We continue to be amazed by the generosity and support you all have shown us. We couldn’t be happier about that, so we are excited to announce that we have reached our initial Kickstarter fundraising goal of $20,000!
But we're not stopping there. We still have many days left in the fundraising campaign and we're working towards a new stretch goal of $32,500. If we can meet this goal it will allow us to increase the number of filming trips we can do this year, including a trip during hurricane season. Can you help get us there?
The award winning filmmakers of PLAGUES & PLEASURES ON THE SALTON SEA and EVERYDAY SUNSHINE: THE STORY OF FISHBONE present a new offbeat environmental documentary about giant swamp rats invading coastal Louisiana. RODENTS OF UNUSUAL SIZE will tell the story of a defiant people on the edge of the world, who are defending their communities, culture, and livelihoods from the onslaught of this curious and unexpected invasive species.
When we first heard about the nutria, we couldn't believe it. Why were they here? What did they want? And why did they insist on eating up the entire Louisiana bayou?? The more we heard, the stranger the story got.
Their webbed hind feet and enormous orange teeth were quite peculiar. We learned about the state bounty program that pays hunters and trappers $5 a tail to keep the pests under control. We also found recipes for nutria gumbo and pictures of fashion shows featuring their "environmentally friendly" fur. And then there was the story of the man out on Delacroix Island who raised a pet albino nutria who was "as smart as a dog but held a grudge."
The nutria gnawed its way into Louisiana culture and folklore. Its appetite has moved coastlines. And now the humans are fighting back by turning this invasive species into a resource and starting to eat and wear these rodents for the benefit of a healthy ecosystem.
It’s only fair that this notorious and lovable rodent get its own feature documentary!
These unique animals were first imported from Argentina in the 1930’s for their fur by the guy who invented Tabasco sauce (seriously!). As worldwide demand for fur coats diminished, the nutria were released into the wild - where they proceeded to feast on the roots of wetland plants. As a result, they transformed the bayou into high salinity wastelands. These "dead zones" no longer provide a functional buffer against hurricanes and also threaten the rich biodiversity that supports migratory birds and plant life.
These invasive rodents didn't ask to come here. But now that these South Americans have made Cajun country home, it is doubtful they will ever want to leave. A female nutria can produce dozens of babies a year, who will begin feeding on vegetation within hours after their birth. And then those babies can have their own babies within 6 months. When the fur trade was still profitable, trappers kept the nutria population in check, but after the fur market bottomed out the nutria returned by the millions.
We have to find a way to control these animals if we don’t want to lose Louisiana to the sea. If people begin to recognize nutria as an eco-friendly resource and find uses for their meat and fur, it would help protect the environment by finding productive uses for this invasive species.
You can actually be eco-sustainable by eating meat and buying fur!
During our research trip we met a lot of interesting two legged characters who were profoundly affected by the nutria. Despite the unstoppable threat of hurricanes and giant rodents, we were amazed by these peoples' determination to keep re-building. They were all fiercely independent, proud of their heritage, fantastic cooks, and suspicious of the rodents who were on the verge of destroying their communities.
RODENTS OF UNUSUAL SIZE won't just be about freakishly large swamp rats. It will be a feature documentary about the changing landscape and culture of the Louisiana bayou. What are the true environmental and sociological impacts of coastal erosion? What happens to a culture when confronted with certain devastation? Why do people continue to return and re-build in the face of environmental destruction? How can we use invasive species as sustainable resources? Do nutrias make good pets? Does nutria really taste better than steak?
Our filmmaking journey is just beginning, but this is a timely story that grows in urgency as the Louisiana coastline continues to recede under threat from the nutria. To make this film, we need to return to Louisiana soon, before the spring grasses grow too high to see the elusive rodents.
This coming trip will mark the first major shoot of our film and will be essential to getting it off the ground. We need to get on planes, boats, and automobiles; eat food, cover crew, buy hard drives, and film in some very remote locations. This all gets expensive fast. Your support will make this shoot happen. We're also hoping to use the funds to begin work on editing a rough cut.
If we reach our fundraising goal via Kickstarter it will give us enough footage to get to the next phase of the project. We'll be able to take the film to pitch forums, grants, documentary funds, etc. We want to start this film and we need your help!
By donating, you not only get to show your support for eco-sustainability, but you also get the chance to score some pretty cool stuff. We have t-shirts, DVDs, nutria teeth necklaces, hairy wine holsters, swamp tours, and even credits in the film.
Let's freak out your friends with your furry and strangely water resistant nutria schwag and help us get this film made. Donate today, before we run out of t-shirts and/or Louisiana sinks into the sea.
Chris, Jeff, and Quinn
Risks and challenges
The biggest challenges that we as filmmakers face with this project is that many of the film's characters are in relatively remote parts of Louisiana that are only accessible by boat. Trips to the area take a lot of time because everybody is so spread out. The funds from this campaign will greatly aid us in making the necessary in-person connections with our characters and help us in determining how best to tell their stories.
This is a timely story that grows in urgency as the Louisiana coastline continues to recede under threat from the nutria.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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