An experimental feature-length non-fiction film exploring the deep meaning of sustainability.
What does sustainability mean?
There seems to be no simple answers. The answer(s) would probably be complex, reflexive, paradoxical... perhaps even paradigm-shifting.
What are the features of a sustainable thing or system? Is there a single universal definition of sustainability, or is it always changing, relative, made up of the agents participating in it? Is sustainability static, or dynamic? Is sustainability akin to "equilibrium"... or something more emergent? How might this elusive "nature of sustainability" influence reality? How does it shape the experiences of our lives? How does it inform the structures of our communities and society? Is “sustainability” impossible to define? Or should we ask, “what or who defines sustainability?”
Our mission is to use nonfiction cinema to expand awareness about the complexity involved in defining sustainability. Through an emotional and artistically engaging story, we hope to stimulate critical dialog about the meaning of sustainability.
We believe that the more people try to define sustainability in terms of their own lives and communities, the more viable a sustainable world actually becomes.
In May 2008, Caroline Savery, a 21-year old environmental activist and filmmaking student living in Pittsburgh, PA, USA, launched Sust Enable, a three-month attempt to craft a 100% sustainable lifestyle. She defined "100% sustainable" as a lifestyle whose ecological footprint was within "one planet Earth's worth of resources," as determined by the Ecological Footprint Calculator. Her process would be depicted in a web-based video episode series at www.sust-enable.com.
Within just two days of the project’s launch, Caroline realized that many things were not going according to plan. By the end of the three-month period, after battling poison ivy, heavy rains, weight loss, and severe depression, she was overwhelmed with doubts about the original idea for Sust Enable, and about what “100% sustainability” really means...
The Metamentary investigates: what do Caroline’s real-life experiences tell us about what ‘sustainability’ is... and what it isn’t? How do the insights underlying her extraordinary direct experiences parallel with cutting-edge ideas about sustainability emerging from science, academia, environmental activism, and community organizing?
First, the Sust Enable project was about seeking "100% sustainability"... now with The Metamentary, we ask "what does sustainability mean?"
Exactly two years after wrapping production on the Sust Enable episode series, Caroline and a collective crew of filmmakers prepare to begin shooting The Metamentary, a comprehensive artistic and theoretical inquiry into the deep nature of sustainability.
The film will compare Caroline's lifestyle during the 2008 Sust Enable project with her uncontrived lifestyle in 2011, using real events to illustrate philosophical points made by a diverse range of interviewees about how we might understand, practice and engage in creating sustainability. Using a conflictual, dialogic style the film collects a mosaic of answers to the question: “what does sustainability mean?”
The Metamentary treats this inquiry holistically. All levels of the film’s construction--the story arc, the stylistic choices, and the production methodology--will reflect our ever-deepening understanding of sustainability. The film is necessarily experimental, merging several disparate documentary traditions with some of the avant garde trends in fiction filmmaking. We are influenced by filmmakers ranging from Laura Dunn, Ross McElwee and Errol Morris to Darren Aronofsky, Charlie Kaufman and Christopher Nolan. Our goal is to bring psychological and meta-symbolic fiction techniques pioneered by the latter group to the realm of nonfiction, to produce a result that challenges the line separating form from content, truth from relativism, fact from fabrication, in a purposeful comment on the complex, slippery nature of sustainability.
Some examples of our ideas about sustainability that we plan to reflect in the film include:
o dialogism -- meaning is generated from the interaction of ideas, not from any one perspective
o reflexivity -- a system's success is determined by evaluating its own processes
o feedback loops -- integrating feedback from self-evaluation improves a system’s sustainability over time
o diversity -- like in biological evolution, the overall system's integrity improves when there is a diversity of information. if global sustainability is defined reflexively, our definition will have the highest integrity if it is inclusive and accommodating of diverse perspectives
o holism -- a complex sustainable system cannot be reduced to its parts, it must be considered as a whole system to be effectively interpreted
(NOTE: This is not a conclusive list! We expect that our understanding will change over time. That’s why we’ve designed the framework for this production to be dynamic and responsive to feedback, which, combined with a strong creative team, will ensure a thought-provoking, accessible film.)
Here is our up-to-date list of knowledgeable individuals who have agreed to be interviewed, including:
* Albert Bates http://www.thefarm.org/charities/i4at/peacevillage/batesresume.htm
* Michael Ben-Eli, Ph.D http://www.sustainabilitylabs.org/
* Allenna Leonard, Ph.D. http://www.allennaleonard.com/
* Jan Lundberg http://www.culturechange.org
* Colin Beavan http://www.noimpactproject.org
* Leslie Thiele, Ph.D. http://www.clas.ufl.edu/users/thiele/
* Bryan Norton, Ph.D. http://www.philosophy.gatech.edu/faculty/bnorton.php
* Manna Jo Greene, http://mannajo.weebly.com/
* More to come...
Production on the Interviews and 2011 Story phases is scheduled to begin April 2011. Clips from the production should be available by September 2011, with an anticipated January 2012 release date.
The Metamentary emphasizes horizontal, collaborative organizing whenever possible, which explains the reasoning behind our creative "team" clusters. The teams are still in development. Current members of each team may serve in advising or functioning crew capacities as the project takes shape over the next few months.
Caroline Savery has been making short films for over ten years, with an ongoing aesthetic interest in how genre conventions construct audience expectations. Equal parts filmmaker and community activist, she has always had a personal passion for merging social issues with video. She has won several awards for her short videos and academic achievement. Caroline also produced the Sust Enable series, an independent web-based educational episode series about living within a "one-Earth" ecological footprint. Her intriguing mixed experiences while working on Sust Enable lead her to challenge her deep-seated assumptions about the nature of sustainability, and the astonishing things she is learning provides the fuel behind her full dedication to The Metamentary.
Christa Majoras has worked in various capacities with nonfiction media including experiences at PBS stations, WQED and WGBH, as well as nontraditional nonfiction outlets such as theCrane.tv. A graduate of Boston University's Film and Television program, Christa gained practical and theoretical knowledge of filmmaking, with a focus on the history and art of nonfiction film. She is looking forward to developing her producing talents, especially fund-raising, in the co-operative environment of The Metamentary.
Andrea Hall has worked on film and commercial productions in various capacities in New Orleans and Pittsburgh since 2004. She has directed, produced, shot and acted in several short films, assisted production on commercials, worked in the production office for a large marketing and production company, and served as locations assistant on a major motion feature shot in Pittsburgh in the Fall of 2009. Andrea has signed on as a co-producer on The Metamentary due to her interests in sustainability and documentary filmmaking.
Jay Kriss is an Emmy-award winning director of photography and camera operator with over 30 years experience whose work has appeared on Discovery Channel, National Geographic, and Speed Channel, among others. Jay’s most recent credits include; “Rescue Men,” “Fast,” and “Harvesting the High Plains, “ to be released January 2011. Jay's passion has always been for being outdoors. He is widely known for his outdoor photography capabilities. His production company, InSpirit Creative, offers the latest in camera and lens technology, assuring the best possible picture. Jay’s passion for coupling great stories with compelling, considered visuals--plus a personal passion for sustainability--attracted him to the potential in The Metamentary project. http://www.jaykrissfilmhd.com
Thom Woolley is a visual artist, performing artist, writer and educator. For the last eight years, he has worked alternately as a professional photographer, musician and performance artist, with a progressive interest for cinematography and the visual arts. Upon meeting Caroline Savery in Mazatlan, Mexico, while she was researching and developing The Metamentary, they rapidly forged a strong collaborative relationship around a mutual appreciation for the role of visual composition on documentary storytelling. Thom is hugely excited to be working collaboratively on The Metamentary, and is particularly inspired by the opportunity to work on the theme of sustainability, with its potential to help us better understand the nature and challenges of living together on this planet.
EDITING CREATIVE TEAM
Ira Meistrich, award winning non-fiction editor whose work has appeared on ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, A&E, Discovery Channel, and History Channel
Lisa Molomot, editor, instructor in documentary film http://www.lisamolomot.com
Nate Savery, M.A., Communication, University of Colorado-Boulder
Charlie Humphrey, Executive Director, Pittsburgh Filmmakers
Barbra Labbrie, Documentary Producer
Maren Leyla Cooke, Ph.D., Environmental Researcher, Educator, and Activist http://marenslist.blogspot.com
(More to come...)
YOUR PLEDGE MATTERS!:
Your pledge will help us make this visionary film a reality. Funds raised on Kickstarter will be used to directly support costs relating to production.
Today, popular understanding of the word “sustainability” is limited, due in part to the way mainstream media outlets reinforce problematic cultural, corporate and government values when framing the issue of sustainability.
With The Metamentary, we seek to go beyond the soundbytes. Our goal is to take complex but important ideas about the nature of sustainability and translate them into a real-life story with artistic and emotional currency, thereby using digital video and the feature film medium’s widespread accessibility to help make these critical ideas available to the general public. We believe that the more people are engaged in discussing and debating the meaning of sustainability in terms of their own lives and communities, the more viable a sustainable world becomes.
When you contribute to The Metamentary, you share in our goal and our hope of making a sustainable world possible. Become an essential part of our vision by pledging today!
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
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