The Keepers

A new film takes you behind the scenes - into the lives, hearts, and minds of the people that provide the zoo experience: the keepers.
Joann Self Selvidge
Memphis, Tennessee
United States
3 Team Members
The Keepers is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the purposes of The Keepers must be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
We reached 15k!
Thank you so very much to all of you who have given money, shared the link, put up with us and our constant social media posts...
You have all helped make THE KEEPERS!
Tag yourself and your friends in our Fundraising Hall of Fame.
You can continue to follow our project at
See our recent media coverage: Filmmaker MagazineNews Channel 5Memphis Flyer, and the Memphis Daily News
All donations made on our final day will be entered in a drawing to win one of three animal paintings
Chickie Painting
Tweet your questions and words of support to us: @truestorypics 

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…

Chickie grabs the camera

Why Keepers?

Two experienced independent Memphis filmmakers have been given rare behind-the-scenes access to a world class zoo, and we need your help to make a smart, complex movie about zookeepers.

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.

Lauren & the spider tortoise

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:

taropop tshirt sea lions

Example of the $33 Folk Art perk:

folk art giraffes

Example of a $75 Memento perk:

Sea Lion

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!

Why You?

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!”

Special perk for Keepers

Our Campaign

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.

The Filmmakers

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.

Find This Campaign On
raised by 219 people in 4 months
105% funded
No time left
Verified Nonprofit
$15,000 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on February 7, 2013
In partnership with
Select a Perk
  • $10USD
    Special thanks

    We will thank you on our Facebook page and website! (fully tax-deductible)

    5 claimed
  • $10USD
    For Zookeepers Only

    We will include your name in the Keepers Credits and give you access to our online premiere party being held exclusively for zookeepers! You will see the finished film and special outtakes before everyone else! This perk is not available to the general public. Please let us know where you are a keeper. (fully tax-deductible)

    47 claimed
    Estimated delivery: June 2013
  • $13USD
    Lucky $13 Perk

    We will send you a magical postcard with a special thank you from your spirit animal. Note: This 30-day bonus perk is a stand-alone gift that is not included with any other level of giving. (fully tax-deductible)

    3 claimed
  • $23USD
    Taropop Tshirt

    Acclaimed artist Kong Wee Pang of Taropop designed this t-shirt exclusively for The Keepers. Please indicate your size (S, M, or L) when choosing this perk. Note: This bonus perk is a stand-alone gift that is not included with any other level of giving. (amount over $5 is tax-deductible)

    20 out of 50 claimed
    Estimated delivery: March 2013
  • $25USD
    You deserve credit!

    Your name will be included in the Thank You credits at the end of the film, PLUS you'll get a digital download of the finished film! (fully tax-deductible)

    42 claimed
  • $33USD
    Folk Art

    Original folk art by P. Snoflake Taylor (12"x12" paint on plywood). Giraffe theme. See gallery for examples. Note: This bonus perk is a stand-alone gift that is not included with any other level of giving. (amount over $3 is tax-deductible)

    12 out of 16 claimed
    Estimated delivery: March 2013
  • $50USD
    Access to Private Video Album

    All of the above, plus password access to private postings of footage and images taken behind the scenes. (fully tax-deductible)

    4 claimed
  • $75USD

    All of the above, plus a signed 5X7 photograph from our collection of production stills taken on set, behind the scenes. (amount over $1 is tax-deductible)

    6 claimed
  • $100USD
    The Hard Copy

    All of the above, plus a professionally packaged DVD with extras, liner notes, and a free digital download of the film score music. (amount over $15 is tax-deductible)

    26 claimed
  • $135USD
    Keepers Delight

    Everything at The Hard Copy level, plus a Taropop Tshirt and Lucky $13 spirit animal postcard. Please indicate what size t-shirt you want (S, M, L). (amount over $20 is tax-deductible)

    3 claimed
  • $250USD
    Animal Artwork

    All of the perks up to the $100 level, plus an invite to the film premiere and an original painting created by one of the animals at the Memphis Zoo! Note: Animal paintings are limited, and once we run out, we cannot offer this extra perk at this level or to the higher giving levels. (amount over $25 is tax-deductible)

    6 out of 20 claimed
  • $500USD
    Animal Cookies

    Everything at the $250 level, plus special mention in the credits and some good old fashioned animal crackers that feature an image from the Memphis Zoo historical archives on one side of the box. (amount over $30 is tax-deductible)

    5 claimed
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