'Yakona' recounts 10,000 years at the San Marcos River

San Marcos has provided the setting for horror flicks, slapstick comedies and television dramas, but a group of San Marcos filmmakers are looking to put the city on the map for their pure cinema-style documentary "Yakona."

The film, which began as a concept of director Paul Collins, has since grown into a three-year project that has received two grants from the Austin Film Society and received interest from the South by Southwest Film Festival. Collins and co-directors Anlo Sepulveda and Dean Brennan are hoping that a $40,000 Indie GoGo campaign ending on July 8 will raise enough money to send the film to post-production.

"Yakona," which means "rising water," in a Native American language, follows the San Marcos River's winding history from the time of the Clovis people, who inhabited the San Marcos area 10,000 years ago, to the time of legendary Texas Ranger Jack C. Hays.

The film's concept began when Collins came to San Marcos for school in 2000.

"I said, 'I'm going to check out this river,'" Collins said. "I was just blown away by what I was seeing."

The unique plant and animal life in the river inspired Collins to begin bringing underwater cameras along on his excursions, and before long, the film's concept began to take shape. The San Marcos River is home to eight endangered species.

Sepulveda likened the experience of shooting the film to "discovering a new universe."

"Just from where the headwaters to where the river meets the Blanco it's a couple of miles, but to think of all the amazing things that are in that small stretchit's just amazing seeing that and understanding the world in that way," Sepulveda said.

The recent clashes over developing environmentally sensitive areas around the river, including Cape's Camp and a development near Sessom Drive, have not gone unnoticed by Collins, but "Yakona" is meant to have a "non-biased perspective."

Collins is not picking sides, but he said developers and conservationists alike should know the story of the San Marcos River.

"I don't like to get into politics, but I definitely think there is a clash of ideologies," Collins said. "I hope this film can bring two different ideologies about the river together."

Clint McCrocklin, one of the film's producers, said the purpose of "Yakona" is to simply tell a story.

"We're not for or against anything," McCrocklin said. "We're just showing what we think the river saw from over these years."

Collins, who has been shooting the film since September 2010, said the response he has received has been overwhelming. People who have not even seen the film have donated time and expertise to bring his vision to life, he said.

"I like to dream big, but I didn't really imagine what it became," Collins said. "I would have been happy for this project to get as big as it could in the beginning, but the way that it snowballed and created so much momentum really surprised me."

The film's Indie GoGo campaign, which also features a trailer for the film, can be found here.