About this project
Dwell Magazine picked From Sea To Shining Sea Kickstarter of the Week!
My name is Evan Mather, and I am a landscape architect with AHBE in Los Angeles. I'm also an award-winning filmmaker working on short films about design and architectural issues. These can be viewed at my personal website, Hand Crafted Films.
In 2012, I completed a series of experimental time-lapse videos as a mean of depicting landscapes - specifically via an iPhone mounted to my dashboard. These included portraits of the 110 freeway in Los Angeles; the 1-1/2 drive from Baton Rouge to New Orleans; portions of my commute to work; and culminated in 12 Minutes to Vegas.
12 Minutes to Vegas is an experimental time-lapse video that compresses the 3-1/2 hour drive from Los Angeles, California to Las Vegas, Nevada into 12 minutes. Watching the video, one experiences a variety of landscapes - from the beach environment in Malibu, to downtown Los Angeles, the high desert, casinos along the California/Nevada border, and Las Vegas itself. But in my mind, I had something more ambitious planned.
The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has designated April as National Landscape Architecture Month. To commemorate, I am launching this Kickstarter campaign to fund production of my first feature film – From Sea To Shining Sea – a celebration of diversity in the American geophysical landscape.
From Sea To Shining Sea will be a feature-length, time-lapse documentary film, tracing the route of American settlement from Jamestown, Virginia to San Francisco, California primarily via the Interstate Highway System. The viewer will experience the journey itself during the 105-minute video presentation – as the shifting geophysical landscape (from coast to coast) is united physically by the transcontinental transect (highway) and socially by an interpretive audio collage of notable landscape architects, geographers, journalists, and citizens.
To commemorate our nation’s bicentennial, the July 1976 issue of National Geographic Magazine contained a traditional fold-out graphic map of the lower 48 states, which on the reverse side, transformed into the first ever satellite portrait of the United States taken from the Landsat 1 satellite. In this one image, one sees the incredible diversity in the American landscape - from the Appalachians to the Sierras, and from the interior plains to the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. I can attest that as a six-year old, no one image has had such a lifelong impact and generated such an excitement for the natural diversity of the United States. It is this impact that I believe From Sea To Shining Sea will have on future generations.
Time-lapse videography has been used to portray landscape transformation before - notably in Godfrey Reggio’s 1983 feature Koyaanisqatsi. However, a more accurate point of reference for From Sea To Shining Sea would be Al Reinert’s 1989 documentary For All Mankind. This film tells the story of the Apollo moon program via archival photography underlaid with an ambient music score - augmented by interpretations of the lunar landscape by the astronauts’ themselves. While the American landscape is certainly not as foreign as the moon, it is this combination of beautiful imagery with layers of interpretation via interviews and music that will be portrayed in From Sea To Shining Sea.
To assist with accompanying audio collage, I have received commitments from Professor John Stilgoe, the Robert and Lois Orchard Professor in the History of Landscape at the Visual and Environmental Studies Department of Harvard University; writer Earl Swift, author of the 2012 book “The Big Roads”, a history of the American highway system; and Matthew Clayfield, travel journalist and author of 2012’s “The Caucasian Semi-Circle: A Journey Along Russia's Exposed Nerve”. Additional commentaries will be sought from you – Kickstarter supporters who have made similar cross-county journeys and have interesting stories to tell.
An original ambient musical score by my frequent collaborator Juuso Auvinen of Helsinki, and dynamic animated cartography highlighting landmarks in the landscape, sustains the viewer's interest from start to finish.
For this Kickstarter campaign – I’m trying to raise $6000 to film, edit, and complete the feature length film From Sea To Shining Sea. Your funds will be used for airfare (coach from Los Angeles to DC), car rental (from DC to Los Angeles), motels and meals (for two alternating drivers); gas; commissioning of the musical score; studio recording of the narration; and submittal to film festivals. I hope to shoot the film this summer, 2013, and finish editing and fine tuning by the end of the year. I have a commitment from the National Building Museum to host the world premiere in 2014.
Upon completion of watching From Sea To Shining Sea – the viewer will feel as if they have taken the journey itself, and have a greater appreciation of the diverse physical and cultural landscape of the United States of America.
Thank you for your consideration. Have a nice day.
Risks and challenges
There are two main challenges to complete "From Sea To Shining Sea", one is technical, the other is meteorological.
During the filming of "12 Minutes To Vegas", we encountered a number of technical issues - overheating iPhone, limited disk storage, and maintaining color balance. We learned how to overcome these - including directing air conditioning vents directly at the iPhone to keep it cool - and plan to keep to bring two on the road for "From Sea To Shining Sea", so a backup device is always handy.
In terms of weather, we plan to shoot near the end of June 2013 to minimize disruptions due to excessive heat, and maximize shooting length during daylight hours. We actually welcome severe weather to some extent - in order to realistically portray a variety of conditions during the journey.
What we cannot account for is the unforeseen - i.e. the bolts that flew from a passing truck and miraculously bounced off the windshield during the filming of "12 Minutes To Vegas". However, the route and planned stops have enough leeway in them, that if it is necessary to backtrack a bit to recapture certain shots, we have that opportunity.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
The plan is to start on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean, heading toward Norfolk, Virginia - ending up on the Golden Gate Bridge, adjacent to the Pacific Ocean, heading away from San Francisco, California. In between, we will be on I-64 passing Jamestown on the way to Charlotteville; Charleston, West Virginia; Lexington, Kentucky; Louisville, Kentucky; southern Indiana; southern Illinois; and then Saint Louis, Missouri. From Saint Louis we hit I-70 west toward Kansas City, Missouri; Abeline, Kansas; Denver, Colorado; Grand Junction, Colorado; and Salina, Utah. From here we deviate from the Interstate for a few on US-50, connecting to I-15 toward Salt Lake City, Utah. From Salt Lake we head west on I-80 crossing the Bonneville Salt Flats, toward Battle Mountain and Reno, Nevada; crossing into California through Truckee, Sacremento, Vallejo, Berkeley, and Oakland. Finally, we cross the Bay Bridge, wind through San Francisco on US-101, up Van Ness, down Lombard, through the Presidio, end credits rolling on the Golden Gate.
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