Eternal Harvest: The Film

$13,587 of $16,430 goal

Raised by 81 people in 12 months

Eternal Harvest is a film produced by Redcoates Studios that documents the deadly and dangerous aftermath of history’s largest bombing campaign—in Laos.

More than 40 years after war, old American bombs continue to kill and injure Laotians. Tens of millions of unexploded bombs remain in the soil, making it dangerous for anyone to dig. This cripples development and safety in one of the world's poorest countries, where more than 70% of the population farms.

The film asks the question: what responsibility does the US have to Laos today?

-Laotian kids attend school where bomb awareness is part of the daily lesson.

This film introduces Laotians who lived through the bombing campaign and those who live with bombs in their fields today.

- A Laotian woman farms a hillside that hadn't been cleared of bombs.

The film features local and foreign experts who explain the scope and hazards of the problem as well as how UXO (unexploded ordnance) is removed safely.

- Checking a hillside for UXO.

Hundreds of Laotians work daily to clear bombs from their country. Only a handful of Americans have ever joined them. One, a retired school principal from Wisconsin, has returned year after year for 20 years—to atone for the incredible devastation committed by his government.

- Jim Harris has gone back to Laos for 20 years to clear bombs.

Between 1964 and 1973, in an offshoot of the Vietnam War, the U.S. military dropped 4 billion pounds of explosives on Laos, making it the most heavily bombed country—per capita—on the planet. Up to 30 percent of those bombs did not detonate, and they remain in the Laotian soil today as UXO, contaminating more than one-third of surface area of the country. Tens of thousands of civilians have been killed and injured in UXO accidents since the war officially ended. The first bombs fell 54 years ago, and still today, more Laotians are hurt and killed.

- Defused American bombs in Sekong, Laos.

In 2018, we will return to Laos to film the documentary’s last scenes. We are asking for donations to finish this final chapter of the film.

We need to license music and historical footage. We would like to hire professionals to polish the film’s color and sound. We need to plan for the film’s release and distribution. We need to triple-check all of the translations in the film. All donations will go toward travel and:

Translations                                     $1800
Music licensing                              $2130
Historical video licensing         $1800
Sound sweetening                       $2500
Color grading                                 $2500
Distribution & Promotion       $2000
Editing & Production                 $3700
Total                                                $16,430

We chose GoFundMe because it has the lowest overhead of any major crowdfunding site and places no arbitrary time limits on funding campaigns.  

All donations will go to the production of the film.

- The sun sets over the heavily bombed Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos.

This campaign isn’t about us. This is about 6.7 million Laotians who live with the dangerous mess that American foreign policy left behind in 1973. It’s about their future.

Our aim is to spark action.

In 2016, shortly before leaving office, President Obama pledged $90 million toward bomb clearance and aid in Laos over three years. Even that amount—by far, the most the US has ever given to Laos—would cover only a miniscule portion of total clearance costs. And it pales in comparison to the millions spent every day to bomb Laos for nine years.

To read more on this issue, please see our book: Eternal Harvest: The Legacy of American Bombs in Laos

And to learn more about the film, go to the website

- An ethnic Lave woman in a village in southern Laos where locals found UXO daily.

We are: Redcoates Studios

Jerry Redfern
Director, Producer, Editor
I am an award-winning visual journalist, covering environment, health and human rights, primarily in the developing world. I am a Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, and I was a 2012-2013 Ted Scripps Fellow in Environmental Journalism at the Center for Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado at Boulder. When not working with cameras, I crash bikes. 

Karen Coates
Writer, Producer, Editor

I am a journalist, author and media trainer with particular focus on food, the environment and human rights. I am also a Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, an International Women's Media Foundation fellow and a former Ted Scripps Fellow in Environmental Journalism as well. I'm also a food writer, and I can make a dozen different curries that will set your head ablaze.

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Howdy, supporters!

We are fully and truly back from filming in Laos (jetlag is done and the usual international flight-induced colds are over). And you may ask yourself: how did it go?

It went GREAT! On trips like this, you can try to plan all sorts of things - who you will see, where you will go, how long interviews will take - and invariably, most things won’t work out as planned. And invariably, even better things come along. 

That's exactly what happened. We met so many wonderful people who wanted to tell their stories in Laos. It was an honor and a pleasure to sit and listen. And now we get to listen all over again! And again! As I type, Karen is transcribing hours of interviews (we have yet to find a transcription software or service that can adequately work with all the accents, place names, and language variations), and in my office I’m logging hours footage, reliving the trip in HD (see photo).

Also, you may have seen via our social media channels that we won a grant from the Rogovy Foundation’s Miller / Packan Documentary Fund to help finish Eternal Harvest. As the British say, we are chuffed! This grant is a big, big help in paying for some of the post-production (i.e. post-filming) work (see other photo). 

Meanwhile, we will keep the GoFundMe campaign running, for a couple of reasons. One: more expenses are looming on the horizon than we expected (this is our first feature-length film, and we are learning important lessons on the fly). And, generally, that’s good. For example, while at the Plain of Jars, we bumped into an AMAZING traditional Lao musician who lives in Minnesota, and who wants to help with music for the movie. So… we plan to travel to Minnesota to record him. And that means extra expense. 

And two: finishing out the fundraiser looks good to other funders. They like to back projects that reach their own goals. And for a film, our goal is pretty reasonable. 

So - hit up your friends! Send them the short clip from this trip ( https://vimeo.com/274989204). And above all, THANK YOU!
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Howdy folks! After nearly two weeks in Laos, we have gathered more great footage and a few remarkable interviews. We know that things have been a little quiet on our end, but we want to assure you that Eternal Harvest is chugging along, and here is some video proof.

We are so close to our fundraising goal... help push it over the top! So here's our idea - it has been 45 years since the bombing stopped. How about asking your friends, family, co-workers, postal carriers and baristas if they will give one dollar for each year - $45.

Forty-five years on, this remains a timely issue in Laos. In the past two weeks, we heard of six accidents in one province in the past few months. Most were not reported on outside the country, and the people involved were kids and adults going about their daily lives in the countryside.

$45 - one dollar for every year. And thank you all.
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Hello from Phnom Penh!
We are three quarters of the way to our goal—woot! And all of that is thanks to you, our great donors. This will, eventually, be a spectacular tale that truly benefits the people Laos. And it is because of your help and support.
We are now (slowly) en route to Laos to finish filming. But first we are spending a couple of weeks in Cambodia looking at other stories. First among them was a trip to Golden West to see them recycling old munitions. Yup—bomb recycling! They use a common band saw (in a reinforced bunker) to cut open all manner of weaponry, from bombs to grenades, then they harvest the explosives inside and re-cast it as charges to be used to detonate everything from mines to bombs. It’s pretty amazing!
They have made about 500,000 100-gram charges in 14 years, all of which have been given to clearance groups in Cambodia, mostly to clear landmines (although we did see a Golden West charge used to destroy a US cluster munition in eastern Cambodia two years ago). The program is funded by the US State Department and has saved local clearance groups millions over the years of its operation.
That’s all for now—but there’s more to come!
Carrying a sawed-off artillery shell.
Drilling the opening for a detonator.
Grill made from a 750-lb US bomb.
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As always, thanks to our long-time supporters and a heartfelt "Howdy!" to all of our new supporters!
We've been a little slow on the updates as we packed up and headed out for this year's filming. But we're now on the road to Laos, albeit indirectly.
We spent a couple of days in wet Bangkok, recombobulating and meeting an old friend. Now we are in Phnom Penh and will spend a couple of weeks in Cambodia chasing down stories (some of which also deal with UXO) - then on to Laos!
Thanks to you all, tell us your thoughts, and pass the word about Eternal Harvest! That kind of person-to-person advertising really works.
With gratitude,
- Jerry & Karen
Market rain prep - Nonthaburi, Thailand
Backstage at a Chinese Opera - Bangkok
Near the Royal Palace - Bangkok
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$13,587 of $16,430 goal

Raised by 81 people in 12 months
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