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A mysterious sign, a lost diary, a daring journey down canyons of the West and across France in search of three voyagers from 1938.
A mysterious sign, a lost diary, a daring journey down canyons of the West and across France in search of three voyagers from 1938.
A mysterious sign, a lost diary, a daring journey down canyons of the West and across France in search of three voyagers from 1938.
156 backers pledged $20,355 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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Voyagers Without Trace – the French Kayak Film

$20,355

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The photo that started this adventure
The photo that started this adventure

Hurray! We reached our minimum goal! Thank you. This project will happen! And that means there is still time for more folks to join this adventure!

YES people can still pledge and RECEIVE NIFTY REWARDS, like the DVD, the fine art prints, and the coveted river flask!

YES every dollar HELPS!

--Just $50 more dollars means we can enter the film in a festival to share with people. (Let's bring this story to your town!)

--$100 more dollars means we can keep one of our talented and dedicated Associate Producers working for one more day! (And every day counts!)

--$250 dollars means a musician can record one more original song!  (And trust us, it's a lovely sound track!)

--$500 more dollars means we could have one more day in audio studio with Eric Stolberg of Digital One! (And as we all know: the better the sound, the better the film.)

So PLEASE, continue the love toward this amazing adventure, and help us go even further.

THE STORY

Do you know those stories where a kid finds a hidden treasure map in an attic or a lost letter in an old book? Growing up, I always dreamed someday I'd find a mysterious clue that set me on an adventure.

In a small park, in a small town, in the remote southwest corner of Wyoming, I came across a curious historic marker. On the sign was a faded photograph: two handsome men, and a fetching blonde. They didn't look like the rugged mountain men or explorers of the American West that I'd seen before on historic signs. Instead, they were young, dashing, and seemed like people I could have known—or wanted to know. The sign hinted at an incredible voyage. 

In 1938, these three Parisians became the first to kayak the wild white water rivers of the American West, the mighty Green and Colorado. They took modern adventure gear and beer—the vanguard of a new recreation generation. And they captured their 900-mile journey on color film—before Hollywood's first color movie! 

What led an explorer, his new bride, and his best friend halfway around the world on the eve of World War II? Whatever happened to them? And what did these "Voyageurs Without Trace" leave to be found?

My curiosity led me to Roy Webb, an archivist at the University of Utah. "I put that sign there," he said when I called.  Roy had been waiting 25 years for someone to come along and tell the story of the French Trio.

Roy led me to a book publisher, who led me to the French Riviera, which led me to a professional kayaker and ultimately to learn to kayak so I could assemble my own trio of adventurers. 

Our team travelled for 31 days on the river, and across the countryside of France. Along the way, we met a Melon Queen and a French commando in a 16th Century fortress. We uncovered hundreds of previously unseen photos, a diary, and yes, even the original 16mm film!

From my discoveries emerged a story more remarkable than I could have imagined, revealing the possibilities that free-spirited risk-taking offers to all.

But we need your help to reach the final destination. Our goal is to complete this film and finally share the story of these three remarkable adventurers. This journey has inspired us, and we hope it will inspire you.

Risks and challenges

I've been a documentary filmmaker for 15 years, and finally feel I have the experience to tell this significant story. I knew, however, that this story would take a special team of collaborators.

I assembled a passionate and talented team including award-winning adventure film cinematographers John Waller and Ben Canales of Uncage the Soul Productions, professional kayaker Paul Kuthe, an outstanding editor, and several musicians, including Jenny Conlee of The Decemberists and Johnny Clay of The Dimes.

The Voyageurs team has spent countless hours getting the film to where it is now. We've completed all the research, travel, and shooting. We took thousands of dollars of loaned video gear down the Colorado, and survived. We transcribed, translated, and logged dozens of hours of interviews. We had the original 1938 film transferred to HD. We have now gathered all the pieces needed to complete this story!

We are all working professionals, dedicating our time pro bono or at deeply pro-rated levels, so that we can put every single dollar into the ultimate quality of this film.

For the past two years, we have diligently written grants and secured support from individuals, companies, and organizations. The artistic, cultural and historic significance of this story has been recognized by support from our Regional Arts and Culture Council, the Humanities Councils of Utah and Wyoming, Utah Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. This support has allowed us to get this far in the journey. We now turn to our families, friends, colleagues, and the kindness of strangers to reach this final, crucial stage.

Our goal is to raise the remaining hard costs of completing the film. By reaching this goal, we will be able to tackle all the steps needed in finishing the film and making it available to you.

Here's the bare bones of what we need, and how much talented professionals are already willing to commit:
$6,000 to work with a professional editor at a 50% pro-rate to help take the story to the end.
$5,000 to work with musicians (that's a mere $200 per song honorarium) to give the film a lovely original soundtrack.
$1,500 to work with a talented colorist at 90% pro-rate to make the film look the best it can be.
$2,500 to work with professional audio engineers to make the film sound the best it can (also 90% pro-rated).
$2,000 to support the dedicated work of the Associate Producers for one month (part-time, barely over minimum wage). These folks earn it and we can't put all the pieces of the story together without them!
$1,000 to cover the impossible-to-avoid hard costs, like HDCAM tapes, and the DVDs we've promised through this Kickstarter. (Please note that other incentives are being donated by sponsors, so that every dollar goes straight into the story!)

We estimate $18,000 is the bare bones that we need to raise to get us to the final completed film. All funds raised will be administered by NW Documentary, a 501c3 non-profit. Since 2003, NW Documentary has managed several documentary productions, and become one of Oregon's most respected arts organizations.

We have the skills and the commitment to face the artistic and technical challenges in this final push toward the finish line. We just need your support to make that possible.

Thank you!

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    CHEERS!
    Thanks! This is like buying us a drink and toasting to adventure. So cheers. We appreciate that. And if we see you, you'll get a high five or a hug (your choice) and as a backer you'll recieve exclusive access to special posts and updates.

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    POSTER LEVEL
    A copy of the super lovely Les Voyageurs poster (suitable for framing!) plus our undying gratitude, as proven by YOUR NAME on a Special Thanks page on the Voyageurs website for all to see!

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    DVD LEVEL
    Here it is: your very own DVD copy of Les Voyageurs Sans Trace or digital download (your choice) PLUS the super neat Voyageurs poster, AND our undying gratitude, and YOUR NAME on a Special Thanks page on the Voyageurs website for all to see!

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    DELUXE DVD LEVEL
    EVEN BETTER: The Limited Edition BluRay DVD, packed with tons of extras, interviews, and deleted scenes (or digital download if you prefer). AS WELL AS, the awesome Voyageurs poster AND our undying gratitude and YOUR NAME on a Special Thanks page on the Voyageurs website for all to see!

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    THE RIVER RUNNERS LEVEL
    The Voyageurs essentials for your own river trip: A Rite in the Rain journal, Team Voyageurs Flask (as seen in the film), AND the signed Limited Edition DVD (or digital download), poster, and two VIP tickets to the film premiere (travel not included) and the glory of YOUR NAME on the Voyageurs website for all to see!

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    FILM LOVERS LEVEL
    Two VIP tickets to the premiere, a signed Limited Edition DVD, YOUR NAME in the FILM CREDITS, the excellent poster, and the NW Documentary Collection of Emmy award-winning films including Eloquent Nude and Summer Snapshot.

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    FINE ART PHOTOGRAPHY LEVEL
    You will be able to select one of three beautiful limited edition gallery-quality 13"x19" printed photographs from the film suitable for framing. Choices include an original photograph from award-winning photographer Ben Canales or a previously unprinted archival photograph of the French Trio. Printing will be done by Pro Photo Supply. Plus, you'll also receive the signed Limited Edition DVD, a thank you in the film credits, and the NW Documentary Collection of films including Eloquent Nude and Summer Snapshot. Sponsored by Pro Photo Supply.

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    LEARN TO KAYAK LEVEL
    Experience kayaking for yourself! Join Paul Kuthe, and take the same Intro to Whitewater 1 class that director Ian McCluskey did. (No doubt, you'll do better than Ian!) Class is suitable for all beginners, and a fun way to "get your feet wet." (Travel to Portland not included, but we'll throw in all the incentives of the lower levels, plus a few extra goodies for the river.) Sponsored by Alder Creek Canoe and Kayak.

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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $750 or more About $750

    HISTORY LOVERS LEVEL
    Experience the journey of the French Trio for yourself through the DVD, PLUS online access to the complete and unedited 1938 film, a copy of the diary of Antoine de Seynes, and all THREE photos from the Photography level, printed archival quality by Pro Photo Supply. And of course tickets to our grand premiere. PLUS a $500 TAX DEDUCTION under IRS Code 501c3. Sponsored by NW Documentary and Pro Photo Supply.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    PATRON LEVEL
    This level says you are a real patron, and we'll recognize that with the DVD, VIP tickets to the premiere, PLUS a $900 TAX DEDUCTION under IRS code 501c3. Sponsored by NW Documentary.

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    Pledge $2,000 or more About $2,000

    YOUR OWN KAYAK
    A kayak from Old Town with a dry bag from Watershed. This sit-on-top kayak is perfect for leisurely paddles on gentle rivers and lakes--ideal for birders, fishermen, or families. We've only got one and it yearns for adventure! (plus we'll throw in all the film incentives) Sponsored by Old Town and Watershed.

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Funding period

- (40 days)