Africa or Bust!

POSTED BY justin IN blog, Documentary, news, work @ August 12, 2011 - 10:59 am

Film is like Rock and Roll - it can move people in ways indescribable. When we see a good film - a narrative, a documentary, a short film, it doesnt matter - it does something to us. It touches us deep down inside in a way that can change us, forever.

That is how I feel about my latest project - "The Drill Project"

The fight to save a species.

While in Equatorial Guinea studying Leatherback sea turtles off the coast of West Africa during the dry season of 2010 - 2011, my friend Justin Jay and Shaya Honarvar stumbled upon one of the least studied species on the planet - The Bioko Island Drill monkey.  They then witnessed firsthand the destructiveness of deforestation and the illegal bushmeat trade, and the toll it takes on endangered species.

They made it their mission to begin to unlock the secrets of their survival -  and film, for the first time everMandrillus leucophaeus poensis in their natural habitat. Bioko's rugged landscape and restrictions to foreigners proved to be a challenge, and with the cryptic nature of the drill it has made it near impossible to film in the wild... until now.

We now plan to help save this species from the brink of extinction.

After returning from that first trip to Africa, Conservation Biologist Justin Jay and Bioko Biodiversity Protection Program Research Coordinator Dr. Shaya Honarvar introduced me to this initial footage and story. We are now partnering up as a team, to return to Africa in 2012 help save the Drill and other incredible species through the making of “The Drill Project”.  We will be returning to Bioko Island this winter to explore the layers and depth of this incredible story, on film.

The Drill Project’s goal is to help prevent the extinction of the dril - a species of monkey that is among Africa’s most endangered mammals. Today it is listed by the IUCN as the highest conservation priority of all African primates. Our conservation efforts also include other endangered species of primates found on Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea. By conducting scientific research and producing a feature documentary film focusing specifically on Mandrillus leucophaeus, the Drill, we hope to increase awareness about these species and fragile ecosystems on the brink of destruction in order to preserve life and biodiversity.

"The Drill Project" will shed light on the lack of enforcement of the recent Presidential decree banning the hunting, sale, or consumption of primates as bushmeat. Enforcement of the ban was temporary - the primate as bushmeat is proving to be a boon in the black market. We will be using our completed film as a tool to reinforce this decree.

However - we cannot achieve this goal without the support of friends, family, and the public.  To undertake a project of this scope and magnitude requires a budget able to support the full scale production of a wildlife documentary, in addition to conducting scientific research in a foreign country.

Our ability to tell this incredible story on film will largely rely on the financial support of individuals just like yourself.

As the first phase of funding is complete, we will be able to assemble our crew and equipment and head to Africa to begin filming for 10-12 weeks. If you value wildlife, if you feel strongly for the preservation of biodiversity, please consider joining our efforts.

Once filming is complete, The Drill Project will complete a feature documentary film for exhibition in film festivals, then eventually in theaters, and on television. Additionally, it is our goal to produce a Spanish version to be given free of charge to Equatorial Guinea’s only television network (EGTV) to be aired for public viewing. As part of our post-film conservation campaign, we will work to screen our film locally in African schools, villages and embassies. By working closely with community members and local officials, we hope to teach the value of wildlife and instill a sense of pride for Africa's national resources.

The video trailer above is a prelude to our upcoming journey. With your support, we can head back to Africa in 2012 to investigate scientific questions on film that can only be answered by direct observation in the wild.

Any amount donated to The Drill Project will go directly to these efforts to save an entire species from extinction.  If we do not try, this species will go from endangered status to critical and then to extinct in the wild, fairly quickly.  The destructive forces against this animal will not waver or subside until we collectively act as stewards and protectors of these incredible animals.

We strongly feel that our film will reverse the trade of Drill bushmeat, and save this species. Please help us so this!!

For more information, please visit