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Fundraising campaign began September 24, 2010
Louisiana—Although oil has finally stopped spewing into the Gulf of Mexico, work continues on The Frontier, a poetic documentary portrait of coastal Louisiana, one of the most beautiful, ecologically diverse and productive regions in America.
In an attempt to create a picture of what it’s like to live on the margins of this vast, but vanishing edge of the country, The Frontier follows a charismatic cast of characters trying to make ends meet—some of the participants include a shrimper and bartender on Grand Isle, a swamp guide in Iberia Parish, and a 15 year-old high school student in Chauvin.
The film is being produced and directed by Jeremy Craig, graduate of the Columbia University film program whose most recent short film, Terrebonne, was scored by members of the four-time Grammy-nominated band, The Fray, and was funded through grants from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Louisiana Film Foundation and Kodak.
The Frontier was in pre-production when the Deepwater Horizon exploded, an event that Craig and associate producer Julie Engebretson are hesitant to discuss too closely in relation to the project. “Although the catastrophe will be addressed in the film, The Frontier was never meant to be about the oil spill,” said Engebretson. “Oil and natural gas, however, are a huge part of the culture of Louisiana and any honest portrait of the region has to include it in some way.”
So, as many journalists, activists, and media personnel begin their slow withdrawal from the region, work on The Frontier continues uninterrupted. Having begun in late April, filming on The Frontier will be a yearlong process that is expected to conclude at the start of the next fishing season in May 2011.
Through strategic support from the 350.org., Gulf Restoration Network, and the Louisiana Film Foundation, Craig has been able to get access to many prominent Louisianans, including Thomas Dardar, Jr. Tribal Chief of the United Houma Nation, Chris D’Elia, Dean of the LSU School of Coast and Environment, and Mike Tidwell, author of the classic, Bayou Farewell.
The Frontier crew is small—joining Craig and Engebretson are co-producer Jillian Schlesinger, associate producer, Christopher Brown, and director of photography, Gregory Kershaw. “That we’re ostensibly invisible gives us much more flexibility,” said Craig, who prefers having a small crew to a large one any day. “Being free and mobile comes in handy when you’re filming in extreme conditions and strange, sometimes tight, locations. Most importantly, it makes deciding where to eat lunch a lot easier.”
Subsidizing the first few production periods through small grants, The Frontier team is now funding the rest of the project on the run. Beginning today, Craig and company are starting a critically important 35-day fundraising campaign on Kickstarter.com, a final push to raise the $12,000 needed to get them through the rest of production. “It’s a ton of money,” said Craig. “But I’m cautiously optimistic.”
Craig and his collaborators hope both The Frontier and The Coastal Frontier not only raise awareness about the environmental threats to Louisiana but also “reveal the dynamic relationship between the Cajun people and their coastal place—all in search of a purposeful design in this place that is both paradise and paradise lost.”
To support The Frontier or learn more about the project, you can visit www.thefrontierfilm.com.
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