Project image
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£7,722
pledged of 50.000 £pledged of 50.000 £ goal
136
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Sun, March 31 2013 10:59 PM UTC +00:00
£7,722
pledged of 50.000 £pledged of 50.000 £ goal
136
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Sun, March 31 2013 10:59 PM UTC +00:00

About

Ben Law

'One of Ben's remarkable gifts, besides being arguably Britain's greatest living woodsman, is a knack for inspiring others.' Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

'An extraordinary man – not exactly a warrior for his cause, more the quiet victor' – Kevin McCloud.

Many of us first learned about Ben Law in 2002, when his bureaucrat-busting, cruck-framed, communally-built woodland home featured on British TV series Grand Designs.

Ben's amazing first attempt at construction might look like a spontaneous miracle by a self-taught architectect. Actually, it's just one expression of Ben's low-impact, sustainable life and work.

Ben has spent his life re-discovering and mastering a wide range of neglected skills. In Ben Law's Woodland Year we learn alongside his apprentices as he passes on his expertise.

This documentary is partly a practical guide to different ways of making a living as a modern woodsman, but it also tells the story of how this skills are linked to nature's cycle and to Ben's ecological values, and follows the lives of Ben and his apprentices through a year in the woods.

Individually and collectively, we're realizing the need to re-discover the art of living within our means. Whether you live in the woods or in a high rise, Ben has many of the answers.

Here's what some of the charities, publications and professional organizations who support this project have to say about it.  Please note that while they fully endorse the project, they are NOT funding it!

This film project offers the chance for a unique film about a unique person, woodsman and author. We are hugely excited about being able to watch this bold project develop and will be actively supporting it each step of the way.
This film project offers the chance for a unique film about a unique person, woodsman and author. We are hugely excited about being able to watch this bold project develop and will be actively supporting it each step of the way.
What a great project, watching and learning from Ben as he lives his life at Prickly Nut Wood, can be nothing but inspiring.  It’s not often that we get the chance to watch, follow and gain access to Ben’s knowledge and experience.
What a great project, watching and learning from Ben as he lives his life at Prickly Nut Wood, can be nothing but inspiring. It’s not often that we get the chance to watch, follow and gain access to Ben’s knowledge and experience.
Small Woods supports this project because  Ben Law manages his woodland with passion, commitment and dedication and produces for biodiversity, for people and for a sustainable income.  We would like to see all small woods managed in this way.
Small Woods supports this project because Ben Law manages his woodland with passion, commitment and dedication and produces for biodiversity, for people and for a sustainable income. We would like to see all small woods managed in this way.
Ben Law’s inspirational work teaches us vital lessons about living within limits. These lessons can be applied to our settlements, from woodlands to cityscapes and everything in between, helping us all to become healthier, happier and more community-minde
Ben Law’s inspirational work teaches us vital lessons about living within limits. These lessons can be applied to our settlements, from woodlands to cityscapes and everything in between, helping us all to become healthier, happier and more community-minde
We are happy to support this project. Ben is an idealist who creates the ultimate low impact, sustainable structures. His work fits in well with our ethos - he's a pioneer of eco building and an inspiration to others.
We are happy to support this project. Ben is an idealist who creates the ultimate low impact, sustainable structures. His work fits in well with our ethos - he's a pioneer of eco building and an inspiration to others.
We strongly support the understanding of our place in Earth’s ecosystems and working in harmony with them. Ben understands that humans are an integral part of nature and inspires others to adopt this perspective. We fully support this documentary.
We strongly support the understanding of our place in Earth’s ecosystems and working in harmony with them. Ben understands that humans are an integral part of nature and inspires others to adopt this perspective. We fully support this documentary.
The prospect of being able to watch a woodsman of Ben Law's calibre at work through the year is irresistible, informing and educating a wider audience in the ways of the woods, and so we wish this project good fortune.
The prospect of being able to watch a woodsman of Ben Law's calibre at work through the year is irresistible, informing and educating a wider audience in the ways of the woods, and so we wish this project good fortune.
What better way to experience woodland culture than have it demonstrated through the annual cycle of Ben’s life? As an organisation that seeks to foster the links between people and woodlands and woodland products, we fully support this documentary.
What better way to experience woodland culture than have it demonstrated through the annual cycle of Ben’s life? As an organisation that seeks to foster the links between people and woodlands and woodland products, we fully support this documentary.
Ben's is a wonderful, environment- and people-friendly way of life. At the Low Impact Living Initiative we think that low-impact living should be encouraged - people like Ben don't damage their environment, they improve it.
Ben's is a wonderful, environment- and people-friendly way of life. At the Low Impact Living Initiative we think that low-impact living should be encouraged - people like Ben don't damage their environment, they improve it.
Ben Law is recognised as the hero of sustainable self build and has been for many years. We are  proud to have featured a number of his wonderful projects over that time. We know our readers would join us in wishing you well with this timely documentary.
Ben Law is recognised as the hero of sustainable self build and has been for many years. We are proud to have featured a number of his wonderful projects over that time. We know our readers would join us in wishing you well with this timely documentary.

The Documentary

This film will be inspiring, fascinating and fun.   It will be crafted into a compelling narrative by professional storytellers.

It will not feature contrived conflict, artificial challenges or anything scripted. We believe Ben's life is fascinating enough not to need any TV 'sexing up'.   Our only 'format' is nature's annual cycle, as we see how life in Prickly Nut Wood adapts to the challenges and opportunities each season brings.

The Filmmaker

After 10 years as a news producer and reporter in the Far East for ABC, CNBC and CNN I've been making broadcast documentaries since 2000.

If you're curious about the kind of films I make - or have an existing interest in Mongolian naval history, ukuleles or Chessboxing - take a look at www.litmusfilms.com.

You'll see that I relish finding universal human stories in apparently obscure subjects.  I've made many films on inspirational pioneers who show sustainability to be a pleasure, not a penance, be they zero-carbon architects, organic farmers, school teachers, fishermen or Viking historians.

Why Crowdfunding?

For 12 years, and more than 50 films, I've been making documentaries for major broadcasters via the standard commissioning model; if I can persuade a TV station enough people will be interested in my idea, they give me money to make the film.

I've made a living doing this, but its getting harder to interest mainstream TV in this kind of one-off documentary, as they chase ratings and search for 'talent' and 'returnable formats'.

Attracted by the democratic nature of crowdfunding, I tried it for the first time last year (search for The Ukes Down Under to see how it turned out).  Crowdfunding turned out to be a great way to reach out directly to people I know will love the film and give them the opportunity to help make it happen.

Woodland charities, permaculture organizations and eco-architects have all welcomed this project (see below for what they say about it) and share my belief there's a neglected audience for Ben Law's Woodland Year.   We know you're out there!

What We Need

We've been filming since September 2012 – as you can see from the video, we're getting some great stuff.  I want Ben Law's Woodland Year to be made to the highest professional standards but I can't keep funding it myself - so that's where you come in.

£50,000 will pay for filming life in Prickly Nut Wood over the course of a year from September 2012 to September 2013, and turning that footage into a broadcast-quality documentary of around one hour plus plenty of DVD extras.

This sum covers all the costs of filming and post-production, such as editing, sound mixing, grading, music, graphics, animation, marketing, distribution, DVD design & production.

What You Get

In return for your contributions we're offering a range of rewards - from your name appearing in the end credits to a day in the woods with Ben.

As we go along, we'll be making a series of instructional how-to videos with Ben explaining his tricks of the trade, which you can download as the year goes by, season by season.  The three we're planning for Winter are :

  • Fruit Tree Pruning & Fertilizing

  • Cleaving with Axe, Wedge & Adze

  • Squirrel Control

There are also great deals on films from the Litmus Films back catalogue. Some are on sustainable themes, others (as we all have more than one interest) on utterly different topics.  The films on offer for this reward are:

  • Arctic Outdoor Kindergarten (outdoor education)

  • The Budapest Children's Railway (Soviet relic's educational excellence)

  • Bill Dunster's Zero Carbon Mission (pioneering eco-architect)

  • Sir's Happy Little Greenhouse World (schoolboy orchid conservation)

  • 4 Strings & The Truth (portrait of a ukulele maestro)

  • Looking For Love In Modern Ireland (matchmaking moves on)

  • The Mongolian Navy: all at sea (landlocked naval history)

  • Chessboxing: You Saw It Here First (see it to believe it)

To help you choose, descriptions and sample clips are available at www.litmusfilms.com.


Finally, Ben has kindly agreed to host two Days In The Woods.  These provide a rare chance to learn directly from Ben himself, gain hands-on training in various woodland skills and experience life in Prickly Nut Wood for yourself.  

The £500 reward is for anyone with an interest in woodland craft/management, natural history, or sustainability/permaculture.   

The £1,000 reward is designed specifically for people with an interest in eco-architecture, whether you're a professional architect or planning your own self-build.   The day will focus on roundwood timber building and is designed to address the Sustainable Architecture module of RIBA's Continuous Professional Development Core Curriculum.

Food is included for both days, but not transport costs.

We hope everyone will find something to suit them – and remember, we only get your money if we reach our target.  If we don't, you pay nothing!

Ben demonstrating cleaving.
Ben demonstrating cleaving.
Ben explains the art of log peeling.
Ben explains the art of log peeling.

Risks and challenges

Any project following someone over the course of a year risks unexpected developments, from illness of key personnel to bad weather, and no one can guarantee the future.

Having said this, the whole point of Ben Law's Woodland Year is that we're not filming a unique event fraught with risk and peril, simply documenting what Ben has been doing in Prickly Nut Wood for the past 20 years.

Another potential risk with anything involving unique, exclusive access is the project being scuppered by sudden unexpected withdrawal of permission to film.

Again, the risk in Ben's case is remote. He's not a person to take decisions lightly, or to reverse a commitment once he's made it - just ask anyone who's done business with him, including broadcasters!

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £10 or more About US$ 13

    THANKS: Your name credited onscreen on the documentary DVD.

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    Pledge £20 or more About US$ 26

    PROLOGUE: 'THANKS' reward PLUS digital download of prologue film 'Apprentice Selection Week'.

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    Pledge £30 or more About US$ 39

    HOW-TO PICK & MIX: 'PROLOGUE' reward PLUS digital download of ONE of three Ben Law instructional videos per season (i.e. 4 in total)

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    Pledge £40 or more About US$ 52

    HOW-TO FULL SET: 'PROLOGUE' reward PLUS
    digital download of full set of instructional videos (i.e. 12 in total)

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    Pledge £50 or more About US$ 65

    BACK CATALOGUE PICK & MIX: 'HOW-TO FULL SET' reward PLUS digital download of ONE documentary on offer from the Litmus back catalogue.

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    Pledge £50 or more About US$ 65

    THE DOCUMENTARY: 'THANKS' reward PLUS a Crowdfunder's Edition DVD of Ben Law's Woodland Year documentary.

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    Pledge £70 or more About US$ 91

    BACK CATALOGUE FULL SET: 'HOW-TO FULL SET' reward PLUS digital downloads of THREE documentaries on offer from the Litmus back catalogue.

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    Pledge £80 or more About US$ 104

    BEN FULL SET: Everything featuring Ben, i.e. THE DOCUMENTARY reward PLUS the HOW-TO FULL SET reward - £90-worth of documentary and videos for only £80.

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    Pledge £100 or more About US$ 131

    BOX SET: 'BACK CATALOGUE FULL SET' reward PLUS Crowdfunder's Edition DVD of Ben Law's Woodland Year documentary.

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    Pledge £300 or more About US$ 392

    DISCOUNT SET: TEN Crowdfunder's Edition DVDs of Ben Law's Woodland Year documentary for the price of 6.

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    Pledge £500 or more About US$ 653

    DAY WITH BEN: 'BOX SET' reward PLUS a day in the woods with Ben Law Sat June 29 2013.

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    Pledge £1,000 or more About US$ 1,306

    ARCHITECTS DAY WITH BEN: 'BOX SET' reward PLUS a day in the woods with Ben Law Tue 2nd July 2013 specially designed for architects.

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    Pledge £5,000 or more About US$ 6,529

    ASSOCIATE PRODUCER: Individual Associate Producer credit on DVD cover & end credits and 5 copies of BOX SET reward.

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Funding period

- (41 days)