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$2.00 pledged of $63,800 goal
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By Richard Estrada
$2.00 pledged of $63,800 goal
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About

Valle Grande, Valles Caldera National Preserve, New Mexico, USA. Gunnison's prairie dogs hibernate in the cold winter months.
Valle Grande, Valles Caldera National Preserve, New Mexico, USA. Gunnison's prairie dogs hibernate in the cold winter months.

The Story

One hundred and fifty years ago, billions of prairie dogs covered the prairies of western North America. The population has been drastically reduced as the prairie dog came into disfavor. Humans saw the rodent as a pest. Prairie dog populations drastically dwindled from killing them and destroying their habitat. Prairie dogs, however, are an intricate part of the ecosystem, and studying them will help us understand how these creatures are important, and perhaps we can learn something about ourselves. These animals do have an advocate.

Gunnison's prairie dog
Gunnison's prairie dog

John Hoogland, professor of biology at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (http://www.umces.edu/), has studied the social behavior of prairie dogs for over forty years. His latest research takes him to the Valles Caldera National Preserve (http://www.vallescaldera.gov/) atop the Jemez (hay-mes) Mountains in north central New Mexico in the southwestern United States. I intend to produce a one hour video documentary on Professor Hoogland's research at the Valles Caldera National Preserve. The documentary will be available to schools, universities, and libraries as free digital downloads. The documentary will target elementary students, showing them the interesting lives of prairie dogs, as well as introducing them to the techniques used by Professor Hoogland in his research. The mission of the project is to get children excited about science, and to educate the public about the importance of prairie dogs to the grassland ecosytems of western North America.

Professor John L. Hoogland uses a walkie to communicate with his team during the capturing and marking of prairie dogs from the study colony in the Valles Caldera National Preserve last fall.
Professor John L. Hoogland uses a walkie to communicate with his team during the capturing and marking of prairie dogs from the study colony in the Valles Caldera National Preserve last fall.

In the autumn of 2014, we filmed Professor Hoogland and his assistants as they live trapped and marked prairie dogs from the study colony. We spent several days recording the setting of traps, the trapping of the animals, examining, marking, and releasing each prairie dog. The marking, made with fur dye, gives  each creature a unique mark so that Hoogland can identify the individual prairie dog. In this way Hoogland and his assistants can observe the individuals of the study colony as they emerge from hibernation in the spring. In April, Hoogland will capture pregnant females for an ultra sound to see how many fetuses are being carried. Then in late spring the research team will observe the colony as new pups appear above ground from the natal burrows for the first time.  Hoogland and his team will live trap all the adults and juveniles, and he will make a new census of the colony. 

The camera rolls as Hoogland's assistant Sarah "Boots" Tobey returns a marked prairie dog back to its burrow.
The camera rolls as Hoogland's assistant Sarah "Boots" Tobey returns a marked prairie dog back to its burrow.

Why Funds are Needed

I am seeking to raise funds to spend two weeks and a couple of days this spring with the research team to document the prairie dogs as they come out of hibernation when mating season begins.  According to Professor Hoogland, the activity at this time is entertaining as the males compete for females, and predators such as coyotes, bobcats, and badgers, look for an opportunity to have a meal. Then in April we will return for a couple of days as Hoogland captures pregnant females for ultra sounds.  In late May and early June our film crew will again join the research team as they observe the first appearance of the new pups above ground.  We will record the capturing, examining and release of the new pups. 

Funds will also be used for scripting, narration, sound tracking, music, graphics and editing the documentary, as well as duplication and distribution. Following the field production, a script will be written with Professor Hoogland. When scripting is complete, Hoogland will narrate, and music be produced or purchased from sound service. Finally the project will be edited into the final documentary. 

We intend to market the documentary through film festivals in 2016, social media, and news releases. The Garrity Group, a local well known public relations firm, will be contracted to help with marketing. Funds will also be used to fulfill backer rewards. We are anticipating to complete the project by December 2015. 

Coyotes as well as bobcats, badgers, hawks and eagles prey on prairie dogs.
Coyotes as well as bobcats, badgers, hawks and eagles prey on prairie dogs.

 Budget

The budget for this project is enough to produce, duplicate, distribute the documentary, as well as distribute rewards to backers. Should this Kickstarter campaign receive funds above the goal, those monies will go to producing outreach activities and materials for school children. For example we would produce literature and handouts like booklets with activities and information about studying prairie dogs and nature in general. These materials will be printed hard copies, or would be available as a digital download.

FIELD PRODUCTION:

Film crew is needed for one week in March, one or two days in April, and one week in May/June 2015 to follow Hoogland and his team. 

The crew will consist of a producer, director, 2 camera operators, sound engineer, and production assistant. 

Equipment needed includes cameras, lenses, microphones, tripods, stands, production vehicles, fuel, food, lodging, insurance, solar power source, expendibles (sandbags, cables, tarps, gaffer tape etc).

$26,800.00  total field production

POST PRODUCTION:

Post production begins with logging video, scripting, narration, music, graphics, editing, color correction, sound mixing, and mastering. This will include a scripwriter, Hoogland's narration, a musician or music purchases, graphic artist, editor and color mixer, and sound mixer.

$22,000.00

MARKETING & DISTRIBUTION:

Here the project is duplicated, distributed, and backers receive their rewards. The funds pay for DVD duplication, festival fees, printing of posters, prints, T-Shirts, and postage and packaging for backer rewards. A public relations firm will be hired to help with marketing and public relations.

$15,000.00

$63,800.00 total goal

Thank you

Like all Kickstarter campaigns, if the funding goal is not reached, funds will not be distributed, and backers will not be charged.

I appreciate your visiting this Kickstarter page. I hope you can help us finish this project so that the world has a a better understanding about the life of the prairie dog, how science helps us understand our world, and ourselves. Please share this project with friends and family.

Thank you,

Richard Estrada, 

Edgewood Picture Company

Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

Gunnison's prairie dogs from study colony.
Gunnison's prairie dogs from study colony.

Risks and challenges

This documantary will still be produced even if the Kickstarter campaign is not funded. However the quality will falter by being unable to get the proper camera and lenses and sound to record this kind of natural activity. Our time in the field capturing Hoogland and the colony activity will be limited.

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    Digital download of the documentary. DVD with behind the scenes footage. Digital download of poster. Digital download of prairie dog stills. Prairie Dog T-Shirt.

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    Digital download of the documentary. DVD with behind the scenes footage. Digital download of poster. Digital download of prairie dog stills. Prairie Dog T-Shirt. Thank you credit in the Prairie Dog documentary. Prairie Dog Calendar.

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    Digital download of the documentary. DVD with behind the scenes footage. Digital download of poster. Digital download of prairie dog stills. Prairie Dog T-Shirt. Prairie Dog Calendar. Special Thanks credit in the Prairie Dog documentary. Signed & numbered print of Valle Grande panoramic in Valles Caldera National Preserve.

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    Thank you for supporting the Prairie Dog project.
    Digital download of the documentary. 2 DVDs with behind the scenes footage. Digital download of poster. Digital download of prairie dog stills. Prairie Dog T-Shirt. Prairie Dog Calendar Special Thanks credit in the Prairie Dog documentary. Signed & numbered print of Valle Grande panoramic in Valles Caldera National Preserve. Print of poster.

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    Digital download of the documentary. 2 DVDs with behind the scenes footage. Digital download of poster. Digital download of prairie dog stills. Prairie Dog T-Shirt. Prairie Dog Calendar. Signed & numbered print of Valle Grande panoramic in Valles Caldera National Preserve. Print of poster. Co-Producer credit on documentary.

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    Digital download of the documentary. 4 DVDs with behind the scenes footage. Digital download of poster. Digital download of prairie dog stills. Prairie Dog T-Shirt. Prairie Dog Calendar. Signed & numbered print of Valle Grande panoramic in Valles Caldera National Preserve. Print of poster. Producer credit on documentary and poster

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Funding period

- (21 days)