Common Ground is an independent documentary collaboration with the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society. The elephant and the people of Sri Lanka have shared a cultural bond and relationship that is over 5,000 years old. Today this relationship is in danger of disintegrating mainly due to the loss of elephant habitat that is creating intense conflicts between people (mostly rural subsistence farmers) and elephants. What is incredible to see are the similarities between people and elephants—especially how they take care of their families as they go about trying to survive in a rapidly changing world. The film will explore the remarkable similarities between both groups.
Today the Asian elephant is not just a living symbol of the cultures of Asia but it is also very much ingrained in the socio-cultural values of the people in the west and northern hemisphere. Therefore the loss of the Asian elephant will not be just a huge loss for the people of Asia but to the entire world.
For conservation biologists these are challenging times—where we need to develop innovative strategies to balance the needs of people and their aspirations while at the same time attempting conserve one of the most endangered mega-herbivores of the world. We'll learn about some of the innovative conservation projects happening on the ground; solar powered electric fences, elephant alert systems, habitat enrichment programs, programs teaching habituated elephants how to paint, and even projects that are making novelty paper out of elephant poo.
The purpose of the film is to create awareness and to educate the general public as to the critical need to conserve a living cultural symbol and to generate support for its conservation. What began as a smaller educational project for the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society has turned into a much larger project, and we're hoping to find a wider distribution platform than we had originally planned for. To do that, we need just a little push.
Principal photography has been completed, and as we step into post-production, we realize that there are a few holes in the story that we want to tell. The funding we are currently requesting will allow for a skeleton crew to return to Sri Lanka to capture the remaining pieces and bring the story to completion. This will include a helicopter shoot which has funds already secured and will be the first aerial footage of natural sites in Sri Lanka in high definition. This funding will also help us secure matching funds from grant institutions to aid in post-production.
50% of any profits generated through distribution of the film will go directly to the SLWCS to aid in their mission of HEC resolution and to develop sustainable land uses and livelihoods for farmers impacted by HEC. More information about the film can be found at http://www.greenermedia.com/hec.html and more information about SLWCS can be found at http://www.slwcs.org
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