Documentary mavens Fisher Stevens and Ross Kauffman have teamed for a feature-length film “Taken By the Tiger,” about the fast-shrinking population of tigers in the wild for Discovery Channel and Science Channel.
Kauffman (“Born into Brothels”) will direct with Stevens on board to produce the film, which will be shot in remote locations in Asia. The project is part of Discovery Communications’ Project C.A.T. corporate initiative to help repopulate tigers in their natural habitats.
Fisher and Kauffman are producing “Tiger” in partnership with RadicalMedia. Fisher joined the bustling New York-based independent production house last year an Artist in Residence, one of several high-profile creatives who work as a free agent but use RadicalMedia as a home base.
The fascination that tigers have inspired throughout the ages will be a big component of the film. A century ago, some 100,000 wild tigers roamed free in Asia but the population is believed to be under 4,000 today.
“Man’s connection with the tiger is 1% scientific and 99% spiritual,” said Kauffman. “Our film will tell the story of man’s duality – on the one side, the childlike innocence we feel when we behold a tiger in the wild, and on the other side, the collective guilt we all bear for extinguishing that species’ existence.”
Stevens noted that the film will also explore strong environmental themes in probing the reason for the animals’ decline. Tigers need a great deal of open space to thrive in the wild. Population growth and the encroachment of man-made development projects pose a threat to their habitats.
“Many of the same behaviors that are damaging our planet have brought these tigers to the brink of extinction. It’s our fault and our responsibility, and that is why we’re making this film,” Stevens said.
Discovery CEO David Zaslav and Discovery/Science president Rich Ross unveiled the project Saturday evening a reception held at the Sundance Film Festival.
“Telling the most important stories about our natural world and what we can do to protect it is core to who Discovery is as a purpose-driven company,” said Zaslav. Added Ross:“With Fisher, Ross, and RadicalMedia on the front lines telling the stories of the heroic efforts to save the rapidly deteriorating populations of these magnificent animals, Discovery will once again highlight important issues for audiences around the world.”
Discovery teamed with World Wildlife Fund last year to support Project C.A.T. (Conserving Acres for Tigers).
At the reception, Discovery and Sundance Institute also unveiled the latest recipients of the Sundance/Discovery Impact fellowship program designed to encourage promising filmmakers to focus on stories of the natural world. This year’s recipients are Kahlil Hudson and Alex Jablonski.
“These talented filmmakers are telling the stories of real people and their communities as they grapple with the evolving environment,” said Ross.
“Taken By the Tiger” will be exec produced by Stevens, Kauffman, Xan Parker, Zara Duffy, Dave Sirulnick and Justin Wilkes produce for RadicalMedia and John Hoffman and Jon Bardin for Discovery.
(Pictured: Fisher Stevens, Ross Kauffman)