Monday, December 7, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
The Future Weather team has been traveling across the country in the continuing journey to get the film we so passionately believe in to the big screen. Last month, Jenny was at the Nantucket Screenwriter's colony, which was part of her Showtime Tony Cox Screenwriting Award. While she spent time meeting screenwriters and revisiting the script, I flew to California for the Film Independent (FIND) Producer's Lab. Before the Lab began, I was invited to attend FIND's Filmmaker Forum. The Forum is a 3-day event bringing together studio executives, distributors and filmmakers to discuss the state of independent film.
The message was not always a hopeful one as the prospects for funding and distributing independent film are suffering alongside the big studios popcorn features. The good news is that quality indie films are still finding their way to the marketplace. The best way to ensure that Future Weather will make it there is to continue staying informed on the state of the industry and adapting to the changing landscape. We got a great start to doing just that during the seven-week FIND Producer's Lab.
Film Independent selects ten filmmakers each year to attend the Lab where the Fellows are introduced to advisors who give valuable feedback on their projects. The goal of the Lab is to help the filmmakers get their projects into production by refining their budget, schedule and financing plans. Previous Lab projects have included the 2009 release Amreeka, which won honors at the Cannes film festival and was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance.
This has been an exciting month in our filmmaking journey! We learned so much during our travels about how to survive and flourish in the new state of indie film. Stay tuned over the coming weeks as we will be updating the blog with all the tidbits of information we picked up along the way.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
As we prepped to attend the Film Independent (FIND) Producers Lab in early October, we received news that Future Weather was selected for this year's Alfred P. Sloan Producer's Grant as part of the FIND program. The Sloan Foundation's mission is to support original work focused on science that they feel will have a positive impact on society, so we were ecstatic to receive such an honor. The $25,000 grant comes with access to a science advisor that Jenny can turn to for mentorship with script research. I had the chance to accept the award on behalf of the project at this year's FIND Filmmaker's Forum.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Indie filmmakers, environmentalists and progressive culture-vultures, get thee to a movie theater tonight to catch AGE OF STUPID's historical global premiere event!
Being hailed as the future of independent cinema, the DIY-distributed AGE OF STUPID will screen via satellite from New York City to 700 theaters in over 50 countries.
The evening will kick off with a green-carpet gala featuring climatologist James Hansen, Kofi Annan and a performance by Thom Yorke of Radiohead.
I saw the film at a preview screening in LA. It's incredibly inventive and incredibly moving. If you're in Philly, meet me for the screening at the Bridge Theater at 7:30. Or click here to find a US screening near you.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
First, right in our hometown, GreenFest Philly is holding a Green Film Festival as part of their annual street festival. The festival will be held on September 13, 2009 on 2nd and South streets in Philadelphia. Submissions are still being accepted.
Green filmmakers in the New York Tri-State
The Going Green Film Festival shows just how far along green film has come. Offering entry categories for films created using "green guidelines", films about environmental issues and films featuring hybrid or alternative transportation, the festival honors the commitment of green filmmakers to lessen their impact on the environment. The festival will be held in March 2010; submissions will be accepted until January 15, 2010. (h/t The Thin Green Line)
Thursday, August 6, 2009
What made you want to start an organic makeup company?
It was impossible to find high performance and healthy makeup. I wanted it for myself, and I knew other women would too.
How do you balance your career with raising a daughter?
I love being a mom and I really enjoy my work. When I get home from work, I'm so happy to play in her world and in the morning I'm very happy in my world. Happiness is key to balance.
What's your "eco pet peeve"?
Hardcore eco-people that scare away the mainstream from even coming close to "being green."
What about your not-so-environmentally-friendly guilty pleasure? (For the Future Weather team, it would have to be take-out containers.)
Wanting a private jet (but I'm hoping it will run on algae!)
You're an actress. We're a film production team. What kind of interview would this be if we didn't ask you: What is your favorite movie?
Harold and Maude.
Monday, August 3, 2009
Karyn Gerred, former FWP contributor, sent this video my way last week. It's a moving portrait of an ecology class for kids who don't get much exposure to nature.
The Fair Hill Burial Ground is a 5-acre green space in the midst of urban Northeast Philly. Read more about this historic cemetery and how it went through a dramatic rehabilitation here. And check out more of Jean Warrington's video work at YouTube.
Friday, July 31, 2009
Indie film powerhouse IFC Entertainment is hoping to spark more efficient film production by holding a green short film contest. The Media Lab Studios Efficient Film Challenge is offering three prizes of up to $3,000 for short films that tackle the topic of energy efficiency. This is a fantastic opportunity for aspiring filmmakers to get exposure on the Independent Film Channel and Sundance Channel (not to mention some cash!), while making a timely statement and raising awareness.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Our friends over at Oscilloscope, who distributed FLOW, have another environmental documentary coming out which we're very excited about. The film, which was shown at both Sundance and the LA Film Festival, follows Colin Beavan (aka No Impact Man) and his family as they spend a year in New York City trying to live without leaving any impact on the environment. That means that Colin, his wife, and his 2-year-old daughter planned to make no new purchases, use no electricity, and produce no trash.
To document the experiment , Colin started a blog that has since become a resource for anyone trying to reduce their carbon footprint. In addition to the film, Colin's story is also the subject of a book that will be released in September alongside the film. Meanwhile, Colin's currently working on the No Impact Project, a non-profit project meant to "engage citizens in choosing lives that they believe will both make themselves, their communities and the planet happier."
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
But a new conference has arisen to put the power back into the hands of the artist. Developed by filmmaker Lance Weiler, the DIY Days conference series is meant to help not just directors, but musicians, gamers and artists gain more control over their content. More specifically, Weiler wants to teach this group of "Self-Identified Storytellers" how to monetize and distribute their content on the Internet.
DIY Days’ latest installment is going to be held this Saturday at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. A host of Philly filmmakers, artists and innovators are going to be there, including Tom Quinn (The New Year Parade), Don Argott (Rock School, Two Days in April), Mark Schoneveld, Gretchen Clausing, and Indy Hall co-founder Geoff DiMasi. The conference, which opens for registration at 8:30 a.m., is completely free—but space is limited, so you’re better off registering online.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Looks like Laduree (Future Weather's protagonist) is in good company. It used to be that kids were afraid of monsters and ghosts, maybe nuclear war. But in today's world, it appears that children are more afraid of the ecological effects of an unsustainable culture. According to TreeHugger, a survey conducted by Habitat Heroes of 500 American preteens, out of three surveyed fear that the Earth won't exist when they grow up. 56 percent (over half!) worry that the planet will be "irrevocably damaged."
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
For the last twelve months, Future Weather Productions has been saving all of the metals and plastics that can't be recycled curbside. While Philly’s recycling program will take Plastics #1 and #2 (soda bottles and milk jugs), there are 5 other types of plastic that we’ve been accumulating for a while now. This pile of recyclables had grown to the point of being clutter, so we decided to finally clear out some space and make the drive to Recycling Services in Pottstown, PA.
We loaded up the car and set out on Saturday, enjoying the beautiful weather during the hour-long drive from Philadelphia. We expected a pretty straightforward trip. (How exciting could recycling styrofoam and old yogurt tubs be?) But when we arrived at the end of a sleepy street in Pottstown, our expectations were definitely surpassed.
Founded in 1971 by Jim Crater, Recycling Services, Inc. (RSI) is a non-profit recycling center that collects numerous materials and resells them to be recycled and reused. RSI is an extensive operation, accepting glass, metals, papers, plastics, tires, textiles, electronics, and even vegetable oil (which is used to make biodiesel). The company dedicates two days a week towards public collection of recyclable goods (they charge an $8 per car gate fee), and if our trip was any indication, they serve hundreds of people on any one of those days.
RSI's staff was friendly and knowledgeable. We were impressed by how easily they helped us sort some of our more mysterious plastic items. While they don't take #7 plastics (that mysterious "other" category) or toothpaste tubes, we still ended up recycling a massive amount. Not only did we learn a lot about our consuming habits (we really need to curb the takeout habit), but we witnessed how people can come together in the effort to minimize their impact on the Earth.
Jim Crater, Recycling Services Inc's founder and president, is determined to reduce the amount of waste he leaves on the Earth to as close to zero pounds a year as possible. He lives his life according to the mantra, "How can I do what I already do, but better?" And talking with him was by far the most interesting part of our trip to RSI.
Determined to find a use for everything the plant accepts, Jim has recently taken to making functional "found object art" out of several of RSI's collections.
Take, for example, the dragonfly, Merlin 2. Made out of headlights, a dome from a street light, and a swimming pool ladder among other recycled items, this "dragonfly" also flaps his wings and has headlights that blinks. But, as Jim said, "don't get hung up on that, [because] that's not even it."
The sculpture has a bellows that breathes in carbon dioxide and exhales pure oxygen. Using solar panels to operate, Merlin 2 uses renewable resources to purify the air. This catalytic converter technology is similar to one employed by Volvo which removes 90% of noxious fumes from exhaust. Jim noted that if manufacturers had taken the extra step of using this purified oxygen for combustion as well, cars would be a lot more efficient in addition to having cleaner exhaust.
For Jim, who has a simultaneously calm and energetic aura and looks like a cross between Willie Nelson and Wallace Shawn, this illustrates just one of many missed opportunities in industrial design. Engineers and inventors need to figure out what to do with the waste products of their inventions before products can be developed for mass consumption.
For now, Jim remains optimistic about the possibility for a more sustainable, less wasteful society. "When you decide things are going to be different," Jim told us, "it'll push you out of your comfort zone. That's how things will change."
Here Jim introduces one of his functional art pieces, Ron Peyote.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Recycling Service's resident peacock, Mr. Peabody just might be the company's staunchest environmental advocate. According to Jim Crater, Mr. Peabody simply showed up one day. After their efforts to find out who he belonged to failed, the staff at RSI decided to keep the gorgeous bird around.
And Mr. Peabody fits right in at the recycling center. Peacocks have long been alchemical symbols of transformation. Pretty appropriate for a place that's designed to turn waste products into useful material.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Needless to say, the last few days of the contest were a bit of a roller-coaster ride for the Future Weather team and our fans. We had expected the contest to end at 3am EST on the morning of the 6th, and when we finally shut off our computers, we were confident that we had finished the competition in first place. A lot of us noticed, however, that the votes just kept rolling in. We thought that the website was just catching up with the tally, but around 5pm on Monday, we learned that the contest had been extended another two days.
Jenny left for Europe on Friday, and after checking the vote via text message Monday morning (Sunday 3am EST) was satisfied with the scores. Without access to email, she had no way of knowing that Film Independent (FIND) had e-mailed her Sunday at 11:45pm to notify her of the extension. The real kicker was that this was the only attempt at contacting our team that was made. Kristin was not notified. It wasn’t until about twelve hours later that she finally spoke to our contact at FIND.
Apparently, a glitch in the contest website had left many votes uncounted. Because the five films below Future Weather had been jockeying for position so intently, Netflix and FIND decided to extend the competition, afraid that votes that were uncounted over the weekend might have seriously changed the makeup of the top 5.
After losing a good twelve hours of voting time (and watching our lead of 2,000 shrink considerably), it was a quick scramble to get the word out again. We hit up our Twitter and Facebook pages with a fury, and sent out a blitz of messages asking for your immediate support. Through the intense efforts of our team and our supporters, we managed to get 4,000 votes in under 30 hours. That was a contest record for us, and we couldn’t have done it without an incredible movement of support.
In the end, it came down to a neck-and-neck race for first place between Future Weather and Touchback. After a heated final hour of the competition, Touchback managed to take the top spot—but only by six stars.
Most of our fans and our team were incredibly disappointed with the way the extended contest played out. After all of our hard work to get Future Weather into first place, those twelve hours that we were out of the loop had a real impact on our lead. There was a lot of confusion because there had been no mention of the extension anywhere on the contest website. To add to it, many of our fans noticed odd voting behavior from one of the other contestants as we finished out the extension period. And because they couldn't be certain of the impact that the lost votes had, FIND decided to move six films into the finals instead of five.
That being said, we are thrilled with the results of the competition. Our fans stood by us and helped us rally over 7,000 fans to cast votes in our favor. They brought us new friends and great PR to support Future Weather as we finish out the final round of the contest.
This next phase is in the hands of the contest's judges, who will choose a winner from the six finalists. The fact that we're at the forefront of the vote will make a strong statement on our behalf, but the rest is up to them. Stay in the loop here at The Future Weather Report.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Betty's Tasty Buttons is a Philadelphia-based confection business dedicated to local, organic, and fair trade ingredients. Liz Begosh, founder of this local favorite, has been using her grandmother Betty's fudge recipe for about 2 years, serving up fudge, chocolate sauces, and other artisanal desserts to Philly locals. About six months ago, Liz moved into a storefront downtown and opened Betty's Speakeasy, which serves up baked goods in addition to selling Betty's Tasty Buttons products.
Many thanks to Larry for taking the time to speak with Beckett about the code. And thanks to Beckett for taking the time to conduct the interview!1. When did was the code officially released?
It was released online (at www.sustainablefilmmaking.org) early February 2009, and we printed a limited archival run of only 500 hard copies.
2. What was the inspiration behind the code?
Ah. There were many elements. One main one was that I got tired of cleaning up my classroom after class. Picking up students’ coffee cups and plastic bottles got me angry. I announced in class one day that I would no longer allow any kind of throw-away packaging in my class ever again. Jugs and mugs were the new thing. Plenty of students whined, but following [the announcement] I spent my time leaving the classroom talking with students rather than cleaning up their mess. I also wrote up a list of a dozen or so things students could do in production to be more sustainable.
Secondly, I attended the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival in 2007 and sat in on a session led by my now co-author Andrew Buchanan (a British producer) on green filmmaking and was impressed. I came back to American University and started talking about sustainability and my list. Professor Pat Aufderheide, who also is the director of the Center for Social Media [at American University], suggested that I publish a Code of Best Practices on the subject. I was also encouraged by the rest of my faculty in Film and Media Arts and by my colleague at AU Chris Palmer who, besides teaching, is also the director of the Center for Environmental Filmmaking.
I contacted Andrew to tell him the good news, and he told me that he was working a similar project with Tanya Petersen of Filmmakers for Conservation. We ended up deciding to collaborate.
3. What are the most wasteful parts of production?
Probably travel, especially airline. Second is likely meat consumption, strangely because meat production overall creates about 20% of greenhouse gases. Also, plastic bottles. But we’re mixing waste and greenhouse gases….
4. What makes this code more comprehensive/different from the other ones out there?
We think the key is that we have a set of principles that lead to checklists for action and trackers that are spreadsheets for monitoring the production’s energy use, and other elements that contribute to green house gas production and which can be used with carbon calculators and offsetters. The key is that we also had a scientific review board vet our work – this is really critical. Finally we don’t claim to certify anyone. We’d like to see an independent agency created for that.
5. Have any productions adopted the code yet?
Several around the world, but the most immediately exciting news is that the Independent Documentary Association and the University Film and Video Association have endorsed the code. Further the Southwest Screen (a regional board in the UK) is adopting the code.
Get as many people and companies – large and small – around the world to pay close attention to their practices in media production and distribution.
7. Is there anything else you'd like to share about the code?
It’s not that hard to adopt. And by reducing, reusing, and thinking about what you’re doing you actually end up saving money not spending it to go green.
Larry Engel is a professor at American University. He is also the associate director at the Center for Environmental Filmmaking at American University. Larry is a producer, writer, director, and cinematographer with nearly 30 years of documentary filmmaking experience spanning all seven continents. He's flown into hurricanes, been chased by tornadoes and dropped into ice caves. He's fled wildfires, gotten lost in jungles, stranded in Antarctica, and spent three years traveling the globe to come face-to-face with a lot of mummies.
As we enter the final eleven days of the Netflix Find Your Voice competition, we're glad to report that Future Weather is currently on top! Thank you all again for all of your support in getting us to over 17,000 votes and bringing us one step closer to making Future Weather a reality!
Still, we know that the other semifinalists are going to really pick up their efforts in these last few days, so we're glad that we've been receiving even more additional media attention in the two weeks since our last posts. Most exciting is the recent buzz that Future Weather has generated after winning Showtime's Tony Cox Screenplay award at the Nantucket Film Festival. Top industry publications ScreenDaily.com, Variety, and The Hollywood Reporter were all quick to broadcast the news of this great achievement.
We've also had some great support from the blogosphere lately, with posts from long-time supporter Fake Plastic Fish and the Lanalogue helping to spread the word about SAVE THE FUTURE. Future Weather also received a great spotlight piece from Brain Pickings, a blog meant to find "revolutionary new ideas that no one has seen or thought of before". As if that weren't flattering enough, Future Weather also received an incredibly flattering post (part one of three!) on nonpretentious from Philly blogger Melissa J. Sachs, who calls Jenny "the hot Al Gore".
Thanks to all of you again for your continued support! And remember, we still need your help spreading the word and getting out the vote!
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Kristin and I prepared as much as we could in ten days, but ultimately, we had no idea what to expect when we drove down to
My assignment for this blog was to try and recreate the production diary I didn’t have time to keep during the shoot. But if I did, it would be a neurotic series of entries like: “5am, try to sleep for another hour. 7am, try not to barf.”
Instead, I will try to list a few of the moments of clarity I experienced during the process of making SAVE THE FUTURE. Think of them as notes to myself for future productions. I really hope there's another one soon.
- Write two scripts (or outlines). You won’t use one, but it'll probably be another version of what you're trying to say, thus helping you strengthen your message.
- Prep as much as you can, so you can kind of enjoy the shoot. (If you call being so exhausted you mix up everyone’s names and are at times reduced to communicating to actors in nonsensical strings of profanity enjoyable.)
- Don’t worry about shaking hands with a man who just picked up a stillborn baby bird that fell out of its nest.
- And don't worry about sleeping in a haunted house. Your brain will be so busy trying to get a metaphysical experience on the screen, you won't have time to scare yourself with ghosts.
- Rain can be like playing with watercolors. Make the best of it.
- Remember you still have time to rewrite dialog onset and during the edit (especially, if you’re working with VO). If you’re pressed for time, distill the meaning with people you trust. Dialog loves simplicity.
- Let people do their work. (You know how it feels. Sometimes the muse only comes when you have a little privacy.)
- Share. I couldn't have encountered a more generous group of artists in Asheville. There was no creative resource they wouldn’t have offered us for our project. I realized very quickly that I had met other people who believed that the act of creating something was the most important part. So no smallness showed up on set.
- Take a bath in a claw-foot tub by candlelight even if it means putting off sleep another hour. You would have spent that hour unraveling anyway.
- Chase geese. For Laduree’s ice cream shop, we stopped at a scrappy little restaurant with a red-striped awning in a country strip called “Poppy’s.” Bad hours, but took number. Meanwhile, had rural lead for field with flowers. Then Chusy suggested prep school lawn in town. Wasn’t interested, but went anyway. Too manicured; decided it was a wasted trip when we stumbled upon Exit 50, our poppy field. Way home from the restaurant Poppy’s, passed Philly Hoagie Shop. (Remember, this is the middle of
). Location was perfect for ice cream shop; hours were perfect, owner from South Philly and could not have been nicer. These synchronicities happened frequently, even through editing. Sometimes you’ve just gotta knock around a little. North Carolina
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Friday, June 5, 2009
Thursday, June 4, 2009
DEAR FRIENDS OF FUTURE WEATHER,
Thank you so much for your incredible support. Here are a few little ditties you can do to help our little film go a long, long, long way:
- DONATE YOUR STATUS AND TWEETS TO OUR CAUSE: Show us some link-love by directing your friends, family, and followers to: NetflixFindYourVoice.com. Rinse and repeat daily.
- EMBED US, BABY: Netflix provides the handy ability to embed our short most anywhere - with voting functionality. Click on the red "SHARE" tab and get your peeps watching and voting on facebook, myspace, twitter, blogger, etc. (Best results: turn off pop-up blocker, and click "Add to account".)
- ACTIVATE YOUR ADDRESS BOOK: Either forward our email blasts or write your own. Send to every single one of your contacts. (They won't mind if it's coming from you, and it's for a good cause.) Say hello and give them a short, sweet rundown. If you want to save time, copy & paste ours:
Andy O’Neil was Chusy’s right-hand-man during our shoot in Asheville. Not long after meeting Chusy and Jennifer in 2004, Andy was brought on to serve as co-producer for ANYWHERE, USA in 2005. Andy assisted with just about every aspect of production for the film; he scheduled shoots, rented equipment, worked on lighting, and helped Chusy edit the final cut.
An aspiring filmmaker himself, currently working with Chusy on several documentaries, Andy’s experience was a great asset when we were shooting SAVE THE FUTURE. In addition to lighting and recording most of the sound, he was instrumental in the post-production process, too. He went above and beyond by downloading and compressing our footage every night, so that we could take it back to Philadelphia ready to edit. And in his true-blue Andy fashion, he made himself completely available for any post work-flow questions we had.
Chusy’s cousin Shane Eitner, a body builder with a heart of gold, was working in “Executive Protection” (read: bodyguard) in L.A. before taking the cross-country road trip that landed him at Jennifer and Chusy's. He fell in love with Asheville, and after only a few months of living and working with Chusy, had picked up a few tricks of the trade. We were very impressed by how well he knew the 5D and the various lenses Chusy had for it.
Like Andy, Shane was a jack-of-all-trades during our shoot, switching off between lighting and sound; he built our telescope and literally shot the moon the day we left Asheville. But perhaps Shane’s most visible contribution to our short was his role as “the chest”. As part of our short, we really needed a faceless hottie for Laduree to bump into but couldn’t find the right person to be our "dude”. And then it dawned on us that Shane was the perfect person for the part. While he was reluctant at first, our persistent questions finally wore him down. And as you might expect, after a stint in executive protection, Shane was a natural.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
The star of our short, Perla Haney-Jardine, had just turned 12 the week before we arrived in Asheville. An Asheville native, Perla first came to our attention after seeing her as the younger daughter in Michael Winterbottom’s GENOVA (Colin Firth, Catherine Keener). Impressed with her depth, we decided to contact her to see if she would be interested in playing Laduree for our short. Not only did Perla agree, but her family graciously offered to help us arrange shooting in their hometown of Asheville.