So far in Making It Big, we’ve promoted gorgeous stop motion animations to feature length psychological thrillers – all within the boundaries of the fictional. Therefore it’s time to support the factual with a genuinely fascinating documentary topic about ducks, stamps and the US Government. If that doesn’t attract you to film, nothing will. Ladies and gentleman, welcome to The Million Dollar Duck.
Okay, you’re slightly hooked. However what the heck does that title mean? An extraordinarily priced goose? Maybe the one that laid the golden eggs? Afraid not, but what we do have is the story of the wonderful world of the Federal Duck Stamp contest—the only juried art competition run by the U.S. government. As the Kickstarter quotes from Pat Fisher (former chief of the Federal Duck Stamp Office – what a title!), “I call it America’s first reality show – American Idol for wildlife artists”. Outstanding.
To explain further, I’m going to go straight from (the very well researched/laid out) Kickstarter:
“Every year the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service puts on the only juried art competition run by the U.S. government. Wildlife artists from around the country submit their best paintings of ducks in the hope that the artwork will grace the following year’s Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, commonly known as the “Duck Stamp.” The stamp is used for hunting licenses and for entrance to any National Wildlife Refuge. Revenues from the stamp have bought, leased and maintained over 6 million acres of waterfowl and wetland habitat in the United States. Since 1934 the stamp has generated more than $2 billion (adjusted for inflation), and has been described as one of the most successful conservation programs ever created. “
This is truly a fascinating event that I had no idea existed, and I’ll assume that many others also had no clue. The title “The Million Dollar Duck” actually comes from the lucrative nature of the competition, and if a competitor’s stamp is the victor, it can lead to multi-million deals with companies and attention from media worldwide.
At the outset, the stamp seems to support hunting and hunters, which is something we can’t really get behind. However this film is not focusing on them, it’s determined to follow the stories of the wildlife artists, the professionals who create pieces of beauty, as well as the purpose of the stamp in funding environmental and wildlife projects in the U.S. Therefore the film delves into the history of the stamp and its role in wildlife conservation while following seven characters as they design and paint their entry for the 2013 contest. The film culminates in a two-day juried art competition where the winning duck is chosen for next year’s stamp.
It’s a great story but can the creative team deliver? Aside from the ‘Hollywood’ Kickstarters of Spike Lee, Zach Braff and Veronica Mars, you’d struggle to find a more impressive team behind the scenes. The crew is overflowing with awards starting with director Brian Golden Davis who boasts a Student Academy Award to his name. As well as that executive producer Mark Jonathan Harris is a three-time Academy winner with the film’s editor Derek Boonstra having worked on Academy Award nominated film The Invisible War. Last but not least, DoP Christian Bruno is HBO Documentary Fellow. So yeah, they’re pretty qualified.
The rewards look pretty tasty too. For $25, you get an autographed DVD of the finished film, inclusion in the film’s credits, a letter pressed postcard of thanks and a big fat thank you on the Facebook page. And heck if you’ve got a spare $10,000 you can become an executive producer. Or you can just give it to us…
So there we have it. In my honest view, this is the single most fascinating documentary I’ve seen on Kickstarter and I think it deserve that last little push to get it over the finish line. Plus it features stamps by a blind painting dachshund. What more can you want?
However, as always, it’s in your hands and you can decide for yourself. Check the video below and don’t forget to check the Kickstarter here.
If you want to have your project featured, get in touch via Twitter (@1RoomWithAView) Thanks for reading!