Monday, August 30, 2010

Who says we can't control the weather?

Take five while I teach you about the new vocab I'm learning on set. Some is straightforward, some is pretty interesting, and the rest is just downright wacky.

The other day, we shot "day for night," which is fancy movie-speak for hanging black sheets over the windows so it looks dark out when it's really not. Then this morning, we filmed a scene that turned out to be "NG for sound," No Good because of a loud-mouthed lawnmower across the street (what can we do? We can't control the neighbor's chores!).

When we needed a static shot of Laduree's tree, the 1st Assistant Director told the Sound Technician that this would be "MOS." As with a lot of film set lingo, this term has its roots in 35mm film, which had a visual (or optical) representation (or signature) of sound waves printed along the frames. So, when they say a take is "Minus Optical Signature (or MOS)," that's just another way to tell Shawn the sound guy to turn his mics off and take it easy.

After that, the Director of Photography asked his Assistant Cameraman to "give some environment," and the AC immediately walked into the frame until the DP could focus the camera and establish the depth-of-field. Then later today, the Art Department was organizing Laduree's science classroom, doing their best to greek out the labels, or in normal english, cover everything up so they just look like plain ol' books.

Instead of a food table, we call it "crafty"; we shout "points!" if we need to carry sharp objects through a crowd; our "sides" are copies of that day's shooting script (not onion rings or mashed potatoes); and for goodness sake, when the camera guys ask you to hand them some "babies," please understand they just need some small tripods. It's a funky language but we understand it. Now walk it back, we're going to pick it up at one. Annnd...we're rolling.

Friday, August 27, 2010

With a little help from our friends...

Anna overwhelmed by the delicious assortment provided by Yum Yum Snacks

We're doing a lot better than just "getting by." With green partners like Philly Homegrown, Hotel Palomar, and Yum Yum Snacks, our production is rolling along smoothly. And even better, all these companies are doing their best to contribute to our sustainable production plan. Here's how:

Philly Homegrown is our connection to the local eats, helping us maintain our sustainable production plan by keeping us in touch with Greater Philadelphia's network of farmers, chefs, and restaurant owners. As a special treat, they hooked us up with the DiBruno Brothers, a few Italian masters of the gourmet craft who delivered some locally-grown fruit and gourmet cheeses to set the other day. Hopefully, Philly Homegrown can scare up some more local goodies for us to enjoy during production, because after tasting what the DiBruno boys have to offer, we just might be hooked on the Philly fare.

Hotel Palomar Philadelphia is a luxury hotel in center city that has earned the rare distinction of LEED Gold certification. To earn status as a Leader in Energy and Environmental Design, Palomar cut no corners, garnering recognition for everything from their eco-friendly building materials and furniture to their efforts toward water energy and efficiency (basically, if our sustainable production were a luxury hotel, this would be it). No wonder all of our cast and crew are staying there.

The ladies at Yum Yum Snacks accept nothing short of delicious, taste-testing each product with the very Yum Yum Kids for whom they decided to go into business. With the help of their customers, the sisters peruse all existing products to amass a list of those that do not contain "crummy ingredients" such as high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, MSG, artificial colors, artificial flavors or preservatives. The ladies then sell these products through their website so busy Moms and Dads can give their little ones a healthy snack while on-the-go. It's perfect for the busy bodies buzzing around set too!

So those are our friends and really, that's just naming a few. Each and every day their impact can be felt on our production and we're doing our best to say "thanks."

Monday, August 23, 2010

Meet the Cast!

Okay, fine, we admit it, we've been a bit of a tease. We've gotten so caught up with filming, we haven't even had a chance to tell you who we're filming! Since you've all been so politely patient, it's time we reveal the incredibly talented cast of Future Weather.

Perla Haney-Jardine (Laduree)
Jenny and Kristin saw Perla in Summer in Genova and her natural and nuanced performance blew them away. Immediately, they knew she would be ideal for the role of 13-year-old budding ecologist, Laduree. So they traveled to Perla's hometown of Asheville, North Carolina to shoot Save the Future for the 2009 Netflix FIND Your Voice Film Competition. Perla is both a down-to-earth kid and a precocious talent (as you saw with her roles in Kill Bill Vol. 2 and Spiderman 3), and we're very excited to be part of a role that will share her special quality with the world.

Amy Madigan (Greta)
Who better for the role of Laduree's sexy, difficult and hilarious grandmother Greta than an Oscar-nominated, Emmy-nominated, Golden Globe-winning actress? No one! You've seen her in Field of Dreams, Twice in a Lifetime, Gone Baby Gone, and Roe vs. Wade, and now she's acting on our set! We're thrilled to have this fearless actress bringing such a challenging and juicy character to life. Each day, we're mesmerized by Amy's funny, diverse performance and are confident that you'll find it unforgettable.

Lili Taylor (Ms. Markovi)
When Jenny submitted her screenplay to the Nantucket Film Festival, this accomplished actress was one of the judges. It was clear she was a fan of the script when she and the judges presented Jenny with Showtime's Tony Cox Award for Screenwriting. And when Jenny (who had been a fan of Lili's for many many years) found out that Lili had read her script, she felt like she'd won the lottery. Lili has performed in Say Anything, High Fidelity, and Six Feet Under, and after meeting Jenny in Nantucket, the two agreed she'd be perfect for the role of Laduree's environmentally-active science teacher, Ms. Markovi.

Marin Ireland (Tanya)
Tony Award nominee Marin impressed us big-time in her audition for the role of Laduree's flaky dreamer mother, Tanya. She brought humor to a role that could easily dip into cliche, and was able to make her character likeable despite her inability to take care of her child. Besides countless roles in prominent Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, Marin has appeared in films such as I Am Legend, Revolutionary Road, and the upcoming Mildred Pierce. It's a gift to have her as part of our ensemble.

Bill Sadler (Ed)
You name it, Bill has probably acted in it. From Shawshank Redemption to The Bourne Conspiracy to The Pacific, his on-screen experience is dazzling. We're very grateful to have Bill working with us; we're sure he won't have a hard time distinguishing our production with any of the other nine films he has scheduled to release within the next two years.

So when you're munching on your popcorn and Mike 'n' Ikes and watching Future Weather on the big screen, make sure you've got a box of tissues nearby - these guys aren't messing around. With all the talent in front of our camera, don't be surprised if you see a few of our actors holding a little golden statue sometime in the near future. Think we're getting ahead of ourselves? Just wait and see.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Peach Pits for a Better Tomorrow

Producer Carolina Roca-Smith poses with our on-set Philly Compost bin

So all this talk about sustainable filmmaking, I figure I might as well give you an example. See, every film crew has got to eat, right? Right. But we found a way to eat and recycle at the same time (pretty sweet, I know). A local company, Cosmic Catering, has committed to providing us with one hot meal each day and when we chomp down on our free range chicken or local honey ham, we can toss the table scraps into the compost bin donated by Philly Compost. This is when it gets cool.

See, one of the primary ingredients in compost is food scraps, which Philly Compost collects from local restaurants like - you guessed it, Cosmic Catering. When the meals are being prepared by Cosmic, their bread crusts and lettuce stumps get collected by Philly Compost twice a week. Then, Cosmic shows up on set with their bounty of excellent grub and a complete supply of compostable plates, cups, napkins, and utensils to enjoy it with. After we munch, we toss our peach pits and dirty plates into our bin to be collected later by Philly Compost, and it all comes full-circle. This way, everyone gets to contribute, everyone gets something out of it, and nothing gets wasted; it's a win-win-win.

Our green production plan is re-enforced doubly by these companies who are committed to sustainable business practices such as diminishing waste, reusing materials, and using locally made and grown products. We could do everything we can to maintain a sustainable production but without the help of companies like Cosmic Catering and Philly Compost we wouldn't get very far.

Plus, we gotta eat, and well - it's delicious.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

And it begins! Life on the Future Weather set

Day 1

There's something funny about a guy in a John Deere hat and an undershirt talking into one of those fancy secret service earbuds. Walkie-talkies are everywhere, funky lingo's coming out of everyone's mouth, and there's an empty trailer in the middle of nowhere that couldn't be more alive. The excitement of making this film is finally realized. It's day 1 on the Future Weather set and production is in full swing. Who would've thought that 50 people running around wearing cargo pants and bug spray could be so professional? The first day went off without a hitch; things are looking great.

Day 2

Running errands this morning, I didn't get much chance to spend on-set until the afternoon. Turns out, they work okay without me (shh, don't tell my boss); but seriously, this crew is operating like a well-redbulled machine. Of course, we'd all be a bunch of zombies in this heat if it weren't for the incredible help of Cosmic Catering, Betty's Speakeasy, and some black magic. And, as always, our green efforts are rolling every time the camera does. While helping us reduce our impact on location, Golden Valley Farms is also keeping us energized, Klean Kanteens are keeping us hydrated, and the Philly Compost bin is on-set and...well, composting (but more on that later). Anyway, time to go, I need to get more ice.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A word about our green production office

our good friend Carl at the Recycling Center in Pottstown

So, it turns out I don't know nearly as much about recycling as I thought.

At our inaugural new-office meeting, Jenny and Kristin went over our mission "to reduce our carbon footprint on an indie filmmaker's budget" and how it applies to our new space. We're enacting all sorts of new plans to keep our film green-friendly. Keep in mind, this is only the "office plan," our "locations plan" is still in the works for next week.

We've organized our recycling to collect every single plastic category there is, and even if Philly won't pick most of them up, we know where to bring the rest. We've got reusable cloth bags for when we need to buy something (at the local mom 'n' pop store, of course) and a bunch of friends for when we can just borrow instead. We're pulling all plugs before we leave at night (to save ourselves from vampires!) and we bring our own reusable take-out containers when we buy lunch. We even have a communal bike for running local errands - isn't that something?

We are doing our best to stay green - conserving our energy usage, recycling and reusing as much as possible, and choosing local businesses over large corporations - but in the end, we are an independent film, and we have a tight budget. So for those times when Whole Foods gets a little too expensive to feed an indie film crew, don't get too upset, we're doing the best we can!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Man, a Plan, a Fan(tastic) new intern

He's young, ambitious, and bearded - what more can you ask for? After graduating from American University, Zac moved to the Old Oak Homestead in Chapel Hill, North Carolina as part of the
WWOOF program. Camera-in-hand and typing when he could, his five-hour work day allowed for plenty of interesting stories that he has already entertained us with. So without further adieu, allow me to introduce the newest member of our production team, Zac Kind.

Hello everyone, I've come to Future Weather after experiencing life working and living on an organic farm. It's been a bit of a culture shock going from a farm to a city, but I have been welcomed with open arms by the Future Weather team.

As Dan mentioned, I spent the last month and a half working on an organic farm in Chapel Hill, as part of a not-for-profit work exchange program called World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, or WWOOF. We worked four to five hours a day on a sustainable vegetable garden in exchange for room and board provided by our host, Barbara Trent. Barbara, a documentary filmmaker, directed Panama Deception, a powerful film about the 1989 US war with Panama. it won the Oscar for Best Documentary film in 1993. Barbara brought this 7-acre land 10 years ago and started with a half-acre vegetable garden. She's now expanded this into a 2-acre plot and it's still growing.

Working as a "wwoofer" was a revelatory learning experience, and I wholeheartedly recommend it. It is great to live on a farm for awhile and work with your hands, watching life grow right in front of your eyes. There's something magical about working with the soil every day, then all of the sudden things start to sprout from the ground and you're rewarded with fresh food that you can just break off and eat. We harvested kale, gold tomatoes, squash, carrots, onions, sweet peas, and bees' honey.

We extracted five gallons of organic honey! I was really excited to be a part of this process because not only is local honey delicious, it's really good for you as well. If your allergies are bad during the summer months, take a teaspoon of honey a day and your allergies will go down immensely. The bees eat pollen and then you eat the honey, and little by little your immune system breaks down the pollen which helps you build a high tolerance for it. Not a bad trade-off if you ask me.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Rally for the Delaware River Basin Watershed!

Act Now! TOMORROW, Wednesday July 14th, a public meeting will be held by the Delaware River Basin Commission at the West Trenton Volunteer Company, located at 40 West Upper Ferry Road.

On June 14, 2010 the Delaware River Basin Commission(DRBC) expanded its original Executive Director Determination(EDD) that was issued on May 19, 2009 regarding the review of natural gas extraction and development in the Delaware River Watershed to cover "exploratory" natural gas wells in addition to production wells.

Just one month after the EDD was issued, activists will gather TOMORROW to tell the DRBC that they need to include ALL NATURAL GAS PROJECTS in the Delaware River Watershed study, thereby putting in place a moratorium while they address this.

Join the cause and team up with other local supporters @ 1PM to rally before the DRBC meeting. This meeting will be followed by a Public Comment session where five Commissioners, representing PA, NY, NY, DE and the Federal Government, will listen to the public. We'll have about 3 minutes each.

Buses are coming from all around the Watershed! We need your voice!

Transportation Info:

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

How Green is the Gov?

In the past few years, PennEnvironment has begun to score State House Representatives and Senators on their green efforts (so much for the white house!).

In 2007, the organization launched the scorecard program, to evaluate clean energy, fossil fuels, and wind energy efforts, to name a few. By 2008, the PA State House had voted for new clean energy legislation, established policies to protect open spaces, and increased funding for public transportation.

Sadly, the PA Senator scorecards haven't been good enough to stick to the fridge. Between 2006 and 2008, the Senate halted new clean air standards, voted to raid state conservation programs, and tried to stall regulations to reduce mercury pollution.

With the elections looming this November, keep an eye out for the A+ House District Members Robert Freeman, David Kessler, and PA Senator Andrew Dinniman, and get involved in your local green government!

We finally have a home!

Today, we officially moved into the Production Office!

The Future Weather team woke up early this morning for some tasty muffins at our very first team meeting at Sherman Mills in East Falls, PA! Afterward, the group dispersed for location scouting!

Stay tuned for updates as we settle in!

Monday, July 5, 2010

We won a scientist!

As part of our FIND Sloan Grant, we've been awarded a friendly scientist! When Kristin and Jenny were in L.A. last week, they were finally able to meet Wolfgang Buermann, a geologist and assistant professor at UCLA, to discuss FUTURE WEATHER and the scientific issues woven into the story

Wolfgang, a movie-lover himself, enjoyed the intersection of environmental science and activism in FUTURE WEATHER. He has been an environmentalist since witnessing the formation of the Green Party in Germany in his teens (the hot topic then was nuclear power), and this sparked his interest in physics.

Wolfgang's research on carbon sinks and the terrestrial carbon cycle were the perfect foundation for the discussion of Laduree's experiment on comparing two trees' abilities to sequester CO2. He even provided Jenny with allometric equations to calculate the biomass of each tree. Plus, his studies of changing patterns in biodiversity provided an excellent background for discussing Laduree's mission to save the Ohio Pigtoe.

Jenny was a little worried when it came time to review Laduree's predictions for ways that increasing atmospheric CO2 may change our lives in the coming decades, but according to Wolfgang, her predictions were all scientifically sound. Yikes!

Wolfgang's field work has brought him all over the U.S., Finland, Sweden, and southern Africa (among other places) to research how current patterns of biodiversity are linked to contemporary environmental gradients and historical processes. Considering the fact that he's studied terrestrial hot spots around the world and performed postdoctoral research under a recognized pioneer in the field of climate research and carbon cycles, we think it's safe to assume he knows what he's talking about.

With his knowledge of topics that are at the forefront of current environmental issues, and the help he has already offered our film (after just one meeting!), we are grateful to welcome Dr. Buermann to our team.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Philly! Film! Festival! Finally! Fantastic! Fun!

Attention! Attention! The Philadelphia Film Society has released the lineup for the upcoming 18 1/2 Philadelphia International Film Festival!

A half a year older and all the much wiser, the Society has appointed Michael Lerman as the new Director of Programming. Previously, Lerman served as the Associate Programmer for the Philadelphia Film Festival, so he will also curate for filmadelphiaINDEPENDENT and filmadelphiaDOCUMENTARY. As usual, Philly is filled with movie-making talent, and Lerman proudly agrees, reflecting that "the ever-growing community here of filmmakers and [film] lovers is what first made me fall in love with film."

The Festival, which runs from Oct 15 - 19th, will premiere with F. Gary Gray's Law Abiding Citizen, and will close with local filmmaker Lee Daniels' Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire. Precious received several Academy nominations, including Best Female Supporting Actress (Mo'nique) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Fletcher).

So allow me to speculate just a bit when I say that it will be well worth the wait.

Stay tuned for updates on our local film community!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Life in the Fast Track

We’re sorry, Jenny and Kristin can’t come to the phone right now, they’re busy in L.A. schmoozing with fancy producers, financiers, and other highfalutin’ Hollywood pros. Please leave a message and they’ll talk to their people who’ll talk to your people, and you’ll do lunch. K bye!

Well, you guessed it. Jenny and Kristin are off to Los Angeles, this time for Fast Track, one of Film Independent's major programs to help indie productions receive funding. The program is highly selective and only seeks the most inventive, original scripts – like ours! Hopefully we can snag this nice little Sloan Grant, get a few seminars under our belt, and after Kristin and Jenny meet some moneybags at the financing conference, the film will be on the Fast Track to production. Corny pun? Maybe a little. But still! It’s exciting! Oh, and while they’re out there, they might as well check out the L.A. Film Festival with their fancy free passes, right? Right.

Stay tuned to catch ‘em tweeting from Tinseltown. Good luck, ladies!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

URGENT: A Call to Action (and a few Representatives)

On your toes, green commandos! Gas drilling is polluting water supplies all over New York and Pennsylvania and the time to take action is NOW! We need your help to place some calls before noon tomorrow, June 17th. Below are the straight facts, but for more detailed information on these issues, bills, votes, and deadlines, click here.


Call House Speaker Keith McCall (717-787-4610 or 717-783-1375), House Majority Leader Todd Eachus (717-772-0744 or 717-787-2229), and Senate Minority Leader Robert Mellow and urge them to make sure they’re IRRC appointees vote for Chapter 102 and Chapter 95.

Call your PA legistator to express your support for House Bill 2213.

Lastly, call your PA Senator to vote for a Senate bill that mirrors Rep. Greg Vitali’s House Bill 2235.

New Yorkers:

Call Senator Smith, Chairman of the Rules Committee at 518-455-2701 or email Senator Bonacci and ask him to move out of Committee to the Senate floor the Englebright/Addabbo Bill which would impose a 2 year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing for the extraction of natural gas.

Also call Senate Leadership in support of a moratorium bill this month:

We’re counting on you, commandos, help keep our water clean and environment safe!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Calling All Mollusks to Co-Star in Feature Film

We’re looking for a talented young mussel to play the role of the Ohio Pigtoe in our upcoming film. Candidate must be bright and ambitious and well-versed in the sediments and freshwaters of the Midwestern United States, particularly Southern Illinois. Imperative that aspirant understand his or her crucial role in freshwater ecosystems: filtering and aerating the river or stream, creating a structural foundation and shelter for invertebrates and small fish, and occasionally playing the role of prey to larger fish, invertebrates, and even mammals (apologies).

Casting call for this position has been open for quite some time now as the freshwater mollusk is part of the most endangered family of animals in the United States with over 70% either extinct or facing extinction. But that does not mean we are desperate, we seek talented mollusks only! The applicant must fulfill role as a barometer for the health of the ecosystem and understand that their own well-being can easily be affected by poisonous runoff from land (such as pesticides, fertilizer, road salt, etc.), change in flow due to river damming, competition with nonnative mollusks for survival, and lack of fish hosts because of similar causes. If the ecosystem begins to fail, you will be among the first to feel it; faint-of-(mollusk)-heart need not apply! But don’t worry, because we are doing everything in our power to preserve the existence of the Ohio Pigtoe, which is why we need your help, so that it can also live forever on the screen.

Please send in your 8x10 clamshell shots with relevant acting experience on reverse.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Why Our Film Set Might Smell Like Onion Rings

We’ve been doing our best to follow ‘The Code,’ most recently researching the possibility of using biodiesel to run our on-set generators and possibly our vehicles (like those nifty Patagonia surfers). But it sure is trickier than we thought. First of all, biodiesel is made a few different ways: directly from vegetables (virgin oil), recycled from used restaurant grease (recycled oil), or from a combination of restaurant grease and rendered animal fat (yellow oil). Now, any diesel engine can run on biodiesel, however special modifications would be needed if we were to take it a step greener, by enabling our engines to run directly on the used (unfiltered) restaurant grease. Of course, these modifications are expensive (anywhere from $900-$2500), but the combined long-term benefits of saving money on fuel and relieving stress on the environment by recycling used restaurant grease may be well worth it. Those prices are for a professional kit, however for Jacks and Janes-of-all-trades out there, you can convert your own engine following some do-it-yourself videos we found. Heck, if these guys can do it, maybe we can too. Hmm. First we need access to diesel vehicles. More on that to come!

For more information on recycled biodiesel production in the area, check out Black Gold Biofuels and Tri-State Biodiesel.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Hollywood Comes to Delco

Roll out the red carpet , Chester, movie stars might be moving in across the street. With the groundbreaking of Sun Center Studios scheduled for June 10, the Greater Philadelphia area will see the construction of its very own film production studio. At the completion of this ninety million dollar project, the facility (built on the former site of the Tri-State Sports Complex) will include five studios, a tourist museum, and a 4-D Movie Theater Not only will this state-of-the-art studio provide the local area with over 1,000 jobs, but it will also provide itself with energy - Sun Center Studios Corp. has received funding to install a geothermal heat pump, which will service 153,000 square feet of the facility with renewable, geothermal heat and cooling. Now isn't that nifty? By the way, the owners are still seeking LEED certification.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Assistant Directing A Green Film

With our sights set on a summer production, time is running out to create our sustainable production plan, and frankly, my palms are getting a bit sweaty over the whole idea. So when Carolina Roca-Smith, the latest addition to the Future Weather team, mentioned that she'd worked on a green film set, I begged her to share the experience with our readers. As Carolina proves, the choices your production makes don't have to be intimidating, nor do they have to compromise your production. We're glad to have Carolina's help before she moves to Los Angeles in June.

As a first assistant director on film productions, I always have two main goals in mind. Call them Carolina’s Golden Rules of AD-ing. If I don’t accomplish both, I have failed the team and the film:
  1. Regardless of what the “Film Gods” may throw at us, we MUST make our day!
  2. Without a happy, motivated crew, you cannot accomplish #1. So listen to the crew’s needs, treat them well, and above all get them home happy and on time.
When Director Amy Kernan-Bennett asked me to work as the 1st AD on her graduate thesis film, The Things You Lose in the Ocean, I was excited for several reasons. First I love helping other women in the director’s chair. (I love you too guys, but I get gitty when it comes to girl power.) Secondly, the producer, Laura Avila-Tascan, contacted me and told me that we were going to try our best to make this an environmentally friendly production.

I was energized by the idea of lessening the carbon footprint that this film was going to leave. Finally the opportunity to marry two things I feel passionate about, the health of the earth and film. I also saw the opportunity to educate crewmembers in the process so that they can implement some of these ideas on future productions.

For those of you interested, here’s a quick breakdown of the scope of the project:

Operating Budget: $40,000
Format: 35mm
Length: 27 minutes
Crew: approx. 50
Production Days: 11

Talking about going green was great. But I would be lying if I were to tell you that I wasn’t nervous about whether our green attempt was going to infringe on my golden rules as an AD. I didn’t want the crew to be up-set and I sure didn’t want the production to be slowed down. It took some getting use to on set but despite my trepidation, everyone adapted just fine.

Here are the four steps we took toward sustainable filmmaking.

1. Water Bottles

Laura our producer ordered stainless steel water bottles for the entire crew from I still use mine! The pricing starts at around $3.50 per bottle. All said and done our water bottles cost about $6.00 a piece. The only catch is that you need to purchase at least 100. For small productions this might be a problem but with the film title printed on the side, extras make a great marketing tool to hand out on the festival circuit. We chose to go with the bottle with the Carabiner. It obviously helped everyone keep track of their water, and who doesn’t LOVE to have something to hook on to their belt on a film set.

To fill up the bottles we used old school water jugs (like the ones used in football practice) and filled them with tap water and ice on location. We bought four jugs. We kept two at base camp, and transported the other two to set if it was a long walking distance. When the jugs on set got low, we would radio to base camp and two PA’s would swap them out.

2. Carpool

Southern California is a driving culture, and we shot all over from Altadena to San Pedro to Lake Elsinore. Most of the crew lived in Orange County and Los Angeles, so travel time to set everyday could be upwards of two hours depending on traffic. Shooting on location, you’re always nervous that some crew will be late because of unfamiliarity with the area. So we organized a centrally located carpool with production vehicles. In an attempt to discourage people from driving their own cars, we reminded them that parking would be limited at the areas that we were shooting.

The carpool not only saved fossil fuel, but also built community. We had great conversations while we traveled to and from set. Furthermore it gave us an opportunity to have meetings even before we arrived on set. Efficiency-LOVE THAT!

3. Recycling

We took the suggestion from the California Film Commission’s Green Resource Guide and labeled our trash receptacles “LANDFILL”. It really made people think twice before they threw something away. Right next to the trash we placed the recycling bins with a giant sign that read, “Thank You, Love Mother Earth”. It almost became a game on set. We recycled paper, plastic and glass. We could have paid a service to come and pick it up, but to save money we didn’t have, we dropped it off at the recycling center ourselves at the end of each production day.

4. Food

Meat production is responsible for about 20% of greenhouse gases. This is where my responsibility to a happy crew came into conflict with my beliefs. I would have been totally content if all of our meals were vegetarian, because I am one. But we compromised and cut the meat in half (even though less than half of our crew was vegetarian) and offered one vegetarian option and one meat option for hot meals on set. We budgeted the amount of food well and never really had any large amounts of leftovers, which is great for production cost. If we had leftovers we could have contacted Angel Harvest, a service that picks up leftover catering and donates it to homeless shelters. For leftover unopened crafty in the LA area you can also donate it to America’s Second Harvest.

So if you're nervous that making a few green changes on-set might throw off your production, my suggestion is to just go for it! We only put into practice a few initiatives because we feared the production would suffer. But if a group of grad students who aren’t seasoned filmmakers can do it, your production team can do it. Jump in with both feet, because your crew will get behind you, and when you are watching your film on the big screen you’ll feel great about what you’ve accomplished both with the film and with the mindful production.

Carolina Roca-Smith is a filmmaker currently completing her MFA in film production at Temple University. She has directed several short films including, “Members Only”, distributed by Frameline and available for purchase or rent on the “Fun in Girl’s Shorts” compilation DVD.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tell Your Politicians: NO FRACKING WAY

Currently 34 states contain natural gas drilling sites, which is quickly contaminating drinking water through the process of hydraulic fracturing. As promised, here are a few ways you can put the heat on your politicians to pass safety regulations.

1. Call your representatives and senators and tell them to sponsor the FRAC Act currently making its way through Congress. The FRAC Act (Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act) is an attempt to amend the Safe Drinking Water Act to give the EPA authority over hydraulic fracturing. It would also require oil and gas drilling companies to disclose the chemicals used in fracking. Check out this article to learn more about the bill.

2. Get to know your local environmental groups to stay in touch with local legislation. The Environmental Working Group has a lot of great info about natural gas drilling around the country. And the Delaware Riverkeeper is keeping a vigilant watch over the situation with the Marcellus Shale here in PA. For a list of environmental organizations in your state, please visit Eco-USA.

3. Pennsylvanians: vote in the upcoming democratic primary. Joe Hoeffel is the only gubernatorial candidate who wants to put a moratorium on natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania. To read more about Joe's campaign to protect our drinking water visit his page on the Marcellus Shale.

4. Visit the GASLAND blog. Josh Fox has been taking his natural gas doc, GASLAND, on a grassroots tour to raise awareness of the issue, and has been updating the blog and Facebook page about drilling issues in the Marcellus Shale and around the country.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Future Weather Wins Grant From TFI's Sloan Filmmaker Fund

You heard it here first, folks!! FUTURE WEATHER just won a second Alfred P. Sloan Grant--this time from the Tribeca Film Institute! We'll be attending the fest next week where the project will be featured in a Sloan Works-In-Progress series. We're honored to be working with TFI and extremely excited to be championed by such an impressive selection committee:

Julie Goldstein (Producer, Proof), Dr. Martin Chalfie (Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Professor of Biological Sciences at Columbia University), Dr. Patricia Bath (Opthamalogist and Founder of the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness), Anne Carey (Producer, Adventureland) and Dr. Gabriel Cwilich (Professor of Physics at Yeshiva University).

Stay tuned to our Twitter feed for live posts from the Tribeca Film Fest!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

URGENT: Delaware River Basin Commission needs your feedback today!

5pm TODAY is the deadline to voice your concern to the DRBC regarding the proposed Stone Energy Surface Water Withdrawal and Natural Gas Well Site.

Please email a statement that includes your address to: Subject line should read: "Public Comment - Stone Energy Dockets."

Here's a sample letter you can use, compliments of the Delaware Riverkeeper.

Here's an in-depth fact-sheet about fracking in the Delaware River Basin, compliments of the Delaware Riverkeeper.

Or you can speak out via Citizen Speak, which has a handy email all set up for you:

The Story of Gasland is the Story of Our Land

A resident of Dimock, PA pours water that came from his well after start of natural gas fracking. Credit: High Country News

I attended a very full screening of GASLAND last night at the Prince Music Theater. It was a mesmerizing, maddening and tragic expose of an environmental issue that I suspect is going to be one of the biggest environmental issues of our time: drilling for natural gas.

The story is not a new one in America's history, and the negligence (greed, secrecy, etc. etc.) of the natural gas industry and the government agencies that should be monitoring this industry in the name of public safety, can be added to a long list of ways that America is on a fast track to making our country completely unlivable.

The problem? Hydraulic fracturing or fracking--the method for extracting the enormous stores of natural gas currently embedded in geologic formations across this country--is extremely toxic. A lethal cocktail of chemicals (among them formaldehyde, pesticides and plastics) is mixed with hundreds of millions of gallons of water and forced underground to open up pockets of gas. What happens to this wastewater afterwards?* Who cares? The gas companies are making money, and that's the bottom line, right?

But what director Josh Fox uncovers is that this wastewater is contaminating the communities who reside near natural gas wells, and doing it an a alarming rate. Polluted, flammable tap water; sick pets and livestock; reports of chronic headaches; asthma, body pain and other illnesses in humans; the list is long and chilling.

And what kind of law could possibly exist in this great land of ours that makes it possible for the natural gas industry to get away with such atrocities? An Energy Policy Bill passed in 2005 by the Bush-Cheney administration. It provided tax incentives for energy production and exempted oil and gas producers from safety regulations specified in the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water Acts. And so began an unregulated natural gas boom across the nation. Wild west style. It may be good for reducing our dependence on foreign oil (and the Axis of Evil), but it threatens to pollute our waterways, which--as Fox so poignantly illustrates in old footage of Woody Guthrie singing "This Land is Your Land"--are literally all connected.

Currently 34 states are impacted by the natural gas industry. One of the largest regions for drilling is right here in Pennsylvania and stretches across the Delaware River Basin, a watershed that provides water to over 15 million people across Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York, 2 million of which are customers of the Philadelphia Water Department.

Click here for a GASLAND screening near you.

For ways you can make your voice heard about this issue, read our upcoming blog, "Tell Your Politicians No Fracking Way".

*To learn more about what actually happens to fracking wastewater, check out this informative blog about the fracking process from a resident of Hickory, PA.

Thanks to Delaware Riverkeeper and a March 25 Resolution by Philadelphia City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown for other citations.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Get Smart About Natural Gas

This Saturday, April 10th, is a good day to get informed about a serious issue affecting Pennsylvanians' drinking water: drilling for natural gas. At 5:30, the Philadelphia Film Fest is screening GASLAND at the Prince Music Theater. And at 8:30, GASLAND director Josh Fox and Joe Hoeffel will host a Q&A about responsible gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale at Naked Chocolate Cafe.

We've heard fantastic things about GASLAND, which won the Special Jury Prize at this year's Sundance Film Fest. We've also had the pleasure of meeting Joe Hoeffel, the only democrat running for governor of PA with a progressive agenda. With four weeks until the primary, Saturday is great opportunity to learn more about Joe's stance on the environment and what it will take to get a progressive elected in November who will protect our drinking water.

About the Film:
GASLAND follows filmmaker Josh Fox as he sets off on a 24-state journey to uncover the deep consequences of the United States' natural gas drilling boom after he discovers that Natural Gas drilling is coming to his area—the Catskillls/Poconos region of Upstate New York and Pennsylvania. What he uncovers is truly shocking—water that can be lit on fire right out of the sink, chronically ill residents of drilling areas from disparate locations in the US all with the same mysterious symptoms, huge pools of toxic waste that kill cattle and vegetation well blowouts and huge gas explosions consistently covered up by state and federal regulatory agencies. For more information about the film visit

The Marcellus Shale Region:
The Marcellus Shale runs through the western region of Pennsylvania and contains largely untapped gas reserves. This area has produced natural gas for years, however, many gas production companies are now becoming interested in the Marcellus after only recently have figuring out a way to extract it from the region. Now gas drillers are looking to lease local land in an attempt to find and remove the gas. Marcellus Shale is thought to contain enough natural gas to supply the entire United States for two years. To learn more about the Marcellus Shale region visit

The Effects:
Natural gas is a fossil fuel that is often promoted as "cleaner" than coal, but it has caused more cases of environmental illness than any other substance, even pesticides. The drilling process is called hydraulic fracturing. It involves millions of gallons of water and dozens of chemicals. Each well drilled can produce millions of gallons of chemical-laced, industrial waste water. Currently, the natural gas industry is not responsible for treating this waste water. To learn more about the negative effects of natural gas, please visit

The Campaign:
Joe Hoeffel is the only PA gubernatorial candidate who is calling for a Moratorium on issuing more Marcellus Shale gas drilling permits until we know how to properly treat the waste water and meet the standards of the Safe Drinking Water and Clean Water Acts. Joe Hoeffel has earned support of environmental leaders and activists for his sound policies in the state house and congress. Joe Hoeffel will fight for responsible gas drilling with strong environmental regulations. To read more about his campaign, visit

Event Info:
Screening hosted by Philadelphia Film Society. Tickets available for purchase one hour before show. For tickets to the Q&A benefit reception, visit