This video blurb captures a rare moment of me on-camera with my favorite subjects and one of my favorite farmers. I prefer to be behind the camera where I've been since I first started my documentary work, recording the stories told to me by farmers across the rural US. It's their voices I want you to hear, not mine. This is their story.
GROWING A DOCUMENTARY
The seeds of Farmlandia, were planted in in the summer of 2001 when I started shooting my first documentary, As We Sow, a sad, but true story of the devastating affects of industrialized, large-scale, corporate controlled agriculture on farmers, their families, and rural communities. As We Sow continues to be requested and screened, and has even won an award or two, but I've never thought the story itself was finished. There is so much more to tell, and the need for farmers to tell their stories and for me to record them has kept me going back to the Midwest over and over, chronicaling change over time--good and bad.
2011 seemed the right moment to create something new, to expand both the scale and the reach of my documentary work, and to give a home to that footage shot over the years that documented--as it was happening--the evolving (sometimes devolving) food system. Farmlandia will explore a food and farm system made up of very different and often opposing views of how farming should be done, where it should be done, who should do it, and to what end.
Farmlandia will grow into an hour-long documentary that combines footage shot over a decade with new footage to be shot in the summer/fall of 2011. From that long form documentary, I will also create 4 to 5 shorts to be used in a community outreach program aimed at schools, advocacy groups, community leaders, and policymakers. My website, FARMLANDIA: Growing a Documentary http://farmlandia.us/ tells a more complete story, introduces some of the farmers and ranchers, and includes many photos and videos. It is designed for this production phase of the documentary, and includes an On the Road to Farmlandia blog. Please make a visit.
MY PLANS & HOW YOU CAN HELP
I've decided there's no better way to document the farms and farmers of Farmlandia --and to capture on video how our food and farm system really works -- than to do it from the road. In August/September, I will drive cross-country in my tricked out, rigged-for- shooting car to meet the people who make up the food and farm system that is Farmlandia: farmers and ranchers; growers, sellers, and marketers; chefs in restaurants and cooks in schools. I've scheduled production on farms and ranches of every kind and size: from 6 acres of organic vegetables in East New York to 6,000 acres of cotton in West Texas; from 80 grass-fed cows to a dairy that milks 32,000 cows a day; from 30 free-range sows and their piglets to 3,000 hogs in confinement. And those are the destinations I have planned. Taking the backroads across the country, who knows what other stories I will uncover along the way? Though I'm traveling alone, I'm taking my backers along for the ride via the Farmlandia blog, Facebook, Twitter--anything that will give you a front seat view and to share in the experience.
By contributing to this campaign, you can help get me on the road with a rental car, enough gas to get me cross-country and back, food (I promise not to eat too much), and, when I can't stay with the many people I know, motel accommodations--all predicated on 30 shooting days. Things have certainly changed over 10 years, including gas mileage (better) and the cost of gas (worse), as well as technology. I've already transitioned to HD, but I now need to add a few things to my camera & equipment package that permit me to shoot alone and without crew, including extra grip items for rigging the camera while I drive. And of course, raw stock.
This is the 2011 production phase, which includes principal photography and the start of the post-production edit phase. My work with the editor starts from the road. I also will log the footage from the road, which will require additional editing software and hardware. (For those who are "in the business" these items are self-explanatory; for those who are not, you can always contact me and I can give you more details.)
The funding I'm requesting is to cover expenses for this shooting/travel and pre-edit phase only--truly a kickstart to the entire project, in particular the very expensive post-production/completion phase that will follow. The request is for $9,600 which I hope to meet and exceed, with any excess funding to be plowed back into the project's completion.