Help Film Blue Whales and Orangutans

Hi! I'm Brandon Navratil and by trade I am a cameraman, naturalist, and wildlife guide based in the Yellowstone area, but have worked all over the world. Being a wildlife filmmaker has been a lifelong dream. So in 2018, I began Inspire Wild Media to capture nature's beauty, share engaging stories, and inspire audiences around the globe. 

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, landing in Jakarta March 14, 2020, on my 33rd birthday wasn't the best time to start an expedition. Within 2 days everything completely unraveled and it became crucial to return home as soon as I could.

I am fully inspired to return this time next year and  resume this expedition in 2021. Filming up to 5 endangered species in one trip including orangutans, Asian elephants, and blue whales is a lifetime journey I am extremely motivated to make happen. After suffering losses, with your help this trip can recommence in 2021.

My Objective

Traveling to Borneo and Sri Lanka I have the opportunity to capture footage and stories of Orangutans, then Blue and Sperm Whales underwater! I will create engaging films telling a couple different stories from these unforgettable experiences.

The first story is of the animals and how difficult they are to find as they're disappearing. The second is of my own personal experience behind the camera and what it takes to film these rare creatures.

With your help I can greatly improve the gear I will bring and therefore be able to capture much more inspiring, narrative, and engaging footage helping shed light on these stories.

A Brief Summary

Orangutans are Critically Endangered and Blue Whales are Endangered. Orangutans have lost 80% of their habitat in the last 20 years! Blue Whales are at a fraction of their historic numbers and are extremely difficult to witness underwater.

Since I was 7 I've known my life's purpose is to travel the world, put in the effort it takes to capture the beauty of the nature, and use film to inspire audiences. I graduated with degrees in Wildlife Biology and have been using them towards my mission ever since.

In 2019, I self-funded a trip to Sri Lanka pursuing my #1 animal in the world to see, the mighty Blue Whale. Using a basic GoPro setup I captured the best moment of my life in nature, so far (see video).

This year I will travel to Borneo to see Orangutans and back to Sri Lanka for whales. My trips consist of an 8-day Orangutan expedition through the jungles of Borneo, 6 days in between with local guides and researchers in Borneo, then an 11-day Sri Lanka trip with 6 days on the ocean looking for whales. Your support will help provide the gear enabling me to create complete films from these unforgettable experiences.

These iconic animals are disappearing rapidly, or extremely difficult to see, and my focus of capturing engaging imagery will help in their preservation. Telling their stories will emotionally engage audiences, educate them, while personably sharing worlds they may never see themselves, before they're gone.


The Value of These Projects

“In the end, we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand and we will understand only what we are taught.”                                    -Baba Dioum

Orangutans are Critically Endangered and becoming increasingly at risk to extinction in the wild. Their number one threat is loss of habitat. In Indonesia and Malaysia, where they are found, they have lost 80% of their habitat in the last 20 years!

The largest factors for this are the expansion of the palm oil industry and logging (both legal and illegal). According to a United Nations report from 2007, at current rates, up to 98% of Orangutan's habitat in Borneo could be destroyed by 2022. Some experts say at this growing rate they could be extinct in the wild in the next 20 years.

Blue Whales are similarly considered Endangered with only an estimated 10-25,000 from historic potentials of 350,000. Blues roam the oceans worldwide and have suffered from a variety of threats. These include pre-industrial hunting, pollution accumulating toxins in their tissues, noise pollution (inquire), fishing gear, and vessel strikes.

The largest animal that has ever lived is extremely difficult to see underwater and very few images of them exist from this amazing perspective. There are only a couple places in the world you can attempt to dive with them and I'll be returning to Sri Lanka in hopes of capturing more incredible footage.

These staggering numbers show how crucial it is to capture the beauty of these animals in the wild, share their story with the world, and take part in making a difference through film. Personably engaging audiences with these worlds  creates an emotional connection with them, helping people become more aware and get more involved, before these wonders are gone.

Help me bring the proper gear to capture these stories and create compelling films from this expedition.

A report published in the Current Biology Journal found more than 100,000 of the Borneo's Orangutans vanished in the period of 1999 to 2015, just 16 years!

45210858_1580766790954102_r.jpegBorneo Deforestation since 1950. Credit to Hugo Ahlenius

Gear I Need

Underwater housing for the Blackmagic 6k Pocketcam - $4,550
Audio Gear including shotgun mic, wireless lav set, add-ons - around $1,200
Drone Kit for Mavic 2 Pro - around $2,200

Improving from GoPros to a proper underwater setup will allow me to capture higher quality, and therefore more usable footage, in numerous ways. GoPros only have one lens, or focal length, to film and underwater this requires you to be extremely close to the subject, making many sightings or footage unusable. There are also limited settings, quality, and frame rate which all influence where and how I can use the footage.

This all in turn impacts what possible footage can be taken, which all influence what story-lines can be created and shared in a film. This is why underwater housing is my biggest investment and key for the Blue Whale story, but also many others to come in the future with Inspire Wild Media.

Audio gear is possibly the most important as no good film can be created, no story told, without usable audio. Last year I captured all my audio with only GoPros, which is mainly unusable due to quality, and I need a shotgun mic, plus lavalier mics for interviews/subjects, to tell these stories. Quality audio is essential for creating quality films.

A drone will help me gain connecting, transitional, story-telling shots that can be key for things like Orangutans. As one of the main aspects of their story is they could be extinct in the wild in the next 20 years due to loss of habitat, a drone can show how logging and palm oil plantations are encroaching on the last remaining Orangutan habitat.

If I do not reach my entire goal the funds will go towards audio, drone, expedition and developmental costs for the films.

What You Can Get

$40 Donation-   Special thank you email

$100 Donation- Special thanks in the credits + Special thank you email

$200 Donation- Digital photo from the film + thanks in credits + email

$300 Donation- Associate Producer credit + digital photo + thanks in credits + email

$600 Donation- Executive Producer credit + all the other fun stuff

$1,000 Donation- Personalized Tour of the Tetons or Yellowstone (airfare and accommodation Not included)


There are many challenges when traveling the world and attempting to film two endangered and rare species. The jungles provide an assortment of gear, logistical, and filming hazards while freediving for whales entails personal underwater abilities, persistence, and all of these of course need some luck!

Although I am based in the mountains around Yellowstone, I have traveled to Sri Lanka before and as you can see, have experience getting underwater footage and pursuing whales. My familiarity with the process and what it takes to get into position to capture images of Blue Whales significantly helps me in this upcoming trip.

Even though traveling to Borneo will be a first for me, through the kind support of a donor I guided in Yellowstone, I will be traveling with an organization who specializes in Orangutan expeditions, with access to rehabilitation islands, national parks, and expert knowledge of their ecology. I have previously traveled to remote parts of the Austrailian outback, Tasmania, Thailand, the jungles of Puerto Rico, all over North America, and with these have a great foundation to flourish in whatever conditions Borneo provides.

In Summary

My purpose is to travel to these remote places, film these animals, their stories, and bring those engaging tales to audiences around the world. Not only will capturing high-quality footage make long-lasting imagery to use for years to come, it will aid in the objective of telling these crucial, time-sensitive, and inspiring stories people can connect with.

Your support in my journey will not only help my equipment and films, but also play a role in sharing vital information about these iconic species for the world to emotionally resonate with, be inspired by, and motivated to support themselves.

This is a cause I know is worth supporting as it is much bigger than my films; it is for the benefit of a broader purpose connecting people to these rare and disappearing natural wonders with aims to impact future outcomes.

PLEASE SHARE THIS with those you know,
those who are interested in supporting such species, projects, and places,
and anyone who enjoys the inspirations of nature!

Thank you so much for your time and support!
  • Pam Banks 
    • $1,000 
    • 13 mos
  • Emilie Wallis 
    • $40 
    • 18 mos
  • Barbara Kneeland 
    • $50 
    • 19 mos
  • Hailey Meadow  
    • $100 
    • 19 mos
  • Paul Boult 
    • $105 
    • 19 mos
See all


Brandon Navratil 
Salt Lake City, UT
  • #1 fundraising platform

    More people start fundraisers on GoFundMe than on any other platform. Learn more

  • GoFundMe Guarantee

    In the rare case something isn’t right, we will work with you to determine if misuse occurred. Learn more

  • Expert advice, 24/7

    Contact us with your questions and we’ll answer, day or night. Learn more