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A documentary about what indigenous people know, and we have forgotten, about the most potent plants on earth
A documentary about what indigenous people know, and we have forgotten, about the most potent plants on earth
691 backers pledged $53,193 to help bring this project to life.

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We need to talk.

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Dear longstanding and long-suffering supporters,

We apologize, again, for the long delay.

Thank you for your continued encouragement – letters of support and letters of frustration (cheering us on/wondering what’s up/ hoping for us/offering babysitting/ and straight-up kicking our asses to get it finished.)

We hear you.

We continue, also, with the ongoing conviction that the world still needs this film as much as we need to finish making it. All over the planet, in the years we’ve been at this – progress has been made by great organizations. They are working toward including traditional medicines and marginal compounds being tested with government approval into the treatment of depression, PTSD, personality disorders and helping the terminally ill cope with accepting the next stage of their passing.

In the time - more than a decade - that this has been our labour of love, huge leaps have been made in this field. Sections of the short version of our film have been used in seminars, taught at universities, and quoted in people’s thesis work. Our friends in that field inspire us by continuing against norms, changing laws through scientific proof that these medicines not only work – but have the capacity to bring about a better world.

While we're inspired by their progress, we struggle with our own. The process of this film has been a supremely difficult task- one of the most challenging we’ve all faced. It’s been daunting, sometimes discouraging, how long it’s taken us- and with the film still unfinished.

But we continue our dedication to the film, trying to keep ourselves afloat, pay the bills, and still save time to get this movie finished, and bring it into the world. And after finally securing all rights from the original production company, despite the debts we were left with – we continue to move forward.

There is some good news, too. Since our last update, we’ve done shoots with two of our three doctors: Gabor Maté and Jacques Mabit. Jacques was invited to speak in a series of seminars around Quebec - by an organization who is now using pieces of our short-form film as a teaching tool in universities. Gabor came to speak to the newly-formed Ayahuasca Association of Canada. Both were generous with their time, doing new, exhaustive interviews with us - as inspiring and incisive as always. (It could also be said that our questions themselves have matured, as well as our perspective on the work, with the time we’ve had to reflect - somewhat longer than expected…) 

In recent weeks, we have been editing this material into a new piece - getting closer to the shape of the feature film. What remains for us is a trip to Colombia to spend time with our Taita Humberto, gathering his final thoughts on this whole experiment. And then proceed with editing the final version of the film

The end is in sight.

Meanwhile - to pay rent, help others with their visions of a better future, and continue with our own - each of us has worked on other projects. Robin has been developing her film GIFT, inspired by Lewis Hyde’s The Gift- “a brilliant defense of the value of creativity and its importance in a culture increasingly governed by money and overrun with commodities.”

Mark finished work on and helped launch This Changes Everything, written and narrated by author Naomi Klein. He is currently shooting another climate change doc, co-developing another film on the shell game of international economics, and shooting a third film in Brazil starting this week - while sifting through TJP/ayahuasca material on his days off.

Jeronimo’s activist work to support the integration of ayahuasca into western cultures has taken off in the past years, as a member of ICEERS he helped organized the World Ayahuasca Conference, and recently launched the Ayahuasca Defense Fund, to support people who run into legal trouble for working with ayahuasca. Meanwhile he continues to lecture on his favorite topic. Between his activism, his real job, his daughters (5 and 7), and living half a world away from us in Spain, Jeronimo has found it very hard to continue. He continues as a friend and an advisor, but he is no longer involved in the day-to-day operations of the project.

Robin and Mark were just at Hot Docs, with the goal of raising enough money to do the last shoot in Colombia, to finish the film the way we envision it. We have begun working with a new producing partner - and still have hopes we can make this happen.

THE BIG ANNOUNCEMENT

Many of you have been (understandably) angry about the lack of communication and response in the past year. We apologize. We promised to send rewards last summer, and we didn’t. The truth was that Jeronimo had blocked a month in August last year to work on that, and then it didn’t happen. He apologizes sincerely for not living up to his promise, and he will follow this update with a personal letter explaining everything.

Meanwhile, we continue to work here on producing the rewards for you, and making them special- (a project in itself.) One complication in all of this has been the production of DVD’s to accompany the sendouts. We have had a debate amongst ourselves about whether to send out a shorter version of the film we are making, with extras - something we can offer, so we don’t continue to keep you waiting...or wait until the final piece is finished. Our indecision about this has had the effect of stalling other rewards - and even, of sending out this update, which has taken much too long.

You have waited too long. We’ve decided to send all rewards now: t-shirts, CDs, books, and - for those of you who would like it- DVDs (or downloads) of what we have so far, plus some surprise extras. Then the final film could be made available to you when it is ready.

Soon we’ll begin collecting everyone’s updated addresses- and check in with you about this. Send-outs will finally begin in June and be fulfilled by July, while we have a bit of time off.

For the meantime – we wish you all well, and hope the world is being kind to you. Here at ground zero we continue with heads unbowed, hoping to have this film out into the world by 2017. We have one more round of financing hopes this fall – after which we promise to cut bait and simply finish editing whatever we have, the best we can- in the time your help has allowed us.

We know, again, that we’ve been silent for longer than anticipated. We feel embarrassed about how long it’s taken us, and how long we’ve kept you waiting.

We apologize, again.

All we can say is that we are here, we haven’t gone anywhere, your money is still in the bank, we continue to invest our work and love into this, and haven’t given up. And we are doing everything we can to make it worth the wait.

Thank you, again, for being there.

 M, R & J

A much needed update

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The Ayahuasca Project explains everything!

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Dear Backers:

Remember that film on the use of ayahuasca in the treatment of addiction?

The one that an international team of crazy people had spent the better part of a decade trying to make?

Well - whether you remember us or not - you are receiving this letter because somewhere along the way you kindly pledged to support us - and so, to the tremendously helpful group of people who’ve done so - (both patiently and, understandably, less patiently)

We have some very exciting news.

But first we need to apologize for the silence these past few months - there was a reason: one that surprised us all - a legal one.

Since the crowdfunding campaign, and for reasons not worth going into, our relationship with our producing partners (who held the rights to the film) had become more and more complicated.  So much so that eventually both parts agreed it was best to go our separate ways. 

No separation is ever easy, and neither was this one. It was a long negotiation, much much longer than we ever expected. Long letters, long conversations, lawyers were called, then were called off. It dragged on for months (about as long as our silence to you.)

And then last week, after many months of back and forth, we reached an agreement all parts are happy with.

We are extremely happy to announce that the rights to the film are now fully back in our hands.

Our film is ours again

and we are ready to proceed.

Woo-Hooo!

It has been a difficult process. It was especially difficult not being able to talk about it. 

We want to thank you again for your patience through what must have felt like a strange silence.

But now, get ready - from now on, our updates will be regular- and we hope you will become bored with them, rather than left wondering. We are working on the rewards and you will be getting sneak peeks into them very soon. Our brilliant editor Mahi is moving into a new home closer to where Mark lives in Toronto. She’s camera shy, but we’ll coax her to include her thoughts of the process.

Many things have happened in the past 2 years, Jeronimo has had a second child. Some of us lost our parents. There have been breakups and reunions.  Toddlers have learned the wonders of our natural world.

& we have honed the direction we’d like to take the film.

More to come on the next steps we are taking. But for now, it’s exciting to have our child back. 

We look forward to taking these next steps with you.

When Gabor heard the news he wrote this:

“Now that the legal situation has cleared, I’m excited about the potential of this film being completed. It could, I know, be the most powerful documentary on the plant ever done and certainly the most beautiful.“

We hope to honour that promise, and the one we’ve made to you all.

Best regards

   - Mark, Robin & Jero

Songs of Ayahuasca CD, first selections

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Dear backers,

Greetings from the Ayahuasca Project decentralized offices.  I have been slowly going through the hard drives containing 10 years worth of recordings, to make a preselection of songs to include on the Songs of Ayahuasca CD reward.  In the coming weeks I will be sharing some of them with you. I am going to start with a rather special one. 

The story goes like this: in 2007 while doing research for the film I met in Perú a man who was convinced he was possessed by the devil. I won't go into the details, he looked normal enough. I'll just say that when I met him he had been drinking ayahuasca for a few months with no major effects. The first 2 times I drank with him it was uneventful. The third time, however, something happened. During the session what he called his devil "came out" in the open for the first time. It just so happened that I was recording audio that night. 

I will save you that recording, suffice it to say it is some of the most hair-raising shrieking I have ever heard. The entire rom was terrified. When I revisited the recording I could barely listen for more than a few seconds. That night it took the curanderos all their power and more than an hour to get the situation to the point where the shrieks became a whimper. When there was finally silence, the entire room breathed out a collective sight of relief

When the room was finally at peace Jacques Mabit sang this ícaro: madrecita ayahuasca.

Mabit told me that the author of the ícaro is maestro José Campos. I have translated the lyrics so English speakers can understand the words. Use the captions button (next to the gear icon) to see the English subtitles. This ayahuasca song is almost a battle tune, meant to cast off evil, and claim the space back. Mabit calls the spirits of the most powerful plants, and of everything he holds most sacred. It's almost a declaration principles, a manifesto, stating where the curandero stands, and under which forces his sessions are run, as you will see it is also full of poetic turns, and inspiring calls.

I will say no more. I think the song speaks for itself. I am however, unsure of wether to include in on the selection or not.  What do you think? Would love to hear your opinions.

Once again thank you for your generosity and patience.

Best,

    -J

What about my rewards?

Dear backers:

First of all, our deepest apologies for the long silence. We didn't want send an update until we had firm news, and we have been carefully taking our next steps.

As all you know, after 10 years of work, the final stretch of The Jungle Prescription put all three of us on the verge of economic ruin. We wanted to make the best film about ayahuasca ever - so when the funds ran out, we poured our own savings into the project. We launched the crowdfunding campaigns to raise funds to finish our film, and thanks to the open-hearted generosity of hundreds of backers like you, that’s now possible: the funds we gathered will cover a new edit.

They do not, however, cover our living expenses through the edit, post and promotion period.

So, while thanks to you now we have money to finish the film, we don't have money to stop everything and and work on it full-time in the manner it deserves. For that reason, the 3 of us have spent the past year taking other work, hoping to be able to save enough to properly get us through the 3-month edit, and 6 weeks of final post (including sound design, music composition and colour correction).

We are trying to live a dream and pay the bills, it is possible, but as many of you know, it takes time. So it is taking longer than we expected, and that is the reason for the delays.

The good news is that while we each work on other projects, we have been making important allies and deepening our community: like-minded people who will help us spread our film further afield. In the long run, this means the film you’ve supported will have a greater effect on the world - and reach more people than we had imagined.

Gee, that is great, but what about my rewards?

We are very conscious that we promised to deliver all rewards by Sept 2012. Unfortunately, that estimate turned out to be wildly optimistic (what can we do? we like to think positive .-)

So we have revised our plan. We were hoping to save on shipping costs by shipping all rewards together. But since finishing the film (DVD) is taking longer than expected, we have come up with a new plan: we have divided rewards in two categories, short-term delivery, and long-term delivery.

Short-term deliveries include the Songs Of Ayahuasca, and Poder Verde! CDs, the Jungle Insight t-shirts, the Art Prints, and Gabor Mate´s signed books and skype consultation. We intend to get those on the fast track and deliver them to you in the first quarter of 2013.

Long-term deliveries are those which will take some time to produce: basically the Ayahuasca Conversations book, and the DVD of the feature-length film (and the rewards tied to the film, like Associate Producer credits, the premiere invites, etc). We can't deliver those until we have finished the film- but we promise when we do it will be worth the wait!

So the good news is that we are on it. Jero has been pouring through the archives and fishing out some amazing ayahuasca songs for the CD. We think we have found a service delivery company that will do all shipping for us. We are on it, and you will hear more from us soon, as we prepare to ship CDs, t-shirts, and other rewards.

With our deepest gratitude

              -Mark, Jero, and Robin

PD Please don´t hesitate to continue contact us with questions, suggestion, comments, love/hate mail, etc. We take some time, but we do answer every email.