Crowdfunding has become an invaluable tool for the indie filmmaker seeking funds for the start or completion of a project.

And here at MovieMaker, we applaud and champion workman-like campaign efforts. To raise awareness of great ideas and future talents, we will be highlighting a unique project every month during its funding campaign. If you have a project you’d like us to consider, drop us a line at: [email protected].

We hope you’ll share, support, and be inspired by their stories.

Crowdfunder Pick: Voyagers Without Trace

Genre: Historical adventure documentary

Synopsis: In 1938, three French friends push off from a Wyoming riverbank to attempt the first kayak exploration of the wild Green and Colorado rivers. They record their journey, creating America’s first adventure film shot in vivid, 16mm color. But the reels go unseen for 75 years, until director Ian McCluskey spots a photo of the trio on a roadside marker. His curiosity sets him on an adventure of his own, learning to paddle the same whitewater. What made an explorer, his new bride, and his best friend take this journey halfway around the world on the eve of World War II? What secrets do flooded canyons and a weathered journal still hold?

McCluskey’s investigation travels back to Europe, to the advent of the French Riviera and the idea of free­-spirited, risk­-taking.


Director Ian McCluskey and team paddle their way down the Colorado River

Cast: Ian McCluskey, Paul and Kate Kuthe, Bernard and Genevieve de Colmont, Antoine de Seynes

Crew: Ian McCluskey (director/producer/editor), John Waller (cinematographer), Ben Canales (cinematographer), Luz Carasa (editor), Jenny Conlee (composer), Johnny Clay (composer), Eric Stolberg (sound mixer).

Says McCluskey: “When I was freshly­ graduated from college, I traveled across the open spaces of the American West, working as a researcher for a travel guidebook, searching for adventures to write about, but also hoping to someday have one of my own. And that is when I stumbled across a small historic marker telling a story about a remarkable river expedition made by two handsome French men and a young, beautiful French woman in 1938.

Now, 15 years later, I am about to complete this story as a documentary. I assembled a team of volunteers and set out on dangerous whitewater, searching for any trace of this journey. What I found was more than I could have expected: the original 16mm film documenting their 1938 trip in color, unseen photos, a diary… and even one of the kayaks, held in a fortress in the peaks of the Pyrenees.

This is neither a history documentary nor an adventure film. It is a hybrid. Woven into my film is their film. In their experience is my experience. It is an investigation, and a personal essay and reflection on the theme of ‘trace.’”

About the Moviemaker: Ian McCluskey is an award-­winning film director and the founder of NW Documentary. His work has garnered more than a dozen top honors, including four Emmys, and has been featured in international film festivals such as Tribeca, London, and Clermont­ Ferrand. His films have been broadcast in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. His work has also screened in major museums such as the Boston Museum of Fine Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. McCluskey studied journalism at the University of Oregon and creative writing at the University of Montana and Colorado College.

Platform: Kickstarter

Campaign End Date: May 31, 2015


McCluskey and the Kuthes – voyagers along the riverbank on a starry night

Request: “We took thousands of dollars of loaned video gear down the Colorado, and survived. We had the original 1938 film transferred to HD. We have now gathered all the pieces needed to complete this story. We are all working professionals, dedicating our time freely so that we can put every single dollar into the ultimate quality of this film. The artistic, cultural and historic significance of this story has been recognized by support from our Regional Arts and Culture Council, the Humanities Councils of Utah and Wyoming, Utah Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Our goal is to raise the remaining hard costs of completing the film:

  • $6,000 to work with a professional editor at a 50 percent pro­rate to help take the story to the end.
  • $5,000 to work with musicians (that’s a mere $200 per song honorarium) to give the film a lovely original soundtrack.
  • $1,500 to work with a talented colorist at 90 percent pro­rate to make the film look the best it can be.
  • $2,500 to work with professional audio engineers to make the film sound the best it can (also 90 percent pro­rated).
  • $2,000 to support the dedicated work of the Associate Producers for one month (part­time, barely over minimum wage). These folks earn it and we can’t put all the pieces of the story together without them!
  • $1,000 to cover the impossible-­to­-avoid hard costs, like HDCAM tapes, and the DVDs we’ve promised through this Kickstarter. (Please note that other incentives are being donated by sponsors, so that every dollar goes straight into the story!)

All funds raised will be administered by NW Documentary, a 501c3 non­profit. Since 2003, NW Documentary has managed several documentary productions, and become one of Oregon’s most respected arts organizations.”

Voyagers Without Trace is about a mysterious sign, a lost diary, and a daring journey down canyons of the West and across France in search of three voyagers from 1938. These add up to a rollicking and reflective documentary, now in the final stages of post­-production. MM

Crowdfund by visiting: Voyagers Without Trace