The Sunday Times ran a big feature on The Poseidon Project last weekend. Here's a link to it: "Mao Hijacked Poseidon Adventure".
It’s been three years in the making, but “The Poseidon Project” is finally (almost!) finished. Here’s the short pitch:
“In 1931, Britain's most advanced submarine collided with a cargo ship off the coast of China and sank. Three hours later, six sailors surfaced, barely conscious. They were the first men ever to escape from a sunken submarine using a proto-scuba device. Their story hit headlines and went on to inspire a feature film. The miraculous escape changed marine safety forever. But their names, and their submarine, gradually sank into obscurity.
Beijing-based scuba instructor Steven Schwankert was looking for nearby wrecks to dive when he found HMS Poseidon on a list of unexplored sites. His six-year search for the submarine started as a private obsession, but went on to challenge official accounts of the escape, and bring together the lost pieces of a story that touches on the history of Britain and China in the 1930s, the 1970s and the present day.”
So, where are we up to? Well, it’s finished, as in we have a cut that is now going out to film festivals, and everyone involved is very excited. But we have a problem: in order to play the film publicly, we need to clear the archive footage we have used with the rights holders. The footage is wonderful, and plays a huge role in the film. But unless we pay, we can’t include it.
We have calculated that we need about £10,000 pounds (around $15,000) to clear all footage for film festivals. The festival circuit will take up the next year, during which time we plan to promote the film to the hilt and get it broadcast on as many national TV stations as possible. But none of that is possible if we don’t clear the rights for festivals first.
The clips that we need help securing include:
-the only known footage of the submarine itself, shot at its launch in 1930 (in Barrow-in-Furness)
-the feature film “Men Like These”, shot in late 1931, that celebrates the crew of HMS Poseidon and their remarkable story
-the medal ceremony at which three survivors of the Poseidon accident were publicly awarded
-the return of the heroes – the only known close up footage of the four British survivors of the accident
and much much more. This is film and photographic material that has never been seen publicly before, and plays a huge role in the film. Without it, we cannot do justice to this remarkable story.
Why Crowd Funding?
“The Poseidon Project” is our second feature documentary. Our first, “A Farewell Song”, won the Special Jury Prize for Documentary at the 2006 Syracuse International Film Festival. Backing from BritDOC made the film possible.
In the years since, we have directed and produced films on the Special Olympics and the World Expo. Both projects were funded by the organisations themselves.
So, why crowd funding for “The Poseidon Project”? Well, this is a very special documentary. We began shooting it off our own bat in 2009, when Steven Schwankert contacted us about the story. He was excited about his research and the material he had unearthed. When we heard about it, so were we. But funding for long-term projects like this – especially where the results are still unclear – is very hard to come by. So, what funding we had came out of our own pockets, and covered production costs like filming, and travel that took us up and down the east China coast and back to the UK.
As time went by, and shooting continued, we realised we had stumbled on a story that was not only a compelling re-examination of a moment in history, but also a moving tribute to the families of Poseidon crew, who began to get in touch with us and share their feelings about the accident and its aftermath.
As we started the post-production phase about a year ago (while production was still ongoing), we continued to fund the project ourselves, convinced that the story we were telling was important.
We have covered all post-production costs so far, including editing, animations and music.
But… over the last three years, working on the film, we have discovered remarkable archive material that tells the story of the submarine and its crew in ways that our own material can only hint at. Photographs and film footage are at the heart of our project, and without them, the story is not complete.
So far into the project, we thought that we would turn to the online community to find funds to cover the archive material that we need. The film has received tremendous support online so far including a thriving facebook community.
This story in the Wall Street Journal also helped:
So, here we are. Looking for your help. Please sponsor us with whatever you can afford. We have pushed for so long on our own to get this film finished, that it is humbling to think that without help, we will never be able to show our work!
Please check out the trailer above to see what you will be helping us achieve. (And bear in mind that the black and white footage in the trailer is not cleared and therefore still low quality!)
What happens if we don’t hit the target?
Any and all funds will help us to clear as much footage as possible for the film. We will spend every penny on getting this remarkable material cleared and made public.
What happens if we go beyond the target?
We should be so lucky! If with your support we go beyond $15,000, there’s plenty more to pay for. Here are some of the things that would help us at film festivals:
-professional sound mix
-professional colour grading
-PR and marketing funds to promote the film
Other Ways You Can Help
We are very excited about raising enough money to pay for the archive footage we need to include in the film. But there are other ways you can help.
Please use your social networks to promote the film in any way you see fit.
For more information on the film, check out: www.poseidonprojectfilm.com
Join us on the HMS Poseidon Facebook page.
And check out our Poseidon Vimeo channel.
The submarine is listed on wikipedia (and the film gets a mention).
Just a quick note to funders from outside of the US... payments on Indiegogo are all in US dollars. Don't worry - pick an amount in any currency and it will automatically be converted into dollars. For your reference, £100 is equivalent to about $150 right now.
Thanks for reading this!
PS. Any questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org