UPDATE: After meeting our $10,000 goal, we have set a NEW GOAL of $11,900 so that we can visit more locations and talk to more people about how the nuclear industry has impacted their community. Scroll down below to see the breakdown.
For the past two years we have traveled throughout Colorado and New Mexico, interviewing activists and community members whose lives have been impacted by the nuclear weapons industry. We have listened to stories both heartbreaking and inspiring. We have heard about calling into work sick to go on a Backcountry Action in Nevada to stop an underground nuclear weapons test, about quitting your job to dedicate your life full-time to shutting down Rocky Flats, and we have heard about sickness, death, and imprisonment. In the face of both adversity and triumph, these are stories about solidarity, community and a profound commitment to environmental and racial justice.
Our project is a feature-length experimental documentary and multimedia oral history archive that examines three regions in the west, the former Rocky Flats Plant, the White Sands Missile Range and the Nevada Test Site. Off Country investigates the environmental consequences of the nuclear weapons industry as well as racist and classist policies inherent in the storage, mining, and production of radioactive material. We have driven more than 8000 miles, shot over two and a half hours of 16mm film and collected nearly twenty hours of interviews and field recordings.
The film was started with a small grant from CU Boulder, this grant allowed us to perform field work for 4 weeks in the summer of 2016. We shot over 2000 feet of film during this period. Since then we have traveled to New Mexico numerous times and have spent $8,000 on our own conducting fieldwork. Thanks to a small grant from The Puffin Foundation we were able to process and transfer about half of our footage. At bare minimum, we need an additional $10,000 to process the remaining film and transfer it to video.
In order to continue our work we have started a Kickstarter campaign and invite you to help. We are fiscally sponsored by Basement Films so all donations are tax deductible.
In 1992 the closing of the Rocky Flats Plant outside of Boulder Colorado halted the industrial production of nuclear weapons. There are currently plans underway to construct a plutonium pit production facility at Los Alamos National Labs in New Mexico, in order to modernize the U.S. nuclear stockpile for the 21st Century, despite lingering environmental contamination left by the legacy of the 20th century.
In the 1940s, New Mexico was chosen as the site for the Manhattan Project and the world's first atomic weapons test because of its remoteness and the military’s perception that “no one” lived there. However, the Mescalero Indian reservation was established just seven miles from ground zero, and Hispanic families had been ranching in the area for generations. What the military meant by “no one” was that no Anglo-Americans lived in the area.
The film will be bilingual and focus on nuclear weapons testing, manufacturing, and storage, with an emphasis on social justice and environmental restoration. Additionally, the archive will document and catalog a diverse chorus of voices whom history has neglected. This archive will be a tool for researchers, historians, and activists, to learn not only about history but the human stories of people resisting environmental contamination and political oppression.
The lives and histories of the communities living around White Sands, Los Alamos National Lab and the extensive uranium mining in New Mexico’s Pueblos is an overlooked and undocumented legacy. New Mexico was intentionally chosen because of its marginalized and underprivileged population. Mining was done on reservations as a way of sidestepping federal and state regulations. The Off Country film and archive will document and bear witness to the struggle of these communities bringing their stories and voices into a broader cultural awareness.
Stretch Goal Details:
Research Trip to Idaho National Laboratory
This is the location of the first operational nuclear power plant but it is also where the contaminated material form Rocky Flats was stored. Later, under pressure from the Idaho legislature the contaminated material was removed and they did a better job cleaning up the stored waste from Rocky Flats then they did cleaning up Rocky Flats itself.
How the Funds Will be Used:
We will use the Kickstarter funds to process and transfer the remaining film that we shot so that we may begin editing. We will also use funds for production trips to Nevada and Idaho.
Production/Post Production Expenses
2,500ft Kodak 7266 ($26.63/roll x 25) $665
Film Processing (5,500ft x .25/ft) $1375
2K Telecine (5,500ft x .40/ft) $2200
Full Color Grading (3hr x 400$/hr) $1200
Translation (120min x 6$/min) $720
Final Sound Mix (3hrs x 300$/hr) $900
Two Week Production trip to Nevada Test Site
Transportation (2,0000miles x .54/mile) $1080
Lodging (14 nights x $140/day GSA) $1960
Production Trip to Idaho National Laboratory
Transportation (1,480 x .54/mile) $800
Lodging (7 nights x $93/day GSA) $651
Kodak 7266 ($26.63/roll x 5) $133
Processing/Telecine (500ft x .65/ft) $325
Distribution: Taylor and Eric are accomplished filmmakers who tour nationally and internationally. They love showing their films and engaging with local communities through public discussion and media workshops. Once completed the film will be toured throughout the Southwest and shown at local community centers. The film will be submitted to festivals and seek distribution, including online streaming. We will build lesson plans to accompany the film for accession into University libraries.
We appreciate any and all support. Every dollar counts! The column on the right lists the rewards with the dollar donation.
Very special reward: limited edition silver gelatin print
We are shooting our project on B&W reversal 16mm film because we are dedicated to analog photography in the 21st century. The B&W aesthetic in the film connects to the atomic era and 20th-century landscape photography. By donating you have a unique opportunity to receive a very special reward, a limited edition silver gelatin print from a medium format camera.
Taylor Dunne (director/producer/editor) is a filmmaker, curator and university lecturer based in Colorado’s San Luis Valley and the Catskill Mountains of New York State. She has an affinity for photographic processes, amateur film, the personal archive and the history of the cinematic apparatus. She uses these obsessions, and a wide range of media, to paint intimate poetic essays that examine the interconnectedness of time, history and landscape. Her work strives to make visible underrepresented histories and to inspire citizens to participate in shaping future trends in cultural representation. Her works have been exhibited widely at venues that include; the New York Film Festival, the Tribeca Film Festival, Crossroads Film and Video Festival (San Francisco), FOL: Experimental Film Society (Istanbul), EXDOC (Paris) and The Deluge Center for Contemporary Art (Victoria, BC). Most recently she co-curated Mountain Time: Films the Interior of North America, a program of artist-made films and toured with them at micro-cinemas across Europe.
Eric Stewart (director/producer/sound design) is an interdisciplinary multimedia artist and educator. Working predominantly with 16mm film, his artistic practice invokes photochemical and darkroom processes to investigate landscape, place and cultural identity in the American West. Before moving to Colorado in 2013, Eric lived in the San Francisco Bay Area where he taught a biweekly analog filmmaking workshop called “The Elements of Image Making”. He was awarded the 2015 Mono No Aware Award for Excellence in Filmmaking at the Haverhill Experimental Film Festival and his films have shown at The Yerba Buena Center for Fine Arts (SF), Yale University, Crossroads Film Festival (SF Cinematheque), 25fps (Zagreb) and The Florida Experimental Film Festival. He holds a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, an MFA from the University of Colorado, Boulder and is currently Assistant Professor in Photography at Adams State University in the beautiful San Luis Valley of Southern Colorado.
Risks and challenges
These stories have been excluded from mainstream history, because it is in the interest of large military contractors and real estate developers to keep these stories under the radar. This makes funding and distribution a challenge, which is why, with a successful Kickstarter campaign, we will be able to finish this film and bring it into popular discourse.
Another challenge is the wide tracts of land we have to cover. The west is vast and this is one of the reasons they chose New Mexico and Nevada as locations for nuclear testing, mining and production, because they are remote and FAR from everything. We moved to the Southwest to finish this film (that's how dedicated we are) but our locations are still on average 180 miles one-way. Without your support we will not be able to travel across these vast and disconnected spaces.
Finally, translating the film into Spanish is going to be difficult and costly because there are many dialects in the regions where the testing happened. We are going to need someone good and that costs $$$.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (32 days)