Many thanks for the call
Thank you for the opportunity to sit down and brainstorm around this project.
Six years ago when I started this company the goal was to work only for organizations we cared about. Organizations whose missions we believed in and for me that meant organizations working for conservation and the environment. It makes sense considering I started in photography as a quiet kid spending night after night hip high in the swamp chasing animals with my camera (boxes of blurry duck photos are still forgotten somewhere in my attic...).
A lot has happened since we first started. We have worked around the world and not just for conservation orgs. We have created films for huge multinational brands like Motorola and Unilever but to a large degree we have kept true to that original mission. Work for National Geographic, Nature Conservancy, and Trust for Public Land have been like childhood dreams come true for me. Six years ago I don't know if anyone would have believed we would film around the world from Bosnia to Indonesia to Ecuador. But for whatever reason the one continent I dreamed of most as a child has been elusive: Africa.
Just this past month we secured a job that would bring us to Ghana and we began looking for environmental orgs to work with since we would be in Africa anyway...so when Melissa called us just a week ago to talk about Lewa we felt in small part that serendipity had reached out its hand.
At Timber & Frame we craft stories because stories can be a tool to help organizations whose missions we care about achieve their goals. The kid in the swamp is still in us today so needless to say, we deeply respect Lewa's mission. There are so many opportunities here to create something that not only achieves Lewa's goals but also pushes the boundaries of how organizations like Lewa are portrayed. Thank you for the opportunity to sit down and consider this project. We have a lot of ideas.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s take a moment to introduce Timber & Frame.
The T&F Team
Timber & Frame is an EMMY award winning production company that makes films around the world and lives on the coast of Maine. We specialize in filming real people (instead of actors) and creating intimate poignant films that blend the lines between documentary and cinema. In the past 6 years the T&F team has worked in over 20 countries and in challenging environments from Cuba to Bosnia from the Ecuadorian Amazon to the border towns of Mexico.
We have had the privilege of making films for National Geographic, The Nature Conservancy, Motorola and Country Crock among many others. We spend our extra time creating feature length documentaries about issues we are passionate about. Our current film is about the creation of America's controversial new national park in Maine which will be entered into competition at Sundance this fall.
Here is a private selection of our work that we think would be beneficial for you all to see. None of this work is currently on our website:
You can see more of our work on our website
This is not a video to promote Kenya. Nor is it a video to promote rhinos. The Lewa experience is about more than beautiful scenery and the incredible creatures it is working to protect. The Lewa experience is about setting a global standard for what conservation can and should look like through real human connections.
This film will focus on the human moments that illustrate the core of what separates Lewa. From education in neighboring communities to being a model for conservation in Kenya, at the heart of all these values is an emotional connection between people and the environment. We want to tell the story of how responsible tourism is reinvested into wildlife conservation and community development. Of course our final film will show the beauty of the environment and the grandeur of the flora and fauna that benefit from Lewa but the focus will be on the emotional connections that Lewa creates in the hearts of those who visit, work for, and support it.
Early into the development of this proposal, we began googling. Googling Africa, Rhinos, Kenya, Lewa, and other conservation organizations. This is what we found:
- a lot of pictures of beautiful sunsets (insert silhouettes of giraffes, elephants, Land Rovers, trees, etc)
- countless staged images of the backs of blonde tourists heads as they look out at the horizon
- beautiful imagery of east African wildlife
But how can we push past these cliches and differentiate Lewa?
After googling what visuals were connected to Lewa we found a beautiful collection of imagery. Obviously you have collaborated with some top notch photographers. But one thing we noticed is there opportunity to create new imagery that tells the full story of Lewa. A beautiful image of a rhino only tells 1 element of the story. We want imagery with many elements to tell the Lewa story. We want to embody the mission of Lewa in these images. We want to show the human emotions at the heart of the Lewa mission.
How do we do this? We have some ideas:
Story. We will create original imagery that will in every frame tells the story of Lewa. We want to show how Lewa connects visitors with the incredible environments and creatures they work to protect. By showing people experiencing Lewa and benefiting emotionally from the connection it provides to the natural world, we are creating imagery and telling stories that are working for Lewa not just advertising the beauty of the natural world or the beauty of a single villa. All of our projects are heavily storyboarded, concepted and planned weeks (sometimes months) in advance so we can guarantee that the visuals we create tell the story of our clients in every frame.
Moment. Our style as a production team is to create moments in front of the camera using real people, not actors. Through something we call “constructed reality” we are choosing the best times of day, people and locations to shoot in and then allowing people to be themselves. Through thoughtful and strategic direction (not treating people like actors or cattle) we are able to create real moments of laughter, introspection and wonder on screen. Tender moments between caregivers and baby rhinos laying down for a nap, laughs between guides and visitors in candle light looking over the sunset, the wonder on the face of someone seeing an elephant for the first time these are just some of the human connections that can encapsulate the Lewa experience.
Brand. The Lewa brand needs to be subtly incorporated into the human moments we will be creating. No one wants to feel like they are being sold to, especially the generations coming of age now. We are hired by brands like Motorola and Unilever for our ability to incorporate logo and brand within a scene without sacrificing the authenticity of the moment.
Crew. Stay nimble with a small crew that is experienced traveling internationally, working in the backcountry and ready to do whatever it takes to get the shot. From sleeping out on the ground to putting in 20 hour days for a week at a time, when you hire us you get all of us. From boats to planes to helicopters to dog sleds, we have used any and all manner of transportation to chase the story. We prefer sleeping out under the stars and eating oatmeal for days at a time. Let’s get out in the woods.
Diversity. We need to actively overcome the stereotypes of the white savior/tourist and people of color as only support staff or the ones being saved. We take great pride in usurping stereotypes when it comes to gender, class, sex and race. As filmmakers it is our responsibility to be woke to the role we play in perpetuating stereotypes through the media we create. By being conscious of casting and storyboarding we will not let ourselves say anything we don’t mean to say through our visuals. Are the women we film active? Are they passive? Why should the woman be looking at a sunset and the man using a chainsaw? Why not a white man serving a table and a black woman directing a meeting? These are the conversations we have in concept meetings long before we get to the shoot.
Discount. We are ready to offer a discount on in-house gear and crew rates in exchange for opportunity to make a project for a group we really believe in and create imagery
Look & Feel
We are a professional documentary team and we will bring a documentary style to this project but that doesn’t necessarily mean, run and gun without regard for story structure, composition, and lighting.
Famous film director Alfred Hitchcock once said that a film is finished before the first day of filming. At Timber & Frame we take that to heart. Our team puts just as much time and effort into the pre-production of our films as we put into the production of them. By scouting locations, pre-interviewing subjects, and storyboarding scenes we ensure that the time we do spend filming is as productive as possible so we can support your organization in fulfilling its mission. This won’t take any additional time on your part, but we will need as much information about the people, places, and organizations we will be filming at the start so we can prepare.
Building on the fundamentals of the documentary form we will increase production value through cinematic sensibility. Low depth of field and primarily backlit imagery will create a sense of the ethereal. By focusing our shooting around the “magic hours” of natural light that happen in the hours just before and after sunrise/sunset we will achieve the golden quality that many films try to fake with big lights. There is a realism and a power to using natural light that is hard to fake.
Interviews will be filmed but our emphasis will be to not show talking heads. Rather, we will show our interviewees doing things, interacting with people and illustrating the points they are making in their voice overs. We will utilize z-axis camera moves using a gimbal camera stabilization system instead of pan or tilts in order to achieve a more engaging and cinematic sense that will bring our audience into the world of the Lewa experience.
Aerial drone footage will help illustrate the vastness of Lewa’s landscape and the environments it is working to protect.
In order to make the budget constraints work while still covering the breadth of the Lewa experience we would advise filming during our scheduled trip to Ghana this January which would significantly reduce travel expenses. Would also look to have room, board and transportation covered while on location by Lewa. We are not a fussy bunch, just need electricity every few days to charge the batteries. We prefer being in the bush (we call it the woods up here..)
Budget Option 1
Original cost: $16,000
Less discounts: $10,000
- Full concept development from initial brainstorm to final delivery
- Full pre-production including scouting locations and storyboarding
- 3-4 days shooting in field, dawn to dusk
- 2 person skeleton crew including our EMMY award winning director, producer
- Fs5, FS7, GH5, EVA 1 or equivalent camera package.
- Vintage Nikon/Canon L Series/Zeiss lens kit
- 2 LED panel lights, grip set and basic lighting/rigging set
- Original musical composition created by our in house award winning multi-instrumentalist composer, Micah Tewers
- Full post-production services done in house including logging, transcribing, editing, coloring, sound mixing and final export
- Collection of screenshots pulled from the video and sent to the subjects/client for use in social media or sent as gifts for subject’s time
- Two full rounds of client revisions during the editing process
- Final deliverable length depends on client desires but most often falls in the 1-4 minute range
- This budget does not cover room and board while in country which will be provided by Lewa
T&F discounted over 5k in equipment expenses and crew rates due to our interest in the mission of Lewa and the opportunity to use this work in our reel in order to secure more international work in the future. Discounts include:
- The 3-4 days shooting in field (a 4,500 value in in-house crew and in-house equipment rates)
- The travel expenses of getting to Kenya from Accra (when we are in country a 1,500 value)
Budget Option 2
Original cost: $42,000
Less discounts: $30,000
Everything listed in Budget Option 1 plus:
- 4-6 shooting days, dawn to dusk
- 3-4 person crew including dedicated cinematographer
- Mavic/Inspire drone and fully licensed drone operator
- This budget does not cover room and board while in country which will be provided by Lewa
T&F discounted over 10k in equipment expenses and crew rates due to our interest in the mission of Lewa and the opportunity to use this work in our reel in order to secure similar work in the future. Discounts include:
- The 3-4 days shooting in field (a 7,500 value in in-house crew and in-house equipment rates)
- The travel expenses of getting to Kenya from the states, this frees us up to do the project at anytime, not only in January (a 3,700 value)
Budget Option 3
Original Cost: $72,000
Less discounts: $60,000
Everything listed in Budget Option 2 plus:
- 8-12 shooting days, dawn to dusk
- 5-6 person crew including top commercial cinematographer, support and dedicated sound
- Steadicam/MOVI or equivalent and operator
- 3rd party graphics, custom design and GFX artist
- Additional short form edits of the video content for social media
- Sound mixing and color done out of house by top 3rd party company in NYC
T&F discounted over 10k in equipment expenses and crew rates due to our interest in the mission of Lewa and the opportunity to use this work in our reel in order to secure similar work in the future.