complete this unique film. With your support we can be ready for festival entries by the first quarter of 2014.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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