Caddisfly: The Massive Story of Something Small

See our story: Caddisfly: A Massive Story of Something Small

For 30 years Dr. John Morse has taught Aquatic Entomology at Highlands Field Station in North Carolina. This summer will be year 31.

If you took Dr. Morse’s EPT course you remember how tough it was: 12–14 hours a day, every day, for two weeks!

We want to make a short documentary to tell John’s story and capture the adventure of the most popular course the field station has ever seen. Mayflies, Stoneflies, Caddisflies, Biomonitoring, Trout Fishing, Conservation, Endangered Species, Entomology, Students, Fun, Enjoyment, Science, Taxonomy, catchin’ bugs in a creek—this documentary will have it all!

Here is an opportunity to highlight a slice of Entomology for the public. What it is, why it’s fun, how it helps humans, AND in a way that shows the beneficial aspects of insects. 


[The total we’re after is for the WHOLE project, but we only need part of that now to support the crew while they film. So, every donation counts!]

Principal Photography:
Fly three people to Highlands, NC, room and board (2 weeks!), transportation, equipment rental, and a thousand little things = $26,000. (Pretty cheap for 3 people, 2 weeks, AND making a movie.) [For you researchers, principal photography is like the preliminary study you have to do before you get an NSF grant. After principal photography is completed, grants become available, time is available, and the likelihood the documentary will get finished is very high.]


A 15 minute documentary = $15,000. (Even better, would be a 30 minute documentary, $30,000).
-Editing (assembling the movie, fine tuning it)
-Sound (all recorded sound from the shoot will be cleaned up and mixed in)
-Music (an original score will be created for the project)
-Color (believe it or not, color is added in after the initial shoot)
-Marketing (graphic design for a poster, art for publicity)
-DVD Creation

-$10k+ - Executive Producer [contact for further information]
-$5–10k - "This film was made possible by"
-$500–5k - "With support from"
-Under $500 - a Special Thanks in the credits

NOW! The class starts 14 June!! We need money for Principal Photography first and can continue to obtain funds for Post-Production later.

From your contributions and our endeavors we plan to make a fun 15+ minute documentary about the 31st year Dr. John Morse will teach the Southern Appalachian Mayflies, Stoneflies, and Caddisflies Course at Highlands Biological Research Station. Three goals for distribution include: screenings for organizations and educators; festivals, festivals, festivals; and a DVD for everyone who contributes $35 or more.


Filmmaker Team:
Olivia Johnson (Director) - 
Suna Gedik (Producer) - 
Cinematographer [we have one in mind, but schedules may not allow, check back soon]


Dr. John Morse has been retired for 12 years and still puts in a 40–60 hour work week researching, teaching, and advising students. He is a world leader in using bugs that live in water to monitor for pollution, and is a world expert on insects called Caddisflies. (He maintains the world checklist. He has advised 43 graduate students (the first of which had amazing careers and have now retired), published more than 200 papers, described several hundred new species, has worked with students and researchers all over the US and Asia (China, Vietnam, Thailand, India, and Mongolia).

John has added at least 300,000 specimens to the insect collection at Clemson University. About five years after he retired Clemson had not hired his replacement to direct the museum, so John and his wife Suzanne donated funds to create an endowment to support a replacement Museum Director.

2019 marked the 30th year that John had taught an aquatic entomology field course at Highlands Biological Field Station. It is an intensive two-week course, classes start at 8am and last till about midnight every day. Students are in the field and in the lab each day, collecting bugs and IDing them. John was still in the creeks with the students when he was fighting cancer (the second time) during 2006. Virtually every aquatic entomologist in the country has taken John Morse’s course. Classes were canceled during 2020, but this year he’s back.

Let’s capture the adventure!

Donations (76)

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  • Iris Stoiser
    • $20 
    • 4 mos
  • Ralph DeWalt
    • $300 
    • 2 yrs
  • Kendrick Fowler
    • $40 
    • 2 yrs
  • Paul Morse
    • $100 
    • 2 yrs
  • James Glover
    • $3,000 
    • 2 yrs
See all

Organizer and beneficiary

Michael Ferro
Central, SC
Olivia Johnson

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