Bloor West Villager
In its first season, photographers captured images of abandoned buildings in Europe, including a Belgian castle, a forgotten German cathedral, a Nazi hospital and a power plant in Luxembourg.
Debuting on Bravo in November of 2009, ‘photoXplorers’ was a TV series that followed an intrepid group of shutterbugs on their quest to document forsaken structures. Despite a loyal fan following, the network cancelled the show after Bravo decided to no longer air arts programming, according to photoXplorers creator-producer-director Claude Barnes, a Roncesvalles Village resident.
“We were just so sad it went away,” he admitted during a recent interview.
After repeated requests from fans to resurrect the show and a chance meeting with a representative of the crowd-funding platform “indiegogo” at the ReelScreen West entertainment conference in Santa Monica, California, in June, Barnes was inspired to launch a crowd funding campaign for season two of photoXplorers. The indiegogo campaign officially launched Tuesday, Sept. 3 and in three days raised more than $1,700.
“It’s a really fun way to fund a project you’re passionate about,” Barnes told The Villager. “With a crowd funding campaign, you don’t have to empty your bank account anymore. It’s pretty cool.”
Barnes’ goal is not to raise money to make money, but rather collect enough funds to pay the crew and cover some expenses.
“It’s a passion project,” he said.
With a modest budget of $45,000, Barnes said the film crew and photographers can find, explore and shoot seven new locations. Each location will become its own 22-minute show. If the campaign brings in more money, the funds will go toward creating more episodes.
While season one featured abandoned places in Europe, Barnes says the second season would film closer to home and focus on “the forgotten byways and mechanized rust belt of the USA.”
“I always say, who hasn’t walked by an abandoned building and wondered ‘what was that?’ Barnes said. “You’d probably be breaking a law going in there. But, there’s such history there. Look at Detroit – it’s basically an abandoned city.”
Urban exploration is a huge past time around the world, Barnes pointed out. The photographers: Laurin Jeffrey, Sean Galbraith, Steve Jacobs, Mathew Merrett and Russell Brohier, take only pictures and leave only footprints, Barnes said.
Merrett, a Parkdale resident, says the group doesn’t use any tools to break in.
“In many cases the door will be open, you may have to jump a fence or ignore a sign that says no trespassing,” he said. “But, I am not going in with a pry bar or anything like that.”
The indiegogo campaign is 47 days long and has turned into a full-time job for Barnes. There are several perks offered for making a donation. For $50, you’ll get a VIP pass to see the show before anyone else. For $800, you’ll get to hear your name and see your image on an episode. For $2,000, you’ll receive a guest-starring role on an episode from your town.
For further details and to contribute, visit www.indiegogo.com/projects/photoxplorers
– with files from Erin Hatfield