The early partnership with the filmmakers and Manta Ray Trust (MRT) turned into a crucial connection. They were able to film from MRT’s research vessel, capturing essential footage. In addition, this relationship facilitated vital access to transport channels that they would not otherwise have had.
Vaz and Sood also formed a three-party partnership between their production house and two major anti-trafficking and conservation organizations, Wildlife Trust (India) and WildAid (U.S.). This launched India’s first manta ray research initiative, a multi-year research project that provides significant scientific substance to the film’s impact goals of protecting manta rays.
Their awe-inducing footage captivated the
audience, connecting them on an emotional level to care for these unique creatures.The team used hidden cameras to capture never-before-seen footage of this illicit trade. The film’s investigative approach tapped into emotions like outrage and anger. Vaz’s onscreen relatable persona helped audience’s become emotionally invested in the outcome of her undercover journey and the plight of the Manta Ray.
They structured the film to create a strong sense of urgency with an emphasis on the need for action and international collaboration when dealing with the wildlife trade. This structure also succeeded in creating empathy for local fishermen, distinguishing between small-scale players working to survive and the larger, unlawful systems at play.
"The film follows Vaz’s journey as she uncovers the illegal trade pipeline from fishing vessels in the Indian Ocean to the Indo-Myanmar border, and ultimately goes undercover to expose the wildlife trafficking hubs in China."
The team is working with National Geographic Educators to extract educational shorts to share with children across Asia about the destruction of the wildlife trade. The film will soon be broadcast on television across Asia, Africa, and eventually the US.
Vaz and Sood stressed the importance that these screenings reach local communities and not just the privileged at the top. They deemed it critical that the film be translated into multiple regional languages across India.
After a screening at the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, the WPA officially added manta
rays to the draft list for inclusion – a historic feat.