An old friend and colleague of mine, Tony Chapa (o.k….so he’s more a legend than a mortal man) passed along an interesting e-mail today. If Tony wasn’t involved, I probably wouldn’t have given this a second look…but it does look interesting & I am VERY sympathetic to folks who want to keep creative control of the production of media about their archaeological work (has anyone actually watched that horrible show Digging for the Truth?)…so let me, in turn, pass the information on to you.
Paul Harmon has been working at Tiwanaku, Bolivia for the last several summers on an archaeological project with Alexei Vranich–a researcher from the Museum of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. In that time Alexei and Paul have developed ideas and have turned them into a couple of television documentaries financed by independent film companies. These things have gotten some air time (one on The Discovery Channel, The Science Channel, and in the European market, and the other is currently being marketed).
Now as these films were funded by an film company, the company maintains creative and financial control over the final product….as many of you may know that can be a bit frustrating to us academic types who don’t think imparting good information and entertainment are mutually exclusive endeavors, but don’t want to see one (information) sacrificed for the other (entertainment).
So Paul and Alexei (along with Dan Harmon, Larry Engel, Cindy Castano and good ol’ Tony Chapa) are working on launching a film-making enterprise–Sailmate Adventures. As part of this venture Sailmate is going to produce television documentaries in high definition. At Tiwanaku they’re calling the project The Dig. They are planning four films and podcasts to be shot in Bolivia this year.
They do have some product sponsors (Mountain Khakis, Chris Reeve Knives, Princeton Tec lights, and JetBoil camp stoves), but they tell me that on average it costs around $400,000 to create a prime-time television documentary. So….To raise the remaining funds for the project Paul is pre-selling the first two DVDs he plans to market (The Solstice Sacrifices & Reed Boats: The Vanishing Art). The price for both starts at $25…of course, since their goal is to raise as much money as possible, they wouldn’t turn your larger contributions away (hey, I know that some of you guys give that kind of money to R. Joe Brandon to finance Shovelbums.org!).
You know, Chapa…I did always wonder what the heck you did over the summer…