Frequent flyer miles are bigger than ever--and some people are taking the earning of those miles, as well as ingenious redemptions, to levels that would surprise many a casual mile-collector. I documented this phenomenon and met some of the frequent flyer world's most active participants in my short documentary "Frequent Flyer", available to view here:
It's time now to document this phenomenon with more depth, and I've decided to make a feature-length version of "Frequent Flyer," suitable for theatrical distribution (roughly 60 to 70 minutes in length.) To take things to this more ambitious level, I need to raise some money, which will go towards:
- Travel (to go across the world and meet the people involved, from mileage fanatics to those running frequent flyer programs, economists, and more, and to document the world of airports and airplanes along the way)
- Equipment rental (I have the camera but still need audio equipment)
- Post-production costs including music and animation (original animation will be drawn and musical score recorded)
- Promotional costs, including DVDs, posters, and festival fees
MORE ON THE FILM:
Two years after the online release of the 20-minute "Frequent Flyer", the film has screened in around a dozen festivals and been viewed on vimeo.com over 58,000 times. Since that time the frequent flyer world has only gotten more interesting--mileage is being earned and cashed in at record levels, and airlines (not to mention hotels and banks) are ever-increasingly leveraging loyalty programs to attract customers. And this isn't just a story about mega-mileage and the dedication with which people seek it--it's also about the state of the world in which such a niche interest can flourish, in which thousands of airplanes are in the air at any given time and we can fly to distant continents as a matter of routine.
The feature-length version will expand upon the short doc by going into greater depth, getting to know some of the most interesting characters and addressing questions raised by the original, including:
- the Process: how do people actually go about earning hundreds of thousands of miles in a year, sometimes without flying?
- the Financial: what does it really cost to earn these miles through mileage runs and other means. Who wins out on value for money in the end, the people or the airlines?
- the Economics: what are the greater implications of the role of frequent flyer miles as a significant currency with real value that exists outside of traditional monetary systems?
- the Environment: many theories exist about how bad it is for the environment to take a plane for no reason other than to earn miles, and it's a topic that gets people heated. I've never seen any one of them clearly proven correct, so we'll get to the bottom of this, consulting experts and digging up the facts.
Apart from anything else, this promises to be a worthwhile exercise in making a feature-length doc mostly single-handedly and funding it completely independently. The ultimate goal is to get the film into the biggest festivals and to secure theatrical distribution, bringing it to a much wider audience. And it's with your generous donations that I'll be able to do this.
Thank you very much, in advance. And happy flying.
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