Expedition Arguk: 300 Miles through the Changing Arctic is a two-part film documentary that will introduce people all over the world to the beauty and peril of the changing Arctic. The Arctic is entering a period of intense transformation: warming temperatures are profoundly altering the environment, resource extraction is accelerating, and the melting Polar ice cap will bring radical geopolitical challenges. The Brooks Range and the North Slope of Alaska are about eight times the size of Switzerland, but the harsh climate, remoteness, and low population density mean that very little information and media make their way out of this remote region and into the public imagination.
Expedition Arguk will work to help change this. A small team of five scientists and media experts will hike and packraft 300 miles, from the wilderness of Gates of the Arctic National Park to the heart of Alaska's petroleum industry on the Arctic coast. We will make a huge amount of high-quality media available to the public free of charge, and will work to improve educational resources, write articles, and give talks. Our educational focus has helped us earn the sponsorship of the Sierra Club (Alaska Chapter) and the Alaska Wilderness League, while our modern methods of wilderness travel have helped us earn the sponsorship of outdoor gear suppliers and groups like the American Packrafting Association and Black Rock Gear. On May 18, we were awarded the competitive Fisher/Kellogg grant from the American Alpine Club, which supports socially engaged and conservation-minded expeditions.
The centerpiece of our outreach is our two film projects, explained in more detail below. We hope that, in the same way that John Muir's writings brought the Sierras into the living rooms of people across the country, these projects will help introduce people around the world to the beauty, drama, importance, and lessons of the Arctic.
Part 1: The Aerial Footage Project
Most backcountry expeditions to remote areas rely on ultralight cameras that can be tucked into a pocket. More ambitious groups might bring an SLR and a tripod. Virtually nobody thinks to pack a functional airplane into one of the remotest corners of the Earth—but it will be worth every ounce. Expedition Arguk team leader Brett Woelber will use a custom-built RC airplane equipped with an onboard HD video camera to capture spectacular aerial video throughout the trip. This is an incredible and fantastically unique way to document the Alaskan arctic. This unique filmography will capture and share the soaring peaks of the Brooks Range and the sweeping panoramas of the North Slope with people all over the world.
Part 2: The Animation Project
While most outdoor film focuses on high-adrenaline adventure sports, there is huge potential for a more restrained, narrative approach to outdoor film. By combining aerial footage, film, and photography from the trip with hand-drawn animated characters, expedition member and award-winning animator Paxson Woelber hopes to tell the story of the Alaskan north in a thoughtful, funny, unique, and extremely relatable way.
Depending on the context, we will present the Aerial Footage Project and the Animation Project either together or as separate films. Both of these projects have somewhat different purposes and audiences, though we hope to present them together as much as possible. By supporting Expedition Arguk: 300 Miles through the Changing Arctic, you will be supporting both Projects, and, in rewards that offer credits within the films, you will receive credit in both.
Credits for our "about us" project video on Kickstarter: Narration by Luke Douglas. All music and photography used through Creative Commons licensing. Music by Mermonte. Photography by JayF, ilya_ktsn, madpai, 807th Medical Command, USFWS Headquarters, Fairbanks Mike, Jim Reurink, NGEE Arctic, Jesse the Traveler, & Kevin Pietrzak.
Risks and challenges
Remote wilderness travel is, almost by definition, uncertain. The project will have to adjust based on changes in transportation, health, weather, and safety. Risks include weather systems, logisitics issues, and polar bears. That said, Expedition Arguk is an exceptionally talented and knowledgeable group with a vast amount of wilderness experience, a combined 4000 days in the field, and experience creating top-notch media in remote locations. While details may change, there is no reason not to complete filming safely and on-time.
Most of the media creation will be managed and completed by Expedition Arguk team member Paxson Woelber. Paxson has five years of professional experience working in web design, communications, animation, and graphic design, and works in many industries where hitting deadlines is absolutely mandatory. An appropriate amount of time has been budgeted to complete the film project timeframe and goals.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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