Preserve A National Treasure and Marine Sanctuary!

Discover untold History, Preserve marine life, help save our Nations Heritage and Parks!

Guardian of the Gulf; The Dry Tortugas A Project of Documentaries

Guardian of The Gulf: The Untold History of Dry Tortugas National Park

Aloha from Hawaii!

My name is Anne Jo Lee and I am pleased (stoked!) to have the opportunity to share my life's passion with you. Proud to be an independent filmmaker, experienced and trained in the craft for over 10 years, living in Hawai'i Nei and have been shooting small projects and commercials and now 100 % Committed to the completion of this documentary.

Here is an example of some projects I've Produced, shot, Edited in Hawai'i.

Do you love the ocean and it's inhabitants, our National Parks, these United States?

Do you support #IndieFilm, #WomenInFilm, and do you believe in #Miracles?

Do you enjoy discovering exotic travel destinations, off the beaten path, packed full of history, intrigue, and rarely seen wildlife?

I do, this is what has driven me to create this film.

The Film, "AMERICA'S LOST TREASURE" is rare opportunity to help preserve the untold History of this Country (as our United States For the People, BY the People). This is important because History repeats it's self and we can learn from our past mistakes.

After several excursions to this hard to reach destination, I've shot over 33 hours of footage that now has been cut down to an hour, is nearly complete. This rough cut needs your help, your tax deductible donation to From The Heart Productions, my fiscal sponsor, will ensure our success and benefit future generations. We must ensure the preservation of our National Parks and heritage.

This film is a gentle reminder of topics that must be addressed and the approach is through quality imagery and impactful stories by everyday people who are visiting and working in the park. The story is composed of a dialogue from NPS Staff, tour guides, visitors, and specialists who frequent the Dry Tortugas.

By preserving the past and learning from our Nation's History together, we can make difference and have a brighter future and preserve these special places!

Drawn to discover new places to secluded myself on the beach and in nature, I found The Dry Tortugas National Park, while attending Full Sail University on summer break, July 4th, 2006. We drove from Orlando to Key West where we enjoyed a night before our 2 1/2 hour ferry ride to this secluded island chain, in the middle of the ocean.

ABOUT ME and past projects: This is the first short film I directed and although it was 2007, it directly correlates to what I am doing now, 11 years later and will continue to do, for this is an extension of me and I believe that media can be used to educate and inform as well as inspire!

BEHIND THE SCENES 2010 XDCAM poem and slideshow from Kauai

Instantly enamored by the massive Fort's Architecture,at was there seemingly impossible due to the sheer size, I began thinking of ways to document this incredible discovery with the skills I acquired on set and in college.
Feel Free to watch my journey from Florida, New York, Texas, Louisiana, and Hawaii and back again through my video logs. I am going to finish, with your help; I am positive it will have a lasting impact on those who watch the film as well as my success story of overcoming obstacles to reach my full potential and in doing so, inspiring others to do the same.


America's Lost Treasure (the "Documentary") is a feature length, HD, educational documentary RT intended for TV broadcast, 56 min 40 Sec., shot on location, in the Florida Keys with 95% of principle photography completed over the course of 7 years (2007-2014). This Documentary unveils a hidden gem of America's past and studies of the location could play an important role in the World's future; the Dry Tortugas National Park (the"Park"). The Park is located nearly 70 miles (112.9 km) west of Key West, Florida and is composed of seven islands, protected coral reefs and tropical blue waters.

The Park is known the world over for magnificent Fort Jefferson, picturesque blue waters, superlative coral reefs and marine life that is protected from commercial fishing, and the vast assortment of bird life that frequent the area. This remote destination is only accessible by ferry from Key West, private charter, or seaplane.

America's Lost Treasure is captured in rare style of documentary film making called Cinéma vérité, meaning "Truthful Cinema" due to it's organic nature of discovery. The Director, (also the Producer and Director of Photography) Anne Jo Lee Harvard (Ito), crafted the story in a way that she describes is similar to how she experienced her own discovery of the location, over the many years she visited.

The people, the cinematography, and the process of the production is all organic in nature, there is no implemented narration, only the people on site and those who invited her to relevant historical sites in Key West and Maryland. The dialogue create the narration naturally and is composed of the visitors, guides, authors, researchers and Park Service who are interviewed. This makes for a natural and artistic approach to storytelling, adding an element of artistry that is entertaining as well as compelling.

The Park is 99% underwater, and Fort Jefferson have yet to be explored, as done in this Documentary. The Film discusses topics to learn about when you visit the Park, including the nature and ecosystem, and the in-depth history.

The history includes segments about pirates who used the location, the decision of Congress to fortify the location, the importance of a military presence, and an it's role in the Civil War. The Fort remained in Union hands (along with Ft. Zachary Taylor) to prevent overseas shipments from foreign Confederate allies. It was used as a Prison for Union deserters and President Lincoln Conspirators ( the remaining of those who were not hung by Congress), including Dr. Mudd (the most famous Civil War prisoner at the Fort).

The History of the Tortugas began in 1492 when Ponce De Leon traveled with Christopher Columbus to discover the New World. In 1513, Ponce De Leon returned to discover the group of islands, on his quest to find the fountain of youth, naming them "The Tortugas" for the abundance of sea turtles.

The Park is known the world over for the magnificent architecture of the Fort Jefferson National Monument, picturesque blue waters, superlative coral reefs and marine life, and the vast assortment of bird life that depends on the protected ecosystem. It is now preserved as a National Park that serves as a sanctuary for marine life and many rare species of migratory birds. Composed of seven islands, protected coral reefs and tropical blue waters, this remote destination is truly a well preserved portion of the Florida Reef Tract. Adventurous individuals in good health can camp at this remote, primitive location for up to two weeks.

This location is incredibly challenging to film, there is NO running water, NO cell phone service, NO electricity, and the nearest store is 70 miles away.

Over 150 years old, Fort Jefferson is the largest masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere, composed of over sixteen million bricks, second in the world after the Great Wall of China. The Fort, built as a result of the War of 1812, played an important role in the development of America. The Fort was used as a strategic base by the military during the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, WWI, WWII, and the Cuban Missile Crisis.The Fortress was the state of the art for it;s time and designed to hold over 400 Canon. It still has the Largest collection of the largest canon (they were too big to be melted down for scrap metal).

An incredible architectural feat Fort Jefferson would be near impossible to build today, the construction of Fort Jefferson lasted 40 years from 1846-1886 and was ever fully completed, it became obsolete before it was finished It is a magnificent sight to see and would have been a close equivalent to building on the moon these days, due to the lack of natural resources to build and the distance ships had to travel.

A beautiful location, it is also faces some hardships that are directly related to the current times; including the ongoing challenge of Cuban political refugees trying to reach America, through rare footage of three Cuban groups who landed during production.

The HD underwater footage is of a quality that you can rarely find, intended to raise awareness about reef protection and preservation of our oceans, where the Park and other entities are leading the world with conservation efforts. The areas that are protected from commercial fishing are studied by The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association ("NOAA"), universities, and many other environmental groups. An essential part of the Dry Tortugas is it serves as a nesting ground for rare species of migrating birds as well as provides protection for nesting logger head turtles.

This Documentary shows the many activities one can enjoy when visiting the Park on day trips and/or overnight camping (up to two weeks). Snorkeling, Scuba Diving, fishing, birdwatching, Kayaking, and star gazing attract close to 80,000 visitors each year and it's remote location makes this one of the least visited National Parks in the lower 48.


The mission is to reach a diverse audience through the beauty and history of the Park, then reveal the importance of preserving such locations for future generations and allow studies that preserve the health of the planet. This Documentary promotes education, conservation, and recreation through revealing the beauty and importance of one of the least visited National Parks in America.

A small fraction of the population will shave the opportunity to visit The Dry Tortugas National Park; through this film, a much wider audience can grasp the importance of reef conservation as well as an extended view of our nation's history. People around the world will see the film and be inspired to visit, generating tourism and income to the Florida Keys as well as generating interest in preservation of these landmarks.

There is a wealth of untold stories and adventures to inspire continued conservation of these natural resources. When people learn about the places they visit in greater depth, they are more likely to enjoy, appreciate and protect them.

Very few books are published, and no film that gives such an encompassing overview of the many aspects of the Dry Tortugas revealed in this Documentary. The Documentary brings a unique perspective to heighten appreciation for the main aspects of the Dry Tortugas: the scenery, the wild life, the legends of pirates and sunken gold, the military history and architecture of Fort Jefferson.

Now with a fiscal sponsor in place, your donations will be tax deductible. ALSO, I have the wonderful support of the mentors who have successfully completed over 30 films, here to coach me through the process and give moral support (and tax deductions!). Thank you so much for your support, for believing in me, and your interest in this project; I look forward to updating you on our progress!

$720 Raised
4% towards $14,700 Goal

Supported by 18 Donations: