The Elephant Corridor


TYPE
: Documentary Feature
GENRE: Documentary
STATUS: Pre-Production

LOGLINE

At the height of deadly human-elephant conflict in Southern Africa, a scientist and a team of local women lead a radical plan to open a 200-mile protected corridor for elephants - using honeybees. But it will take the trust and commitment of communities and park wardens to ensure its success.

SYNOPSIS

In Southern Africa, Dr. Michelle Henley and team are leading a radical conservation plan to solve a growing human-elephant conflict. Habitat loss and climate change have broken migratory paths, forcing elephants to raid farms and villages for sustenance. But the discovery of elephants’ innate fear of honeybees has launched the idea of opening a 200-mile corridor across borders. Using beehives as a natural fence, the aim is to reduce conflict, re-establish wilderness and offer communities a new economy through honey production. The challenge now lies in convincing all along the way to join in.

ARTISTIC STATEMENT

What drives our story and structure of the series, is ultimately the positive work and impact the people and organizations are having through their efforts to establish these corridors. While we address the many complex and overwhelming challenges they face along the way, it is fundamentally about their persistence and belief in the potential the people and landscape have to change. The vision for this project, its tone, content and structure, reflects this complexity. Formidable, daunting, and yet hopeful and inspiring all at once. As research into the story began, and the many people, organizations, communities, countries and ideas started to fill the page, the notion of containing it in a feature length documentary seemed unjust to the story. Opening it up to an episodic structure, allowed more room for all these elements, giving us the opportunity to develop the stories of the people behind the corridor project itself, as well as those living along its path. With Dr. Michelle Henley as our guide, we also have the opportunity to develop the stories of some of the elephant individuals and herds, whose lives and well-being are at constant risk from poaching, conflict with farmers and villagers, and of course the broader picture of diminishing habitat and climate change. With her unrivaled knowledge of elephant psychology and behavior, Michelle gives us a unique insight into their world, and a series structure allows us to track that behaviour and their movements, as the story progresses. This I believe will give audiences an even greater understanding as to what’s at stake, having an even greater emotional investment in the outcome of the story. Through our personal invitation from these organizations, we have been given unprecedented access to people, places and wildlife that will show in our series. Permission to bring cameras into restricted reserves, covering activities and operations and being privy to sensitive information, gives us an angle on this and a level of intimacy and exclusivity with the story that others could not be seen elsewhere. Working as closely as we are with these organizations, also means we understand their objectives and goals a lot more clearly. Not only will this show in the interviews and stories themselves, but in the kind of impact we want this series to have. It is therefore essential that it be immersive, identifiable and engaging, so that it helps those involved achieve their aims. We will therefore be working to include immersive technology and ideas, so that our series is not only at the forefront of the documentary world, but allows us through our impact and outreach campaign, to touch the lives of those most affected by this story, as well as reach those who may otherwise feel disconnected or unaware. Immersion helps lead to empathy, which ultimately drives our project.

KEY CREW

Bruce Donnelly - Director/Producer

South African filmmaker Bruce Donnelly’s most recent documentary is the multi-award-winning short film “The Black Mambas,” which screened at prestigious film festivals including EarthxFilm, Edmonton, Big Sky, DOCNYC, AmDocs and others. Among the film’s festival accolades were Best International Short Film award at the American Documentary Film Festival 2019. The film also won Provincetown Film Festival’s Jury Award for Best Documentary Short. Bruce’s documentary feature, the highly acclaimed Cuban art film: “Alumbrones, was praised as” “Insightful and Memorable” by The New York Times. Other credits include directing a Samsung Galaxy commercial, co-produced alongside the Discovery Channel.

Blythe Robertson - Producer

Blythe executive produced Ira Sachs’ “Little Men,” which premiered at Sundance 2016 and was released by Magnolia Pictures. She was EP’d “Love Is Strange,” which premiered at Sundance, was distributed by Sony Pictures Classics and nominated for four Spirit Awards. Blythe produced “About Sunny.” It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, was an Independent Spirit Award nominee and was distributed by Oscilloscope. She was line producer on the PBS series, “God in America,” an American Experience/Frontline production. Other projects include History Channel’s Emmy-nominated, “Desperate Crossing.” She is a member of the Producers Guild of America.

Tim Cragg - Director of Photography

Award-winning cinematographer, Tim Cragg has photographed over eighty theatrical documentary and narrative films and TV series. He won a BAFTA for “Simon Schama's Power of Art.” He shot the acclaimed feature documentary “Three Identical Strangers” that won the Special Jury Prize at Sundance and received a BAFTA nomination. Tim also shot “The Serengeti Rules,” the BBC/PBS BAFTA nominated film “8 Days: To the Moon and Back,” and “Billie,” the Billie Holliday biopic that premiered at Telluride, 2019. Tim was cinematographer on “The Great Green Wall,” an Africa-based environmental documentary that premiered at the Venice Film Festival 2019.

Melissa Parry - Editor

Melissa Parry, an award-winning editor, cuts wildlife documentaries, feature films, and television series, including her current work on Netflix’s widely acclaimed African-produced Original “Queen Sono” (2020). In 2010, Melissa’s creative work as an editor was recognized by the South African Guild of Editors (SAGE), the highest honor of excellence the organization can bestow on a member. She was nominated for the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Art Initiative. Melissa recently won multiple international awards for her work on the National Geographic film “Birth of a Pride” She was also an editor on “Okavango: River of Dreams.”

 

Connect With The Filmmakers:

ACCOLADES

-
The Gotham Film & Media Institute - Fiscal Sponsorship Program 2021
-
American Documentary Film Festival - Official Selection for Fund

 

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