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Please note that this is only a 15-day campaign. We have a very limited time to raise the $10,000 needed to complete this project.
Hi everyone! My name is Donna D’Errico. I’m producing a feature-length documentary film about my search for Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat in Eastern Turkey. I need your help to make this project happen.
What is Ağrı Dağı?
Ağrı Dağı is the Turkish name for the mountain we know as Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey.
Who Are You?
You may remember me as "Donna Marco" from the television show, Baywatch. What you may not know is that while I was running on the beach alongside David Hasselhoff, which to many would have been a dream job, I was actually dreaming about something completely different: searching for Noah’s Ark. Yes, the Noah’s Ark from the Bible.
Why Are You Doing This?
When I was in 3rd grade in Columbus, Georgia, my class went on a field trip to the local theater to see In Search of Noah’s Ark (no connection to the Leonard Nimoy TV series). In Search of Noah’s Ark was a theatrically released feature-length documentary about the search for Noah’s Ark. Sitting in that movie theater in 1976, I was mesmerized. I had never before realized the possibility that Noah’s Ark had survived to the present day, or that there were respected people who claimed to have seen it throughout the years. As I watched and learned about some of those witnesses’ stories, I was completely fascinated. I wanted to climb that mountain and look for Noah’s Ark, too!
All children go through phases of being fascinated by this or that, and wanting to be this or that when they grow up. Most of those things fade away after a few months or so. But my fascination with climbing Mount Ararat and searching for Noah’s Ark never faded away. In fact, it grew stronger and stronger as time wore on. I read everything I could get my hands on about Noah’s Ark, past witnesses, evidence – everything. I always said that before I died, I would climb that mountain and look for the Ark.
In December 2010, I was hospitalized with a near-fatal MRSA infection. Once I was home, I realized that I had nearly died without having accomplished what I always said I would do before I died. So I decided the time had come to really do it.
But...Even if the Story of Noah's Ark Were True, Wouldn't it Have Disintegrated by Now?
I am well aware that the mere idea of Noah’s Ark surviving to our time goes against commonly accepted ideas of geology and history. Yet, eyewitness stories, like that of Sergeant Ed Davis in 1943 of a big, ancient, man-made structure high on modern-day Mount Ararat persist.
Have You Climbed Mount Ararat Before?
In August 2012, I finally realized my lifelong dream. I climbed Mount Ararat and searched for Noah’s Ark for nearly two weeks. I also began filming for this documentary during that expedition.
Please click the following link and watch the ABC 20/20 Special about my 2012 expedition and search, which aired December 21, 2012:
Having now experienced it first-hand, to say that Mount Ararat is enormous is a gross understatement. I now understand why Sergeant Ed Davis, and all of the other past witnesses, had gone on about how difficult and perilous the journey to the area of the mountain where they claimed to have seen the Ark was, and how it took them days and days to reach that area. I also now understand why James Irwin, the American astronaut who walked on the moon (and also climbed Mount Ararat many times searching for Noah’s Ark), had likened climbing Mount Ararat to climbing “a mountain of bowling balls.”
During my 2012 expedition and search, I lost my footing between 10,000 & 11,000 feet, and took a nasty fall. Although I got pretty banged up, I didn’t break any bones. I pressed on with the expedition and we reached a particular spot on the mountain that had before only ever been seen in aerial photographs. We are the first people known to have ever reached this particular spot, making me the only known female in history to do so.
I am returning again this summer with my team to attempt to reach an area on the mountain that we were able to get very close to last summer, but did not have time to attempt to climb to. To get to the area where we believe the Ark is located, we will have to climb using ropes, traverse cliffs, circumvent rock slides, avoid mountain rebels, survive blinding blizzards, and fend off vicious sheepdogs. I'm not joking about the sheepdogs. They are mangy, always kept just this side of starving, and will quite literally rip you to shreds.
How Will This Documentary be Filmed?
This year, I have hired a professional cameraman who will document every detail of the journey in high definition video using professional video and sound equipment. In addition, all team members will also record personal "video diaries" on GoPro cameras inside our tents throughout the expedition, which will be incorporated into the documentary. Although I would love to use film for this documentary, using film is very expensive, and the cameras needed for film are not cameras that would fare well in extreme weather, such as that on Mount Ararat, where temperatures of negative 20 degrees Fahrenheit are not uncommon. In addition, it would require a larger crew, and larger equipment. That could attract the unwanted attention of the Turkish Military and/or the rebels who inhabit the mountain. Today, HD video has come a very long way. It can be made to very closely replicate film. Professional HD video cameras are small and lightweight enough to be able to handle the demands of expedition documentary work. This is what we will be using.
Mixing computer-generated imagery, documentary style cinematography, and powerful archival footage, viewers will be brought into a real-life hunt for Noah’s Ark. Our passion for this project and willingness to enter directly into the danger zone will give the topic of Noah’s Ark, and the search for Biblical relics in general, a new and relevant point of view. Our documentary will give people a rare inside look at what it’s like to live on Mt. Ararat for two weeks while searching for a Biblical relic. The dangers, powerful imagery, and incredible history combined with up close and personal coverage of the team throughout the expedition will make the viewer feel as though they are right there with us. Think of it as a modern-day, real-life Indiana Jones adventure.
Where Exactly is Mount Ararat?
Mount Ararat boasts the highest peak in Turkey and borders Iran and Armenia. At roughly 17,000 feet high, and with a 25-mile diameter, Mt. Ararat is considered the biggest free-standing mountain in the world by volume. It is massive beyond comprehension. The Turkish government controls Ararat, but there are rebels who live throughout the mountain. Dodging thieves and the suspicious military is a full-time job. The mountain is actually a volcano, and at its peak is a 17 square mile permanent glacier that is constantly moving. It is only possible to climb Mount Ararat during the months of August and September each year, when there is a slight thaw-back of the ice covering the mountain. The rest of the year, it's covered in ice and impossible to climb. That leaves a very small window of time during which it is possible to search for the Ark.
This is a very remote, majestic, mysterious area that remains partially unexplored and undocumented on film.
How Do You Know it's on Mount Ararat?
The Bible says that after the flood, Noah’s Ark landed on the mountains of Ararat. Throughout the years, there have been a handful of explorers who claimed to have seen the Ark on modern-day Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey. Some have been frauds, but many have been highly respected individuals whose eyewitness accounts are considered legitimate. The legitimate discoveries have powerful stories, many of which will be covered in the documentary. Some of the accounts considered to be legitimate include U.S. Army Sergeant Ed Davis, Ferdinand Navarra, George Hagopian, a 1916 Russian military expedition, U.S. Military pilot Captain Greg Shwinghammer, and U.S. Navy soldier Ed Belhing, along with several others.
What's the Status of This Project?
We have a large amount of footage already from our 2012 expedition. We will get the remaining footage needed for the documentary during this summer's expedition. My climbing team for this year's expedition is assembled and ready to go. A Kurdish mountain guide and porter are in place. I have almost all of the mountain gear I need. I have a professional cameraman on board who will be traveling and living on the mountain with us side-by-side, who owns all of his own professional videography equipment.
What Will You Be Using Kickstarter Funding For?
We need mountaineering gear for the cameraman, airline tickets for the cameraman, and funds to pay for the cameraman, memory cards for recording the footage, and two portable rugged backup drives to backup all footage every day in duplicate. We would like to have a Nikon D600 DSLR plus two lenses for still photography, and eight (8) GoPro Extreme cameras with waterproof casings and helmet/chest mounts to capture our point of view while climbing, and to record the personal video diaries of each team member inside their tents. We also need funding for post production. We need basic editing, color correcting, and music. Any amount in excess of the campaign goal will enable me to afford a higher level and quality of post-production, including computer generated imagery and professional music. It will also enable me to afford marketing materials to aid in getting distribution.
PLEASE CHECK OUT THE REWARDS IN THE SIDEBAR AT THE RIGHT!! The rewards I'm offering are:
$10 or more- A personal shout-out from me on both my Facebook & Twitter pages
$20 or more- A DVD copy of the finished documentary, plus the shout-out
$25 or more- An autographed DVD copy of the finished documentary, plus the shout-out
$50 or more- An enlarged, framable print of a photo taken during the expedition, signed by me, plus the shout-out and the signed DVD
$75 or more - A t-shirt that says "Noah's Ark Expedition 2013" on the back, autographed by me, plus the shout-out, signed DVD, and signed framable print
$100 or more- Your name will appear in the end credits of the film under the heading "Special Thanks", plus the shout-out, signed DVD, signed t-shirt, and the signed print.
$500 or more - One of the two hiking sticks used by me on Mt. Ararat during both the 2012 & 2013 expeditions, signed by me, plus the shout-out, signed DVD, signed print, signed t-shirt, and your name in end credits under "Special Thanks" (while supplies last).
$1,000 or more - The helmet worn by me on Mt. Ararat during both the 2012 & 2013 expeditions, signed by me, plus the shout-out, signed DVD, signed print, signed t-shirt, and your name in end credits under "Special Thanks" (while supplies last)
$1000 or more - Me and my team will take a photograph together holding a large piece of paper with just your name written on it from a picturesque place high on Mt. Ararat during the expedition. You will be sent an emailed version of the photo as well as an enlarged, framable print on high quality photo paper, signed by me, plus the shout-out, signed DVD, signed print, signed t-shirt, and your name in end credits under "Special Thanks" (while supplies last).
$10,000 or more - I will wear your name or your company's name or logo on my jacket, pants, and helmet throughout the 2013 expedition with a guarantee that it will be seen on camera in the documentary, plus themshout-out, signed DVD, signed print, signed t-shirt, and your name in end credits under "Special Thanks" (while supplies last)
SOMETHING YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT KICKSTARTER: Kickstarter campaigns are "all-or-nothing". That means that if this campaign raises anything less than my goal, I will get nothing. I can raise an amount OVER my goal but cannot raise anything less than my goal.
Funding To Date:
A HUGE thank you to Ron D'Errico and Impact Security Group, located throughout western Canada, for believing in me and in this project, and for contributing the bulk of our funding for last year's expedition and my flights for this year's expedition.
I need your help to complete filming and production on this documentary film. I can't do it without you.
Thank you all so much for your support!
Risks and challenges
The Turkish Military has been known to deny permission to climb the mountain for no reason, at the last moment. If this happens to us, we do have a contact there in Ahora Village, at the base of the mountain, who has some pull with the military who will help us if that happens.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (15 days)