I helped Daniel edit this film together of his Tinariwen Remix in the back of the Cadillac. It was all done in one afternoon when we should have been rehearsing for our tour. Vice reviewed it here. I supplied the fishbowl lens. A pretty funny behind the scenes version is in the works too. We are on tour supporting his record Flesh and Machine right now so time is limited. I’ve been evolving the visual elements as we go.
“The following is an outline I wrote for a Bravofactual grant proposal. This outline will be revised as research unveils the complexity of the geopolitical and economic landscape that I am currently unfamiliar with. It’s come to light that the community I grew up in – a once thriving rural area and a bustling small town on the Grand River with small industry and great people – has become the 3rd world in Canada. I prefer to think of it as fertile ground for change. In Dunnville, the problems are clear: Highest Social assistance per capita, Highest prescription drug abuse, lowest grade 5 test scores across the board in the country, and no jobs. As a student, If your community seems to have no future then why care? If the examples you have to look to for guidance are defeated then so will you. It doesn’t have to be that way, people are our greatest resource. Regular people will make change because they care about each other. I’m hoping that spirit survived in the people of the town I remember.”
FREEDOM FUEL: A CANADIAN UTOPIA
Outline of Project
“We don’t need oil, we have the sun and the earth, and we have farmers.” – Neil Young at Farm Aid 2013
My recent work with Neil Young and his electric car Lincvolt has informed and inspired me to enact change in myself and my community.
The documentary I’m proposing will have an inventive approach to the first person journey, through interviews, phone calls, door-to-doors, emails and real interactions with real people, it will be seasoned with animated educational vignettes that make hard to understand concepts easy to take. The 15 minute version of this, will be about outlining my dream, the reasons why and my steps to get seeds in the ground, as a lasting symbol for a clean future for my family. It will serve as a primer for the larger vision. My wonderful activist friends have already expressed interest in helping me achieve this, friends like: Daryl Hannah, Neil Young, and Daniel Lanois. Without further adieu – the Grand scope.
Freedom Fuel. I intend to transform myself and then my community into sustainable, carbon neutral, petroleum free, new world leaders.
Here is how I will do it:
In this documentary I will show people how shamefully simple it would be to get off petroleum. How everyone can do it with existing and commonly available technology, and by growing hemp for fuel, food and manufacturing. I’ll start by planting an acre of hemp on my family’s Century farm; a farm that’s been in the family almost as long as Canada has been Canada. I’ll acquire my own seed press (from China – but we could just as easily make it locally) and a biodiesel processing machine. I’ll put the fuel that I make into my 2000 Volkswagen TDI Jetta (that was a 200,000 km gift from my mom), and run it clean. I’ll use my story as a guinea pig to arrange community meetings with farmers and industrialists in my community and present the proof of concept to convince them to become carbon neutral operations themselves, converting their machines to run on biodiesel that they use to grow and make their own fuel while producing the raw materials for new local manufacturing jobs.
Here is the pitch.
I’ll show farmers how easy it is to do and then show them the benefits and possibilities that exist. Hemp has been legal to grow in Canada since 1998. Biofuel from hemp can be produced for 25% of the cost of petro diesel, a fact that most farmers will take very seriously because fuel accounts for 50-60% of operating costs. A fact we should all take seriously because it’s a 100% reduction in carbon emissions from the farming sector. If we can lower the carbon and the cost of fuel as well as lower the price of food, improve the quality of life for farmers, and the immediate environment – how can it be wrong?. Hemp is a crop that produces 4x the veggie oil of other seeds, nitrogen fixes soil as it grows, requires no pesticides or fertilizers to grow in any soil or condition, and removes 8x the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than any other plant. So far its win, win, win, win, win, win, win.
Here is the next win, its a whammy:
Growing hemp for oil requires only the top part (seed pod) of an 8ft high fibrous stalk, a stalk that has been used for centuries for it’s amazing properties as a strong natural fiber. Farmers can sell the stalks to local new world industrialists that make carbon neutral, tough and responsible hemp products. It becomes an area of opportunity for industrialists in a small community to start micro manufacturing industries that through the power of the Internet they can market to the world. Anything that is not glass or metal can be made from Hemp-fibers. Plastics, Insulation, concrete, fiberglass, paper, rope, textiles, advanced composite building materials, even ethanol to burn in regular fuel injected cars.
Concurrently to the campaign to farmers, I’ll be documenting my interaction with local industry and municipal government to change policy and encourage cleaner, and more profitable sustainable practices in the community. I’ll teach them how to create sustainable manufacturing businesses based on Hemp fibers, find niche markets for their wares, and employ people in clean jobs that will stimulate the economy and improve quality of life for the entire community. Local construction practices and local building codes could be changed to encourage use of stronger, longer lasting hemp based materials. Local lumberyards could become manufacturers of advanced composite materials made from hemp. Local concrete forming companies could convert to building with hemp Crete – a product that is easier to work with, has insulation and humidity control built in, requires no carbon emissions to make and it gets stronger with age. I will show them examples of how any community with a wastewater treatment plant can increase its capacity to make clean water and make fuel with the biological waste. Crazy right – not really. Off the back of a water treatment plant – cattails and algae can be grown. Cattails and algae are both things that grow incredibly well in organic waste. Cattails produce 10-15x the ethanol per acre than corn, and help filter the water. Algae do the same and multiply exponentially – to make exceptional bodies. Voila a micro biofuel refining plant pops up – So, now not only have you increased the capacity for cleaner drinking water, but you’ve also created a revenue stream for the municipality as a biofuels distributor. Bam Bam. Decentralization at it’s finest. Energy from waste, as it should be. Hell, if farmers produce more fuel than they need, they can always sell it back into the co-op for community use. Local mechanics can offer low cost conversion services to automobile owners so their cars can run better, cleaner and longer on municipally grown – less expensive, responsible fuels.
Why hasn’t this happened yet?
People change the world, then policy changes. I know the sense of community I grew up in – people who pull together when someone needs help, always a cup of flour to offer or a shoulder to lean on when you need to make sense of the crazy world. Throughout the film I will demystify core concepts and the disinformation from the “Big Oil” firms though simple animations by Artist Michael Bedard. I will make clear why it is so essential through empirical evidence and studies done by leading scientists and doctors. Climate chaos is real, and it’s because we’ve burned 100 million years of stored carbon into the air we breathe inside of 100 years. The chaos is real but we can stop it, the change is going to happen, but it needs to happen faster. My journey to get off petroleum, and the process of converting farmers in rural Canadia – into self sufficient biofuel growers and makers, I hope will catalyze change in other farming communities across this great land, and perhaps the world. If people know they have a choice, and can be more responsible, it can cost less, and their legacy will be a positive one – they WILL do it. We can do it. We all want the best for our children and our grandchildren, but most people feel helpless in the system.
If what I’m proposing becomes a widespread phenomenon, we could be looking at a new picture of our planet, A Freedom Fuel Utopia.
I am a self taught filmmaker. Working with musical legends I’ve learned ways to roll on things covertly and get content that most others miss. What I do best is shots that are long and evolving compositions, allowing the viewer a chance to concentrate on the voyeurism of the moment and feel immersed in it.
To do the job – I’ll employ smaller 35mm high end point-and-shoot rangefinder cameras for the majority of the shooting. They produce high quality footage and low psychological impact on subjects. Cameras such as the Sony RX1 and the Fuji X1Pro, mounted on a miniature Steadicam Merlin. Other cameras will include but not be limited to Canon 5dMkIII, GoPro Hero 3, and Contour cameras as well as the Brinno 200’s for specialized timelapse work. In addition I’ll use the Sony F5 for traditional talking head segments.
To illustrate world issues some stock footage will be used as well as pertinent parts of other popular films related to the cause such as “Gasland”, “Fuel” and “the Inside Job”. It will be integrated into the film via a telecine shot of the footage piped into an old television set of the 70’s. A television set that is sitting, beautifully lit in a beautiful wooden room full of light. A television set that occasionally gets smacked by the narrator, and a pearl of wisdom is spoken. The character smacking the TV is later revealed to be Neil Young.
I’ll use my technological audio and visual savvy to capture phone conversations, skype and facetime calls, and other computer related information to aid in the narrative innovation.
My friend and artist Michael Bedard, has agreed to animate core concepts like the carbon cycle, and the carbon crisis in a spirit like the epic Clouzot film that captured Picasso as he paints through the miracle of Timelapse, “Le Mystere Picasso”.
The entire project will have an organic and handmade feel, with textural elements pulled directly from nature.
There will also be timelapse paintings of the local environment throughout to compare and contrast man’s relationship to the natural world and it’s processes.
I always do as much as I can with as little as possible, so my crew will always be skeleton in nature, and a quality selection of the finest individuals I know.
Inside Job – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FzrBurlJUNk
Le Mystere Picasso – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X39aJnte2y0
Andrew Schoultz – Winds are a Changin’ (work of Adam CK Vollick) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFYumkFgFWQ
Le Noise – Neil Young (work of Adam CK Vollick) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wU5B53b9ntQ
Eleven years in the making, FUEL is the in-depth personal journey of filmmaker and eco-evangelist Josh Tickell, who takes us on a hip, fast-paced road trip into America’s dependence on foreign oil.
Combining a history lesson of the US auto and petroleum industries and interviews with a wide range of policy makers, educators, and activists such as Woody Harrelson, Sheryl Crow, Neil Young and Willie Nelson.
Watch the whole documentary here.