All monetary support is tax-deductible, this film is sponsored by the Oceanic Preservation Society.
The Great Whale Story
The blue whale is the largest animal to have ever existed on Earth. In the early 20th century, humans killed almost 99.9% of their population. An estimated 10,000 blue whales roam our oceans, and today, large ships cross blue whale feeding grounds, often colliding with the whales as they move goods around the world. Ship traffic tripled between 1992-2012, and while international trade continues to grow, left unchecked, ship strikes will decimate the blue whales’ already low number.
Michael Fishbach became an environmental activist and whale conservationist over 25 years ago when he had the opportunity to study whales in Quebec and developed a passion for the amazing species. He is currently lobbying to amend shipping lanes in Chile, Sri Lanka, and Southern California to make small changes in their shipping patterns to move away from blue whale feeding grounds and greatly decrease the risk of ships striking whales and killing them. If successful, Michael’s work will serve as a model for other global retailers and governments – and lead to uninterrupted whale feeding, mating, and migration. We’ll see the handshakes, the boardroom presentations, and the unending optimism Michael posses. We’ll also see blue whales, their mouths fill with living-room-sized gulps of sea water from a drone, and look into their sentient eyes through underwater cinematography.
Our oceans cover 70% of the world’s surface. They are responsible for 50% of the oxygen on Earth and the rains that water our crops and forests. Whales are not only an integral species in maintaining a healthy ecosystem, but they are also creatures that inhabit mythical places in our culture and history. This story seeks to not only to educate the public about a specific issue, but also evoke empathy and stir hope in a human story about activism and passion. “The Great Whale” portrays a regular man pushed to activism from his passion for the blue whale and his dreams for the world his children will inherit.
I pursued this story before I fully knew that I would want to create a documentary. I've completely self-funded this project up until now. Our trip to Chile is the first plot point in telling the story of Michael amending shipping lanes. How these meetings turn out could be pivotal in the success of Michael's next year as he continues to lobby to save the blue whales.
What are the funds for?
The money raised will go directly to our trip to Chile this October. Catherine, my cinematographer and I plan to spend two weeks following Michael as he meets with government and port officials. We're also working with an awesome producer in Chile, Francisca Costamaillere, who is helping us gain connections with local people that have insight into Chilean culture and their relationship with blue whales.
We also want to interview and spend time with biologists and conservationists that live and work in theses areas. All left over funds will help us move onto our next production locations. In the spring we plan to travel to Sri Lanka to meet with more biologists and government officials, but we also intend to film blue whales underwater as Sri Lanka has the clearest water to capture blue whales in their environment. These funds will support the small crew of myself, a director of photography, and a producer, and our travel, gear, and insurance. I have applied for film grants and plan to use grant money to finish production on the film through early 2020.
4% of funds received will go to the Oceanic Preservation Society, and 5-10% of funds will go to Kickstarter and their processing fees!
Meet the team:
Kelly Teacher - director
Kelly Teacher began her career directing music videos and working behind the camera and in the edit room on two feature documentaries: “Austin to Boston” and “No Cameras Allowed.” Her work in music documentaries culminated with directing a commissioned documentary following artist Ron Pope as he assembles his dream band, The Nighthawks. The documentary, “One Way Ticket” explores the challenges inherent in being a completely independent artist in today's uncertain music industry.
In February 2016, she joined Teen Vogue to launch their video production division. Two years later, they were a team of 4 who had created over 150 digital videos featuring the likes of Hillary Clinton, Chance the Rapper, and Ashley Judd. As of January 2018, she has returned to freelance filmmaking with a strong passion for telling underrepresented stories hoping to make the world a better, more compassionate place.
Catherine Aeppel - cinematographer
Catherine is an adventure cinematographer based in Colorado. Her work has been featured by National Geographic Adventure and her awards include first place in the GoPro Mountain Click Photo Competition at the 2016 & 2014 GoPro Mountain Games. She has shot projects for the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Sierra Club highlighting the importance of their respective conservation work. Her personal short film project, "My Desolate Eden," won Best Cinematography during its premiere at No Man's Land Film Festival.
Sloane Klevin - consulting producer
Sloane Klevin, A.C.E., has been an editor of narrative and documentary films, television, commercials, music videos and trailers for nearly 30 years. She has won two Emmy awards, the first for her work as editor and co-producer of the 2008 Oscar-winning documentary “Taxi to the Dark Side,” and her second for the 2013 HBO documentary “Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God.” Sloane is a partner and editor at Union Editorial, a commercial post-production company and the recently-formed Union Productions. She has edited at the Sundance Narrative Filmmaker’s Lab and was also a 2015 mentor in the TFI/A&E Indiefilms Story Lab. In 2016, she won a Silver Lion at the Cannes Advertising festival for the Microsoft “Make What’s Next” campaign, encouraging young girls to study Science, Math and Technology.
Francisca Costamaillere - producer, Chile
Since Francisca was little she was lucky enough to relate closely with nature, this was a gift that motivated her to generate spaces that contribute to the conservation and protection of our planet. She works in audiovisual media and I has her own production company www.picafilms.com.
Sammi Kattan - drone & additional cinematography
Sami kattan is a filmmaker committed to spreading the ethic of conservation. He travels the globe documenting stories that matter in an effort to inspire others and help humanity realize a more connected, fulfilled, and sustainable coexistence on our planet.
Sashwa Burrous - additional cinematography
After getting a BAS in Motion Graphic Design he has been focusing on visual storytelling projects by producing and shooting everything from feature-length documentaries, commercials, music videos and fundraising videos for non-profit organizations. Being raised in the hills of Northern California Sashwa is passionate about conservation and creating imagery to inspire people to enjoy and protect the landscapes around them.
Ray Whitehouse - additional cinematography
Ray Whitehouse is a filmmaker and journalist with an interest in American history, politics and sports. He holds an M.A. in visual journalism from UNC Chapel Hill and a B.S. in journalism from Northwestern University. His previous film, Believers, was recognized by the International Documentary Association and National Press Photographers Association.
You can visit The Great Whale Conservancy to learn more about Michael and his work: http://www.greatwhaleconservancy.org/
or check out our fiscal sponsor, the Oceanic Preservation Society http://www.opsociety.org/
Risks and challenges
Every documentary carries risks and challenges, "The Great Whale" will take at least 18 months to complete and could take longer if we find there is more to the story or Michael's efforts need a bit more time to come to fruition. These funds will cover much of the first few months of production for this film, however, filmmaking is expensive, gear, travel, insurance, making sure crew gets paid a living wage. This kickstarter is the first step in proving this story has value, but we have many possibilities to receive funding, either through grants, individual donors, or production companies, all of which we have been actively pursuing.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)