Sam Tyler’s new film on Kickstarter

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From Sam Tyler

Sam TylerDear WGBH Colleagues,

Two matters — first an observation:

What fun to see many of you at the reunion in May. Friendships renewed, memories surfaced, and a deeper appreciation of the team approach that made WGBH such a winner. 

I believe most people in every department felt they played a role in getting the shows on the air. And they did. It was the sense of team that provided the  WGBH edge, permeating everything and making the station the #1 PBS supplier.

Now the pitch:

Since 2013, I have been producing, for free, a series of three one-hour programs about a largely unknown, but fascinating,  part of American history, called West of the West: Tales from California’s Channel Islands

California’s eight Channel Islands lie west of what is traditionally regarded as America’s frontier. In fact, they are our western frontier. 

They are as much a part of our country’s history as Bunker Hill, the Civil War, and The Great Depression. Yet, their story, including that of the oldest known site of human habitation in all of North America, is virtually unknown. 

Our films bring this “ignored” history to life … important for all Americans to understand and particularly valuable for young people as we are delivering a new body of knowledge for them to learn and consider.

With a few of us working for free and 90 years of combined experience, we are creating three films of Ken Burns/American Experience quality levels for under $400,000 total. No overheads.

Even with our successful Kickstarter campaign, which is running out of time, we still need to raise the final $40,000, so I ask that you consider a pledge to our campaign. The KS site makes for an interesting read with some engaging film clips:

I’ll be deeply grateful to anyone who can help push this along and for the part WGBH played in my life.

Thanks and best,



West of the West, Tales from California’s Channel Islands, is former development staff member Sam Tyler’s latest film. The 8 Channel Islands form a 168 mile archipelago 30 to 60 miles offshore, stretching from Santa Barbara to San Diego. The oldest known human remains in North America are on Santa Rosa Island. San Nicolas Island was where The Lone Woman lived abandoned from 1835 to 1853, becoming the inspiration for the book “Island of the Blue Dolphins”.

Tyler and screenwriter Peter Seaman (Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Shrek The Third) are working pro bono.

Tim Vail (picture) is the last member of a ranching family than ran up to 7,000 head of cattle on an island 26 miles at sea for most of the 20th Century.

Check out the musician Joe Walsh on the Facebook page. This is a largely unknown part of American history. Premiere 2016. offered to PBS stations via KRCB.


  1. John Kerr on October 24, 2015 at 11:34 am

    Hey Sam — How great that you are spotlighting the uniquely American story of these amazing islands in your new film and that you are asking all of us in the extended WGBH Family to participate directly via Kickstarter. Your timing with the 2016 anniversary of the National Parks is exquisite. Your wonderful fly-over film ABOVE YELLOWSTONE was a terrific prelude to this deeper and more-ambitious project. I sent in my pledge and hope that everyone in the WGBH family does the same before the deadline. Go, Sam!

  2. Karen Johnson on October 24, 2015 at 9:54 am

    Hey Sam, Kickstarter never lets me contribute, for mysterious reasons. Can I send a check? Great to hear what you’re up to these days, sorry I missed the reunion. Karen

    • Sam Tyler on October 24, 2015 at 3:17 pm

      Thank you, Karen.
      Tax Deductible checks can go to Santa Cruz Island Foundation, 5045 Wullbrandt Way, Carpinteria, CA 93013. All best wishes, Sam

  3. Fred Barzyk on October 24, 2015 at 8:58 am

    Sam, tried to contribute but they say my email address is already taken. Any other way I can contribute to your film? Fred

    • Sam Tyler on October 24, 2015 at 3:18 pm

      Appreciate you trying.
      Tax Deductible checks can go to Santa Cruz Island Foundation, 5045 Wullbrandt Way, Carpinteria, CA 93013. Onward!, Sam

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