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Keiko The Untold Story of the Star of Free Willy invites you to a World Premiere screening at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood! Read more

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This project was successfully funded on March 27, 2013.

Keiko The Untold Story of the Star of Free Willy invites you to a World Premiere screening at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood!

About this project

Scheduled to coincide with the 20th Anniversary of the release of the hit film Free Willy, your contributions will bring Keiko back to Hollywood with a WORLD PREMIERE screening of the HD version of his documentary, Keiko The Untold Story of the Star of Free Willy, at the famous landmark Eqyptian Theater in Hollywood.

The event will include:

a) A screening of the 1993 Warner Bros. hit film Free Willy.

b) The World Premiere Screening of the HD Documentary, Keiko The Untold Story of the Star of Free Willy.

c) A Blue Carpet Ceremony and Reception including the Producers and to-be-announced Cast Members from both films.

Filmmaker/Director Theresa Demarest
Filmmaker/Director Theresa Demarest

My name is Theresa Demarest and I am the Portland, Oregon-based filmmaker, and producer, director, and music director of the documentary film about Keiko, the orca star of the 1993 hit movie, Free Willy

This film is an  independent project funded by me and my executive producers Nola Wilken and Jay Schornstein, with the help and encouragement of the Free Willy-Keiko Foundation, The Humane Society of the United States, OrcaLab, The Orca Conservancy, and many others.

My film about the true story of Keiko’s life and incredible legacy can help change the current world view of rehab and release of captive dolphins and orcas. Join us in this effort and let’s make a difference together. Make a pledge to our kickstarter campaign today!

This all came about because I was bitten with a passion to tell the story of this incredible orca--a story that no one seemed to know. I began production on this movie in 2007, after having been involved with the Free Willy-Keiko Foundation as a musician and fundraiser since Keiko came to Oregon in 1996.

While making this film I  learned that Keiko was the most unlikely candidate for release back into the wild…

• because of his length of time in captivity (close to 20 years)

• because his capture at a very young age (believed to be at age two)

• because of his state of ill-health. (He nearly died during his transport from Mexico to the Oregon Coast Aquarium.)

During his rehabilitation process Keiko…

• became the most well traveled orca in the world

• gained over 3000 lbs during his rehab at the Oregon Coast Aquarium

• became the largest package UPS ever delivered

• was finally airlifted back home to Iceland by an Air Force cargo plane

• Was at the time of his death, the second longest lived captive male orca in history

• and much to the dismay of the captive industry, Keiko became the only captive orca to ever be successfully rehabilitated and released back to his home waters in the North Atlantic.

My film presents never before seen footage of Keiko in the wild, with narrative support by Mark Berman of the Free Willy-Keiko Foundation, Naomi Rose, Senior Scientist for Humane Society International, and Paul Spong of OrcaLab, along with exclusive accounts of his day-to-day life by Keiko’s last two caretakers, Colin Baird and Thorbjorg (Tobba) Valdis Kristjansdottir.

With input from audiences during the film's successful run with the earlier, SD (standard definition) version at national film festivals, I have now re-cut the film, added significant newly acquired historical footage, "up-res'd" to High Definition, and remastered to full 5.1 Surround Sound. 

Now it is time to take this movie to the last stage for any creative endeavor and engage the art with its audience. That's where you are so vitally important!

WHAT YOU CAN HELP US DO NOW:

Our responsibility in this effort is to raise a minimum of $15,000 toward the costs of holding this event in Hollywood. After 20 years, many people who were involved with Keiko during his life, including those from the Free Willy series of films, are ready to see Keiko's life celebrated, understood, and discussed worldwide. 

We hope that you are among them and that you ready to join us now!

$15,000 will get us there: The proceeds from this campaign will help us cover the cost of the venue, the blue carpet ceremony and reception, and the promotion necessary to screen a World Premiere film at the prestigious and historic Egyptian Theater in Hollywood California!

REWARDS:

Our rewards for funders include the never-again-for-sale, original, standard-definition version of the movie Keiko: The Untold Story, and copies of the soundtrack CD, some signed by the Composer/Director.  

We have a variety of posters, from early festivals and later festivals, signed by different members of the movie team.  

There are movie posters from Keiko: The Untold Story (2010) as well as posters for the new movie, Keiko The Untold Story of the Star of Free Willy (2013), featuring the gorgeous photographs of Paul VanDevelder (some signed by Mr. VanDevelder):

17x11 poster
17x11 poster
Keiko The Untold Story Experts Poster 11 x 17
Keiko The Untold Story Experts Poster 11 x 17

Available rewards also include signed copies of the official book about the effort to rehabilitate Keiko, Freeing Keiko, by famous environmental author Kenneth Brower, and a few posters signed by him at an appearance with us at the 2011 Environmental Film Festival in Sonoma, California:

Posters Signed by Ken Brower author of book Freeing Keiko
Posters Signed by Ken Brower author of book Freeing Keiko

We have items that we have acquired during the filmmaking process, including a 1998 T-shirt signed on the set of Free Willy by then-child-star Jason Richter!

1998 Free Willy T-shirt signed by the child star of the film Jason Richter
1998 Free Willy T-shirt signed by the child star of the film Jason Richter

We have an original Free Willy movie poster signed by Free Willy producers Richard Donner, Lauren Shuler Donner, and Jennie Lew Tugend:

1993 Free Willy movie poster signed by Richard Donner, Lauren Shuler-Donner, and Jennie Lew Tugend
1993 Free Willy movie poster signed by Richard Donner, Lauren Shuler-Donner, and Jennie Lew Tugend

We have a limited number of prints of a well-known photo of an exuberant Keiko with a rainbow above him, taken in Norway toward the end of his life and signed by Mark Berman, Assistant Director of the Free Willy-Keiko Foundation, who actually took the photograph:

Mark Berman photo of Keiko during a visit in Iceland in 2002
Mark Berman photo of Keiko during a visit in Iceland in 2002

Last but not least, we are offering a few exciting and fun experiences or events to which we would love to welcome key funders, in Hollywood or Berkeley--please read our Rewards descriptions for details!

THE FILM: additional description

The millions of Keiko fans around the world can finally learn the truth about what really happened when Keiko, the star of Free Willy, became the first and only captive orca to be released back into the wild.  Nowhere in recent history has a captive mammal garnered as much attention as Keiko, the star of the 1993 hit film, Free Willy.

Free Willy's success, partnered with growing public interest in animals held in captivity, launched a children’s crusade that called for Keiko’s release into the wild.  

The result: a multimillion dollar project that spanned four countries, weathered endless controversy, and continues to this day through scientific research, new legislation, and ongoing popular interest.

Through first-hand accounts by the marine mammal experts charged with his care, Keiko The Untold Story of the Star of Free Willy follows Keiko: his life, his legacy of hope, and the untold story of his extraordinary years in Iceland and Norway.

An earlier version of the film, Keiko: The Untold Story, completed in July 2010, was screened as an Official Selection in numerous film festivals in the USA.  That film was honored with Best Documentary, Best Director, and Audience Choice Awards, and received invitations from all over the world.

Audience at the screening of Keiko The Untold Story at the 2011 Denver Starz Film Festival
Audience at the screening of Keiko The Untold Story at the 2011 Denver Starz Film Festival

This new, HD version takes the best of the previous version and makes it even better, thanks to improved technological tools, significant new footage, and additional professional partners.

AND FINALLY ..

We thank you, so much, for your help and support!  Together we can bring this touching and informative movie a big step closer to the worldwide fan-base Keiko earned while he was alive, and to all the new fans that his story can inspire now that it is available on film.

You can read more about it on our blog here.

Risks and challenges

There are very few risks to this project:

COSTS: Our partners in Hollywood assure us that our estimated costs for a premiere event at the Egyptian Theater are accurate.

ARRANGEMENTS: We may run into very practical challenges inherent in scheduling key venues and resources for July of this summer. We are prepared to schedule flexibly as needed to remain close to the 20th anniversary of the release of "Free Willy."

PRODUCT: There are no doubts here at all: We have a finished movie, centered on an international star, and an emotionally compelling, intellectually interesting story of Keiko's life and legacy. The earlier SD version was well received by film festival jurors and audiences, and also by key peers in other orca-related efforts. The SD film won many national Film Festival awards, including Best Documentary, Best Director, Audience Favorite, and more. We took everything we learned making the SD version, and made an even better movie for the HD release.

We appreciate the trust you place in us, and thank you for your support of this fitting tribute and World Premiere celebrating Keiko's life and legacy as an ambassador for captive whales worldwide.

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Rewards

  • You selected
    Pledge $3 or more

    10 backers

    A publicity postcard from the 2010-2011 SD film festival season, signed and smiley-faced for you by filmmaker Theresa Demarest :).

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  • You selected
    Pledge $10 or more

    7 backers

    A thank you letter from the filmmaker on Joshua Records letterhead.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $20 or more

    34 backers Limited (66 left of 100)

    A thank you note from filmmaker Theresa Demarest signed on an 11x17 publicity poster from one of the movie's SD film-festival appearances.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $50 or more

    10 backers Limited (60 left of 70)

    Two posters signed by the filmmaker from the 2010-2011 festival season. These posters are about 11”x17” and come in two styles (listing different festivals); you will receive one of each. The iconic photo by Paul VanDevelder is central in both styles.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $75 or more

    2 backers Limited (28 left of 30)

    An 17x11 festival-year SD movie poster SIGNED by the photographer of the iconic poster image, Paul VanDevelder, as well as filmmaker Theresa Demarest and Executive Producers Nola Wilken and Jay Schornstein, at the 2011 DaVinci Days Film Festival.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $125 or more

    2 backers Limited (23 left of 25)

    A "Keiko Tribute: Celebrating Keiko's Life and Legacy" DVD, SIGNED by the filmmaker. This was 12 minute music video and memorial for Keiko, originally created at the request of the Free Willy-Keiko Foundation in 2008 and commemorating the 10th Anniversary of Keiko’s successful return to his home waters after over 19 years in captivity. Theresa just re-edited this DVD for this Kickstarter project to add a thank you at the end of the film for our 2013 Kickstarter funders. This is a beautiful short for any Keiko fan!

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  • You selected
    Pledge $150 or more

    6 backers

    Funders at this level will receive a copy of the no-longer-available "Keiko: The Untold Story" SD DVD and a print of the well-known photo of Keiko breaching in Norway with a rainbow above him. This print is SIGNED by Expert Cast Member Mark Berman, Assistant Director of the Free Willy-Keiko Foundation, who took the photo when he visited the Keiko Project.. This is your chance to acquire the original edit of Keiko's untold story, released in 2010 and lauded at film festivals across the country! Honors received in addition to Official Selection include: Best Director, Best Documentary Feature, Audience Favorite, Best Film Editing.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $200 or more

    0 backers

    A complete pre-2013 package: the SD DVD SIGNED by the filmmaker, the Soundtrack CD, the "Keiko Tribute" short DVD, an unsigned SD movie poster (17"x11"), and an “experts PR one sheet." The "one sheet" is an 8-1/2” x 11", full -color, glossy, text-heavy page describing the five experts who speak in the film next to screen-shot pictures, and was used for promoting the film during its festival run. The first 25 backers at this level will receive their "one sheet" signed by the filmmaker, Theresa Demarest, the Assistant Director of the Free Willy-Keiko Foundation, Mark Berman, and the film's PR director, Deborah Gilels.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $300 or more

    0 backers Limited (3 left of 3)

    For any Earth Island Institute fans in the crowd (EII started the Free Willy-Keiko Foundation), we have a limited number of festival season posters SIGNED by Kenneth Brower, the author of the book "Freeing Keiko," Get one poster and one book if you fund our Kickstarter project at this level.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $350 or more

    0 backers Limited (30 left of 30)

    Two VIP section tickets to our World Premiere screening at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood

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  • You selected
    Pledge $500 or more

    0 backers Limited (4 left of 4)

    A personal tour for two people at Earth Island Institute--and Free Willy-Keiko Foundation--headquarters in Berkeley, CA, led by Assistant Director and Expert Cast Member Mark Berman. Date depends on coordinating with Mark's active travel schedule as he watchdogs the world's tuna industry for dolphin safety! We will work with you to arrange for your tour before Dec 31, 2013. The four tours might be scheduled together or separately. (Travel and lodging not included.)

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  • You selected
    Pledge $500 or more

    0 backers

    Four VIP section tickets to our World Premiere screening at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood

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  • You selected
    Pledge $750 or more

    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    Original Free Willy-Keiko Foundation poster SIGNED by "Free Willy" movie producers Lauren Shuler Donner, Richard Donner, and Jennie Lew Tugend, Executive Director of Earth Island Institute, Dave Phillips, and Expert Cast Member and Associate Director of the Free Willy-Keiko Foundation, Mark Berman.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $900 or more

    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    EXCLUSIVE FOR A "FREE WILLY" FAN: A 1998 “Free Willy” T-shirt signed during filming by the child star of the film, Jason Richter!

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  • You selected
    Pledge $1,000 or more

    0 backers Limited (10 left of 10)

    The “I Want Everything!” level: All of the DVDs (the SD “Keiko: The Untold Story” and “Keiko Tribute” DVDs now, the HD version when it is released) AND the Soundtrack CD, all SIGNED by the filmmaker. Two 2013 HD movie posters (11"x17"), one SIGNED by the filmmaker and one clean copy, AND two 2010 SD movie posters (11"x17"), one SIGNED by the filmmaker and one clean copy.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $1,250 or more

    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    Original "Free Willy" movie poster, SIGNED by "Free Willy" producers Richard Donner, Lauren Shuler Donner, and Jennie Lew Tugend!

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  • You selected
    Pledge $1,500 or more

    0 backers

    Two VIP section tickets to our World Premiere screening at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood and two admissions to the catered after-party where you will meet the Director, Executive Producers, and to-be-announced members of the cast. (Travel and lodging not included.)

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  • You selected
    Pledge $2,500 or more

    0 backers

    Four VIP section tickets to the World Premiere screening of "Keiko The Untold Story of the Star of Free Willy," a verbal acknowledgement to the crowd before the screening, and two admissions to the catered after-party where you will meet the Filmmaker/Director, Executive Producers, and to-be-announced cast members. (Travel and lodging not included.)

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $5,000 or more

    1 backer

    Six VIP section tickets to the World Premiere screening of "Keiko The Untold Story of the Star of Free Willy," a verbal acknowledgement to the crowd before the screening, and six admissions to the catered after-party where you will meet the Filmmaker/Director, Executive Producers, and cast members (to be announced). (Travel and lodging not included; exact date TBA). All of the DVDs (the SD "Keiko: The Untold Story" and "Keiko Tribute" DVDs now, the HD version when it is released) AND the Soundtrack CD, all signed by the filmmaker. A 2013 HD movie poster signed by the filmmaker and a clean copy, as well as a 2010 SD movie poster signed by the filmmaker and a clean copy.

    Backers at this level will also receive an exclusive posed photo opportunity at the Egyptian Theatre with filmmaker Theresa Demarest, the movie's PR Director, Deborah Gilels, and the Expert Cast Members (to be announced) present at the event.

    Estimated delivery:

Funding period

- (30 days)