Back from the Big Apple

I just returned to Laramie from 7 days in New York City.  I was attending the IFP Filmmaker Conference and shooting for Energy, Oh Energy.  As different as NYC is from Wyoming, it felt similar to when I was out in the middle of the desert.  I had to change hotels nightly so I found myself carrying all of my gear just like when I was on my ride through Wyoming.  Instead of riding, I was walking.  Instead of ruts there were curbs.  Instead of heat, there was humidity.  It was a great but extremely tiring trip.  I am still trying to catch up with everything in Laramie now.  The footage will be passing the 1000 hour point before it’s all said and done.  Pictures from New York will be uploaded on the daily photo blog starting Monday.  I’ve included a few shots in this blog just to give you a taste.  I was hoping to get a tour of the Indian Point Nuclear Station on the Hudson River, but I haven’t been able to get anyone to return my calls.  I am still in search of a nuclear facility that is not only willing to give me a tour, but also allow photography/videography.  I’m starting to wonder if this even exists.

After talking to a number of people at the IFP Conference, I’ve decided to restructure some of the management for Energy, Oh Energy.  As the plot develops and we find a more complex story than just, “what is the best energy”, I am finding it difficult to balance everything.  Our technical director and personal friend, Marty Pool has been a big help in many departments of the film.  Marty and I have been discussing some possible twists to the story and drafting the story outline.  Although it’s hard to write a story that is only half told, we have a strong start and good direction for the majority of the film.  There has been some talk of adding Marty to the credits as an assistant producer or cowriter.  How ever the technicalities turn out, I am glad to have Marty’s input.  He has a strong background in energy research and has dabbled in filmmaking over the years.  We’ve had a lot of long conversations on the topic and energy and this film and I feel that we share the same vision.  Film is a collaborative art.  It’s not about me and people helping me bring my vision to the screen.  It’s about multiple people sharing the same vision and working to bring that to the screen.


No Sleep for the Documentarian

I have found myself staying up long nights in search of a few more hours to work each day on the film Energy, Oh Energy.  I have a dream of a world with 48 hours in the day.  For now though, I guess I’m going to have to deal with only having 24.  10:30 pm has become more of a lunch break than a bedtime.  The interviews have continued and the most recent perspective has dealt with the idea of distributed energy.  I don’t want to reveal too many details though!  I am still maintaining my nonbiased approach.  It has been difficult though, not because I prefer a particular energy, but rather because people are stereotyping me based on the little information they have received.  One of the things I have found interesting is that because I chose to ride my bike around Wyoming, I have been called “green” and “having an agenda”.  Since when did riding your bike become a political statement?  If this is the case, we have a strong politically active youth on our hands.  What ever happened to just riding your bike because it was cheap, fun, and easy?  That’s the only statement I want to make.  I enjoy bike riding and stereotypes aren’t going stand in the way of me doing what I love.  Just to show everyone that I don’t have an alternative agenda, I have included a link to a clip of me riding my bike 5-6 years ago before I even knew what a megawatt was.

My advice to anyone viewing this film is to go in with an open mind.  I am striving to create an objective perspective on the idea of energy and I can assure you that I do not have an alternative motive or agenda.  I am simply exploring a current issue and going where it takes me.

Speaking of going where this film takes me, I will be leaving for New York City this Saturday for 7 days.  I will be attending the IFP Filmmaker Conference for 5 days and shooting for Energy, Oh Energy the other two days.  One of the major players in the energy conversation is the consumer.  We use energy and lots of it so what better place to look at consumption than the largest city in the US?

The road has proven long and full of obstacles.  I haven’t found the best type of energy yet, but one thing is for sure, I’m not giving up.  I will be in Salt Lake City after New York and then Phoenix, and then hopefully Portland to look at some of the issues surrounding the power grid.  Tired?  Yes.  Burned out?  Never.  How could a company called Burning Torch Productions get burned out?  One of the reasons I love what I do is because of the journey it takes me on.  Burning out isn’t an option.  Light has been a symbol of knowledge and inspiration throughout history and the torch is one of the simplest forms of light.  Our goal at BTP is to keep the torch burning through the night and to bring light to otherwise shadowed areas.  Sometimes this involves doing whatever it takes.  I’m prepared to take the torch wherever the darkness leads.

Music and the Grid


It had been a busy week and progress is still inching along.  I have been traveling daily as I gather more footage and interviews about the question, what is the best type of energy?  I have hit the 2 terabyte mark with the footage.  For everyone that isn’t very computer savvy, that’s over 1400 CDs.  Trust me, it’s a lot.  I estimate being about half done compiling footage.  Energy is such a huge topic and I am finding everything relates to it.  A challenge has been trying to narrow down the content into one idea.  I have to keep reminding myself to look back to the original question, “what is the best type of energy?”  A major issue I have uncovered is distribution.  What does it take to get the energy we need and want?  Are some types of energy easier to transport?  What is the grid?  What is the smart grid?  How difficult is it to live somewhere that is off grid?  These are all questions I am now exploring.  This combined with working on the footage from the ride is keeping me busy.

The music for the film is really coming along.  The artist Latch Key Kid will be featured in the film.  Singer/songwriter/composer, Gavin Heaney makes music that has a great feeling to it and much of it correlates with the vision of many of our traveling scenes.  Here is a link to Latch Key Kid’s website.  I highly recommend checking his music.   Another artist that will be featured in the film is Sincerely Iris based out of Savannah, GA.  I met Todd from Sincerely Iris when I was living in Chicago.  He’s a great guy and an incredible musician.  I’m excited to be featuring some of his music in the film.  Here’s a link to his website.

I have been getting a lot of emails about a release date for the film.  The film will be completed this spring in time for a number of film festival submission deadlines.  Depending on the film’s success in the festivals, there will be a formal release following.  My main focus right now is working on the high profile interviews.  I want to talk with the people at the top in the energy industry.  These interviews will act as a way for the viewer of the film to discuss energy with otherwise unreachable people.  As for the immediate future, I will be headed to Western Wyoming this weekend to work on getting more footage.  The next step is finding a pilot for some aerial footage. Like always, thanks for your support and feel free to comment or email.