Funded! This project was successfully funded on May 20, 2013.

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The hidden story of how the Keystone XL pipeline battle in East Texas built a community of resistance to the climate crisis in America

WE DID IT!!!

THANK YOU KICKSTARTER SUPPORTERS!!!

You are AMAZING!

We have 24 HOURS LEFT, and we still need your help. We are so thrilled that our Kickstarter goal will allow us to start editing the film. Additional donations above our goal will go toward these and other expenses: 

  • Editing the film more quickly!
  • Music
  • Archival footage
  • Finishing costs
  • Website design and development 
  • Further development of an extensive outreach and educational campaign that will take the film to schools, places of worship and community centers across the continent

It has been absolutely wonderful to see the outpouring of encouragement, support and love over the past month. It's time to make this film and show it to the world as soon as possible!

Thank you all so much for everything! We love you!

RAPPELLING (black & white, medium format) - Prints available from the $50 award level and up
RAPPELLING (black & white, medium format) - Prints available from the $50 award level and up

Above All Else is a feature documentary film that tells the remarkable story of a group of landowners and activists who tried to stop construction of the Keystone XL pipeline in East Texas. The film follows David Daniel, a quiet, affable carpenter, whose backyard became the epicenter of a tree sit that physically blocked the path of the controversial pipeline. This was the birthplace of the Tar Sands Blockade, an activist group that would go on to oppose the pipeline's construction all along its route. David's stance against Keystone brought together an unlikely coalition of allies, from Texan farmers to student environmentalists to fire-cracker great-grandmothers like Eleanor Fairchild. Above All Else is the story of David and his allies, their struggles, and what happened when they stood in the way of the most powerful industry in the world. It is a film about how courage and integrity are fundamental ingredients in social change—in Texas, throughout the country, and throughout history. Our plans for this project are ambitious, and we need your help to make them a reality. 

ELEANOR FAIRCHILD (black & white, medium format) - Prints available from the $50 level and up
ELEANOR FAIRCHILD (black & white, medium format) - Prints available from the $50 level and up

ABOUT THE FILM 

In September of 2012, a handful of young climbers ascended the 100-foot trees behind David Daniel’s house and settled into suspended platforms to prevent TransCanada’s bulldozers from cutting through David’s land. These tree-sitters saw themselves as the last line of defense in a campaign to block construction of the southern leg of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline, which is slated to carry tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, across six U.S. states to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast. Only one year earlier, the fight against Keystone XL was the most visible fight in the American environmental movement. David participated in protest events organized by environmental groups, including being arrested in front of the White House in a massive act of civil disobedience. In November of 2011, President Obama delayed the permits for the pipeline for further environmental review, but then he changed course in the spring of 2012 and fast-tracked the southern leg of the pipeline. In addition to the immediate risks to his family from a leak, David became increasingly concerned about the impact of tar sands on climate change and his young daughter’s future. He decided that a campaign of civil disobedience on his own land was his best chance to protect his daughter. Above All Else is the story of David’s struggle to protect his family in a world that is rapidly running out of cheap oil. Along the way, the story of David and his allies illuminates the unconventional oil boom underway in North America and shows how a deep commitment to one’s values can have a profound effect on the world. 

JULIA TRIGG CRAWFORD (black & white, medium format) - Prints available from the $50 reward level and up
JULIA TRIGG CRAWFORD (black & white, medium format) - Prints available from the $50 reward level and up

WHAT’S KEYSTONE XL?

The global energy map is undergoing a dramatic transformation. Oil production is now increasing rapidly in North America, reversing a steady decline since the 1970s. Easily accessible fossil fuels are mostly gone, causing the industry to now go to unprecedented lengths to extract oil and gas that was previously considered too dirty, inaccessible, or unprofitable—as exemplified by tar sands, natural gas fracking, and deepwater drilling. These types of resources occur in such abundance in North America that the International Energy Agency projects that the US will become with world’s largest energy producer within five years. 

SUSAN SCOTT (black & white, medium format) - Prints available from the $50 reward level and up
SUSAN SCOTT (black & white, medium format) - Prints available from the $50 reward level and up

First proposed in 2008, the Keystone XL pipeline is a seven billion dollar project that is slated to transport tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, across six U.S. states to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast. Opposition to the pipeline has stemmed from a wide variety of concerns, from property rights and indigenous rights, to water quality and ecological destruction. Yet the most fervent and controversial reason many oppose tar sands is that its exploitation will release massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere and further disrupt the Earth’s climate, while diverting attention and resources away from low-impact, renewable, domestic energy. The southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline is nearly finished across East Texas and southern Oklahoma. This spring, President Obama is expected to make a determination on the northern segment of the pipeline, and many feel that his decision will define the administration’s commitment to addressing climate change. North America is now ground zero in a brewing climate war that pits a domestic energy boom against the stability of the global climate. The Keystone XL pipeline has become a potent symbol of that conflict and everything that hangs in the balance. 

THE TREE VILLAGE (black & white, medium format) - Prints available from the $50 reward level and up
THE TREE VILLAGE (black & white, medium format) - Prints available from the $50 reward level and up

WHY KICKSTARTER? 

We believe that telling David’s story will reveal the realities of the unconventional oil boom in America and show how a social movement is building to resist this new wave of fossil fuel development and address climate change. Kickstarter is a great way to build a larger community for our film, and we will use your investment to get more people involved and informed. Please help us with a donation, even if you only have $5 to give. Your contribution will help us cover the following costs: 

  • Final trips to East Texas to follow-up with people in the film
  • Editor and assistant editors 
  • External hard-drive storage for our footage
  • Office rental and basic operating expenses
  • Building an outreach campaign on the issues in the film
THE WALL (black & white, medium format) - Prints available from the $50 reward level and up
THE WALL (black & white, medium format) - Prints available from the $50 reward level and up

Your donations will give us the capability to share this once-in-a-lifetime story with the world. However, editing film is not the end of our journey. We still face the costs of hiring a composer, licensing archival footage, color correction, and sound design. In addition, once we’ve premiered the film, we will reach out to communities around the country by touring the film with special attention to communities affected by Keystone and other tar sands pipelines. Any donations beyond our target goal will be applied toward these next steps and bring us closer to premiering the film. Want to know more? Visit our website http://www.aboveallelsefilm.com or message us directly. 

DAVID DANIEL (black & white, medium format) - Prints available from the $50 reward level and up
DAVID DANIEL (black & white, medium format) - Prints available from the $50 reward level and up

NEW LIMITED REWARD!

With a $69 pledge, receive a limited-edition, organic cotton t-shirt featuring David Daniel
With a $69 pledge, receive a limited-edition, organic cotton t-shirt featuring David Daniel

Thank you, 

  • John Fiege – Director/Producer/Cinematographer
  • Daryl Hannah, Julia Butterfly Hill, Janet MacGillivray Wallace & Paul Bassis—Executive Producers
  • Anita Grabowski—Producer
  • Libbie Weimer, Liz Perlman, Jamie Lee, Ayshea Khan & Keegan Curry—Production Staff 

 . . . and the rest of the Fiege Films team, including our fabulous interns from the University of Texas!

From left to right: Daryl Hannah, Julia Butterfly Hill, Eleanor Fairchild, John Fiege, Libbie Weimer & Paul Bassis
From left to right: Daryl Hannah, Julia Butterfly Hill, Eleanor Fairchild, John Fiege, Libbie Weimer & Paul Bassis

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Film projects always contain an element of uncertainty, especially non-fiction films such as Above All Else. Fortunately, with the bulk of production behind us, the risks and uncertainties of finding a story, building relationships with our characters, and staying safe up in the tree platforms are behind us, and the biggest uncertainty we now face is securing the funding to finish the film and finding an audience at festivals. We have envisioned a very ambitious project, but we feel that the risks are worth the rewards of getting David’s story and the story of the Texas fight against Keystone XL out into the world. We have worked for years to get to this point, and we know we’re very close to finishing the film. With your help, we’re confident that we can make this film a reality!

FAQ

  • Thousands of creative projects are being funded on Kickstarter at any given moment. Each project is independently created and crafted by the person behind it. The filmmakers, musicians, artists, and designers you see on Kickstarter have complete control and responsibility over their projects. They spend weeks building their project pages, shooting their videos, and brainstorming what rewards to offer backers. When they're ready, creators launch their project and share it with their community. Every project creator sets their project's funding goal and deadline. If people like the project, they can pledge money to make it happen. If the project succeeds in reaching its funding goal, all backers' credit cards are charged when time expires. If the project falls short on its funding goal, no one is charged. Funding on Kickstarter is all-or-nothing.

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  • Filmmaking is expensive, time-consuming, and involves many people. We have funded this film so far with grants, personal funds, and the generous donations of time, expertise, and cooking skills from our dedicated production team. In addition, we work with a fantastic army of unpaid interns from the University of Texas department of Radio, Television, and Film who truly make this film possible. Although we’ve gotten this far on a mix of perseverance, sacrifice, and sweat (production during Texas summers, people), some parts of filmmaking require cash. At this phase in the process of making our film, we face looming costs for our editing staff, office rental, licensing archival footage, a sound mix, color correction, and original music to make our film sound as good as it looks. We believe our film tells an important story, a story that needs to be heard now, while the Keystone XL pipeline is still being debated. In order to finish the film in a timely manner, we need your help. Without Kickstarter to jump-start our fundraising, we face delays of many months that could jeopardize the future of the film.

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  • This one is easy. Spread the word using social media such as Facebook, Twitter, or Reddit. Tell your friends about us, tell your mom about us, tell everyone and anyone about us. You never know who has some spare cash and a big heart. Sometimes living deep in the heart of Texas can feel very far away from the rest of the world, so help us get our campaign out there. We truly appreciate it!

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  • While David’s story exemplifies the importance of personal commitment to the protection of the environment, it also shows the insufficiency of the individual battle. The film highlights various efforts to build a strong social movement around the climate change issue and demonstrates the perils of acting alone. Once the film is released, we will work with our nonprofit partners to help sponsor and advertise community screenings, panel discussions, and other events related to the subject matter of the film. With John’s previous film, Mississippi Chicken, we held similar events around immigration and workers rights, relating the issues of the film to various communities where we held the events. Those events were extraordinarily successful, and we believe that Above All Else has an even greater potential to bring people together and catalyze action. We plan to tour the film and these related events around the country, with particular attention to the communities along the proposed northern segment of Keystone XL in Montana, the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma. In addition, we intend to focus on other areas with existing or proposed tar sands pipelines, such as Arkansas, which just recently experienced a tar sands spill from an Exxon pipeline, and New England, where a proposed pipeline across Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine has raised fears among local residents. Through the film, our website, and related touring events, we aim to deepen people’s understanding of the oil economy and the climate crisis through intimate, approachable narratives.

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  • Unfortunately, you can only donate once and select one reward, but you are welcome and encouraged to add to your pledge and change your reward if you would like to. Please message us if you have questions regarding special limited rewards.

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    115 backers

    A big THANK YOU with your name credited on our Facebook page, plus a digital image pack including a personalized email message from our film team

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    Access to a digital download of the film once it's released + the rewards ABOVE

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    An 8x10 archival quality art print of your choice (select from the images featured within the project text) and a personalized postcard + the rewards ABOVE

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    25 backers All gone!

    NEW LIMITED REWARD: In honor of our astonishing average pledge of $69 per backer, we're offering a limited-edition, organic cotton t-shirt featuring David Daniel, designed and produced by Rural Rooster. This special limited reward package includes the t-shirt, digital image pack, thank you, and digital download of the film. (Sorry, but the t-shirt is not included in the 'ABOVE' package for the $100 and $150 reward levels)

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    14 backers Limited (36 left of 50)

    BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND! In honor of our astonishing average pledge of $69 per backer, we're offering a limited-edition, organic cotton t-shirt featuring David Daniel, designed and produced by Rural Rooster. This special reward package includes the t-shirt, digital image pack, thank you, and digital download of the film. (Sorry, but the t-shirt is not included in the 'ABOVE' package for the $100 and $150 reward levels. Please note that you can only make one donation, so if you've already donated, message us directly!)

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    68 backers

    A tree will be planted in your honor on Eleanor Fairchild's property in East Texas and we'll email you a photo of the tree planting ceremony with a personalized message + the rewards ABOVE

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    An ABOVE ALL ELSE screen-printed recycled organic eco tote bag + the rewards ABOVE

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    5 backers Limited (245 left of 250)

    A limited edition screen-printed 18x24 film poster designed by award winning Austin graphic design house Rural Rooster + the rewards ABOVE

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    2 backers Limited (23 left of 25)

    An exclusive Julia Butterfly Hill reward package including a signed copy of "Becoming," her collection of artwork, poetry, and short nonfiction along with a photograph featuring Julia and David Daniel, signed by Julia + the $150 level awards and ABOVE

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    7 backers Limited (18 left of 25)

    An exclusive Daryl Hannah reward package including a signed 30th anniversary edition Blu-Ray (or DVD) of Blade Runner along with a photograph featuring Daryl and Eleanor Fairchild, signed by Daryl + the $150 level rewards and ABOVE

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    A 16x20 fiber-based, silver gelatin art print, professionally printed from a black and white medium-format negative shot by Director John Fiege, with the image of your choice (select from the images to the left) + the $150 level awards and ABOVE

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    1 backer Limited (9 left of 10)

    A set of three 16x20 fiber-based, silver gelatin art prints, professionally printed from black and white medium-format negatives shot by Director John Fiege, (select from the images to the left) plus your name featured in the credits + the $150 level awards and ABOVE

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    A fiber-based, silver gelatin art print, professionally printed from a black and white medium-format negative shot by Director John Fiege, printed up to 20x24, (select from the images to the left), your name featured in the film credits, and two tickets to the premiere and premiere party (travel not included) + the $150 level awards and ABOVE

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    0 backers Limited (5 left of 5)

    A set of three fiber-based, silver gelatin art prints, professionally printed from black and white medium-format negatives shot by Director John Fiege, printed up to 20x24, (select from the images to the left), your name featured in the film credits, two tickets to the premiere and premiere party (travel not included), and a private film screening with filmmakers in attendance (filmmaker travel not included) + the $150 level awards and ABOVE

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Funding period

- (32 days)