Watch more: See our official sneak preview (2nd video in the gallery).
Are you a zookeeper? Check out our "Keepers Only" perks! After you've seen our gallery videos and images here, visit our Keeper Ambassador Page.
The 30-Second Pitch
The average visitor to a zoo takes about two hours to spin through all the exhibits, about the time it takes to watch a movie. They aren’t aware of the intricate balance of conservation, ethics, and entertainment that every zoo must consider every moment, every season, every year.
We aren’t your average visitor. Our film takes you on the other side, behind the food stations, below the sea lions, into the night houses of the big cats, and most importantly, into the lives, hearts, and minds of the people that provide the zoo experience: The Keepers.
The human exhibit coming soon to a theater near you…
We have seen a lot of films about animals - animals in the wild, animals in captivity, meditations on confinement and nature - but what about the people that care for animals that are in captivity?
The idea for this film grew out of an appreciation and curiosity about zoos. We knew there was complexity inherent in managing wild animals in captivity, given the history and changing cultural landscape of zoos, the modern naturalistic exhibits and habitats, and our relationships to nature and entertainment.
But films need character, they need stories. As documentary filmmakers, we wanted to talk to the people you don't see that often, the ones who hold the keys to another side of the zoo experience, people who have a fundamentally different perspective of zoo animals in captivity. The keepers of the animals are also the keepers of the stories, and that's why this film is about them.
How You Can Get Involved
First of all, please SHARE this page. It is super easy, just click on the links above – like us, tweet us, give us a shout out on your favorite social media platform. You can also share the link via email to tell your friends and family. Or just write the URL in the sky, on a note pinned to your child's shirt, on the backs of dirty car widows!!
GIVE what you can. We know everyone has a different capacity to give, and every dollar helps! Your donations will cover our film production expenses (videography, editing, art direction, music, corrections and finishing). If you give, and then you share, make sure to tell folks that you've made a donation and they should, too!
What do YOU get in return??
Check our gallery often to watch new clips and see production photos from our visits with the zookeepers. If you click the heart to follow our campaign, or if you make a donation, we'll send you updates about the project on a regular basis.
We have some awesome PERKS for you to claim! Be sure to check them all out. A couple favorites, if you are feeling generous: Keepers Delight $135 is everything at The Hard Copy level plus a Taropop Tshirt, and Animal Artwork $250 for actual paintings by animals! You can watch this to see oraguntans Chickie and Jahe make a masterpiece. Perks can make great gifts, too!! if you donate in honor or memory of someone special, we will send a hand-written acknowledgment.
Example of the $23 Taropop Tshirt perk:
Example of the $33 Folk Art perk:
Example of a $75 Memento perk:
Your donation is tax-deductible, to the extent allowed by law. This project has been approved for fiscal sponsorship by Fractured Atlas, which means you will be donating to a 501c3, and you can claim a tax deduction!
You are film lovers, zoo lovers, animal lovers, zookeepers, nature lovers, people who love being in the great outdoors, and friends and family of these folks as well. We want to give you all a stake in the finished film.
That's why we launched this Indiegogo campaign - to find you, to hear what you have to say about this project, to make connections with people like you who are enthusiastic about this subject matter, and to figure out ways you can be involved with our film.
When this film premieres, when it shows on tv (we hope), and when you get your digital download, or your DVD with extras, we want you to think “Hot Dog! I made this happen! I personally put up some dough to support crazy indie filmmakers and make zookeepers into movie stars!”
We hope to raise $15,000 via this Indiegogo campaign. Your donations will be used to complete production and post-production of the film (including videography, editing, music, corrections, and finishing). If we are successful in raising these funds by the February 7th deadline, the film will be completed and ready to premiere after June 2013.
Our total budget for the film is actually $50,000. The majority of these funds will be raised from grants and individual donors who can give $1,000 or more. We've chosen Indiegogo to raise smaller donations from grassroots audiences like YOU who love this idea, but can't shell out the major bucks right now. Fundraising update for our offline private campaign goal: We've raised more than $18,500 since October!
If we fall short of our goal, your funds will still go to the production of the film, but the pandas will be very, very disappointed. We thought about what we would do if we fell short of our goal, and the short answer is, we would have to spend more time and effort fundraising instead of filmmaking. The production schedule would be pushed back - and because we have this gift of exclusive access, we cannot guarantee that this privilege will extend over time - but we will figure out a way to make it work. One way or another, with your support, this project will be successful.
If we exceed our goal, extra funds will be put toward promotion (marketing, film festivals, etc.) and distribution. For every $1,000 we exceed our goal, the filmmakers will speed walk a lap through the Memphis Zoo verbally praising all the donors names. We will get video of this, and post it online.
Joann Self Selvidge has a passion for storytelling. Her films, The WLOK Story (2002), The Arts Interviews (2005-2008), Leveling the Playing Field (2008), Voices of Jericho (2007, 2010), The Music Interviews (2009), and The Art Academy (2012), share stories of music, art, race relations, leadership, education, inspiration, and social justice. Voices of Jericho won “Best Documentary” at Indie Memphis 2007 and “Grand Jury Award” at Southern Shorts Film Festival 2008, and it’s currently used in justice systems in 25 states to improve services for the mentally ill. A grant-writing consultant since 2001, Selvidge has secured $8.95 million for her nonprofit clients.
Sara Kaye Larson is an award-winning writer, filmmaker and educator. Combining her love of travel and unique personal experiences, her work focuses on exploring the curious corners and marginalized populations of the US. Her autobiographical documentary about being a young adult cancer survivor, Going Nodal : The Hodge Experience (2005) is used for patient education at progressive cancer centers. A fan and former graduate student of alternative media, Sara Kaye is a longtime blogger and the creator of multiple web projects. She has taught writing, video production, and analog and digital storytelling classes at community centers and colleges all over the country.
*This production will be focused on paying fair and professional rates to skilled local production artists.