A future of hope for the Kingdom of Tonga
The Guardians of the Kingdom VR experience explores the links between humans and whales. It is an interwoven story of two mothers — one human, one whale — and the connections that bind them. It is the story of reconciliation between a giant who was once hunted and the people of the Kingdom of Tonga. It is the story of a place called home for generations by both the whales and the Tongans. It is a love story above and below of the Kingdom of Tonga.
Guardians of the Kingdom is the inspiring story of a richly vivid and dramatic legacy inherited by a mother in the waters of the Kingdom of Tonga and passed on to future generations. It is the story of a kingdom once torn apart that is now reconnecting the creatures from the land and sea for a common future together in the shared place they call home.
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“Even if you never have the chance to see or touch the ocean, the ocean touches you with every breath you take, every drop of water you drink, every bite you consume. Everyone, everywhere is inextricably connected to and utterly dependent upon the existence of the sea.”
― Sylvia A. Earle
Christophe is a VR filmmaker, cinematographer and photographer. He is the co-founder of Underwater Earth, an innovative non-profit based in Australia with a global focus to reveal the ocean to the world using creative storytelling combined with innovative technology, and the team behind Google Street View underwater.
Christophe has produced impactful stories and VR films for the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, the Nature Conservancy, NOAA, Greenpeace and others. He co-invented and led the development of the revolutionary SVII camera - a camera that takes underwater 360° panoramic images for both Google Street View and scientific monitoring purposes.
The invention was declared by Time Magazine to be one of the top 100 new scientific discoveries of 2015. Christophe’s work has been featured on CNN, NBC, BBC, National Geographic, TIME as well as in the award-winning documentary feature Chasing Coral and Chasing Coral VR ; and has been exhibited in prestigious museums worldwide, including the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco, the Natural History Museum in London, and at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
Sophie Ansel is a French storyteller, environmentalist, and human rights defender. She works in a variety of media (VR, books, graphic novels, TV, cinema, and radio) to create stories with impact. She is the director and producer of Out of the Blue, a VR film narrated by ocean explorer Sylvia Earle and has worked on numerous VR conservation films who have toured at the United Nations and around the world. From 2006 to 2012 she investigated human trafficking, slavery in South East Asia which she documented in her new graphic novel Burmese Moons which will be released in July 2019 in the USA by IDW Publishing.
Her investigation also led her to advocate and document the slow burning genocide of Rohingya through press, TV and books. Her new book “First they erased our name: Rohingya” will be published in September 2019 in UK/US/Australia. Her passion for education has brought her to be commissioned by the European Commission in 2018 to create a program aimed at Tunisian journalists to teach them to create stories in virtual reality. She is currently creating an education program to teach children about the impact of social media in conflicts.
Sophie lived several years in Southeast Asia and has worked as a Filmmaker and TV journalist directing pieces in Burma, Cambodia and Indonesia for French Television. She has been field producer, photographer, and camera operator for the Sundance and Emmy award-winning film Chasing Coral.
Raymond Chavez, is an award-winning producer, director and writer of documentary films for BBC, Discovery Channel,National Geographic and PBS. Raymond’s doc film producer, director and writer credits include: The Free Willy Story – Keiko’s Journey Home, a Discovery OriginalProduction, Sea Turtles – TheAncient Marinersfor National Geographic, and Journey to Medicine Wheelfor PBS—winner of the AmericanIndian Film Festival’s Best Feature Documentary Film. He is an Executive Producer of World At War, a feature doc on ocean conservation that is currently production with True Blue Films. Raymond is a Producer of Guardians of the Kingdom and a Board member of the Global Mana Foundation.
Matt Milios is the Creative Director of Emerging Media at Vulcan Inc. overseeing online multimedia production, and VR/AR content creation. He has produced a breadth of work telling compelling visual stories and inspiring teams to create highly engaging experiences for emerging technologies. The cross section of technology, storytelling and creating empathy to inspire change for good is at the core of all of the work we do at Vulcan Productions.
- Written and Directed bySOPHIE ANSEL & CHRISTOPHE BAILHACHE
- Executive ProducerJODY ALLEN
- Executive ProducerRUTH JOHNSTON
- Executive ProducerPATRICK FURLOTTI
- Executive ProducerLEE CHOO BOO
- Executive ProducerTRACEY TAYLOR
- ProducersRAYMOND CHAVEZ & MATT MILIOS
- Production ManagerKIM NYHOUS
- Associate ProducersSUSAN GRELLA, LORNA PARRY, ADRIAN MIDWOOD
- NarratorsSYLVIA EARLE & FINAU MOLISI
- Animation bySPINIFEX
- With the participation of composerMARK COLLIN
In the depths of the Kingdom of Tonga, Tofua’a, a Humpback whale, is born. The Kingdom of Tonga is his nursery where his mother Moana will spend the next 4 months passing on the legacy of his lineage and community—a legacy that has been passed on from generation to generation since the beginning of time. In the nearby village lives an old Tongan fisherman, Kalafi, one of the last whale hunters. He has passed his love for the ocean to his daughter Finau, teaching her the sacred relationship that Tongan people have had with whales for generations. Finau, who is now a mother, transformed her fear of whales into a deep connection that is key in creating a future of hope for the Kingdom of Tonga.
The cast and characters
Moana, the mother whale, is one of the film’s main characters. She represents the giant of the depth. One of the largest animals on the planet and one that is crucial to the balance of the life of the ocean.
Sylvia Earle is an American marine biologist, explorer, author, and lecturer. She has been a National Geographicexplorer-in-residence since 1998. Earle was the first female chief scientist of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,]and was named by Time Magazine as its first Hero for the Planet in 1998. She is also part of the group Ocean Elders, which is dedicated to protecting the ocean and its wildlife.
In the depths of the Kingdom of Tonga, Tofua’a, a Humpback whale, is born. The Kingdom of Tonga is his nursery where his mother Moana will spend the next 4 months passing on the legacy of his lineage and community.
Finau spent her childhood in the ocean, spearfishing and collecting shells. For a ong time she was disconnected from and afraid of whales. She thought they could swallow her like Jonas in the Bible. As the daughter of a whaler, she grew up with stories of mother whales trying to save their calves from the hunts. For her family and community in Tonga, everything changed when the king banned whale hunting in 1979.
Little Finau is Finau’s daughter. She represents the future of Tonga, embracing the legacy that her parents and her community are passing on to her. Her future and her relationship to the whales will be determined by the education she will receive and the sense of responsibility towards the environment and the inhabitants of the Kingdom instilled by her community.
Kalafi was one of the greatest fishermen. He is a passionate ocean lover and one of the last whalers of the Kingdom. He sees the ocean as the source of food and resources for the community in the Kingdom of Tonga. He comes from a generation of fisherman and whale hunters who have survived thanks to the abundance of the sea, and has transmitted his wisdom to his daughter Finau. Kalafi lives a simple life on a beach that he owns.
Although he is nostalgic for times when it was possible for the community to hunt whales, and he misses the taste of whale, today he actively supports his daughter in her endeavors: connecting ecotourists to the whales and helping them to better understand the importance of these majestic creatures for the Kingdom of Tonga and for the planet.
Support Mission Blue Hope Spots
Hope Spots are special places that are critical to the health of the ocean — Earth’s blue heart. Hope Spots are about recognizing, empowering and supporting individuals and communities around the world in their efforts to protect the ocean. Dr. Sylvia Earle introduced the concept in her 2009 TED talk and since then the idea has inspired millions across the planet.
Reveal the Oceans and Inspire Action
Underwater Earth commenced work back in 2010 with a simple, single-minded vision - to reveal the ocean to the world.
The ocean, representing over two-thirds of the world’s surface area, critical to the planet’s health and wealth, is out of sight and therefore out of mind. How can anyone love and care for something they cannot see and cannot understand.
From this was born our first big idea… taking Google Street View underwater.
Underwater Earth is a not-for-profit organisation founded in 2010 by a group of ex-advertising and media execs who all share a passion for the ocean and a belief in the power of creative storytelling using innovative technology.
The Seaview team are the pioneers of underwater 360-degree content. We are the creators of underwater Street View and our underwater imagery has become the most viewed of all time thanks to our close collaboration with Google. Our 360-degree imagery and videos have enabled the world to explore hidden wonders of our oceans - opening a wealth of opportunities for tourism and conservation.
In association with
Vulcan Productions initiates, develops and supports projects of substance and enduring significance. We believe in the power of stories to change minds and ignite action. Through our collaborative partnerships, Vulcan Productions tells powerful stories that help audiences understand the world around them, respond to challenges, and bring about lasting change.
Projects for Good is a new crowdfunding platform that provides support, services and products for community development projects. Our funding model allows you to follow the journey of each dollar donated and know that it actually made a difference. And we are all about community, a place to connect with others and become involved with projects.
The Global Mana Foundation is a non-profit organization based in Hawaii. The mission of Global Mana is to build global sustainability through research and development of projects focus on achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs). Global Mana supports work with island nations in the Asia - Pacific and Caribbean regions and with indigenous cultures to strengthen their climate resilience with water, food and energy security.
Established in 1999, ITRAMAS Corporation is the leading Malaysian engineering company in green technology and public works. ITRAMAS has extensive experience in implementing large-scale public projects for the government in advanced engineering and green technology sectors covering Renewable Energy (RE), Energy Efficiency (EE), & Smart City Solutions.
Spinifex combines the age-old art of storytelling with tools of the digital-age. We have developed a unique style of technology infused storytelling that enables brands to connect with their most important audiences in more magical and memorable ways. Spinifex Group is a creative studio, experiential digital agency, and content production company all rolled into one. Not only do we come up with great ideas, we bring them to life too. And, the agency does it all in-house across our four global studios.