News of Project Borneo 3D has been sweeping media sources globally. Last week, Australian magazine Filmink published an online feature article about the project and the worldwide recruitment call.
You can read the article below or head to the Filmink website for a closer look!
3D Doco Calls For Volunteers
by Emmet O’Cuana | March 01, 2011 15:16 | Edited March 04, 2011 09:33
Documentarian Cathy Henkel’s latest project is a pioneering interactive doco which will see ten applicants live in the Borneo jungle helping rebuild the ecosystem.
“I don’t like to use the word casting, I prefer recruitment.” Director Cathy Henkel is discussing how the “ten amazing young leaders” will be chosen for her upcoming 3D action documentary, Project Borneo 3D. The film’s subtitle – ‘An Action Movie’ – gives audiences a broad hint as to what this pioneering interactive movie is trying to do.
Instead of lecturing on the evils of climate change and deforestation, Henkel is making a film about the experiences of ten volunteers, between the ages of 18 and 35, who will travel to Borneo and document what they see. Their cameras are going to be their “weapons of choice”.
“In action movies, they’re given guns, [here] the kids will be given cameras,” Henkel says. She envisions the ten volunteers who will be chosen as “young action heroes.” The use of 3D will allow the film to take the inclusiveness of cinema to a whole other level, she says, creating “an action movie that’s absolutely real.”
It is an ambitious and ultimately fascinating reinvention of the documentary format, one based on the current generation’s fondness for uploading every aspect of their lives online via social networking and video sharing sites.
Henkel points out that young people today have received a great deal of education about environmental issues, but suffer from a sense of powerlessness. In fact, when she was contacted by Microsoft Partners in Learning, Henkel learned that the number one concern among young people today was the environment.
Indeed, environmental concerns have been a consistent theme throughout Henkel’s work. In 2008, she produced the stirring documentary The Burning Season which chronicled the yearly fires in Indonesia which destroy rainforests, endanger the livelihood of animals and contribute to climate change. Her 2005 documentary on the life of Spike Milligan, I Told You I Was Ill, revealed that the comedian/actor/musician was an early proponent of environmental activism.
The filmmaker was enthusiastic about trying to approach this issue from a new direction. Project Borneo 3D seeks to engage the young people directly on their terms, inviting applications in the form of a 90 second video clip explaining why the applicant should be chosen. “Clearly we are looking for charisma, charm and a level of coolness but first and foremost, they have to be committed to the action of what they are doing,” Henkel says.
The campaign was launched on Channel Ten’s 7pm Project and is primarily using social networking sites, as well as the mainstream media, in order to spread the word. “It’s gone viral”, Henkel laughs, after pointing out that she has just received her first application from Egypt. Even in the midst of the great political upheaval happening there, someone still felt that the forests of Borneo required their immediate attention.
Project 3D’s storyline will revolve around a mentor figure, orangutan conservationist Willie Smits, who will act as a guide to these rookies on their journey. He will be the central character, teaching the team of youths about how the deforestation threatens these beautiful creatures with extinction, not to mention the simultaneous damage to the environment.
Another way in which the film will appeal to the cinematic mainstream is its embrace of not only 3D technology of James Cameron’s Avatar, but also that sense of immersiveness. Henkel happily cites the film as a principal influence: “This is not Pandora, this is Planet Earth. The film will open in the forest. It will look and feel as magical as Pandora. It is real.”
Australian cinematographers Don McAlpine (Moulin Rouge) and Paul Nichola (Cane Toads: The Conquest 3D) will be on hand and the team are even inventing handheld 3D cameras to capture the action on the jungle floor. When audiences experience the scale of destruction happening in Borneo, Henkel hopes they will be completely sucked in to the plight of these ten young heroes in their fight against deforestation.
In keeping with the non-traditional approach of this film to its subject, funding is being secured through ‘crowd funding’, bodies such as Social Capital Markets, as well as donations from those looking to be involved. The move once again creates a sense of empowerment, showing those who support the project how their money will be put to use. Throughout filming content will be hosted online, but for now, Henkel and her team are concentrating on ‘recruitment.’
The final date for submissions is March 18. For more information, visit the Project Borneo 3D website.

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