Great news! EOE is screening on June 17th in Palmerston North, New Zealand at the 2013 Reel Earth Environmental Film Festival. Along side Energy! O Energy!, award winning films such as If a Tree Falls and Fall and Winter will also be screened. Check out the rest of this year’s selections here. It’s an honor to be included in such an incredible program. Congratulations to all of the films selected.
This week was the host to quite a few finish lines in my life. I finished the short film “Western Wandering”, I finished a fashion show promo video, and I finished my master’s degree in communication and journalism. On one hand it’s a huge relief, but on the other hand, finishing something doesn’t always mean that you’re less busy. In my case it just means crossing things off the top of a list and moving other things from the bottom up higher on that same list.
Even though I’m just as busy, there’s still a value in finishing a project. A professor once told me that the worst finished project is better than the best incomplete project. Finishing films is one of the hardest things I struggle with every day. It’s not because of the work involved, but rather knowing when to let go. My advisor Conrad Smith told me the other day that “Energy! O Energy!” has enough footage to edit for eternity. He’s right. The struggle is knowing when to stop, and realizing that you finally have what you want. The footage has been shot and the story is in place. Now it’s just a matter of finding what I want to use and using it.
I just finished my MA degree and a common question I’m being asked is, “what’s next?” I wish I knew. Like I said before, just because you finish something doesn’t mean that you’re done. Right now I have a number of other films on the burner, and EOE is hopefully going to be complete by the end of May. But then what, more school, projects to pay the bills, a feature film? My answer is, all of the above. Living is learning, which means that I never plan on being finished with “school”. Who says the projects that pay the bills can’t be fun? As for another feature film, there will be plenty of those as well. The past few films have been low budget and made with the resources that I have. These films were made out of pure passion and very little else. My goal for the next film is to take the idea of passion, and combine it with the resources of a well-funded film. Hopefully this is a recipe for a film that can reach a large audience and make a difference. “Come on kid, that’s just crazy. Do you really think you’re going to change the world?” If I had a penny for every time I heard this, I’d have enough money to change the world. It doesn’t bother me though because my idea of changing the world is different from that of the people who say this. If someone watches “Western Wandering” and feel the emotions and the experiences of the adventure, that’s all I can ask for. We tend to focus on the huge concepts and ideas in the world, but what about the individual moments? The huge concepts are made from each individual moment. If someone experiences one of those moments though one of my films, what more could I want? Remember, knowing where to stop is the hardest part of finishing.
If the suspense of what Governor Matt Mead said in our interview the other day has been building for you, I am here to offer some relief for your anxious mind. I entered this project without the slightest idea of where it would take me. I have been from the middle of the desert in Wyoming to both coasts of the US to the Governor of Wyoming’s office. The most recent addition to my adventure in search for the best type of energy led me to meeting with Governor Matt Mead in Cheyenne, WY. Energy is a huge topic in Wyoming and if you live here, you know that it’s everywhere! Is that a good or bad thing? You tell me.
For my visit with Governor Mead, I was primarily interested in how energy and politics interact. Everyone has stereotypes of politicians. Whether it’s simply not liking them, or feeling like they just talk without ever saying anything, people have their opinions. My goal for the interview was to free myself from all of the stereotypes that I have ever heard about politicians, political ideologies, and government in general. I wanted to have a conversation without expectations, and let the situation speak for itself. In doing this, I was rewarded with a very straightforward and fascinating conversation about energy with the Governor of the number 1 energy exporting state in the nation, Wyoming.
Governor Mead was very personable and addressed each of my questions with concern and accountability. If you think that politicians can only waltz around a question without actually answering it, then you’re in for a treat when you see Energy! O Energy! My goal for the film, since day one, has been to be as direct and objective as possible. You’re probably saying, “well, why in the world did you bring politics into it then?” I can only tell you so much but in short, sometimes political issues aren’t really political at the heart. We’ve made them political in the way that we’ve handled them.
Overall my visit with the Governor went very well. We had an intelligent conversation about energy and that was my goal. I can assure you that people from the entire political spectrum will be in the film and I hope that we can see past the political stereotypes to see what’s important, the situation at hand. Don’t get me wrong, I am not campaigning or promoting anyone with this project. I’m just not leaving anything out. What’s worse, a lie or only half of the truth? I’m avoiding both. As Marty stated previously, whether you’re Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal, that’s not the issue. If political stereotypes interfere with how you make decisions and think, then that is the issue.
“Rather than being driven by politics, let’s be driven by the best idea available.”
What is the best idea available? What is the best type of energy?
If you’re anything like me, all those lovely pictures of a snowy Park City in that last post distracted you. Winter in the West can be rough, and it can definitely cause some chaos around town… especially a ski town hosting one of the largest independent film festivals and celebrating the first good dump in FOREVER. But, for those of you that made it past the slideshow and read those last few sentences, you know that Mark had an interview with Wyoming Governor Matt Mead. So lets pick up where Mark left off, on the issue of politics. Well, politics and energy.
The day I’m writing this is not only the day Mark had the interview, but it also happens to be the day of the State of the Union Address. If you watched it, you will have noticed that about 15 minutes were devoted to the discussion of the future of our nation’s energy. I guess this whole energy thing is a pretty big deal… According to our President, it’s one of the 5 biggest issues facing the United States right now. But let’s put the ultimate future of America and the human race aside for a second and ask a more simple question: How political do you think the issue of energy is? Are there sides? Do your political opinions influence the type of energy production you support? In an earlier post Mark replied to the criticism that he was “green” or an environmentalist (re: liberal) because he rides his bike. After getting to know Mark, you would soon realize that he rides because he loves it and couldn’t care less about what political stereotype is attached to pedaling a bicycle. It’s funny how political lines can get drawn anywhere, even the type of transportation you choose. (For the record, I know lots of liberals that drive big honkin’ trucks for one reason or another; I also know a staunch Republican that drives a hybrid.) So, are solar panels Democratic? Is natural gas Republican?
Mark has approached this movie with what I consider to be a devout stance of neutrality. But that brings me back to my point; his neutrality towards favoring one type of energy resource has by default required him to detach himself from the political spectrum. I for one am extremely interested to hear what Governor Mead (R) has to say about energy in Wyoming. Maybe Mark can chime in here and talk about his interview… or maybe you’ll just have to wait and see it in the film.
I have been hitting the editing pretty hard these last few weeks, maybe a little harder than I should. Between the stack of hard drives to my left and the server to my right, I would say that if megabytes were Big Macs, I could feed the entire country for a year. The amount of footage is irrelevant though. The story that is emerging is what’s important.
On these long days that consistently drift into even longer nights of editing, I’ve found myself pondering the idea of a story. What is it about a story that makes us so attracted to it? There are so many exciting things happening every second of our lives, but every now and then, we choose to tune it all out and tune into a story. Whether it’s a book, a film, or someone telling it to us, a story has the power to show an aspect of life that often goes unnoticed. A story conveys truth.
At the root of every story is truth; the truth of human experience, the truth of emotion, the truth of life. This is what brings us back, time and time again. Life can be overwhelming, and as a result, one can become numb to the everyday experience. Stories are where we run to replenish our soul of human experience. This is what makes the “story” one of the greatest tools ever utilized by humans. Even something as powerful as fire or electricity can’t reach the level that a story can. Fire, electricity, and steel are all tools of a physical world. A story is a tool of the mind. As powerful as these energy producing machines that I have been studying are, they can’t do what a story does.
Mark is lucky. While it’s true that the topic of energy has completely consumed his life for the past year, at least he put himself there voluntarily. I’m a different story. Every day at my job as an energy consultant I’m surrounded by discussions of energy, and then I come home, get on the phone, and talk to Mark about it for a few hours more. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m fascinated by the subject, but I just felt it necessary to start off the post by trying to rouse a little pity. Didn’t work? You still think Mark gets less sleep than me? Yeah, you’re probably right. And what’s crazier is that he probably does think about energy more than me, and he’s not even getting paid for it!
It’s been a while since I posted – my last full contribution was the post about Mark’s energy storage problem on his ride. And I know ever since that post all of the devoted fans of this blog have had a little thought in the back of their minds: Hey when are we going to hear from that Marty guy again? I can’t blame you. In that post I hope you had a chance to appreciate just how hilarious and clever Mark’s co-writer is. No? Jokes about mini-nuclear reactors aren’t that funny? Fine. You’re probably right. And actually, that’s exactly the point I want to make. No, not the fact that I’m not as funny as I think I am (though that is ego-breakingly true). The problem is that the subject of energysometimes just isn’t that interesting to people that don’t deal with it on a daily basis.
As mentioned in my introductory post, one of the main things I do at my job is perform energy assessments on buildings. I spend a lot of time during the workday analyzing energy use in commercial buildings. And as I’ve dealt with various projects I’ve come across some interesting situations… Well at least I find them interesting. The thing is, not everyone does; sometimes not even the people that I think probably should.
For example: It’s so odd how a wild party just dies when I start talking about the decision for Boulder, CO to start the process of switching to a municipally-owned electrical utility. Ok, no, I don’t talk about energy on every Saturday night. But, even when I’m having lunch with a few friends that live in Boulder, if I try and throw that issue into the conversation, it’s met with stares and possibly eye-rolls. And these are the very people that I believe should care the most because it is going to directly affect them. I understand that at first glance the topic may seem very dry, but there are so many points to discuss and debate. And what’s more, it’s an issue that directly affects the citizens of the town, and the future of their electricity supply. But as I write those last five words I catch myself and think, “the truth is, not everyone finds the ‘future of their electricity supply’ all that fascinating.”
And really that’s fine. That’s one of the things that makes people, people. We all have our own lives, thoughts, curiosities and passions to keep us busy. But, what if we are overlooking one of the more determining factors on how we live our lives? The world is full of things that you never stop to really take a look at, and then one day something finally catches your eye. And from that day on, you care. It doesn’t matter what side of the argument you choose or if you choose not to argue at all. What matters is that something has pulled you in and now you care. How can you make decisions about something that you don’t care about? Would you act differently if you did care?
***Editor’s Note- Marty was originally introduced in a previous post as having “pursued” a degree in Architectural engineering. The word “pursued” makes it sound like he tried it out one day. This couldn’t be more misrepresenting. Marty holds a BS degree in Architectural engineering and has been working at the forefront of the energy efficiency and assessment industry ever since. Just so you know that we didn’t just pull a random guy off the street 🙂