Friday, March 25, 2011

A Fierce Green Fire - History of the ECO Movement at ZAP


Mark Kitchell's new ambitious documentary series, a history of the environmental movement from "Silent Spring" and the Sierra Club through Love Canal, Greenpeace and the current global warming consciousness is in the fine cut stage here in the Presidio. ZAP has been providing the filmmakers with exotic solutions to the problems that come with integrating media from over 4 decades and six continents. Up-rezzing and improving archival video and general post production advice.

Mark is best known for Berkeley in the Sixties, which won top honors and has become a well-loved classic, one of the defining documentaries about the protest movements that shook America during the 1960s. I've known Mark for several years; I was one of many who helped prep 16mm footage for his "Berkeley In The 60's" when I worked for a time at an independent film studio on Mission Street in the mid 1980s. Then, in 2000 when I was preparing documentary shorts for "The Godfather" on DVD for Paramount, I was filming the great production designer Dean Tavoularis on the Lower East Side talking about the Sixth Street location for The Godfather, Part II (filmed in 1973). I was remarking that there was no "behind the scenes" footage of the original photography, and Dean said "too bad you can't find that kid's student Mark something or other, skinny tall kid, long hair...NYU film student I think..." That led me to Mark Kitchell, and his great student film "The Godfather Comes to Sixth Street" from which we licensed clips for our documentary short.

Here is a synopsis of the project from the Fierce Green Fire website:

A Fierce Green Fire is the first film to take on environmentalism as a whole, to bring together all the parts and eras, from conservation to climate change. It explores how the issues built into an international cause, the largest movement the world has ever seen and perhaps the most crucial in terms of what’s at stake. It’s not easy being green – every battle is against the odds. We focus on successes: halting dams in the Grand Canyon; rescuing the people of Love Canal; saving whales and the greatest rainforest on earth. However, we also look at how the struggles continue and the issues grow in scope until it’s an open question whether they’re too big for the environmental movement to deal with. Our approach differs from the usual environmental documentary in two ways. First is our focus on activism. We reveal the issues by showing how people acted on them; it’s a more engaging approach, emphasizing drama and passion. Second is our emphasis on the big picture – connections, core ideas, what it all means. This film is designed to reach and teach a huge and hungry audience, give them an understanding of environmentalism like nothing before. Now we must all be environmentalists, as Bob Bullard the environmental justice advocate puts it: “There’s no Hispanic air. There’s no African-American air. There’s air! And if you breathe air – and most people I know do breathe air... then I would consider you an environmentalist.” A Fierce Green Fire unfolds in five acts, each 20-25 minutes. E.O. Wilson, the biologist and advisor to the film, suggested focusing on five of the most dramatic and important events and people. In developing those main stories and characters, we discovered each was emblematic of an era and a part of the environmental movement. So we devised an hourglass structure for each act. They begin with the broader context. Then they focus in on the main story, more fully told. Finally they open up again to explore ramifications.erke

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