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This is a story that’s never been told, about tackling climate change one penguin at a time… Read more

Bethesda, MD Documentary
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This project was successfully funded on October 10, 2013.

This is a story that’s never been told, about tackling climate change one penguin at a time…

Bethesda, MD Documentary
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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. 

www.penguincountersmovie.com

THE FILM

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.

Tackling climate change, one penguin at a time
Tackling climate change, one penguin at a time

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.

Penguins are on the move!
Penguins are on the move!

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. 

Ron, Steve & Paula searching for a colony of penguins
Ron, Steve & Paula searching for a colony of penguins

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.

Penguins who change their food and nesting grounds are thriving as their environment warms.
Penguins who change their food and nesting grounds are thriving as their environment warms.

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. 

They know they're out there somewhere
They know they're out there somewhere

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.

Penguins on the move speak volumes about flexibility and climate change
Penguins on the move speak volumes about flexibility and climate change

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

Scouting for penguin colonies around Deception Island
Scouting for penguin colonies around Deception Island

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.

Opus is a penguin with attitude! Poster by Berkeley Breathed
Opus is a penguin with attitude! Poster by Berkeley Breathed

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

FAQ

Rewards

  • You selected
    Pledge $5 or more

    10 backers

    Thank you for joining our campaign! You get a penguin hug & HUGE THANKS for supporting a film that shows what penguins-on-the-move can tell us about adapting to climate change. Plus you will get regular email updates about the film & Ron’s work. Every email includes a new ANTARCTIC DESKTOP WALLPAPER DOWNLOAD. Great stuff!

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $10 or more

    2 backers

    NEW!! If you donate $10 you get 3 specially made PENGUIN COUNTERS campaign postcards, with our COUNT ME IN! penguin on the front, and a wildlife image on the back. Plus you get everything in the $5 tier reward.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $15 or more

    16 backers

    You get a Penguin Class THANK YOU IN THE FILM’S CREDITS, in addition to the email updates with desktop wallpaper.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $20 or more

    1 backer

    NEW!! If you donate $20 you receive a special COUNT ME IN! fridge magnet, in addition to what's offered in the $15 tier reward.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $25 or more

    55 backers

    You get a DIGITAL LINK TO THE FESTIVAL COPY OF OUR FILM when it's ready plus 2 SUPER COOL PENGUIN RINGTONES from a special field recording made by Ron in the Antarctic. Friends, family and work mates will love being interrupted by your incoming calls! Plus the email updates with desktop wallpaper & the THANK YOU film credit.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $35 or more

    20 backers

    You get a set of 4 COUNT ME IN! PENGUIN COASTERS to keep your Polar drinks steady; plus A SUITE OF 3 FANTABULOUS RINGTONES! Included are digital link to the film when ready, the email updates with the desktop wallpaper & a THANK YOU film credit.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $40 or more

    1 backer Limited (23 left of 24)

    NEW!! If you donate $40, you can count penguins in your dreams with a desktop calculator that has an image of our COUNT ME IN! penguin on top. In addition you get everything in the $35 reward tier.

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    Pledge $50 or more

    68 backers

    You get a SIGNED DVD OF OUR FINISHED FILM when it’s ready, plus special access to an ORIGINAL ESSAY ABOUT RON'S MAD OBSESSION WITH PENGUINS written for us by award-winning British author & journalist Bella Bathurst. Bella is famed for The Bicycle Book, The Lighthouse Stevensons (Ron’s favorite book) and the Wreckers. Plus you get 4 COUNT ME IN! PENGUIN COASTERS, a suite of 4 RINGTONES, the emails & the THANK YOU film credit. Go Penguins!

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $70 or more

    5 backers

    NEW!! If you donate $70 you get a beautiful, tote bag made of cotton with our COUNT ME IN! penguin logo, in addition to everything offered in the $50 tier.

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    Pledge $75 or more

    33 backers

    You get a VERY COOL T-SHIRT, featuring our penguin with attitude that says, 'COUNT ME IN;' Plus the 4 COASTERS, SIGNED DVD, Bella’s essay, 5 ringtones including one of RON IMITATING A PENGUIN; the emails with desktop wallpaper and a THANK YOU credit on the film.

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    Pledge $100 or more

    34 backers

    You get to JOIN RON BIRDING IN THE MID-ATLANTIC area. For anyone new to bird watching, this is a revelation, including when Ron imitates their calls! You also get the dazzling COUNT ME IN! PENGUIN T-SHIRT; the 4 COUNT ME IN! COASTERS, the signed DVD, Bella’s essay, 6 wild ringtones, the emails with the desktop wallpaper & a THANK YOU credit.

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    Pledge $125 or more

    5 backers

    You get to INVITE RON TO YOUR DINNER PARTY VIA SKYPE where he will talk with you & your friends about penguins and working in the Antarctic. OR for your children & grandchildren, Ron will arrange his much-loved classroom SKYPE TALK ABOUT PENGUINS. You also get the COUNT ME IN! T-SHIRT; Bella’s essay, the signed DVD, the 4 COASTERS, the emails, 7 ringtones including a GROSS SNORT BY AN ELEPHANT SEAL & a THANK YOU film credit.

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    Pledge $150 or more

    11 backers

    You get a SIGNED COPY OF OCEANITES' SITE GUIDE TO THE ANTARCTIC PENINSULA, which charts the welfare of seabirds, penguins and wildlife across the Antarctic Peninsula. YOU WILL ALSO BE INVITED TO A DINNER PARTY WITH RON, PETER & HARRIET to talk about and view images of – what else – penguins! Included are the 4 COASTERS, signed DVD, Bella’s essay, 8 ringtones, the emails with desktop wallpaper, & the THANK YOU film credit.

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    Pledge $175 or more

    0 backers

    You get either the COUNT ME IN T-SHIRT or the SITE GUIDE TO THE ANTARCTIC; plus A SKYPE CRITIQUE OF YOUR DOCUMENTARY IN PROGRESS by Peter and Harriet. They will review your film with an eye on the storytelling, your proposal, and make suggestions for reaching the finish line. Great value for the time and consideration this will take. You also get the signed DVD, the 4 coasters, Bella’s essay, 9 ringtones, the emails & the THANK YOU film credit.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $200 or more

    11 backers

    You get an ELEGANT, ORIGINAL SIGNED OCEANITES POSTER plus a VIP INVITATION TO JOIN US AT AN OPENING SCREENING OF THE PENGUIN COUNTERS. You also get the signed DVD, the 4 coasters, Bella’s essay, 10 ringtones, the emails with desktop wallpaper, & the THANK YOU film credit.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $350 or more

    1 backer

    You get A SIGNED COPY OF OCEANITES SITE GUIDE TO THE ANTARCTIC PENINSULA, the VIP INVITATION TO JOIN US AT AN OPENING SCREENING of THE PENGUIN COUNTERS; 4 PENGUIN COASTERS and a choice of the SKYPE PENGUIN DINNER PARTY talk by Ron OR his CLASSROOM SKYPE PENGUIN TALK. Included are the signed DVD, the 4 coasters Bella’s essay, the emails with desktop photos, 11 wild ringtones and the THANK YOU film credit.

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    Pledge $500 or more

    11 backers

    You get a SPECIAL DONORS CIRCLE THANK YOU in the film's credits, go BIRDING WITH RON in the Mid-Atlantic; then attend a DINNER PARTY WITH RON, PETER & HARRIET in which all things Penguin will be seen and discussed; plus you get the signed OCEANITES SITE GUIDE & COUNT ME IN T-SHIRT. Included are also the VIP INVITATION to our opening screening, the signed DVD, the 4 coasters, the emails, Bella’s essay and 12 awesome ringtones!

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    Pledge $1,000 or more

    1 backer

    You get a beautiful, specially made POSTER OF OPUS THE PENGUIN MADE BY BERKELEY BREATHED, WHICH SAYS ‘WE COUNT PENGUINS SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO!’ Plus you get to go BIRDING WITH RON, come to a PENGUIN DINNER PARTY with RON, PETER & HARRIET, ATTEND A VIP OPENING SCREENING OF OUR FILM, receive our COUNT ME IN! PENGUIN T-SHIRT, and arrange for the children in your life to hear Ron do his CLASSROOM TALK ABOUT PENGUINS VIA SKYPE. Included are the signed DVD, the 4 coasters, the VIP screening, Bella’s essay, the emails with desktop wallpaper, 13 ringtones and the SPECIAL DONORS CIRCLE THANK YOU film credit.

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    Pledge $2,500 or more

    2 backers

    You will receive the SITE GUIDE to the Antarctic Peninsula; the COUNT ME IN T-SHIRT, an original, signed OCEANITES poster by Ron, & THE SIGNED OPUS 'WE COUNT PENGUINS SO YOU DON'T HAVE TO' poster. You also get to go BIRDING WITH RON and attend a PENGUIN-THEMED DINNER PARTY WITH RON, PETER & HARRIET. Included are the VIP INVITATION to an opening screening, the emails, Bella’s essay, the signed DVD, the 4 coasters, 14 ringtones and the SPECIAL DONORS CIRCLE THANK YOU film credit.

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    Pledge $5,000 or more

    2 backers

    You become an EXECUTIVE PRODUCER of our film - welcome to our team! In addition you get to go birding with Ron and attend the penguin themed dinner party with Ron, Peter & Harriet. You also get the OCEANITES SITE GUIDE, the COUNT ME IN! T-SHIRT, the signed OCEANITES poster by Ron, & THE OPUS 'WE COUNT PENGUINS SO YOU DON'T HAVE TO' poster; plus the signed DVD, the VIP screening, Bella’s essay, the emails with desktop wallpaper, 20 awesome ringtones and our humblest, heartfelt thanks.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $10,000

    0 backers

    You become a SENIOR EXECUTIVE PRODUCER and we welcome you to join us in a final stage of the edit. In addition you get to go birding with Ron and attend the penguin themed dinner party with Ron, Peter & Harriet. You also get the OCEANITES SITE GUIDE, the COUNT ME IN! T-SHIRT, the signed OCEANITES poster by Ron, & THE OPUS 'WE COUNT PENGUINS SO YOU DON'T HAVE TO' poster; plus the signed DVD, the VIP screening, Bella’s essay, the emails with desktop wallpaper, 20 awesome ringtones and our humblest, most heartfelt thanks for supporting our independent voice on a meaningful subject in a busy media world.

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States

Funding period

- (31 days)