The Chiquibul National Forest contains 1/7 of Belize's landmass. This protected forest is under threat by those known as the Xatero. These Guatemalan Poachers illegally cross over the 44KM border the Chiquibul Jungle shares with Guatemala to harvest Xate leaves, otherwise known as fishtail palm, for flower arrangements sold in America and Europe. Along the way however, these xatero do an untold amount of damage to this once pristene forest. Littering, poaching, and cutting trails through the foliage for others to follow. Behind the Xatero come those looking to poach endangered species such as Scarlet Macaws for the illegal pet trade, destructive logging of Mahogany trees, and even to sell Belizean soil as Guatemalan.
The Purpose of this project is to raise awareness for the one organization trying to take a stand against these poachers: Freinds for Conservation and Development, & money for a documentary entitled "Department Chiquibul", produced by Scarlet Studios, MET Belize, FCD (Friends for Conservation and Development), and world renown wildlife filmmakers Richard and Carol Foster. I will be travelling back to Belize in the coming year and plan to film then, hopefully I will have reached my budget and be able to get the equipment needed to make this documentary unforgettable.
The majority of the filming for "Department Chiquibul" will take place in the heart of the Chiquibul forest during an expidition to an unexplored Zenote: The Holec Sinkhole. We will be the first to repel into that sinkhole in history, in order to show what natural beauty of Belize could be lost. Based on my previous experience in that area, it is likely that we will encounter Xatero again along the way. It promises to be an exciting adventure and a chance to make a difference in the Chiquibul.
We are starting fundraising now in hopes to reach our budget by January of 2015, when we will return to the Chiquibul on a scientific expidition to the Holec Zenote. So far, more planning on the expidition end needs to happen to determine the exact dates, but we expect to return sometime in February, and will begin the editing process. We hope to maintain a good balance between cranking the film out as soon as possible to spread the word and making a good edit, so that the film will be at it's best as soon as possible, airing by the end of next year.
It has come to my attention that a number of you have questions about my fundraising effort. So I have tried to answer all the major one’s I have heard below. If you have anything specific you’d like to ask, post it to may Facebook page or send me an email at [email redacted] OR [email redacted] and I will get you an answer as soon as possible!
1. “I’ve never heard of GoFundMe…is it legit?” Yes, GoFundMe has been around since 2010 and has help people raise over $160 Million over the past 3 years. I chose this platform, rather than Kick Starter and some others you may have heard about, because it allows me to keep the funds I raise (minus their fee of 5%). On other sites, if you do not meet your goal, you cannot keep the funds raised. I felt that if I can even raise a portion of the funds though a crowdsourcing mechanism, I could figure out a way to make it work. It may not be easy, but I would figure out some way to do this project.
2. “Are you really going to Belize? Is this a legitimate project?” YES!! I spent from May through August this year in Belize working on several short documentaries. If you haven’t had a chance, you can watch my documentary on the Scarlet Macaw 6 Biomonitering Team (Along with other short videos) that I made this summer here: Flight of the Macaw . The country is absolutely beautiful and the Chiquibul Forest is a ecological treasure that is worth fighting for (and I’m not referring to actually fighting, but rather fighting to educate everyone on the ecological value of the forest). I believe that creating this documentary would go a long way in providing that education about a small corner of the world that is special, but often overlooked.
3. “If you have big-name documentarians on the film, why do you need to go? Can’t they fund you?” Well…yes, they could make it without me. But as an aspiring wildlife documentary filmmaker, I WANT to be part of this project. The funding I am seeking will help pay for a better camera and my travel expenses; I have made a very bare-bones appeal. Unfortunately, to be involved, I have to raise my own portion of the travel and lodging costs. The other people involved are also raising their portion, but because they are more established, they have a more extensive network than somebody just starting out. That’s why I am pursing this through GoFundMe.
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