I'm Sharon Walia - a documentary maker from Nottingham, UK. We have a very exciting campaign for a feature documentary. Here's the longline:
Meet Sharon and Sharon; two women on a mission to rescue hundreds of mistreated guinea pigs. From the UK, LA to Peru follow their humorous and heart-warming adventure as they also set out to discover the forgotten history of these curious creatures in the first major documentary about guinea pigs.
The documentary is being filmed on 3 continents - Europe, USA and Peru and follows a range of diverse pig keepers from guinea pig judges, rescue centre owners and enthusiasts. The film will also highlight guinea pig lab testing and the strong cultural ties the animals have with Peruvians. We have already shot most of the footage in Europe pre-lockdown. Due to the impact of Covid-19 we lost some funding and a business investor thus are raising money for some production costs: editing, writer fee, music (by Ashwin Balu), and sound mixing/colourist.
We're aiming to raise £35,000 and 10% of proceeds will be split between Avalon Guinea Pig Rescue in the UK and LA Guinea Pig Rescue in the USA.
Below: Los Angeles Guinea Pig Rescue owner Saskia Chiesa
What We require
We're raising £35,000 which will go towards:
- Camera Op fees for the LA and Peru shoot
- Editor and writer fee
- Original score (produced by Ashwin Balu - please refer to trailer music for an example)
- Post production costs for the rough cut (sound mixing and colourist)
As two of the rescues featured are having a particularly tough time due to the pandemic 10% of proceeds will be split between the Avalon Guinea Pig Rescue in the UK and LA Guinea Pig Rescue in the USA. Anyone who donates £500 or more will be given an Executive Producer credit and also invited to the premiere of the film in the UK.
Your donation would make a huge contribution to the project and help us to achieve a rough cut stage before we apply for completion funding. We are hoping to secure a broadcast deal with a major network and the film will also be used for educational purposes and charity film screenings.
I was a TV Journalist for a number of years and turned to feature documentaries in 2017. I usually make films which highlight underrepresented groups and issues (My first doc The Movement was about the global refugee crisis and is on Amazon Prime). However my other passion is animals and we are very excited to be producing the first major documentary on Guinea Pigs.
Here's a little more about the film:
They're one of the oldest animals (Guinea Pigs were domesticated as early as 5000 BC and statues in South America depicted them in 500 BC to 500 AD), they helped establish the germ theory, were one of the first animals sent to space and featured in the multi-award winningFleabag series. BUT this aside guinea pigs are one of the most misunderstood and mistreated animals. Ironically though they're still extremely popular pets worldwide and have recently been going though a popularity surge. From a rescue owner, former model, to an ex-rugby player and hairdresser meet the guinea pig keepers who are going out of their way to protect these creatures.The film has a strong human interest element as it primarily follows Sharon 'Shaz' Kelly; a guinea pig rescue founder and Sharon Walia; Journalist and guinea pig enthusiast. The two protagonists set out to uncover the hidden story of guinea pigs by highlighting their historical/scientific/cultural relevance and how they became domesticated. Filmed on three continents, the documentary will be hard-hitting in parts (lab testing, animal auctions and abandonment) and story arcs are themed around Shaz’s quest to save her rescue which is on the brink of closure due to it being inundated with mistreated pets. The Keepers of the Pigs is a landmark as it’s the first major feature on guinea pigs and their owners.
Below: Guinea pig rescue owner Shaz Kelly (right) and Journalist Sharon Walia (left)
Risks & Challenges
The risks at the moment are due to the Covid-19 pandemic as we were due to film in Peru and LA in October 2019 however this has been cancelled. We are therefore planning to edit a rough cut of everything we have filmed so far with the funds raised which will enable the project to be eligible for completion funding and gain an acquisition.
Below: Guinea pig judge and keeper Jme Edlington
Other Ways You Can Help
We understand it is a very tough time for people. If you can't help please help share and spread the word about this project! Thanks very much!
Below: Guinea pig judge and keeper Peter Wardman.