Chasing Shadows is a documentary, that will let you follow Australian astrophotographer Geoff Sims as he chases his passion of documenting solar eclipses in remote corners of the planet. It is a story of passion, science, travel and education.
Geoff is well known for his landscape solar eclipse photography, having been chasing solar eclipses for over 12 years. The aim of this project is to bring you into the story behind the imagery; giving a personal and seldom-seen behind the scenes view of what it takes to plan and execute dedicated solar eclipse photography expeditions.
In Chasing Shadows, we bring to you the experience of "totality" as we travel to two exotic and remote locales: Ethiopia (in November, 2013) and Svalbard in the high Arctic (March, 2015).
So what is a solar eclipse, anyway?! A total solar eclipse occurs when the Earth passes through the shadow of the Moon.
To witness a total solar eclipse, you must be in the "path of totality", a narrow, typically 100-200 km wide strip, where you'll be fortunate enough of see the Moon completely eclipse the Sun, resulting in a fleeting moment of darkness of a few minutes.
While solar eclipses are relatively common (every ~18 months), from any one location on Earth, you would have to wait ~300 years to see one.
Over the past two years, we've gone to extraordinary lengths at considerable cost to film and document our eclipse chasing experiences:
18 months ago we ventured to Ethiopia to film the first portion of Chasing Shadows. It was an amazing adventure: camping in remote villages; watching the Milky Way from a hilltop while listening to laughing hyenas; and witnessing the total solar eclipse from a desolate mountain top.
Editing of the Ethiopia portion has been completed, as well as some preliminary proof of concept motion graphics & animations.
In mid-March, 2015 we finished travel to Svalbard (at 78 degrees North latitude) in the high Arctic, secured logistical arrangements in order to access remote and scenic vistas and successfully captured the total solar eclipse!
And it was beautiful -- just the climax to the film we needed!
In between chasing these two eclipses we attended the Solar Eclipse Conference (SEC) in the USA, to record a number of interviews with high-profile NASA astrophysicists and eclipse chasers. These interviews provide additional context to the film as well as insight into the eclipse chasing culture.
- Fred Espenak, NASA's 'Mr. Eclipse', is an American astrophysicist who has had a long and prolific career at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. As well as pioneering eclipse photography automation techniques, Fred has also been instrumental in providing eclipse predictions, maps and weather information to the public.
- Xavier Jubier, creator of the Solar/Lunar Eclipse Google Maps/Earth architecture, is a pioneer in extreme solar eclipse chasing from his 2003 Antarctic expedition to his precision airplane intercept eclipse over the Atlantic in 2013!
- Jay Anderson, Meterologist: Anderson's work in eclipse-meteorology is crucial in the planning of any major eclipse expedition.
- Michael Zeiler, Cartographer: Michael has revolutionized eclipse mapping, using the latest advancements in GIS technology to convey astro-spatial information in ways never before possible.
- Shadia Habbal, Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Hawaii, is a leading solar physicist, regularly contributing solar eclipse related research into the scientific literature.
We need your help!
We are passionate about science and astronomy outreach, as well as total solar eclipses. We endeavor to do everything we can to travel to these rare and unique events, capturing them as best we can, for the enjoyment of everyone and for future preservation.
While travelling and photography trips of this nature are inevitably a huge financial burden, stretching this time & money to produce even a modest behind-the-scenes documentation of these journeys is quite simply beyond our reach.
We are seeking assistance, predominantly in the form of a digital pre-purchase, to enable the final touches to put on this film when we return from the Arctic in April.
In return, we will take you, the viewers, with us on these extraordinary journeys to the far reaches of our planet. You'll experience the months of planning, the airports, the wildlife, the travel, the frustrations, and importantly, the passion.
Please consider the education package to aid lessons in your science classes. There will be enough material to help supplement your courses! Imagine showing them in detail what a true total solar eclipse is, then having them watch parts of or all of the movie to share with them two remote areas of the world to learn about new cultures and how science can bring us together.
Where will your money go?
The production of Chasing Shadows will be a non-profit process, with all money raised going directly to post-production costs, including (but not not limited to):
- Color grading
- Original soundtrack
- Original motion graphics & computer animations
It is anticipated that I will spend around 3-5 months full time working on this project, and while my time is donated free of charge, I will still have to eat :)
Risks and challenges
Like any project, "Chasing Shadows" has it's own unique set of associated risks. However, given we have already invested nearly two years of work into this venture, our final barrier is merely a financial one.
Having worked in professional film production for over 10 years, I am confident of the timeline and processes required to make this project a reality.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)