We're Funded! We smashed through our goal. Thank you to everyone who supported us along this journey! It was truly a global collaboration! We feel such a great responsibility to make this film with full integrity and get this important story out to the world. To stay updated along the way, check our website, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Instagram and Twitter.
Press release available here.
This film is fiscally sponsored by From the Heart Productions, a 501(c)(3), making any monetary donations qualify as charitable contributions under the U.S. Tax Code.
Wildlife crime is the world’s fourth largest illegal industry, and it is at an all-time high. A single rhino horn can fetch up to three hundred thousand U.S. dollars on the black market in China and Vietnam. By weight, it is worth more than gold or cocaine, and this demand in the Far East is fueling a war on the ground in South Africa. The human death toll is rising, but it is the rhino that faces extinction.
THE HELPLESS TARGETS
The rhino is one of Africa’s most precious assets: an animal that has hardly evolved in fifty million years - a living, breathing time machine. Today, three rhinos are poached per day and, at this rate, they may no longer exist in the wild by 2023. With extinction on the brink, the rhino’s fragile ecosystem is also in peril with the survival of countless plant and animal species hanging in the balance.
THE DESPERATE PERPETRATORS
The poachers are often men living in extreme poverty who no longer have the ability to provide for their families. Feeling hopeless, they lose sight of their principles and develop a reckless do-or-die mentality. So, when a crime syndicate offers them more money to poach a rhino than they might otherwise earn in a lifetime, the risk of being caught or killed seems worth it to many.
THE FEARLESS GUARDIANS
The anti-poaching rangers have dedicated their lives to saving the rhino from extinction. These men and women - trained to protect animals, not kill humans - are engaging in frequent shootouts with criminal poaching gangs who will stop at nothing to get their hands on rhino horn. For these heroes on the front line, protecting the rhino is no longer a conservation challenge: it's guerrilla warfare.
SETTING AND CHARACTERS
Set against the backdrop of a national park and its neighboring township, this short film will follow three characters – a ranger, a poacher, and a rhino – as their paths collide in the bush.
The poacher is a principled young man doing wrong in an attempt to live right. Struggling in an impoverished township with his sick wife and his starving child, he refuses to watch them suffer any longer. Out of desperation, he accepts employment from a local poaching gang. If he succeeds, a rhino will die but he can give his family a new, better life... but if he gets caught, or just as likely killed, his family will be left without any means of survival.
The anti-poaching ranger is a passionate conservationist living in the same township, and dealing with the same level of poverty. His hatred towards poachers is made even stronger by a local poaching gang who threatens his family. He puts his life on the line every day to protect the rhino from extinction, and would have it no other way. But, over the course of the film, he will have to confront this question: should we kill human beings to save wild animals?
One fateful morning, during a magnificent African sunrise, a sacred, prehistoric rhino saunters down to a peaceful watering hole where he is met by the two men – one bent on taking his life and the other bent on saving it.
A UNIQUE POV
The rhino poaching crisis is a complex issue and the conversation around it must go beyond simple right and wrong. That is why our story is crafted in a non-didactic way, exposing both sides of the struggle and allowing the audience to make their own judgments.
The camera will follow both characters – the poacher and the anti-poacher – switching between their perspectives, careful not to favor one more than the other. By telling both sides of the story, and painting an unbiased, multi-dimensional portrait of this modern war, we hope to be a catalyst that inspires a greater discussion.
I want to immerse the audience in the gritty and intense world of these characters. I am aiming for the same level of authenticity as films like ‘City of God’, ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’, and ‘Beasts of No Nation’ that shot on location, embraced real communities, and allowed the world in which they were shooting to become part of the film.
Subtle, real, organic, gritty – these are words that describe the tone I want to capture. The world and the characters in our film are far from perfect, so the film itself will parallel this by allowing faces to fall into darkness, purposely framing our shots in a "flawed" manner, and shooting with a handheld, verite style.
A CALL TO ACTION
'Sides of a Horn' will expose the social impact of the rhino horn trade in a similar way that 'Blood Diamond' did for the diamond trade—humanizing those on the ground, creating awareness, and catalyzing positive change. The producers are partnering with influential conservationists and global organizations to release the film around the world with a direct call to action.
'Sides of a Horn' will be filmed in the townships impacted by this crisis and in the game reserves that combat poaching on a daily basis. Months of research, countless hours on the ground, and relationships with local community leaders aid the team in keeping authenticity at the forefront of the project.
A GLOBAL EPIDEMIC
This crisis affects the entire world, which is why we’re raising the funds on Kickstarter, a global community of collaborators. The strength of the short film medium is the ability to tell vital, urgent stories and capture the public’s attention quickly on the Internet. And this story is as urgent as they come. We can stop this war and save this species, but the first step is awareness, so what better way to begin this journey than by inviting people from around the world to join our team.
HOW YOUR FUNDS WILL HELP
Most of our expenses will go to on the ground support. This includes local crew, on-location accommodations, equipment rental, travel from Johannesburg, and feeding the team. We have 6 days of filming scheduled with authentic township locations, and a Big 5 game reserve, where our actors will be in scenes amongst real wild rhino.
To maximize efficiency and stretch every dollar, we've partnered with Executive Producers that have over 30 years of experience filming all over the African continent to help ensure the success of our production.
Check out some of our writer/director Toby Wosskow's previous work here.
Risks and challenges
Our project is fully prepped and ready to film. Investing countless hours on the ground in South Africa, we have done our best to minimize risk and maximize use of funds, and we've done this without the slightest compromise to the message, story, or quality.
In summary, we say with total confidence that when the Kickstarter campaign succeeds, the film will be made and all rewards will be delivered fully and on a timely basis.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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