Known as the last great race on the earth, the Iditarod is an 1150-mile sled dog race across the most dangerous and extreme terrain of Alaska. Fifty-eight year old Kathy Frederick is one of the oldest female rookie competitors to ever compete in this treacherous race and I, Leslie Morgan will be documenting her journey.
This is, in a nutshell, the premise for the unique documentary web series 1150 Project created by the one-woman producing dynamo Leslie Morgan. The series is literally unfolding right now, as Leslie follows Kathy currently racing in this year’s Iditarod. Tubefilter chatted via e-mail (as she is currently still in Alaska working on the series) with this inspiring creator to get the inside scoop on this truly once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Tubefilter: What was the inspiration behind this project? How did you and Kathy meet?
Leslie Morgan: I have been interested in finding a documentary project about someone living out a dream, Lemonade: The Movie and David Lynch’s The Interview Project inspired this web series. I met Kathy online after a mutual friend told me about her and her website. When I saw she needed a volunteer for three months to help her out managing her household I thought I could help her, but I also wanted to document her journey. I have been interested in producing a web based project for some time and thought rather than taking months to try and make a feature why not try to film and edit in Alaska, posting episodes as I go.
Tubefilter: Had you had experience in dog sled racing before this?
LM: I had never experienced dog sled racing before. Initially what I was interested in exploring was an older female single woman taking on this type of physical challenge and why. It wasn’t until I was here and in the project that I came to really understand the world of a dog musher.
Tubefilter: What was the biggest challenge you had to face producing the series?
LM: There were a few challenges. Financing I think is always a challenge, which is why I set up a paypal account on the site as well as an Indiegogo page to help get donors to contribute so I could actually go. The other challenge is having lived in Los Angeles for seven years I am not accustomed to snow and negative temperatures so the environment was definitely a challenge as is being a one woman show on it. I take the footage, edit it, upload it, manage the site, promote it etc. It’s obviously a lot easier when you have a team, even a small team of people behind you to help with even some mundane tasks.
Tubefilter: How are you integrating traditional web series episodes and a livestreaming component?
LM: I essentially wanted to do a live broadcast with Kathy every Tuesday night so people who were following the episodes and the site could ask questions about the dogs, how Kathy was feeling etc. So I got a Ustream channel. I wanted a way to involve the audience directly and I felt utilizing a live broadcast could make the audience feel more a part of everything. Plus I am a firm believer that involving the audience on every level just helps grow the project. The idea of making your audience a part of the project instead of simply a passive bystander has been important to me since working in radio and music where we would have street teams go out and promote shows or bands. I think film, tv and especially those involved in new media have a great opportunity to integrate their audience so that they become an active part of the whole process.
Tubefilter: What’s next for this project?
LM: Well first: finishing it. So far I have 9 episodes up and my goal is to finish out with about 20, but I may do more. I guess if people want to keep watching I will keep the project going. I would love to eventually create a feature compiling the webisodes along with additional footage that you did not get to see. Also a really amazing part of the Iditarod is the teacher training portion. I have connected to a few teachers who use the Iditarod as part of their curriculum and may be interested in using my content in their classrooms, which is really incredible to me. I would love to continue to build from this project and the idea of being able to potentially go into classrooms and speaking about the project and having kids start to create their own projects could be the next extension of this particular project.
Tubefilter: Do you have any other web projects in the works?
LM: I have several ideas of web series I would love to do, one involves true stories of women facing challenges, two others are narrative. Ideally I just want to continue to creating and producing web content whether it be for myself or another company. If anyone needs a content producer let me know! I’ll need a job after this adventure ends at the end of the month!