Tristan is an Escape member running a Kickstarter campaign (11 days left!) to film a documentary in the Amazon that you can support here.
I grew up on a normal English street where each day; the retired population would rise out of bed and tend to their finely manicured lawns, sprinkle water on the flowers and sweep up the leaves on the driveway that fell the previous night. Even as I’m writing this, I can see a determined Dave, who lives across the street, working his way around the tree that sprouts from his neatly trimmed lawn, gazing up at it’s branches. I know exactly what he’s doing because he’s been doing it for years, he’s figuring out which branches to cut in order to make the tree’s crown perfectly symmetrical. A symmetry that he will never achieve.
Many times I’ve asked myself why Dave cares about that tree so much, I even asked him myself once, he said “Well it looks nice like that doesn’t it”. That answer didn’t satisfy me, so I theorised that perhaps by having a nicely pruned tree he’ll be able to impress someone, but who? and why? he already has a wife. But then I thought, perhaps Dave feels just like me, or how I felt several years ago, just bored and looking for something to do. Some way to connect with the living, breathing world outside, but for him, under the disguise of monotony.
The first escape
I couldn’t stand it any longer, the crushing boredom of life in suburbia, I wanted something more, but I didn’t know precisely what I wanted and equally importantly, I didn’t know how to get it. This was until a friend told me about a government funded scheme to volunteer in Africa.
Two months later I was on a plane to Nairobi, Kenya and from there I went to the lush slopes of Mt. Kenya to stay with a local family on the edge of the rainforest and help plant trees. On the second day of my arrival, I walked for an hour up to the edge of the national park and for the first time, saw something that truly amazed me. In front of me stood a wall of trees higher than I had ever seen, the sounds and smells emanating from this mysterious wilderness were a complete sensory overload. From then on, at each chance I got, I would wake up at 4am and hike into the forest, completely naive and without a compass I would enjoy every second whether that was watching the baboons fighting, sneaking up on unsuspecting elephants (you had to know how to run) or getting to know the people that lived within the trees. Each day was exciting and revealed something totally new.
The second escape
In the few months that I had stayed in Kenya, I’d gone from having no idea what I wanted to do, from knowing exactly what I wanted to do. I was going to be a biologist, so I breezed through a degree then headed straight for the biggest rainforest I knew of. The Amazon. There I spent a year living at a remote research station working on various research projects with giant river otters, jaguars and atmospheric monitoring. In my spare time, I would head out, always taking a map and a compass and I’d see how long I could survive, what I could discover. I started filming the things I saw on these journey’s and eventually made some short films. Once I returned to England, I watched all of the documentaries I could find on the Amazon and realised there were so many amazing things that I had seen that were missing from the films.
The ultimate escape
Luckily, during my time in the rainforest I’d met a really skilled camera man, so we got in touch and together we concocted a plan to make a feature length documentary about the Uncharted Tributaries of the Amazon, entitled ‘Uncharted Amazon’. We found an excellent editor and spent six months researching the perfect location for the film. But how could we finance it? this was the big question for us. So we turned to something called “crowdfunding” which works on the principle that lots of people donate small amounts of money in return for various rewards and perks.
So this is precisely what we did, we set up a page on Kickstarter.com and let it go. So far we are 15 days into the campaign and 55% funded, with 96 people from all over the world contributing to the project. The catch is that we have a 30 day time limit so the clock is ticking and if we don’t hit the goal we get nothing so can’t make the film and the money stays with the backers.
So if you would like to support us and find out more about the film then please click here.
All the best,
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