About this project
Update 2! This morning we reached our "all or nothing" goal on Kickstarter with 36 hours to go!
Thanks to everyone who has helped us reach this goal! It's really amazing and humbling. But guess what! We now have a stretch goal.
Official stretch goal: $33,000.
The money we raise on Kickstarter is just part of the full budget of finishing the film, so the stretch goal will get applied to closing that gap. But specifically, we want to use the stretch goal to bring a better underwater camera down to Cambodia to film the gorgeous marine life and Paul and MCC's work building the artificial reefs that demarcate the boundary of the new marine reserve his organization helped create.
Help us reach the new goal!
Update! We've just received a timely commitment from the International Conservation Fund of Canada who've generously offered to match the next $5000 in pledges. If you pledge now, your money will have twice the impact!
We are thrilled to partner with ICFC and you can learn more about their amazing work, as well as our subject, Paul and his organization Marine Conservation Cambodia, here: http://icfcanada.org/files/ICFC_Annual_Report_2016.pdf
NOTE: We have surpassed the $5000 that will be matched, so this offer no longer applies. We want to give a huge 'THANK YOU' to The International Conservation Fund of Canada for their timely and crucial support!
Over the past year we have been working on an exciting documentary that explores the illegal fishing trade in Cambodia.
Over the past year, we’ve been documenting their stories as well as the devastating impacts of illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing on the people and marine ecosystems of Cambodia.
But now we need your support to finish our investigations and get this film out to the world where it can make a difference.
Cambodia struggles with many environmental challenges. One such challenge is the illegal harvesting of marine wildlife, often times through destructive methods such as trawling.
Trawling is a type of fishing where heavy nets are dragged along the sea floor, scooping up fish and other creatures indiscriminately. The heavy nets scar the floor, destroying sea grasses, corals, and other delicate ecosystems. The damage from these nets lasts a long time, and their use jeopardizes other forms of small-scale and subsistence fishing.
Sea grasses, a primary habitat for seahorses, grow well in Cambodia’s shallow water. Seahorses are extremely important to its ecosystem and are a good indication of the health of the ocean – similar to a ‘canary in the coal mine’. However, the heavy trawling kills the seahorses and destroys their habitat. Despite it being illegal, seahorses are also hunted so that they can be infused in rice wine and sold as a cure for male impotence.
Over the past 15 years, trawlers have become ubiquitous in the Gulf of Thailand, as they are in many developing countries around the world. While the national and regional government publicly oppose such fishing practices and have policies in place to regulate them, corrupt local officials accept bribes to let the trawlers operate discretely at night without harassment and the policies are rarely enforced.
The trawlers are usually crewed by poor Cambodians or Vietnamese, who, with few alternatives for earning a living wage, take up trawling to support their families. Compounding these issues is the money being pumped into Cambodia by many well-intentioned Western organizations. The work these organizations do would likely be effective in more developed countries, but is often ineffective or ill suited to the political culture of Cambodia. The influx of foreign money fuels corruption but does little to restore balance to the oceans.
Our main characters have been living and working in Cambodia for many years and are driven to make a difference in their adopted home. Matt is the kind of hard-boiled investigative journalist who is driven to speak truth to power. We follow him as he journeys around the region uncovering proof that Vietnamese fishing boats are illegally fishing in Cambodian waters. Along the way he learns how the illegal wildlife market thrives, where the endangered seahorses are sold, and whom the fisherman must bribe to trawl in these waters.
Meanwhile, on a tiny island dozens of kilometers off the coast of the resort town of Kep, Paul and his research team patrol the nearby waters. They are fighting a seemingly unstoppable fleet of Cambodian electric trawlers and much larger Vietnamese trawlers. Paul’s organization, Marine Conservation Cambodia, researches the local seahorse population and is working to create a marine reserve to help rejuvenate the local seahorse habitat.
When we first heard about Matt and Paul, we knew that it was important to tell their story because it’s the story of strong willed individuals fighting to make a difference in an adopted land, one fraught with corruption. More than that, their story raises interesting questions about why such activism and change efforts often come from outside of Cambodia rather than from within.
But, as we learned through our filming, there are also many Cambodians who are putting themselves in harm’s way to make a difference, though they face much greater risk than their Western counterparts. The new generation of Khmer youth is embracing environmental values and is trying to bring constructive change to a their country - and this is an important part of the story.
Our team has launched this Kickstarter campaign because we need to get back to Cambodia to finish the last bit of filming. There are some exciting developments that we need to capture soon. We can’t share publicly what they are because we don’t want to compromise any of our sources or their work, but rest assured it’s going to be as important as it is exciting.
This is where you come in!
Will you help bring this story to light by becoming a Kickstarter backer? Your support is crucial to our mission.
All funds we raise will enable our team to finish production, translate footage, and start editing. We’re confident that if we meet our goal, we will be able to finish the film before the end of 2017.
Please, choose a reward level at the right and become a backer. No contribution is too small and all help is appreciated! And please share our campaign widely!
Follow us on facebook: https://goo.gl/Q0jnd4
Christopher Smith, Director & Cinematography
Christopher Smith is a documentary, commercial, and music video director. His first feature documentary, TINY: A Story About Living Small, premiered at SXSW in 2013 and has screened at more than 40 film festivals around the world including Hot Docs, DOC NYC, Napa Valley, and Mountainfilm in Telluride. TINY has won several awards. It was released in June 2014 via Al Jazeera America and First Run Features on Netflix, Hulu, and iTunes where it has become one of the more popular documentaries with millions of views.
He is in post-production on his second feature, American ESPionage, which should premiere in 2017. In addition to theatrical documentaries, Christopher directs music videos, TV spots, and web content for nonprofits and causes, garnering millions of views and helping to raise over $200,000 via crowd funding platforms. He holds an MPA from University of Colorado, Denver and BA from the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Stephanie Lincoln, Producer
Stephanie Lincoln is a producer/attorney who served as episode producer on The Race Card, a documentary series hosted by Charles Barkley for TNT, produced by Doc Shop Productions set to release in June 2017. Prior to that, she worked with Susan Lacy, the creator and executive producer of American Masters, and Jessica Levin on two biographical documentaries produced for HBO. She also produced for Oscar-winning director, Bill Couturie, and Oscar-winning producer, Mitchell Block on their upcoming environmental activism documentary, Saving Eden. She received a B.F.A. from New York University and a J.D. from Chapman University, Dale E. Fowler School of Law.
Risks and challenges
While we are determined to finish this film come hell or high water, you should never-the-less be aware that things can -and do- go wrong on film productions. Thus, any contribution you make to this campaign should be viewed primarily as a donation to make this project a reality (but with some pretty sweet perks likely attached).
We will do our best to completely fulfill the promised rewards as soon as we are able, so don't worry!
While the dates we have listed are our best guess as to when we can fulfill the rewards, they should be taken as an estimate since actual delivery might be different. In the case of rewards that are dependent on completion of the film (such as DVDs, screenings, etc), please allow flexibility in the fulfillment dates as the time it will take to the complete the film and/or secure distribution can vary widely.
Please also make sure to keep your contact information up to date with us so we can be sure to get you your rewards in a timely manner.
We also can’t yet guarantee when and where the film will premiere or be distributed. When it’s finished, it will be released in some fashion.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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