Funded! This project was successfully funded on June 27, 2013.

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A look at the most fascinating insects on Earth - the Periodical Cicadas. Help them reach a film funding stretch goal of $40,000.

As the kickstarter campaign comes to a close, I want to thank the hundreds of supporters that have helped make this a huge success! Your interest and passion for the cicadas has demonstrated that this project has huge potential, far beyond what I thought possible just a month ago. As I explore options that could see the final film broadcast internationally, the crowdfunding campaign will continue at the official project website Return of the Cicadas

Any current kickstarter backers will be able to add to their pledge and/or take advantage of new ones as they are added, and all new supporters can select the same rewards offered here including all of the bonus stretch rewards mentioned below that have already been achieved! Thank you, again. And visit ReturnoftheCicadas.com to keep track of our progress in the coming months! 

 - Samuel Orr 

----------------------- Stretch Rewards Now Included!!! --------------------

$20,000 - All current and future Backers pledging $20 and above will receive a digital download of The Ultimate Periodical Cicada Field Guide!! Beautifully constructed, well-designed, and highly informative, this guide is chocked full of Cicada fun facts, insights about each Brood, maps so you can pinpoint their breeding grounds to seek them out, and lots more. Wow your friends, family, and would-be eavesdroppers with your ultimate Cicada prowess! Below is a Cicada Information Brochure that was produced several years ago, and our new guide will be inspired by its design and layout:

Courtesy of Keith Clay/Indiana University
Courtesy of Keith Clay/Indiana University

When we reach:

$25,000 - All current and future Backers pledging $33 and above will also receive a really cool Cicada Sticker Pack, with a variety of designs Sam has created that will look similar (better, actually) to those seen here:  

Stickers Galore!
Stickers Galore!

$30,000 -  All current and future Backers pledging $33 and above will receive a copy of my original Return of The Cicadas documentary that I filmed in 2004 at the very end of the pre-HD era in association with a cicada researcher (Keith Clay) at Indiana University. This was very much a student project, and b/c it was shot in standard definition video, it was obsolete before completion as HD filmmaking quickly became the norm. Because of that project, I became a filmmaker rather than a scientist. And crucially, I also realized the potential in the cicadas' story far beyond my initial efforts, and starting in 2007, I began a proper HD project of them, using the tools, techniques, and narratives I developed making other documentaries since. That first film (made nearly 10 years ago) will be an interesting companion piece to the final documentary, and for cicada supporters at $33 and above, you'll be getting a copy of that first film on DVD for free as we reach $30,000!

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The Kickstarter Campaign

So many thanks to those of you that have gotten the cicadas to their first goal of $3,000, but we're just getting started! Because kickstarter is an all or nothing deal, I chose an initial goal that looked easily attainable, and that would support photography during the ongoing Brood II emergence. It looks like I underestimated the level of interest, however, and the more ambitious shooting I'd hoped to do (see below) is now a strong possibility with the support that is flowing in.

The Story

Cicadas are among the most fascinating insects, and the 17-year periodical cicadas are the most interesting of all. Transported from the past, they bubble up from the ground in otherwise sedate suburban yards and parks. At this moment (May 2013), billions of them are emerging along the mid-Atlantic coast of the United States, from North Carolina to Connecticut. They can be found in and around Washington D.C., Philadelphia, New Jersey, and New York City. This is one of if the largest outbreaks of insects on Earth, with trillions due to appear over the next month. For more information on where and when they'll be out; http://www.magicicada.org/magicicada_ii.php

I'm a natural history filmmaker and time-lapse photographer (http://www.motionkicker.com/time-lapse/), and have been following and filming the various broods of periodical cicadas since 2007 (there are multiple groupings of cicadas called broods that come out in different years across the eastern U.S.). I've got 200+ hours of footage, and am working towards an hour documentary that focuses on the 17-year varieties as well as cicadas in general. This film is anticipated in 2014, and will be broadcast on PBS afterwards.

Below is a short version that highlights both the cicada life-cycle and the footage I've completed;

So far, this project has been self-funded, but to complete the film as intended I need your help. There are many expenses still to come, from renting high-speed cameras to capture them in flight, to traveling to Australia to film the great diversity of cicadas that exist there.

WHERE DOES THE MONEY GO?

This Kickstarter project goals are structured in tiers, with a modest initial target of $3,000. From that point, the remaining tiers are called "stretch-goals" in kickstarter lingo, and the amount raised above $3,000 will go to fund specific parts of the overall project.

$3,000-$5,000   This level will subsidize filming of Brood II in May-August 2013. These trips are already underway or planned, so any funds raised at this level will help support (retroactively) travel costs, camera rentals, and general production assistance. If this level is reached by early June, the scope of time-lapse photography of this year's cicada emergence in particular will be upped as funding is guaranteed (more cameras and setups become possible).

$5,000-$8,000  This level will go towards equipment and software upgrades needed for editing of the first preview version of the documentary film later in 2013. It will also fund the composition of several music tracks for the film score.

$7,000-$17,000  This level will go towards funding a 3 or 4-week filming trip in Australia. Cicadas down under can be found in deserts, alpine mountains, jungles, grasslands, and temperate forests. The degree of diversity dwarfs that found in the United States. And yet only in America have cicadas evolved the unique life-cycle of synchronized periodicity. By comparing and contrasting cicada species and their various life strategies, the film will highlight all the more so these amazing creatures. Partial funding of this level will be used for more modest travel to film non-periodical cicadas in North America, and/or a shorter trip to Australia.

$15,000-$25,000  This level will go towards post-production and editing, music licensing, film festival entry fees, PBS fees, professional narration, and DVD duplication for educational purposes.

$25,000-$40,000 At these levels the film's story gets even bigger (trips to New Zealand, Costa Rica, and (maybe, just maybe, please, pretty please) Japan, where cicadas are cultural icons. It will also help make the final cicada edit even more gorgeous.

Don't forget the Rewards!

Only your support can help make this project be all it can be.  But it's important to remember that Kickstarter projects are not charity.  At various levels of support, you'll get cool rewards like screensavers, HD films, DVDs and Blurays, and best of all, archival quality photographic prints that you choose! Keep in mind that substantial new work will be created during the project, and added to returnofthecicadas.com

 In addition, the new material will include macro photographic close-ups of various kinds of cicadas. And the last rewards added here on kickstarter are the beautiful, life-sized, detailed sculptures of a periodical cicada in either stainless steel or sterling silver. These will be created by a talented 3D printing artist. We are finalizing the design as the kickstarter comes to an end, but you can see examples of his work at  http://bit.ly/12lPfWh as well as in project update #12 viewable in the update section at the top of this page.

The preview film version is anticipated by March 2014, and will include footage from all filming trips made possible by the kickstarter project. The final version seen on PBS (which likely will not air until 2015) may possibly be somewhat different; think of the preview version as the early directors cut that will feature bonus content.

Please give the Return of the Cicadas Facebook Page a like, and follow MotionKicker on Twitter to see more content that we'll be publishing in the coming weeks, and share us with your friends! Many thanks to you! 

Samuel Orr

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

In recent years I have created multiple award-winning documentaries, shorts, and film excerpts broadcast on television (PBS-regionally, NBC, CBC-Canada, NHK-Japan), as well as shown in venues such as the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. Some of my time-lapse photography has received much attention earlier in recent months (New York Day in particular), and was featured in dozens of media and other websites.

Hundreds of hours of cicada footage already exist, and realistic levels of final production anticipated for various funding levels. Even at the lowest level of $3,000, a final film will be produced (although a more modest version than that possible at the higher levels).

FAQ

  • Yes. Sorry for not mentioning that in the rewards.

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  • I've been making nature documentaries for nearly 10 years, as well as time-lapse photography. I'm mostly a 1-man band, running camera, editing, sound design, etc. About the only thing I don't do is make the music. I originally was training to be an ecologist, but got sidetracked into nature filmmaking in 2004. I grew up in central Indiana, which is perhaps one of the more limited places to be if you want to appreciate the natural world. However, I was rescued when I moved to Seattle and first learned that wilderness was more than a word.

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  • Pledge $10 or more
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    56 backers

    TIME-LAPSE SCREENSAVER. Digital download of (1) time-lapse HD screensaver. A minimum of 3 different screensavers will be created to choose from (cicadas, nature, NYC). The first will be available in September 2013. In addition, you'll have access to a Kickstarter supporter-only webpage where project videos/time-lapse will be posted during the production, and where your feedback and suggestions will be sought.

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    230 backers

    HD FILM DOWNLOAD. Access to all screensaver versions, Kickstarter supporters-only production webpage, and digital HD download of the preview film version. In addition, the short version of Return of the Cicadas as well as my time-lapse short films already completed (New York Day and a Forest Year) will be available for download August 2013, as a thank you for your patience as you await the final film. All of these downloads will be through Vimeo, and of substantially higher quality (bitrate) than what is available via streaming.

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    178 backers

    DVD. All of the above digital access, and a limited-edition, signed DVD of all project films, including bonus content available only to Kickstarter supporters.

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    BLU-RAY. All the above (including 1 DVD), and a Blu-ray version of the project's films, including HD content only available to Kickstarter supporters.

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    59 backers

    PHOTO/ART PRINT. All the above, and an open-edition, signed 8x10" archival quality print (unframed) from the cicada project or my previous work (your choice). Or a signed 11x14" project poster. (examples will be posted near the bottom of the kickstarter page). Your photo can be chosen from the gallery of stills at motionkicker.com/photography. These prints can be chosen and mailed to you starting in October 2013, or you can wait as substantial numbers of new images are added during production. Cicada macro-portraits in particular will become available later in the year. (Please add $7.00 if you want your photo mailed earlier than the DVDs/Blurays in April 2014)

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    STAINLESS STEEL CICADA SCULPTURE: We have worked with a special 3D Printing Artist who is an expert in creating insect models to design a beautiful life size Periodical Cicada in stainless-steel! 3D Printing is an exciting new technology and we're happy to have found someone who can help make this happen. The design is being finalized, but examples of his other great work can be seen here: http://bit.ly/12lPfWh This Cicada will be a rigid model. In addition, you will receive all of the rewards from the $20 level!

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    3 backers Limited (72 left of 75)

    LIMITED-EDITION 11x14" ART PRINT. Everything at the $85.00 level (including open edition 8x10 print), as well as a signed, limited edition 11x14" photographic print (unframed) using archival paper and pigments of the cicada photograph of your choice.These prints can be chosen and mailed to you starting in October 2013, but I advise that you wait as substantial numbers of new images are added during production. Cicada macro-portraits in particular will become available later in the year. (Please add $15.00 if you want your photo mailed earlier than the DVDs/Blurays in April 2014).

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    1 backer

    STERLING SILVER CICADA SCULPTURE: We have worked with a special 3D Printing Artist who is an expert in creating insect models to design a life size Periodical Cicada in beautiful STERLING SILVER! 3D Printing is an exciting new technology and we're happy to have found someone who can help make this happen. The design is being finalized, but examples of his other great work can be seen here: http://bit.ly/12lPfWh This Cicada will be a rigid model. In addition, you will receive all of the rewards from the $20 level!

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  • Pledge $250 or more
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    0 backers Limited (40 left of 40)

    16X20" ART PRINT. All rewards at the $85.00 level, and a signed, limited-edition 16x20" archival print (unframed) made from the cicada photograph of your choice. These prints can be chosen and mailed to you starting in October 2013, but I advise that you wait as substantial numbers of new images are added during production. Cicada macro-portraits in particular will become available later in the year. (Please add $20.00 if you want your photo mailed earlier than the DVDs/Blurays in April 2014)

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    3 backers Limited (57 left of 60)

    LIMITED EDITION DELUXE 8X10" HARDCOVER PERIODICAL CICADA GUIDE AND DOCUMENTARY FILM PHOTOBOOK, (numbered, signed, and personalized by Sam) This is the reward you've been waiting for! A gorgeous printed presentation of the cicada field guide and photographic highlights/timeline of the project over the coming year. The first part will be an enhanced version of the digital field guide, the latter will be a combination project scrapbook and photo display. For example, you'll see the locations in Australia of filming sites side-by-side with the actual cicada photographs. This presentation is planned to be through NYC based AdoramaPix and their amazing photobook process. Unlike other printers, Adorama uses actual photographic silver-halide paper with a lustre finish. In essence, every page is an actual 8x10 photo! The pages lay completely flat, allowing for a true panoramic spread across 2 pages. I just looked at some examples in person and they are beautiful. If that's not enough, you'll also get all rewards at the $85.00 level, as well as your choice of 2 additional 8x10 cicada photos (3 in all!). I will sign and personalize every copy, and include some handwritten details about the story behind a particular interesting photo or day.

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  • Pledge $2,500 or more
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    ASSOCIATE PRODUCER: For your amazing and appreciated support at this level you will be credited as Associate Producer in the final cicada credits and on IMDB. You will receive an advance copy of the script for the program's narration as well as a work-print screener for you to use as you provide feedback and suggestions for the final film edit. Sam will keep you personally up to date via email as the project hits major production goals from all over the world. He will also have a Skype call with you (maybe even with a cicada from far away) at least twice over the coming year. Needless to say, this level will also include all digital downloads, a bonus pack of 100 dvds (yes, 100!), 10 blurays, 10 8x10 cicada photographic prints or posters, as well as one (1) copy of the photobook/field guide customized with your specific photo choices. Estimated delivery: April 2014

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Funding period

- (35 days)