Reporting from Middle Earth: how to save the world in one click

I recently arrived in Southland, and it feels very much like the end of the earth. It's also not far from Middle Earth, AKA the Queenstown/Wanaka region of New Zealand's South Island (the setting for Sir Peter Jackson's epic Lord of the Rings triology, which was shot "just up the road", in Australian terms at least).

(above) Lake Wanaka, in "Middle Earth", just up the road from Invercargill, Southland, where I am currently based

It seems fitting that since I am writing about crowd funding, on the eve of the New Zealand launch of Jackson's latest instalment The Hobbit on 11 December, that this post should at least mention the campaign for the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) Project. But first, I want to look at two other indiegogo crowd funding campaigns that IMHO are much more important.

2 Degrees

The first is a campaign for a documentary titled 2 Degrees, which tackles the very pressing issue of climate justice, a term used to explain a range of ethical concerns in the climate change arena (you can find a good definition of it at The documentary explores two epic struggles in the battle against climate change – Tolkien-like tales about the imminent peril facing our world if we choose to ignore the science and instead continue to trash our forests (the lungs of the earth) and rely on dirty old fuel instead of renewables. 

The film's title refers to the generally accepted premise that
if we can constrain the global temperature rise to less than two degrees Celsius then
we won’t get into what is termed a “dangerous climate change” scenario. The
rise is already 0.8 degrees. 

2 Degrees examines the UN climate change negotiation process along with a grass-roots campaign in the South Australian town of Port
Augusta to replace dirty coal-fired power stations with a new technology called
solar thermal.

Shot over two years in Australia and 15 other countries, the film goes behind the scenes at the very highest levels of the United Nations Climate Change negotiations in the struggle to make rainforest preservation part of the accord.

The film documents the negotiations imploding at Copenhagen and the inability of world leaders to reach agreement, despite recognising the urgency of the problem. Producer Jeff Canin fears that COP18, the current climate change conference in Doha, will again fail to make the legally binding cuts to greenhouse emissions that will start to make a difference in the fight.

The documentary will make the point that if the top down solutions aren’t achieving the necessary goals, then it’s up to the general public to demand the solutions. 

current round of UN climate change negotiations in Doha brings back mixed
emotions for us. Those meetings are painfully slow moving and the evaporation
of trust among poor countries towards rich countries at Copenhagen was heart
breaking. I want to convey to our audience that governments are stalling and we
really need a revolution around this. Part of that revolution is crowd funding
things that matter and can help make a difference,” Jeff says. 

(above) Big Ted, Jeff's team mascot, is featured on his indiegogo crowd funding campaign page

He believes that the growing popularity of crowd funding signifies the rising tide of people power. Jeff's production company, Green Turtle Films, aims to raise $200,000 using the indiegogo crowd funding platform. You can find out more, and join the revolution, here or like it on Facebook here.

The Ride

Like Jeff, Producer Sandra Cook has also had to look at more innovative ways of reaching audiences with her documentary The Ride. The documentary, which is about four men ditch who their wheelchairs for a quad bike adventure and visit their crash sites along the way, is already in the can but Sandra is also using indiegogo to raise money to take the film on a national tour. With only eight days left, Sandra has already raised 54% of her $40,000 target.

Jim and Sandra director
(above) The Ride's producers Sandra Cook and Jim Cairns, also one of the stars of the show.

To support the crowd funding campaign, Sandra and her team have envisaged a really clever social media campaign that includes photographing audience members at preview screenings, holding up white boards that summarise what The Ride has inspired them to do, and then posting these on Facebook.

You can donate to Sandra's crowd funding campaign here or find out more about The Ride's social media campaign on Facebook here.

Back to Middle Earth…

LOTR Project is a website that a chemical engineering student called Emil Johansson started in January 2012 with the purpose of visualising the vast world of Middle Earth.

With its increasing popularity the website uses a high amount of bandwidth and so Emil launched a crowd funding campaign on indiegogo to upgrade to a more expensive hosting solution. He has already reached his very modest target of $600, but says he will use the additional money raised (and it's still coming in) towards the development of an iPhone app.

Unfortunately, because broadband data is so expensive in New Zealand (I'm currently paying $50 for only 2Gb a month), I haven't been able to check out Emil's virtual Middle Earth just yet. I guess I will have to satisfy myself by exploring it in real life – we're off to the Queenstown/Wanaka region again this weekend 🙂

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