Funded! This project was successfully funded on October 26, 2012.

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The remarkable true story of an orphaned baby otter who washed ashore on the California coast when she was less than a week old.

About OTTER 501

A young woman finds a stranded baby sea otter on a windswept beach after a storm. Peering down at the damp, shivering fur ball, she grabs her cell phone and makes a call, setting in motion a story about the otter’s struggle for survival and humans’ efforts to protect an iconic species.

OTTER 501 chronicles the remarkable true story of this adorable baby otter. Quickly rescued by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sea Otter Research and Conservation Program, “501,” as she was called, became part of a groundbreaking surrogate program where she was introduced to an adoptive sea otter mother who reared her for months so she could develop the necessary skills to survive in the wild.

Blending original footage and the tools of social media, OTTER 501 is a unique hybrid of fact and fiction that takes the traditional wildlife documentary into new and exciting storytelling realms. Parallel to the remarkable tale of how 501 got a second chance at life is the story of Katie, an aspiring marine biologist who volunteered at the Aquarium and participated in 501’s rescue and training. Structured as a series of Facebook video posts, 501’s amazing story is told from Katie’s point of view, as she herself comes of age. Both inspiring and illuminating, the film sheds light on important issues about our ever-changing environment and the ways in which we affect – and are affected by – other species.

Why Pledge?

Sea Studios Foundation has been making inspiring, thought-provoking environmental media for over 25 years. The groundbreaking storytelling approach of OTTER 501 reaches audiences of all ages like no other natural history film can – but we need your help to bring OTTER 501 to as many people as possible.

Though we've played in film festivals and select theaters -- winning awards, critical acclaim, and otter-loving hearts along the way -- our goal is to share Otter 501's story with an even larger audience. By joining our campaign, you will help bring the film to at least twenty-five schools and community groups around the country. If we don’t meet our goal, we won’t be able to collect any of your generous donations and move forward with these events – but if we raise more than $11,000, we’ll be able to plan even MORE special screenings. Maybe we’ll even get to come to your town (learn how in our rewards section)!

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for supporting this campaign and helping us share Otter 501’s inspiring story with viewers around the country! To learn more, please join our growing community of sea otter fans on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest, and keep an eye out for our brand new webStory about Otter 501!

Sincerely, 
Sea Studios Foundation, the makers of OTTER 501

Your contribution matters

We accept donations of as little as $1 (believe us when we say that every gift matters), and everyone who contributes will receive a great reward. The majority of this funding will be used to cover the costs of the film’s public performance rights and the staff time required to plan twenty-five amazing,  events nationwide. Additional funds will be put toward some of the necessary expenses associated with running a Kickstarter campaign. We'll stretch your contributions as far as we can, and will be sure to plan as many screenings as possible -- 25 is just the minimum! If you would like more information about our budget, we would be happy to share our detailed accounting spreadsheet.

How will you select the groups?

We've already had interest from a few groups, such as Boys and Girls Club, about this opportunity, but there are many more events to plan. Screening sites will be selected in a number of ways (for example, by enthusiasm, availability, and the $300 rewards on the right) and we'll be sure to keep everyone posted on our nationwide tour!

Is there anything else I can do to help?

Thanks for asking! It would be GREAT if you could blog, post, tweet, and talk about this campaign -- spreading the word is half the battle!

A special reward for teachers!

We love teachers, so we have a special reward on Kickstarter just for you. If you raise $300 as a group, your class or youth group will receive a screening of OTTER 501 and a full suite of Sea Studios' DVDs for your school or organization's library. In order to back this project as a group, please raise the funds collectively and have one person create an account with Kickstarter. As the backer, this person should select the $300 "Classroom and Youth Group Special" and tell us the name of the school, classroom, or organization you represent. Contact us with questions or if this option is cost prohibitive -- you may be eligible to receive a free screening!

Some otterly wonderful reviews

“Heart-warming! A clever animal mystery.” Monterey County Weekly

“Easily one of the cutest creatures to inhabit Planet Earth! Beautiful, compelling.” Santa Barbara Independent

“Stirring. A must-see movie!” Scientific American

“A pleasure to watch!” Huffington Post

What's next for Sea Studios?

Good question! We are getting ready to launch an immersive multi-media webStory about Otter 501. Please join us on Facebook for updates!

Please feel free to contact us with questions, and THANK YOU!

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

The biggest challenge in successfully delivering on this project is the time it takes to reach out to organizations who would like to host the screenings. We have accounted for this time in our budget and have pre-loaded relationships, interest, and commitment in showing the film from a variety of organizations to give us a leg-up on this challenge.

FAQ

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  • Pledge $1 or more
    You selected

    26 backers

    FIVE DIGIT SALUTE: Get a sharable online high five (tiny paws!) on Otter 501's Facebook and Pinterest pages, plus a downloadable otter ringtone (say "yeah!").

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $25 or more
    You selected

    39 backers

    JOIN THE RAFT: Get your very own limited-edition Otter 501 flipper tag - just like the ones used by scientists on wild study animals (no, really)! Plus you get the Five Digit Salute above. Please add $5 for international shipping.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $50 or more
    You selected

    8 backers

    MUSTELID MANIA!: You get a limited-edition Otter 501 movie poster (10x12in) signed by Otter 501's co-star Katie Pofahl and Executive Producer / natural history filmmaker Mark Shelley (they are super cool). Plus you get to "Join the Raft" above. Please add $5 for international shipping.

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  • Pledge $100 or more
    You selected

    30 backers

    501's FRIEND FOREVER: For the true Otter 501 fan. You will get a DVD of the feature film Otter 501 and a personal handwritten note (and probably a drawing) from Katie. Plus you get to "Join the Raft" above. Please note if you would like your DVD signed by Katie and Mark. Please add $5 for international shipping.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $300 or more
    You selected

    6 backers Limited (6 left of 12)

    MAKE IT COUNT - SPECIAL FOR CLASSROOMS AND YOUTH GROUPS ONLY: Raise at least $300 with your classroom or youth group and you will receive one of our 25 screenings and a Skype Q&A with Katie (she can't wait!). Plus, we will include a full set of Sea Studios Foundation's films on DVD for your school or organization's library. DVDs include: Otter 501, Strange Days on Planet Earth with Edward Norton, the Shape of Life, and more. Please add $10 for international shipping. Skype Q&A limited by availability.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $300 or more
    You selected

    3 backers Limited (7 left of 10)

    MAKE IT COUNT: By donating $300 you have funded one of our 25 screenings (do I smell a hero?). In return, you will get to pick the recipient of this screening! You will also become "501's Friend Forever" as above. Please add $5 for international shipping. Important Note: We will do everything in our power to reach out to your selected screening recipient but effective delivery of this reward is subject to the group's availability.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $500 or more
    You selected

    2 backers

    OCEAN LOVER 4 LIFE: Score a full set of Sea Studios Foundation's films on DVD including: Otter 501, Strange Days on Planet Earth with Edward Norton, the Shape of Life, and more (hours of extraordinary filmmaking, my friend). You will also become "501's Friend Forever" as above. BONUS: The first person to donate $500 will receive Sea Studios sound mixer used in over 15 years of natural history filmmaking (just imagine...). Please add $10 for international shipping each for prize and bonus.

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  • Pledge $1,000 or more
    You selected

    0 backers

    THE SEA OTTER EXPERIENCE: You will get a personal behind-the-scenes tour of the Monterey Bay Aquarium with Otter 501 Executive Producer and #1 otter fan Clint Jones (honestly, just try and stump him!) You can sneak a peek at Otter 501's rooftop stopover on her journey back to the ocean! You will also become an "Ocean Lover 4 Life" as above. BONUS: The first $1,000 donor will receive Sea Studios Foundation Sony BVP 5 camcorder! A piece of history. Lodging and transportation to and from Monterey not included. LIMITED TIME OFFER: Pair your behind hte scenes tour of the Monterey Bay Aquarium with a stay at Monterey's finest eco-friendly hotel! The next person to pledge $1000 before 5:00 pm next Monday (October 15) will win a one night stay at the Portola Hotel & Spa here in Monterey. Feeling like a real eco hero? Pledge $1500 AND win a 2 night stay! Many thanks to the Portola Hotel & Spa for their commitment to the environment and support of Otter 501.

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  • Pledge $2,500 or more
    You selected

    1 backer Limited (1 left of 2)

    MEET OTTER 501 (maybe): A private guided kayak tour of Elkhorn Slough, 501's current home in Moss Landing, CA, with Executive Producer / wildlife filmmaker Mark Shelley (this guy has great stories). With a pair of binoculars there is a good chance you will see Miss 501 herself! Lunch and a tour of Sea Studios Foundation Headquarters in the heart of Cannery Row included. You will also become an "Ocean Lover 4 Life" as above. Lodging and transportation to and from Monterey not included. Must be redeemed by March 2013.

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Funding period

- (28 days)