In late 2016 I was burned out on the kinds of directing jobs I was getting, so I took a year off from directing for pay. I continued to work but only on projects where I could work for free. In that year I made a proof of concept with UCB Los Angeles, shot the Throwing Shade tour doc, directed a sizzle reel for a Comedy Central project, and made this short film with the brilliant Scout Durwood. Working in the horror genre was completely new for me and I LOVED it. On pure aesthetics this is the piece I’m most proud of from my volunteer period.
I was crying while we shot this so don’t hold back.
This is just a fun video I made about my friends and our trip to Paris, but I thought it would be worth explaining how that trip came to be.
Back in October of 2015 I was feeling paralyzed with anxiety about climate change. I started putting more time aside every day to talk about environmental issues with friends and write letters or comments online. Everyone close to me knows that this has taken center stage in my life this year.
One day last summer I was reading Jeremy Leggett’s amazing book “Winning The Carbon War,” which chronicles his participation in major climate negotiations in recent years, among other significant developments in the effort to decarbonize our world economy. There was one passage in particular where he describes young activists present at one of the talks, and suddenly I was overcome with an urge to be among these people. I put the book down and bought a ticket to Paris for the COP21 climate summit.
Admittedly, buying a plane ticket was a hypocritical move on my part. Unnecessary plane rides are the opposite of limiting my carbon footprint. I did buy carbon offsets for my ticket, which Delta makes very easy, but still it’s a carbon intensive luxury that can’t be dismissed lightly. I follow developments with electric airplanes and I hope that one day soon I can fly in a commercial flight powered by nothing but sunlight. Until then I know that I’m harming the planet every time I fly, and there’s no way around that except to fly less.
Dan Bree and Jessica Makinson are two of my dearest friends. Knowing that they share my concern for the planet, I urged them both to come with me and they did. This video is more about them than the climate summit. It’s just a little vacation video I made to capture the memories.
For the past year and a half I’ve been looking for arguments in the comments section of climate change articles on the internet. I know that it’s a sewer, and people tell me all the time that it’s not worth it. But I find it therapeutic and to be quite honest, I have so much anxiety and frustration with the climate change debate that sometimes I just want to get into a fight. So this is where I go for a bare knuckle brawl.
It all boils down to this – I have a particular sensitivity to watching people play dirty tricks with logic and manipulate the public with mind games. In fact I can’t stand it.
It started when I read a comment where some individual, it seemed, had read a glossary of terms which apply to exclusively the fossil fuel industry (pollution, out of control GHG emissions, disruptive to local habitat) and then simply went online and claimed, without any evidence or support, that they applied to the renewables industry instead. This kind of rhetorical perversion is rampant, and it made me boil over with moral outrage.
I spent the next 15 months getting into polite, but firm arguments in comments sections. I guess you could argue that I’m a troll for climate change, and unapologetically I concede. I’ve gotten better at it, and I’ve learned a lot more about how climate change deniers think and argue. Many of them are quite smart, and they have helped me refine my position
The other day I was reading this article in the LA Times: PUC Plans New Rooftop Solar Fees
In this article I caught a whiff of something devious that the utilities were trying to do in their messaging, so I sprang into action, and for the first time I wrote a letter to the editor. I don’t know why this hadn’t occurred to me before, because this is like the Hall Of Fame for comments.
My comment got published yesterday. Here is the text of what I submitted in full, as it was edited by the paper for publication:
Readers beware. California utilities have found a very cagey argument for increasing fees on solar users, invoking the “cost burden” to non-solar customers. As a renter and California ratepayer, installing solar is not an option for me, so I’m happy to support homeowners who have the roof space and the will to install solar panels. The true cost burden should be measured not in cents per kilowatt hour, but in excess molecules of carbon dioxide emitted by centralized utilities that will have to rely on dirty power for years to come, and the loss of efficiency as power is transmitted over long distances to our homes. The grid is a resource for all of us, and there is common sense in maintaining it so that we can share the electrons generated elsewhere. But my favorite electrons are the ones that come from my neighbors next door, even the ones with bigger houses than I could ever afford, and generous arrays of solar panels on the roof. Don’t be fooled by the utilities who put residential solar in their crosshairs and feign doing so out of “fairness”. This is a fight for their business model, and while they’d be stupid not to try, we’d be stupider to let them get away with the ruse.