Veins of the Earth

Veins of the Earth will be a feature length documentary, combining science and conservation, with history, folklore and mythology to address critical issues with river systems in the south-west of England.

raised of £7,000.00 goal
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Campaign type
Flexible Funding
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    Veins of the Earth

    Seeking funding for
    Campaign type
    Flexible Funding


    Rivers are a vital part of the world around us. They enrich, inspire, and sustain us; keeping them flowing freely and cleanly benefits all who depend on them.  Quoted by: The Westcountry Rivers Trust.


    Rivers are the lifeblood of our planet and have provided ecosystem services that have attracted humans for millennia. Yet, whilst facing a worldwide climate and nature emergency, we are still continuing to pump them with pollutants. The risks rivers and inhabiting species face, appear to be less spoken about and, in some cases, the ecological roles of rivers and freshwater species are unknown to the public.

    Set in the remote south-west of England, this documentary will cover the importance of rivers and ecological interactions of inhabiting species in detail. There will be an emphasis on the connections rivers provide between oceans and land and how the presence of one species is vital for another. Fascinating species adaptations, ecosystem roles and unique river habitats will be revealed: from rare chalk streams to river seed dispersal and functions of river plants for river and ocean health, to the ecological importance and life cycles of river insects and how keystone river species shape entire ecosystems. The historical and cultural significance of rivers will be explored with features from river history and folklore experts to delve deeper into how and why rivers have sustained and inspired us for thousands of years, following further evidence to show the importance of these waterways for mental health and well-being.

    Shocking footage will show the pollution river habitats face along with guided discussions from conservationists and scientists. However, intentions behind this documentary are not to preach hopelessness and there will be a focus on how people can help protect rivers and the importance of educating younger generations, with features from the river scientists, conservationists and restoration volunteers already doing their part. Overall, the main message of this freshwater journey is to clearly portray how and why rivers really are the ‘veins of the earth’.


    The issue

    Amounting to only 3% of the earth’s water and covering less than 1% of the earth’s surface, freshwater habitats can sometimes be overlooked when it comes to their global importance. Yet, worldwide, over 100,000 species rely on and are supported by freshwater ecosystems, particularly river habitats, which are highly important for many intricate biotic and abiotic interactions and ecological linkages.

    Records show that freshwater species are declining faster than those within any other habitat type worldwide, with rivers and inhabiting species facing detrimental pollution and many other threats that need more conservation action. Just like the ocean, rivers are faced with copious plastic pollution, rising water temperatures, invasive species, declining fish stocks and overall biodiversity loss. As urbanisation has increased, differing chemical pollution that negatively alter water chemistry, such as sewage pollution, soil erosions and flood risks have followed, with recent evidence to show that a large majority of sewer flows across the UK are discharging raw sewage directly into rivers. Moreover, although we rely greatly on rivers for agricultural and drinking water purposes, a third of river water taken for human needs is wasted.


    How will this documentary help and why support us?

    This film is for a river conservation purpose. The risks river ecosystems face need to be addressed and, as with all wildlife conservation issues, increasing awareness is key.

    We aim to address and reveal these pollution risks on screen, using discussions with river conservationists, restoration volunteers, scientists and pollution experts to gain a deeper understanding of the issues directly threatening these precious ecosystems. Simultaneously, we want to portray the wonder of river habitats to inspire others to play their part in river protection and bring to light what is and can be done to bring rivers back from the brink, showcasing those utilizing ecosystem-based approaches, rewilding, and the conservational success stories of working in tune with nature instead of against it.

    To further portray the film’s call to action for increasing awareness and inspiring others to do their part for river conservation, we aim to formulate a Veins of the Earth website. This will include information about and links to all the wildlife/river conservation organisations involved and featuring in the film, as well as others throughout the country, so audiences can obtain information to donate or get involved with river restoration volunteering in their local region. We also aim to include a behind the scenes section within the website for those interested in the journey of the film’s creation and completion.

    Veins of the Earth is the first feature length documentary Emily Hardisty has written, produced and presented. Director and lead wildlife film-maker Gemma Gilbert has had substantial experience as a documentary film-maker, drone pilot and photographer, but has not previously directed a full feature-length film. Therefore, when it comes to approaching and pitching the film to production companies and broadcasters, we need to go hand in hand with something to further show our skills and showcase our ideas for Veins of the Earth.

    Through supporting and donating towards this crowdfunding campaign, you will be helping us to begin the first stages of filming and create a teaser (shorter version of the final film). We will then use this teaser as a part of our pitch when approaching production companies and broadcasters. Creating a teaser really will help us get our foot in the door and finalise the production and broadcasting of the final feature.

    Rewards for supporters

    We are in search for fellow eco-warriors to support this vital stage of production and help us spread the word of the river crisis, underrepresented river species, and the ecosystem-based approaches that can save river environments, and all that is connected to them. Consequently, after serious thought with regards to the rewards offered to backers, we decided that T-shirts, teacups or postcards would not suit.

    Instead, to show our appreciation for your help we will fully acknowledge your support within the teaser credits.

    Those able to donate £45 will also have a chance to receive a special Veins of the Earth river print (50 available).

    An exclusive invite only Veins of the Earth teaser premiere will also be offered to those able to pledge £65 (45 spaces available), which will involve a private screening of the teaser and the opportunity for discussions, with food and drink afterwards.

    A special wildlife filming nature trail day reward will be offered to those able to pledge £250 (15 spaces available). This will include a day out with Emily and Gemma, looking for, photographing and filming wildlife. Gemma will be providing wildlife film tips and lessons throughout the day and Emily will also be discussing some fascinating wildlife facts about the species found and observed throughout the day.    

    If you are donating a significantly large amount but you are unable to attend the premiere or wildlife film nature trail day, please contact Emily via email (link at the bottom of this page).

    Any support you can offer will be hugely appreciated and of immense importance to the creation of this teaser and following final film. Even if you cannot make any pledges to this teaser campaign, sharing our project on your social media, and/or with friends and family will be of great help!

    Combining science and conservation with history and folklore

    Rivers were, and continue to be, a foundation for our livelihoods and many ancient tales associated with river habitats have been woven into myth, legend and folklore.

    Following footage and stories of the life cycles and ecological roles of species within aquatic and terrestrial river food chains, and the shocking reality of the state of Britain’s rivers, discussions with geomorphologists, archaeologists, folklore experts, artists and personal testimonials will be used to delve deeper into the importance of rivers throughout English heritage and culture, as well as from a mental health perspective.

    Subsequently, this film will combine the environmental and historical significance of rivers, along with voices from those associated with river environments in many ways to explore how and why rivers provide connections on so many levels.

    The different aspects we are exploring in this documentary each play their own role in highlighting the significance of freshwater and river systems. The science explains the ecological importance of rivers, whilst the historical side emphasises our reliance on rivers, conservation demonstrates the future and how we can protect these ecosystems and the folklore/mythological angle represents how rivers have influenced our culture.

    It is our aim to target not only viewers who already have an interest in rivers or conservation but to also encourage viewers with an interest in the historical, cultural and mythological aspect of the film.


    Director statement

    As the environments that balance and connect ecosystems – quite literally encompassing the water that flows over landscapes, alongside encountering multiple species and habitat types – rivers are faced with copious pollutants on a daily basis.

    Yet, I often feel river environments have difficulty entering people’s consciousness, especially as many urban areas have been built over river habitats and barriers have been built to restrict the flow of river water. Another contributing factor to this could even be the fact that many rivers can look murky with low visibility for spotting river species below, potentially impacting the ability of these habitats to be truly noticed.

    It is vitally important to address and not dismiss the pollutants and destruction that habitats and species are currently facing worldwide. However, showcasing environmental issues can often leave behind an overwhelming feeling of worry and despair for the state of our planet. While Veins of the Earth will not shy away from revealing the shocking state of river habitats and detrimental loss of freshwater species, preaching hopelessness is not our intention and, instead, we aim to use this film to bring a message of hope and instil viewers with determination and knowledge of how we can preserve and protect river ecosystems.

    As with all wildlife conservation, awareness alongside forward thinking and scientific research is key for prevention of increasing environmental destruction. Nevertheless, I also believe looking back and learning from the wealth of ancient knowledge associated with wild spaces, alongside listening to the voices of those appreciating nature or engaged in its protection, can be vitally important for conservation purposes. The bringing together of all these elements can help to develop a deeper understanding of the importance of habitats such as rivers at a more personal and in-depth level. Therefore, this film will also help to explore how rivers and our relationship with these precious environments has changed over time, with which we aim to portray just how ecologically, historically and mentally connected we are to river ecosystems.


    How much do we need and what will this money be used for?

    We are hoping to raise between £8,000 to £15,000 to begin filming and complete the documentary teaser.

    This money will be used for the crew, travel, accommodation, catering, cover the expenses of guests featuring in the teaser, filming permissions and many other logistics and incidentals of documentary film making.  If we surpass our £15,000 maximum target, the additional funding will be used to expand the scope of our travel throughout the south-west to include more south-west river scenes and capture more river species moments within the teaser. Furthermore, additional funds will also help us to include more guest features within the teaser and buy or hire additional filming equipment such as underwater cameras and/or a two-man hide for even more wonderful river species encounters.


    All Images © Ebb & Flow Media. All Rights Reserved.


    The supporting organisation

    The supporting organisation for this documentary is The Westcountry Rivers Trust who will be featured in Veins of the Earth and have provided, and continue to provide, support and guidance for the preparation of the production of the film.


    We also have many other river/wildlife conservation organisations, as well as river history, folklore and mythology experts already onboard to feature in the film!

    The team

    Who we are

    We are a female led production team based in Cornwall specialising in creating sustainable films that address wildlife related issues on a whole new level.

    Our unique approach of exploring the significance of wild spaces for history and ancient cultural traditions and combining this with science, enables us to unravel the stories behind differing ecosystems and highlight environmental importance from various perspectives to inspire others to feel connected with the natural world.

    An eco-friendly production

    In conjunction with our drive for communicating wildlife importance and inspiring conservation, we aspire to make our productions carbon neutral, striving for We Are Albert Sustainable Production certification. For these reasons, production for this film will be undertaken near to where we reside locally, throughout the south-west of England, where we have also endeavoured to find the very best organisations, scientists, conservationists and volunteers to feature along the journey.

    Gemma Gilbert – Director and lead wildlife film-maker

    Gemma is an independent film-maker and photographer with a passion for communicating science and documenting the natural world and the conservationists striving to protect it.

    She first took to the lens while travelling and soon realised she was subconsciously choosing destinations where she could capture the unique variety of wildlife that the world has to offer. Buying and teaching herself how to use her first DSLR, she took to Borneo and witnessed the devastation that palm oil planation was wreaking on its wildlife. Vivid images she felt implored to share – to raise awareness and make a difference.

    Since completing a BA (Hons) degree in Marine & Natural History, Gemma has put all her energy into telling stories about wildlife conservation and biodiversity and climate crises, aimed at inspiring and facilitating a better world, and forging a future worth fighting for. With extensive global expedition experience and over 5 years of working as a documentary film-maker, drone pilot and photographer, her work has featured on BBC Springwatch and Autumnwatch, CBBC’s Planet Defenders, This Morning, ITV News, BBC Spotlight and the Guardian, and has been recognised at film festivals worldwide.

    Gemma predominately works independently to deliver sustainable, unique and meaningful films, from initial idea right through to final edit, but she’s also been seen leading teams on projects. One such project was the Loris expedition to Sam Popham Arboreteum in the heart of Sri Lanka, where she headed the research and filming of slender loris.

    Having worked on films for WWF UK, The Beaver Trust, Butterfly Conservation and Wild World, Gemma’s client base continues to grow and now includes Exmoor National Park, Cornwall Wildlife Trust, Blue Marine Foundation, The Marine Diaries and Mindfully Wired Communication. But her mission remains the same – to feel good about the future by fighting for the good of the planet.


    Emily Hardisty – Writer, producer & presenter

    From a young age, Emily’s admiration for wildlife quickly developed into an interest for the environmental sciences and subsequently a drive to protect and communicate wildlife importance. Emily has had several years’ experience as a wildlife presenter, film-maker and vlogger for various conservation organisations, including the Cornwall Wildlife Trust, Rivers Trust and the Westcountry Rivers Trust. In 2021, Emily founded and began a wildlife vlogging Nature Trail series with the Cornwall Wildlife Trust (regularly featured on BBC Radio Cornwall), revolved around filming the various fauna and flora found at Cornwall Wildlife Trust reserves and communicating their importance to the public. As well as wildlife presenting, Emily is a qualified wildlife biologist with a first class honours degree in Applied Zoology and research Master’s degree in Marine Biology.

    Emily’s unique creative focus combines science with history, ancient culture and storytelling to captivate an understanding of wild spaces at a deeper and more personal level. Her instinctive connection with the natural world and ability to easily connect and build partnerships with others enables Emily to explore and understand the root of environmental issues, helping the voices of others from all backgrounds with an appreciation for nature, or involved in the prevention of environmental destruction, to be noticed, heard and understood. It is these skills, combined with her detailed scientific background, that make Emily a great producer and presenter for any wildlife film project.

    As a representative ambassador for the Rivers Trust and River Talk wildlife vlogger and film-maker for the Westcountry Rivers Trust, Emily became inspired by the sheer diversity and ecological importance of river habitats, all of which she often feels are overlooked. This led Emily to come up with the idea for Veins of the Earth, with the hope that this feature film will help others to develop a deeper understanding of river importance and want to do their part in protecting the waterways that flow through our landscapes.


    Gillian Burke

    The wonderful Gillian Burke will also be offering support and help to facilitate with contacts for interviews and the production of this film.

    Gillian will also be featuring in the film to discuss her views and experiences with river environments as a place for inspiration, the need for conserving these ecosystems, and why we must work in tune with nature once more.


    David Williamson – Music composer

    The amazing David Williamson will be composing the music for the documentary teaser and final feature.

    David had composed music for TV, film, adverts, documentaries and games. As a multi-instrumentalist David has enjoyed a successful career working and touring with the talents of many world-renowned musicians including Mumford and Sons, Blur, Michael Buble, Incognito, Taylor Swift, George Michael, Chaka Kan, Foo Fighters, Duran Duran, Rufus Wainwright, Take That, Olly Murs, Go West and ABC.


    Jo Barlow – Copy-editor and on-set runner

    Jo Barlow is our wonderful copy-editor who has provided immense support in the preparations, editing and completion of the documentary treatment and script so far, and will also be our on-set runner during production of Veins of the Earth.

    Jo has been a writer, proofreader and copy-editor for over 10 years, and she has worked for international magazines and publishing houses. She has written two books and has been a regular contributor to magazines such as Smallholder. A love for the English language has prompted her on to further study. She has represented mature students nationally, to Higher Education providers and to government, and is passionate about encouraging lifelong learning for all.

    An enthusiastic advocate for the protection and conservation of the local and global environments, she wants to help create a healthier planet that enables all life to flourish: human, animal and plant. A member of the Core Support Group for The Big Green Idea environmental charity she was also their newsletter editor, gaining inspiration and knowledge from interviewing a host of environmental champions.

    Combining these two passions of environment and education is her ultimate motivation. Educating the current and future generations about the environment, its importance, the life it supports and the dangers it faces will not only ensure a better and healthier planet for her grandchildren but also for all those generations yet to come. 


    With special thanks to – Josie Purcell

    Josie is the communications manager for the Westcountry Rivers Trust and has played an instrumental role in supporting and providing research for the preparations of the documentary script and production plans and putting Emily in contact with river scientists and researchers to feature in the film.

    Josie is also an eco-conscious photographic artist and PhD candidate with Falmouth University’s Environmental Futures programme. She is passionate about sustainability in photography and creates much of her artwork using plant-based processes and within natural environments such as rivers. We aim to feature Josie’s art practice in the film to highlight another of the many ways river environments can connect and inspire us.

    raised of £7,000.00 goal
    85 Backers

    Pledge without reward:

    You can make a pledge to support Veins of the Earth without a reward. The minimum donation is £1.00.
    Your name in the teaser credits!

    Everyone who donates will have their name in the teaser credits as a thank you! £10.00 is just a guideline, please go to 'pledge without reward' above if you would like to donate more or less. Thank you!

    Veins of the Earth print!

    Including the above + a Veins of the Earth print.

    (38 remaining out of 50)
    Private teaser premier

    All of the above + an exclusive invite to the Veins of the Earth teaser private screening and opportunity for discussion with the director and writer, with food and drink afterwards.

    (42 remaining out of 45)
    Wildlife film and nature trail day!

    All of the above + a wildlife film and nature trail day out with Veins of the Earth writer/producer and director, looking for, photographing and filming wildlife, including wildlife filming tips, lessons and discussions about fascinating species throughout the day.

    (12 remaining out of 15)