THE MILLION DOLLAR DUCK dives into the wonderfully eccentric world of the Federal Duck Stamp Contest – the only juried art competition run by the U.S. government – which follows six artists as they compete in the most intense competition of their life.
Directed by Brian Golden Davis, THE MILLION DOLLAR DUCK received the coveted Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature in addition to the Jury Award for Documentary Feature at the 2016 Slamdance Film Festival.
Animal Planet will premiere the award-winning film, THE MILLION DOLLAR DUCK, on Wed., Sept. 14 at 9PM ET/PT as part of Animal Planet Presents, the network’s programming event featuring the best of films from top filmmakers that explores a wide range of topics that include animal rights, conservation and animal welfare.
The Federal Duck Stamp Contest is among the most successful conservation tools ever created, simultaneously creating a uniquely American event brimming with talent, ego, art, controversy, big money and migratory waterfowl. Following wildlife artists turned competitors who strive to win “the Olympics of wildlife art”, THE MILLION DOLLAR DUCK brings to life the highly competitive contest as one by one each artist is eliminated, leaving a winner whose life will be forever changed.
Every year the U.S. Fish and Wildlife department puts on the only juried art competition run by the U.S. government. Wildlife artists from around the country submit their best paintings of ducks in the hope that the artwork will grace the following year’s Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps, commonly known as “Duck Stamps.” The stamp is used for hunting licenses and for entrance to any National Wildlife Refuge. Revenues from the stamp have bought and maintained over 5.3 million acres of waterfowl and wetland habitat in the United States. Since 1934 the stamp has generated more than 200 billion dollars (*adjusted for inflation), and has been described as one of the most successful conservation programs ever initiated. It is the core of the National Wildlife Refuge System.
At the center of the Duck Stamp world are the artists and the competition that exposes the ambitious, obsessive, and often eccentric nature of the participants. Roughly 300 artists enter each year in hopes of entering the upper echelon of wildlife artists. To win the contest is a life-changing event that can jump start an artist’s career overnight. Although the federal government does not provide any prize money, the artists are able to generate lucrative deals from the re-licensing of the stamp image on special edition remarques for collectors, along with mugs, calendars and other merchandise. The publishing of the image generates millions for the winning artist, and that’s how the stamp earned its nickname, The Million Dollar Duck. The film follows seven characters as they design and paint their entry for the 2013 contest, and ends with a two day juried art event where the winning duck is chosen for next year’s stamp.
THE MILLION DOLLAR DUCK is directed by Brian Golden Davis and executive produced by multiple Academy Award winning filmmaker Mark Jonathan Harris and Richard Prager. The editor is Derek Boonstra, the cinematographer is Christian Bruno and Laura Young Lee and Kye Woo Lee are co-producers.