Storm chasing has become a widespread activity involving amateur weather observers, photographers, and meteorologists. A vast history exists with humble roots, personal adventure, scientific achievement, and tragedy.
Beginning with one individual in 1956, and expanding to thousands by 2014, the culture fosters a fascination with extremes in atmospheric conditions. This project aspires to produce a visual anthology documenting the past six decades of storm chasing culture by preserving the stories, imagery, science, and art of its many unique participants. The story concept will examine how storm chasing grew from relative obscurity, to the phenomenon it has become today. A visual history lesson will be the result, presented as accurately as possible.
To accomplish this project, an estimated budget has been developed that will ensure a responsible and thorough job. This Kickstarter campaign has been initiated to raise funds specifically for travel and remaining production costs to gather the missing elements to the film (the interviews), and begin post-production editing. The estimated cost to fund travel, collection of interviews, and production of a video series is $7,000.00.
Ninety percent of the production has already been shot over the last ten years, coupled with content contributed by other storm chasers and meteorologists dating back to 1956.
This link details specific funding categories to cover travel and production expenses over the course of one year (equipment, travel, accommodations, and production/studio time). This includes a three-to-five week travel period throughout the United States to conduct personal interviews with storm chasers, many of whom were active during the early years of storm chasing.
Travel funds raised during this campaign would also go towards a loaned or rented vehicle for the designated travel period.
Utilizing current technologies related to my career in photojournalism, I would operate as an independent contractor to bring this documentary series to life. The complexity of this project requires a change in my full-time employment status to that of an independent contractor to cover living expenses for the duration of the project. To accomplish this, the variety of assignments would include/but are not limited to freelance photography, videography, web design, and written works through a host of online outlets and other regional clients.
My name is Blake Naftel. I’m a visual journalist with a love for filmmaking coupled with a seventeen-year background in documenting extreme weather. This project began in 2003 as part of a lifelong passion for severe weather and continues to inspire me, especially in light of the tragic loss of three accomplished storm chasers in 2013. Professionally, I have worked in the broadcast media industry as a photojournalist, reporter, weather producer, radio host, editor, and technician since 1998. I hold a Bachelor’s of Science in Geography and Communications from Western Michigan University. A West Michigan native, I presently reside in Grand Rapids.
I anticipate completing the anthology series by October 2015. Ideally, a premiere held at a location closely tied to the storm chasing and meteorological community would be preferred, but not mandatory. Showcasing this on a platform such as IFC (Independent Film Channel), PBS, or similar online streaming venues would be the preferred route of release. This series would also be provided to libraries and academic institutions across the United States. In time, a condensed version of the series would be entered into various national and international film festivals. DVD and BluRay discs, combined with digital downloads of the completed series would be available to backers, and eventually, for sale to the general public. As this project includes vast amounts of original copyrighted content from storm chasers and meteorologists, usage rights would be secured before public sale or release.
Upon successful completion of the six-part storm chasing anthology and its publicity, I anticipate widespread interest in this documentary, coupled with a strong presence by storm-chasing enthusiasts through this website. This exposure through various media will serve as the foundation and catalyst toward development of a permanent, ever-evolving “cloud” archive for the preservation of historical severe-weather and storm-chase multimedia (i.e., slides, photographs, motion picture film, videotape and digital imagery). Ideally, this archive may eventually be housed within a centralized hub, possibly at a university located in “Tornado Alley” in the central United States. The archive would be universally accessible, at little or no cost, for research, educational, and non-profit purposes. Over time, its operations and maintenance could become self-sustaining, through nominal subscription-based and/or “pay per view” user fees assessed to other “for-profit” interests.
Please visit the website stormchasinghistory.net for further details and updates as this project evolves.
Thank you to everyone for your support, encouragement, and interest!
Risks and challenges
For the moment this is a vast independent effort, operating with the collaboration of numerous individuals within the storm chasing and meteorological community. Upon successful funding for the travel and production of this project, a confirmed schedule will be put into place for meeting with the intended interviewees at set points throughout the East, Southeast, Plains, Southwest, and Midwest United States between late August through early October 2014. Schedules of course change, family & health issues arise, and I am prepared to adjust the travel route if need be. Fortunately, those interested in being interviewed have been in direct contact with me over the past several months, and are ready for this phase of the project to begin.
The key risk in going forward with this project is maintaining consistent income upon my return and during the key period of post production editing over the the later part of 2014 through early 2015. I am securing work connections currently and remain positive that by the time all shoots associated with production are complete, I will have opportunities established that can keep me a float as I edit the film.
Another hurdle is the vehicle necessary for traveling to obtain the interviews. I have a personal vehicle, but it's shared. I welcome any offers, or would likely allocate a portion of raised funds to the rental of a vehicle for three-to-five weeks.
Extensive travel of course requires proper rest. While I am not opposed to occasionally sleeping in a vehicle, a budget has been calculated for lodging at efficient hotels and motels. On the flip side, many individuals have graciously offered to host a night at their homes while visiting the areas highlighted during the interview process. Thank you to everyone offering a bedroom, couch, or floor as accommodations!
Aside from the standard risks that come with travel (vehicle mechanical problems, flat tires, accidents, theft), I do not anticipate any massive issues for this phase of the project.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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