Eternal Harvest: The Film

$12,087 of $16,430 goal

Raised by 76 people in 2 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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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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Well, that was amazing!
Thanks to all who contributed to our quick $750 matching campaign. You met and exceeded that goal in a little more than a day—Whoohoo! Your generosity is really incredible.
And if you'd like to help some more (and for free!) please pass along the campaign link to a friend or ten. Personal appeals like that are the most effective way to raise funds, and you do want to be effective, right? ;-)
Again, thanks from the both of us...
- Jerry & Karen

P.S. As I write this, we are only $113 away from $11,000
This napping Lao cat says "Thank you!"
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UPDATE! A generous donor has pledged to match up to $750 in contributions to our campaign between now & Monday. This would bring us past the $10,000 mark and move the film much closer toward our goal. We are so grateful for all the help we've received so far ❤️. If you have already donated, consider another bump - your contribution will be DOUBLED! Let's do this!
Giving rice alms to monks in the rain...
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$12,087 of $16,430 goal

Raised by 76 people in 2 months
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