Over & Above Africa, an LA-based charity, is dedicated to fighting the poaching battle on all fronts and have teamed up with Giant Films to direct and produce The Guardian. The aim of the project is to raise funds to supply drones to wildlife reserves.
The film was made by an international team of creatives led by Fackrell who is currently based in Amsterdam, with Coleman from Cape Town-based Giant Films taking the lead in the director’s chair.
The 90-second documentary was released earlier this month and points out that “all of Africa’s animal groups are threatened by poaching,” but explained that drone surveillance could increase their chances of survival by 80%.
Drones were used to shoot the short expressive docu-film and include aerial shots of animals along with their collective nouns – a dazzle of zebras, a wobble of ostriches, a pride of lions, and so forth. The footage then shows a “gang of poachers,” calling them a plague, and branding what they do as a slaughter.
Kerry David, Over & Above Africa’s founder, said it is indeed a slaughter, and added:
“Every day is a tech-war between heavily armed, well organised, skilled poachers and our courageous, but often ill-equipped rangers. Dropping our guard can mean the loss of whole herds.”
With the help of drone surveillance, Africa’s animals can be protected, and poachers can be brought to justice. Poaching is rampant through most of Africa and with the rhino population numbers dwindling, severe measures are needed to guard against extinction.
While the numbers are decreasing, approximately 1030 rhinos were killed during 2017 and elephant numbers dropped by 9%. It is without a doubt a scourge on the world and is systematically forcing many animals to the brink of extinction, all in the name of profit.
Animals are killed for their pelts and tusks, and when it comes to rhino poaching, poachers torture and kill these animals to get their horns. The horns are sold on the black market and ivory rakes in enormous profits. In some instances, it is even valued more than gold.
We reached out to the creative team for insight into the creation of the film and the impact and awareness they hope to generate with the Guardian project.
Understanding that this must have been a tiny budget, can you give some insight as to what role you played in bringing this film to life?
Sam Coleman: Projects for these kinds of causes of course tend to be on the low budget side and absolutely rely on the goodwill of others. The wellbeing and future of our animals’ hit’s a nerve with people and everybody clambered on board to help, from my DOP and often-time collaborator Devin Toselli, to my amazing post partners at Strangelove and Priest.
What kind of difference do you hope to make and how do you think this film will affect change?
SC: As long as it raises awareness, and ultimately donations to Over & Above African it’s doing it’s job. It’s ultimately a tech war between poachers and the rangers on the ground, so the more we can help the rangers the better equipped they will be to fight the war.
What do feel the role of creative is in affecting positive change in the world?
SC: Ultimately, in todays divided world we are also seeing creativity becoming being more politically active and aware to fight all kinds of injustice which is a great thing. We shouldn’t, and don’t, exist in a vacuum for our own entertainment, there’s too much at stake.
What is the role as a creative when it comes to projects like these?
Andy Fackrell: I always try to find an emotional trigger that’s not expected. Collective nouns, something that romanticises animals provided that hook.
It was an ambitious idea that required everything be treated with great sensitivity; the edit, the music, the grade. It was important to present the poachers and dead elephants in a very matter of fact manner, not in a sensationalist way.
We have been informed that Over & Above Africa was shortlisted for the prestigious Ciclope Festival. The festival kicks off on 8 November in Berlin.
A Guardian – Over and Above Africa from GIANT FILMS on Vimeo.