Monday, 01 February 2010 20:39

Interview with Tom Burke

Written by Mark Kitchel
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Tomorrow is Wolfgang Sachs. Then done with this round of interviews except for a couple at home in February. Tom Burke went well. Probably at least half of the interview is unusable for being off-topic. But he gave us excellent stuff to use for opening of Act 4, about how enviro issues went from easy to hard, rise of global systemic issues, US losing lead to Europe. Also good stuff on campaign to ban whaling -- Friends of the Earth was in the lead on that issue.

Last modified on Wednesday, 10 March 2010 22:43
Monday, 01 February 2010 20:34

January 24, 2010 more interviews

Written by Mark Kitchel
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The interviews are going very well and now we've arrived in London to interview Tom Burke tomorrow, Monday.

By now we've shot six interviews:

  • Stephen Schneider the pioneering climate scientist
  • Brice Lalonde
  • Elizabeth Kolbert
  • Philip Shabecoff
  • Joe Romm, the blogger from Climate Progress
  • Jennifer Morgan, WRI's new head of climate change action.

Jennifer Morgan turned out very well. I was told she would be good for a movement perspective and indeed she was, gave me a great view of the politics and what was going on in the movement -- both in the US and abroad (she spent the last seven years mostly in Germany at a think tank -- turned out to be E3G, which Tom Burke started!) The camera loved her and she had great things to say. I'm sure she'll be a core persepective for the scene.

Joe Romm was also quite good. He got his start working with Amory Lovins on a follow-on to his famous "Road Not Taken" article. He's very sharp and talks well, lots of opinions. We went thru scenarios of 2025 and 2050, “Planetary Purgatory” and “Hell and High Water” are his names. He talked not only of the difference between emissions and concentrations of CO2, but about the difference between doubling and tripling and even quadrupling concentrations, up to 1000 ppm. Unthinkable! But scientists are starting to contemplate that, according to Joe. He got in some good digs at the Senate, paid a nice tribute to Al Gore (who would have thought that a power point presentation would have brought the issue back from the doldrums?). But Joe was excellent, another core perspective for the scene.

As for Elizabeth Kolbert, one of her most powerful pieces was about sustainability, how she doesn't think we're going to make it. Both she and Joe Romm talked about Sokolow's wedges, the eight (now fourteen) things we need to do to flatline emissions.


Last modified on Monday, 01 February 2010 21:16
Monday, 01 February 2010 20:25

Interview with Philip Shabecoff

Written by Mark Kitchel
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This is a report on the Shabecoff interview we shot today. Philip Shabecoff is a New York times journalist, founder of Greenwire (the 1st environmental news source), and author of A Fierce Green Fire, what I consider to be the best history of the environmental movement. He spans the whole film, the whole movement really. He’ll be someone who keeps coming back into the story.

I'm getting a reputation for exhaustive and exhausting interviews. Philip is 76 and we put him through a lot. He was game and worked hard to give us what we wanted. he said he suffers from CRS syndrome -- can't remember shit. But I realized afterwards how much good and valuable material he gave us. Here's a rundown to the best of my recollection:


Last modified on Wednesday, 10 March 2010 22:47
Wednesday, 02 December 2009 21:26

A Fierce Green Fire

Written by Mark Kitchel
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I guess all blogs have to begin somewhere – and that would be a newsy update on our status and progress:

-- The film is about half done now. From March through July of ’09 a team of eight of us gathered archival material, scripted and edited as much of a rough-cut as we could cram into four months of work. We got four of five acts, everything but the final act on climate change, some version of assembled. A few of the scenes – Love Canal; Greenpeace; and Saving the Amazon – came together well, good strong stories with compelling characters. The broader sketches that encompass a whole era and strand of environmentalism proved more challenging. They spanned thirty or sixty years, and were hard to get to flow and come together. Other pieces of the film – the act on the conservation movement of the ‘60s; the biodiversity beat – had to be left in an unfinished state, to be worked further later. I remember an evening in early July after we had strung together the acts and screened them for the first time.  I was worried about how they were going to come together, facing the enormity of this overview. What I saw was that the main stories worked together well – that we could easily make a film consisting of just those five: halting dams in the Grand Canyon; Love Canal; Greenpeace’s first whale campaign; the rubbertappers campaign to save the Amazon rainforest; and climate change to top it off. I’m determined to keep the broader sketches and all the fabulous material they cover. But I can tell it will take a lot of really smart work to get them right. And they may overload the film anyway.

-- Over the summer, we had to turn to proposal writing – a slough of big ones, including NEH, Sundance, ITVS, the IDA, California Council for the Humanities... We also had to prepare a sample video for Independent Film Week, the IFP market that was first look for broadcasters, distributors and more. A few things came out of that week in September. One is the beginnings of a broadcast deal, a co-production with the best series on PBS. Another was a $50,000 grant from people we’d been pursuing for years. They decided to commission us to make the final act on climate change and finish up the rough-cut. And facing the need to bring the film down to broadcast length, I arrived at the idea of making two versions: one with just the five main stories, which would be very accessible for TV audiences; and another version, up to three hours, that would include the broader sketches and be more the defining film that we set out to make. That could be used for theatrical, home video and (in half-hour pieces) teaching in schools.

-- Now in the fall we’re back to writing more proposals. We got another grant from the Fleishhacker Foundation, modest but much needed. We’re aiming to get forty grant applications out by the end of the year. We’re also setting up screenings, both to show people what we’ve got coming and to do a little fundraising. Tamara Badgley has joined the crew doing outreach. First up was designing the graphic look of the film and getting this website up and running. The crew – editors Veronica Selver and Jon Beckhardt; archivist Alyssa Martin; and Tamara – decided to screen the film without director Mark Kitchell. Initial feedback ks sparse, but indicates that Act 1 on conservation needs to be cut in half; and that Act 3.2, the sketch on radical and alternative ecology, is not working. We are a month or two or three from launching back into editing and scripting work on the film. But we can all feel the pull, wanting to get back to creative work on our baby. All in all, things are going well.

Last modified on Friday, 18 February 2011 01:33
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