What is the Wild Lens Collective?

The Wild Lens Collective is a 501(c)3 non-profit media production company and artist collective focused on environmental storytelling. Founded in 2011, Wild Lens has produced numerous award-winning documentary films, including the Emmy-nominated Bluebird Man, about bluebird conservation and citizen science, Scavenger Hunt, about the plight of the California condor, and Souls of the Vermilion Sea, about the world’s most endangered marine mammal, the vaquita.

Three years ago, Wild Lens filmmakers Sean Bogle and Matthew Podolsky were given the opportunity to co-produce a new feature length documentary film about the vaquita alongside some of the biggest names in the film industry.  We worked with Leonardo DiCaprio’s production company Appian Way, as well as Terra Mater Factual Studios and National Geographic to produce Sea of Shadows. We were shocked and deeply honored to win the highly coveted Audience Award when we premiered the film at Sundance in 2019. Our Sundance screening was followed by an international theatre run that brought this film to every corner of the world, winning numerous additional awards along the way.

Why a Collective?

In the lead-up to the release of Sea of Shadows, our leadership team began to strategize about how Wild Lens could take advantage of the extra attention that this film would bring to the organization. We wanted to find a way to use our organization’s newfound clout in a way that would benefit not just ourselves, but our ever-growing network of collaborators and contributors. We wanted to build a coalition of filmmakers, producers, storytellers, and artists who are driven to tell stories that expose the interconnected nature of our planet’s overlapping crises.

In the summer of 2018, we organized the inaugural Wild Lens Retreat.  By the end of this long weekend, we had come to a group consensus to rebrand our organization as the Wild Lens Collective, shifting our mission towards providing co-production support, mentorship, and networking opportunities for an ever-growing membership.

Two years later, we have expanded our collective to include over 50 members living on six continents! We are using Wild Lens’ newfound influence to co-produce several new documentary films directed by members of our collective, including the feature film The Invisible Mammal, about the conservation crisis faced by North American bat populations, and how COVID-19 has intensified and complicated this issue. We are also co-producing a new documentary about North America’s largest salamander, the Hellbender. We have rebranded our flagship podcast series, Earth to Humans (formerly Eyes on Conservation), and created opportunities for collective members to learn about podcasting by guest producing episodes. We also launched a brand-new podcast series, Common Land, which tells the creation stories behind protected areas.

How Can You Help?

We are asking for your financial support as Patrons of the Wild Lens Collective because we have lofty goals for the future of our organization. We want to actively recruit new members who can bring different experiences, backgrounds and skill sets to the collective, and we want to expand the range of services that we can offer by creating meaningful, paid opportunities for our members to gain new experiences and learn from others.

We are asking you to provide the funding that will allow young, aspiring media producers and storytellers from all across the globe to expand their horizons and gain the experience and influence that will allow them to shape our future.  We sit on the precipice of unprecedented global change, and although it may not be possible to completely halt the cascading effects of our climate crisis and the sixth mass extinction, there has never been a more important time to invest in the filmmakers, podcasters, storytellers, journalists and artists who are most passionate about using their voices and their art to build a better future.

The benefits provided by your donation:

$50 Donation Level:  Leadership Team Participation – This amount will allow us to pay our members for their participation in leadership team meetings. We have established a process for members to apply to become members of our organization’s leadership team. Those who are accepted to our leadership team will get paid this amount for their participation in each leadership team meeting. This payment is essential to ensure that there are no barriers to entry for this opportunity. Members who join the leadership team will learn about the inner-workings of a non-profit organization, as well as have a say in the future direction of the Wild Lens Collective.

$100 Donation Level:  Environmental Writing Mentorship – This amount will allow us to create a paid mentorship opportunity focused on short blog content for one of our members. Our website is the face of the Wild Lens Collective, and this opportunity will allow us to share authentic short-form blog content, while also providing meaningful learning opportunities for our members.

$250 Donation Level:  Environmental Journalism Mentorship – This amount will allow us to create a paid environmental journalism mentorship opportunity for one of our members. For members who are interested in longer-form writing, we will pair them with an experienced journalist who will guide them through the process of crafting an investigative story that both informs and engages readers.

$500 Donation Level:  Podcast Mentorship Session – This amount will allow us to create a paid podcasting mentorship opportunity for one of our members. Experienced podcast producers work closely with mentees to facilitate the process of producing a podcast episode that we then release on our popular Earth to Humans podcast feed. This is our most popular mentorship opportunity within the Collective thus far, we would love to be able to provide more learning experiences related to audio production and podcasting for our members.

$1,000 Donation Level:  Short Video Mentorship – This amount will allow us to create a paid opportunity for a member to work on a short promotional video highlighting the cause of their choice. Short promotional videos are crucially important outreach and education tools for researchers, activists and other non-profits. We pair members of our Collective with an experienced filmmaker, and let them select the cause or campaign whose story they want to tell. The result is a compelling short video that can be used to educate and inspire action, as well as a learning experience for our members.

$5,000 Donation Level:  Documentary Seed Funding – This amount will allow us to provide crucial seed funding for a member to launch their own documentary passion project! We are extremely excited to be able to provide co-production support for members who are ready to dive into their first documentary passion project, but funding is always a significant hurtle. That first grant, donation or investment is always the most difficult to secure, and we want to make sure that our members don’t give up on their dreams when fundraising becomes a struggle. The seed funding that we secured from our successful crowdfunding campaign for Souls of the Vermilion Sea allowed us to take our first production trips to Northern Baja, California, launching the project that would eventually become a blockbuster feature film involving Leonardo DiCaprio. We want to help our fellow Collective members achieve this same level of success, and providing seed funding for projects is the best first step in that direction.

Checks should be made payable to: Wild Lens, Inc.

Mail to: Wild Lens, Inc.
PO Box 6705
Boise, Idaho 83707

Become a Wild Lens Collective Patron!  Use the donation form below to become a Patron, or visit our campaign page here.