The debut film of a series about amazing people doing amazing things in America's National Park System, which turns 100 in 2016!
Help us reach our new goal!
We are so grateful to have made it this far-- but now we're ready to take it even farther, and we only have until Friday at noon EDT to do it! If we can raise $45,000, we'll be able to shoot our second film in the Chesapeake, "Swimming With Dinosaurs" (scroll down for the story description). If we can raise $55,000, we'll be able to hire an editor and cover other post-production costs, like sound mastering, color correction, and composing an original score.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
- There's a 50% chance that our hero in the Chesapeake (aka the "Sturgeon Whisperer") will move west next year, and we'll no longer have a story to film. If we can exceed our original goal by at least $15k, we'll be able to capture this now, while the story still exists.
- Beyond this Kickstarter campaign, we don't yet have any funding for the series as a whole. By coming out of the gate strong with TWO films, it will show potential sponsors a wider range of our skills, give the project more weight, and help people envision the power of this series in its entirety.
To sweeten the deal, we added TWO NEW REWARDS for $50+ and $150+ donors-- a free, national park-inspired t-shirt from Flow397, or a print of your choice from one of these stunning images from photographer Ethan Welty, the North Cascade's most recent Artist in Residence.
Thanks for helping us across the finish line!
Wow, it feels really big to finally get this idea in front of the masses. Thanks so much for checking out our campaign! We believe so much in this series that Amy's leaving the security of her job at National Parks Magazine to make it happen. Now we just need your help to spread the word, kick in whatever you can, and help us get these important films off the ground. Scroll down to read all about our stories, budget, team, and timeline...
We're making 10 SHORT FILMS that remind every American that they, too, are an important part of the National Park Experience. Your donations will allow us to get our DEBUT FILM off the ground.
In 2016, the National Park Service turns 100 years old. So we can't think of a better time than now to start celebrating, or a better way to celebrate than by sharing super-compelling films about the human experience in the parks.
The idea began emerging in 2011, when Amy spent 6 weeks in Yosemite making two short films. One of those films, "The Way Home," featured a group of African-American seniors reconnecting with the park. It toured the country with film festivals, won awards, and shed light on an important story that few people knew or understood.
It was a super-powerful story-- but it's just one of so many powerful stories that we want to tell.
So in 2012, Amy rallied a team of rock-star filmmakers, editors, and story advisors (check out their bios below, and see pictures of everyone here) to begin pursuing 10 character-driven films that will create a steady drumbeat up to the National Park Service centennial. Our mission: To send an invitation to every American, regardless of their age, race, religion, politics, or economic status, to embrace and engage in America's Best Idea.
Here are the stories we want to tell:
- Love in the Tetons.* This September, something really special is happening in Grand Teton National Park: A wedding. But not just any wedding. The groom is a young Mexican-American from south-central Los Angeles, who had no connection with nature until an urban-youth program introduced him to the national parks and completely changed the trajectory of his life. The bride hails from a long line of migrant farm workers in Texas, but in 2006, at age 21, she left home for the first time to visit Kenai Fjord National Park in Alaska-- an experience that empowered her to break out of the migrant-worker cycle. Today, she serves as both an interpretive ranger and the youth and diversity outreach coordinator in Grand Teton National Park. We'll embed ourselves with their families, dig into stories about the generations of hard work and sacrifice that helped guide them to this special day in the Tetons, and reveal an important new vision of the "American Dream"-- one that blooms out of our living, breathing national parks.
- Swimming With Dinosaurs. Matt Balazik, a Richmond, Virginia, native, is doing groundbreaking work to help bring back and protect the Atlantic sturgeon, an ancient species thought to have gone extinct in the Chesapeake Bay and the national park site within its boundaries. These fish are enormous, weighing in at 400+ pounds. They sport armor, breech like whales in the James River, and have survived the most devastating events in Earth's history (they literally swam with the dinosaurs). It's a fantastic underdog story about the unlikely resurgence of a species, and the unlikely community that's welcoming the fish home.
- Beyond City Streets. A young ranger and his wife are raising their children miles from the nearest fire road in Yellowstone's wild, rugged backcountry. We find it hard to believe this kind of pioneer lifestyle still exists in America; we want to show you what it's like.
* We're ready to pull the trigger on any one of these stories this fall- but after recent talks with our sources in the Tetons, we're 99% sure we'll start there! We just need a little seed funding to cover travel expenses and hire a film editor to help us see our vision through. (Scroll down to see exactly what your donations are going towards.)
Here are several other films we'll pursue in 2014 and 2015:
- Native Hualupai teens learning to guide rafting trips through the Grand Canyon, to help stimulate the tribe's economy and reconnect with sacred land.
- Mexican firefighters standing side-by-side with the Park Service to help protect Big Bend.
- The annual pilgrimage of Manzanar's Japanese-American descendants.
- Great Basin's genius Night Sky Team, reviving our love affair with the cosmos.
- Young African-American girls gaining leadership experience by camping and exploring in the national parks.
- A portrait of the oldest ranger in the park system: An African-American woman reminding visitors that there were lots of Rosie-the-Riveters before WWII-- they just happened to be black.
This is where we want to tell those stories:
- Online, via an engaging and interactive website hub
- Through social media networks
- On mobile devices
- In planes heading to the national parks
- At live-screening events across the country in 2016
Meet the team behind the stories:
By this point you should know who Amy is! So let's skip ahead to her better half: Producer and Director of Photography, Dana Romanoff.
Dana is an award-winning photographer and multimedia producer whose stories are featured on the pages of National Geographic, GEO, The New York Times and are exhibited in galleries and festivals around the globe. Her multimedia documentary, No Man's Land: The Women of Mexico, toured internationally with the Anthropographía Multimedia & Human Rights Award.
We're also working closely with:
- Tim Sessler, award-winning cinematographer and director of the short film series It's Your Country, whose work is constantly turning heads in the Vimeo community
- Scott Kirkwood, NPX story advisor and the Editor-in-Chief at National Parks Magazine
- Tucker Walsh, NPX visual advisor and cinematographer and editor at m ss ng p eces, a Brooklyn-based creative production company inspired by the limitless potential of storytelling, technology and the web.
- Ali Kennedy, NPX marketing and development director and former team member of the Academy Award-winning film, The Cove
- Scott Anger, NPX project advisor, award-winning documentary filmmaker, and former Director of Video at the Los AngelesTimes.
- Ethan Benninger, editor of our NPX trailer whose client list includes National Geographic and The Food Network.
- Tom Marquis, NPX designer, motion graphics animator, and art director at Phobic Studios in Boulder.
Budget & Timeline
If you help us meet our $30,000 goal, we'll have a bare-bones budget to lock in our first film, travel to the national park to film it, and hire a talented second shooter/editor to help us craft a compelling film that turns heads.
And when we say bare bones, we mean bare bones-- as in crashing at cheap motels, living off PBJs, and volunteering 100% of our time and talents.
If you can help us exceed our goal, we'd be really thrilled! Because then we wouldn't just be making our first film-- we could actually start getting it in front of the masses, too. With enough additional funds, we might even be able to hire a designer and developer to create a sexy digital platform, ensuring that the next 9 films get seen, too. In other words-- it's going to take a lot of work, a big team, and a lot more money than just $30,000 to make this entire series a success. So we are super thankful for however far you can help us get!
But most importantly, we need to meet our $30,000 goal. Because if we don't, we won't get a single penny. Every dollar helps!
Here's a breakdown of exactly where your money will go to launch our debut film:
Our plan is to start shooting this September and editing in late fall, so that we can release our debut film to the public in Winter 2014.
So what do you get out of it?
Well, first of all, some pretty sweet rewards, which you can see in the column to the right. We're especially excited to feature prizes from our friends at The National Parks band-- a fantastic new group that's about to launch their debut album, and will be composing an original score for our film series! Our old friend and colleague, photographer Justin Bailie, has generously offered to donate his national park images at the $1,000 level; we'll print and mount these on eco-friendly bamboo through Plywerk, a great little company with a conscience in Portland, Oregon. Check out one of our favorite photos by Justin:
Dana will be kicking in a few of her photos, too!
We're also thrilled to introduce you to a really amazing graphic designer, the National Park Conservation Association's Annie Riker, who has offered to create 5 exclusive, limited-edition posters celebrating the National Park Service centennial at the $5,000 level. Check out some of her work:
But you don't have to give $5,000 to make a difference! Every dollar helps-- which is why, even for the smallest donation of $1, we'll give you exclusive access to a private Instagram feed that highlights our time in the parks.
Supporting this project is about more than just helping us make cool films.
You're also helping to support America's best places, and some of the last spaces where we can find common ground, which is so important in these challenging and divisive times. You're giving a nod to the Park Service's last 100 years, and helping the agency envision a new century of parks that apply to every American-- a park system that tells our most diverse and powerful stories.
Because when it comes down to it, the national parks simply cannot survive without the continued love and engagement from the American public. By supporting this Kickstarter project, you're creating new, vital lifelines for America's Best Idea.
So please, join us in our celebration of the people and places that make this country so great. Thank you so much!!
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Filmmaking can be a bumpy ride. Characters fall through, stories change, gear gets damaged or stolen, outdoor shoots get rained out... Thankfully, our team is not only agile and experienced-- we're also professional, accountable, steadfast, and focused. If you support us, we promise you this: We WILL begin filming this September. We WILL begin editing this fall. And this winter, we WILL kick off this series with the most amazing and compelling film possible. And then we'll do everything in our power to get in front of AS MANY EYES AS POSSIBLE.
Because really, do the national parks deserve any less? We sure don't think so. Thanks for believing in us and this project!
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.