Banana Tree Films (Charlotte Amalie, )


  • Name:Jan Ruley

Organization Address

  • Organization Name:Banana Tree Films
  • Address:6501 Red Hook Plaza
    STE 201
    Charlotte Amalie 00802
    Charlotte Amalie, VI
    Virgin Islands, U.S.

Organization Phone

  • Main phone:340-626-2556

Organization Web

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  • Mission:
  • My name is Jan Ruley, I currently live and work in the US Virgin Islands as an underwater and documentary filmmaker with Banana Tree Films.
    I'm interested in talking with you about a documentary film project we are developing on Maho Bay Camps, the world's first eco-tourism resort created in 1976 by green pioneer Stanley Selengut. This is an environmentally uplifting story about sustainable living and the positive social impact it leaves with our characters. Maho Bay Camps is living on borrowed land and borrowed time, deep within the US Virgin Islands National Park. With their land lease set to expire in July 2013, we'll document the last year of Maho's existence and share strong character stories meant to inspire a large international audience towards a more simple way of life and travel. The documentary will not seek to "save" Maho Bay Camps, but instead share its story, preserve it's place in history through film, and share individual impact stories with an audience to inspire social change and thought about our delicate environment. Characters would include the people that have impacted Maho throughout the years, and in turn those moved by the Maho experience. The story will provoke thought and movement around preserving our national treasures.

    I would like to request the Lawrence Foundation to consider sponsoring this special project. Any donation no matter how big or small will be greatly appreciated. This documentary is fiscally sponsored by the International Documentary Association (501c3) and any donations made are tax deductible. I'm available anytime, day or night, for a phone call or online correspondence. We are also seeking funding for this project through the National Science Foundation, Tribeca Film Institute, Women in Arts, among other documentary film grants.
    Maho Bay Camps are living on borrowed land and borrowed time. Can this magical place-also the world’s first sustainable Eco-tourism resort—just disappear? Witness the last 6 months of Maho’s existence, where devoted guests, staff and community struggle with saying goodbye to this special place in paradise.
    Maho Bay Camps, set within the US Virgin Islands National Park, has been the home to a small Eco-tourism resort since its creation in 1976. Maho Bay Camps is the first Caribbean Eco-tourism resort and the longest living example of a sustainable community in the US and its territories. Maho was ahead of its time,long before Eco-tourism became a buzzword and Green was simply a color, not a global movement. Created by New York Civil Engineer and Developer Stanley Selengut, he has been named the “Father of Sustainable Resort Development”. A simple place—a far cry from the modern day mega All-Inclusive luxury resorts—Maho has nurtured a loyal following of guests, volunteers, community, and staff.
    With 114 “tree houses” nestled into the steep green hillside, Maho is surrounded by the US Virgin Islands National Park. To minimize damage to the land and marine environment, Maho is connected through a series of raised boardwalks and stairways. Not only do the wooden stairways connect the tree houses, but they provide a underlying connection between guests, volunteers, staff, community and nature. A pioneer in eco-tourism, Maho Bay Camps has developed unique recycling programs on a Caribbean island with no existing recycling plant. Their desire to conserve and protect has led to the creation of programs such as the “Trash to Treasure” Art Studio, where staff and guests turn recycled, glass, linens, paper and more into beautiful pieces of art.
    But Maho is living on borrowed time. With its 36-year land lease set to expire in July 2012, a movement to save Maho has taken up an urgent pace in the last couple of years. With Maho’s future in jeopardy, devout Mahonians refuse to say goodbye and are fighting to save this special place from extinction or wors

  • History:
  • Project Status:
    Currently the project is in Development Stage with ongoing research, prep and identifying funding & collaboration sources. The documentary is fiscally sponsored through the International Documentary Association (501c3), so any donations are tax deductible. With the main subject of the film, Maho Bay Camps, possibly losing their land lease in July 2013 the sense of urgency to obtain funding to tell this story is extremely high. Production will begin in December 2011, with over 70 days of on location shooting to end in August 2013. Post Production in total is expected to take 6-8 weeks with a release goal of December 2013. Will seek release to various film festivals, travel & nature programs, public broadcast programming, colleges with sustainable engineering programs, develop an elementary outreach curriculum and gain momentum and engagement through various social media outlets and film website.
    Outreach, Audience Development, Distribution and Marketing:
    This project will work in cooperation with the US Virgin Islands National Park to garnish support for protecting our National Treasures. We look to inspire a new generation of Engineers in development of sustainable communities. Not only to explore non-traditional recycling programs created and practiced at Maho, but also to highlight the positive social effects that come through this sustainable living community. The prevailing struggle between commercial development and protection of the natural environment is at the forefront in this story and provides the conflict needed to engage audiences.
    An Interactive Website for the film will be created with a few transmedia elements. Those include, 1)a running “Behind The Scenes” video page that will feature periodic entries. Entries will include, the making of hard to shoot scenes, highlighting the difficulties that play into capturing great film. Alternate interviews, where characters will share side stories intended to build an early relationship with the audience.
    2) an interactive view of Maho Bay Camps, via the Stairways Webcam, where the audience can see Mahonians come and go on the Stairways 24/7.
    3) through a Stairways Facebook Page, Twitter account and various social media outlets we will also drive audiences and environmental groups to our website to drive interest and buzz for the film release.
    4) On our website, there will also be a “Final Escape to Maho” Contest. Entries for the contest are made through signing up and following the blog. There will be a short video/photo contest, rules to follow, where the winner will be given round trip airfare for 2 (from the US), a week’s vacation at Maho Bay Camps and an onscreen interview to be shown on the Stairways video blog.
    This documentary will be produced with a theatrical run time of 70 min. There will also be a public broadcast cut at 60 min. Various film festival versions will be compiled as well to their specifications. There will be 2 theatrical trailers, 30 sec & 3minutes in length.

    DVD release will included bonus footage with behind the scenes, out takes and more.

  • Year established:
  • Endowment:Unknown


  • Organization type:Grantseeker
  • Country of registration:Other
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