Funded! This project was successfully funded on June 9, 2013.

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43 destinations. 28 days. 22 states. 3 filmmakers. 1 goal: To document an unplugged journey to the previously known.

The Mission

Our generation has gained a bad reputation as couch sitting, video game playing, lazy kids. We want to be trail blazers for our peers: going where our elders have gone before us, in a similar way that they did. Over a span of 28 days, we–Dan, Alden, and Mike, or DAM–will be traveling over 8,500 miles across America in a Chevy Malibu. While trying to be as cost efficient as possible and seeing all the national parks on the way, we will be driving from Pittsburgh, PA to the Pacific Ocean, and back to Dallas, Texas. While visiting the natural beauties of the United States, we will be conducting a two-fold experiment; how cheaply can one see the sights of America and do people still have it in their hearts to help a few adventurers out? We will be filming 24/7 in order to capture the whole trip and bring you a feature length documentary about that road trip you always wanted to go on with your friends – The Whole DAM Nation

It's time our generation puts down the apps and controllers and picks up their hiking boots. We want to exemplify to our generation that there is a bigger, more exciting world outside of your door step and you don't have to break the bank to see it. That's why we are funding the trip with our own money – but we need your help to fund the documentation of it.

The Trip

June 23, 2013 - July 20, 2013

1. No technology. We won't be using technology unless it is for something important. We will each have one phone call a day to connect with Mom and Dad, a girlfriend or friend, or maybe even AAA. The only social media connection we will have is Instagram; one picture a day to recap that day's happenings for the followers at home. Of course we will be using cameras and computers to capture and store footage, but they will have no other purposes.

2. No motels or campsites. Every night will be spent sleeping under the stars in sleeping bags. There will be a tarp under us to protect us from whatever nasty creatures might be in the ground and a mosquito net over us to protect us from creepy crawlers and airborne attackers. If it's raining, the car will double as a waterproof tent. We won't be camping at some "all-amenities-included" campsites that you have to pay for either. We will either hike into the backcountry to camp or go to a toll-free, primitive campground in a national park. Don't forget the toilet paper! 

3. No expensive foods. We are going to bring snacks like beef jerky and carrots to keep us from starving, but any other foods won't be bought, they'll be caught. We're going to be fisher/gatherers – hopefully more so fishers than gatherers. But don't worry, this won't be a remake of Into the Wild. There will also always be more than enough water on hand, whether on a hike or sitting in the car. And if we have gone a while without food, we might stop at a convenience store to get sandwich supplies or crackers. 

Destinations (in order of appearance)

  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Lower Brule Indian Reservation, SD
  • Badlands National Park, SD
  • Mount Rushmore National Monument, SD
  • Geographic Center of the US (Belle Fourche, SD)
  • Devil’s Tower National Monument, WY
  • Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, MT
  • Pictograph Cave State Park, MT
  • Big Ice Cave, MT
  • Old Trail Town, WY
  • Yellowstone National Park, WY
  • Grand Teton National Park, WY
  • Idaho Falls, ID
  • Hell’s Half Acre Lava Field National Landmark, ID
  • Big Southern Butte, ID
  • Craters of the Moon National Monument, ID
  • Twin Falls, ID
  • Salt Flats, UT
  • Redwood National Park, CA
  • Big Sur State Park, CA
  • Yosemite National Park, CA
  • Death Valley National Park, CA
  • Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
  • Navajo Bridge, AZ
  • Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, AZ
  • Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, UT
  • Zion National Park, UT
  • Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
  • Capitol Reef National Park, UT
  • Arches National Park, UT
  • Canyonlands National Park, UT
  • Natural Bridge National Monument, UT
  • Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, UT
  • Four Courners Monument, NM
  • Shiprock Peak, NM
  • Mesa Verde National Park, CO
  • Great Sand Dunes National Park, CO
  • Royal Gorge Suspension Bridge, CO
  • Monument Rocks National Natural Landmark, KS
  • Beaver Dunes State Park, OK
  • Cadillac Ranch, TX
  • Dallas, TX

A map of the destinations for the road trip.
A map of the destinations for the road trip.

Why do we need support?

We're not looking for you to fund this trip. We're going to be able to do that ourselves. What we need your support for is buying supplies for the production of this documentary. We already have 4 cameras (3 DSLRs and a GoPro), but thats pretty much it. In order to film 24/7 and capture the entire trip, we need several more batteries per person, as well as more digital memory and hard drives for storing footage. We also need  better mics and an audio recorder. Not only will the funding we receive allow us to get more footage, it will allow us to get better footage. We are hardworking guys striving to get the best results we can in everything we do. This documentary is currently our only project and it has our full attention. We need your help to make this a spectacular project. 

  • Batteries - $200
  • Digital Memory (SD Cards) - $600
  • Hard Drives - $1900
  • Mic - $150
  • Zoom Recorder - $300
  • Camera Protection - $200
  • Charging Accessories - $500
  • Lenses - $1000
  • Additional Miscellaneous Accessories - $150

Who We Are

Dan Helbing - Director

Dan has always been an active person throughout his life. He played hockey and football in high school, followed by rugby at college. Dan has always wanted to see what’s outside of Pennsylvania and is excited to finally have the opportunity to do so. Dan has been making short films since he was about 12 years old, but didn't decide to pursue film as a career until his junior year of high school. Dan's goal for the future is to direct films in all sorts of genres.  

Alden Roth - Producer/Editor

In recent years, Alden has become quite the outdoors man. He enjoys rock climbing, hiking, running, swimming, and even kayaking when given the chance. Camping is one of his favorite things to do with his friends. Alden also likes to snowboard and plays rugby. Alden has wanted to be a filmmaker since he was 12. Alden has been editing for over 5 years on professional-grade software and will most likely be concentrating in editing at film school. Alden's dream is to one day make a living by making films just like this documentary. 

Mike Cooknick - Cinematographer

Mike started playing with a camera when he was in 2nd grade and hasn't stopped since. He has a passion for cinematography and visual design, and toys with web development in between film projects. Mike is excited to shoot the country's landmark scenery and practice the art on the grandest scale imaginable. He hopes to make television commercials after graduation, and feels his styles and interests have been influenced mostly by the small screen. Prone to sitting behind his MacBook, this trip will mark the first time Mike will see the ocean and will challenge him to step way beyond his comfort zone.

How It Started

One day, Dan stumbled upon a picture of the salt flats in Utah and told Alden he wanted to go there. Alden, feeling nostalgic as memories of his epic 11-day road trip from the previous summer flooded his mind, proposed a plan to Dan where they could go to the salt flats and hit several other attractions along the way. Being filmmakers, Dan and Alden were obviously going to bring there DSLRs and GoPros along to capture the ride. When they got the idea to make a bigger project than a simple 5-minute YouTube video, they invited their close friend Mike to join them for this wild ride. Thus DAM Artists was formed and the idea to make a feature-length road trip documentary was flowering with endless possibilities.

The Soundtrack

The soundtrack for The Whole DAM Nation is currently being written by Ryan Brandenburg. Ryan is a close friend of Alden's and is a talented musician. He can play the banjo, guitar, piano, drums and more. Ryan has been inspired by the Avett Brothers, John Denver, Langhorne Slim, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Brad Paisley which is where his bluegrass/folk sound comes from. The song in the video for this Kickstarter is the first song Ryan wrote for the documentary. The Soundtrack will also feature songs by Harrison Hatcher, another close friend of Alden's, and the Dilettantes, a band that Alden's parents are part of. 

Aside from professional musicians on this soundtrack, we will also be making music while on the road trip. Dan's got percussion covered, Alden's working on the harmonica, and Mike will be playing the guitar. They will all be singing as well!


The Rewards

This is a movie, so there are all sorts of rewards. You can get everything from a post card from the trip or a thank you in the credits to the Deluxe Package (special edition DVD, signed poster, soundtrack, interactive map, and journal) to tickets to the premier or a private screening in your town. Every little bit you donate helps, so we'll make sure to give you quality rewards. 

There's a Bonus!

As an homage to the legends of Western cinema like John Ford and John Wayne, we're looking to film a 5-10 minute Western short along the trip. It would feature scenery from several of our stops on the trip and make for a fun short. If you can help us pass our $5,000 goal and reach $6,000 or more, we will be able to do this. That extra money would go towards mainly costumes and props, but also towards more storage for the footage for this short. This short will also be a bonus feature on the Special Edition DVD. We can't do any of this without your support. 

Still Not Convinced or Have Some Questions?

Feel free to contact us via email (DAMartists@gmail.com) or via Alden's Facebook. We will answer any and all questions and we will even send you a pdf of our detailed pre-production booklet if you want even more in-depth information. 

If you want to see some of our work from film school check out DAM Artists.

You can also read our blogs to get a better sense of who we are at A Wanderer's Tale and New Oak Films.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

The trip itself is going to be a big challenge. None of us have ever gone on a trip of this caliber before, so it will test our limits without a doubt. At the same time this will be another dimension to the narrative of the documentary, so it's not necessarily a bad thing.

Another concern is that we will be too focused on getting footage and not have fun and enjoy the trip. We have promised each other that we won't let this happen, but it's something we have experienced in the past and are prepared to overcome it on this trip.

Our biggest risk is that we will be out in parts of the country that none of us have ever been to before. Our car could get broken into while on a hike or we could lose some or all of our footage. The weather and elements could catch us by surprise and might damage our equipment. If this Kickstarter is successfully funded, these risks will diminish greatly due to the equipment we plan on buying to prevent them.

FAQ

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  • Pledge $5 or more
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    8 backers

    You'll get a postcard from one of the 43 destinations on the trip with a personal message from the three guys.

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    13 backers

    You will receive a "Thank You" in the credits of the documentary.

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    11 backers

    You'll receive a digital download of the documentary.

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    9 backers

    You will receive a hard copy of The Whole DAM Nation.

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    5 backers

    You will receive a poster for the movie signed by all three of the guys as well as a digital download of the movie's original soundtrack, scored by Ryan Brandenburg.

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    You will receive both a hard copy of the documentary and a hard copy of the movie's original soundtrack, scored by Ryan Brandenburg.

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    You will receive a hard copy of the DVD and a poster for the movie signed by all three of the guys.

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    1 backer

    Not only will you receive a hard copy of the DVD, you'll also get a poster for the movie signed by all three of the guys as well as a hard copy of the movie's original soundtrack, scored by Ryan Brandenburg.

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    9 backers

    Here is where you can get a special edition of DVD, complete with deleted scenes, behind the scenes featurettes, and commentary from the 3 DAM Artists themselves. On top of that, you will get a limited edition map of the United States with our road trip outlined on it. It will have time codes along the route that correspond to the documentary. You'll also receive a signed poster and your choice of a hard copy or digital download of the original soundtrack scored by Ryan Brandenburg.

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    THE DELUXE PACKAGE You'll receive everything from the $100 level as well as a copy of the detailed journals the guys will be keeping on the journey.

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    1 backer Limited (3 left of 4)

    We will stop and see you on the road trip! If you are within a 50 mile radius of any of the 43 destinations, we will come visit you and put you in the documentary. You will also receive all of the rewards from the $150 level.

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    We hate it when things are copyrighted, so for this pledge level you will be given permission to use our film and the soundtrack in your own films or other creative art forms. You will also receive all of the rewards from the $150 level.

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    You and a friend will be cordially invited to the rough cut screening of The Whole DAM Nation in downtown Pittsburgh, PA. Following the screening, there will be a meet and greet with the three guys. You will also receive all of the rewards from the $150 level. Travel and lodging costs not included.

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    You and a friend will receive tickets to the world premiere of the final cut of The Whole DAM Nation in downtown Pittsburgh, PA. Following the premiere, the DAM Artists will take you out to eat at a local Pittsburgh tradition. You will also receive all of the rewards from the $150 level. Travel and lodging costs not included.

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    You will be credited as an executive producer of The Whole DAM Nation. You will also receive all of the rewards from the $150 level.

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    The 3 DAM Artists will come to your town and hold a screening for your town. You will also receive all of the rewards from the $150 level.

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Funding period

- (30 days)