Saturday, March 31, 2007

NY to Boston and Back

Hi friends. Aaron woke me up this morning and got pouty faced about being the only one that ever contributes to the blog. So friends, let me take you on our journey of the past few days. Having been repeatedly removed from public spaces in malls in both New York and Massachusetts, I can say for certain that these days are troubling for the enterprising young documentary filmmaker. Fortunately our filming in malls has become refined, and by refined I assure you I mean Aaron runs interference as I continue to steal footage without getting arrested.

In NY we went filming over at the Atlantic Ave. mall, and then did some time lapse stuff over in Times Square and Union Square. It is fascinating to see the array of advertisements that literally make Times Square look like Disneyland. Should make for some pretty amazing footage.

The following morning we left for Boston, and with the help of our friend Greg got settled in the old city. Boston College is home to Professor Juliet Schor, author some amazing books like The Overspent American and Born To Buy. She has done in depth research into the lives of Americans and their relationship to money and the stuff they buy. If you have not read either of these books, I would suggest you go to the book store this weekend. The interview was really amazing, and we should be able to put up some excerpts from it quite soon.

Aaron and I just want to thank all of you that have helped us thus far. The filming is going spectacularly, and will only get better with interviews in New York and Toronto later this week. Keep checking back for some time lapse shots and interview bits coming soon. Until then, think about this...

America landfills enough garbage every year to fill a hole the size of a football field (including end zones I believe) that would be about 100 miles deep. Just food for thought.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

So much to blog, so little time

Days 1 and 2 in the books for the initial part of Wasteland. We have done a spectacular amount of walking considering Wes lives in LA and I am out of shape. It has been good though, and it sure is exciting to be on the case again. Before we leave for Boston to interview Juliette Schor, I wanted to show you some pics, and tell you what we have been up to.

We interviewed Elizabeth Royte in Brooklyn on Monday, and it was a terrific interview. She talked a bit about recycling, garbage, waste disposal, why we throw away so much, and many other topics covered in her fascinating book Garbageland. I highly recommend you read it.

Wes shot some stuff that will come out looking like trash (what else is new?).

Don't forget, our film is also about consumerism, and what better place to start than the ugly reality of Times Square. We shot around the area, took some photos and some video that will fit nicely in the trailer. Also, Wes likes the bright lights. It is the flame to his moth. Ugly moth.

We shot a really excellent time lapse piece in Union Square, we are going to try and have it up very soon. It is far more attractive than this picture, I promise you.

We shot some garbage trucks driving around, and some metal being disposed of. It is going to look wonderful, I promise.

We finished off day 2 with some fantastic time lapse stuff along the promenade in Brooklyn Heights. We haven't seen any of it yet, but we are pretty sure it will look gorgeous.

We are off to Boston today, where there will be more exciting blogging and storytelling. My roommate Steve told me of a pretty good burrito spot, and you know how us California folk feel about Mexican food.

Until then.....

Monday, March 26, 2007

So it begins

Day 1, things get off to a good start. Wes and I got going on finding a location, which we do relatively quickly. We loved this place:

It is an alley on 4th St and Bond st in Brooklyn, right near the Gowanus Canal. This is the spot for our interview with Elizabeth Royte, which happens today at around 2PM.

Sunday we went on a little shopping trip to get some essentials. We went to the spectacular B&H Photo store in Manhattan and loaded up. Once we got home we noticed the amount of packaging and trash that came with everything, and we decided to share it.

The small stack on the right is the stuff we bought. A tripod case (with tripod inside), a small pelican case for sound equipment, and the sound equipment inside. The pile of junk on the right is all of the packaging that will be thrown away. Granted the cardboard can be recycled, as can the plastic, but the box full of styrofoam, and the styrofoam box that came with the sound gear will all just be thrown away.

Anyway, we get started shooting today, and should have some fun videos up soon. Keep checking back, we will try to update as often as possible.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Off we go

Wes arrives in NYC tonight, and this weekend we scout for our first interview, with Garbageland author Elizabeth Royte on Monday, and then from there we are on hyperspeed. Over the next couple of weeks we will be in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Boston, Ottowa and Syracuse, NY. It will be a crazy trip, and we will try and update as much as we can with daily journal entries and pictures. Stay with us, and hopefully it will be as much fun to read about as it will be to shoot.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

We found ourselves an editor

Hello friends, on the production side of this little film of ours, we found an editor who will be in this for the long haul with us. He is the fantastically competent Danny Brothers. He is a NYC based editor who also works as a producer/director (don't they all). You can check him out here, here and here. And also here.
He is a fantastic filmmaker and we are thrilled to have him aboard.

Friday, March 9, 2007

The Other Side Of The Water

I have owned 5 different computers int he past 6 years. Either they broke, became outdated, or I just craved having the new thing and replaced the old. It has come to my attention that we have not been putting the puzzle pieces together as a nation about where all of our old cell phones, laptops, computer monitors, and other electronic waste goes after we have replaced them.

Most of our computers are made and manufactured in Asia, then shipped across the Pacific to our living rooms here in America. We use these products in our daily lives, and most people would argue and say that a cell phone is an essential item. I am not one to argue as I might have spent many an hour wandering aimlessly through Agora Hills looking for shooting locations had I not had a cell phone to communicate with others. Cells phones and computers are a fact. Millions of people are not going to suddenly rid themselves of their electronic counterparts, so we need to find a way to exist with them, and yet demand that the companies that make them become more responsible with what is done with them after their usefulness has run out.

Some companies like Dell have buy back programs where you can repack your computer and send it back to them for dismantling. Unfortunately, since the US makes it expensive to dump toxic chemicals into the earth, these companies often send our computer parts back to where they came from... Asia. In China and India there are thousands of small children that make their living taking apart our old cell phones, computers, and monitors. They recycle them and extract the precious metals from their inner-workings. I have seen over an hour of footage from members of Greenpeace that have shot video of these children taking the things apart. These parts have things like mercury, and cadmium, and other substances very harmful to anyone not using protective equipment. Needless to say, the children are using their bare hands and small chisels, while working on a concrete floor.

The point is, think before you buy, and think before you dispose. I am not one to tell you to not buy the new laptop. Just remember that when you buy something, ask where it comes from, how it gets manufactured, and where you can send it when the new machine is available for purchase. If we want to consume in America, then it should be America that carries the burden of it's own waste, not shipping it across the ocean to a nation who has enough of the public severely under the poverty line that they welcome our detritus.

What if the picture above was that of an American child?

Less to throw away, with pictures!

Since deciding to embark on this project and after reading Elizabeth Royte's fantastic book Garbageland, I have been looking for ways to change my life in terms of what I throw away. I think I have stumbled upon two relatively simple ways that I can succeed, and they are things that everyone can do. Firstly whilst depositing a check at the bank today, I noticed that I was the only person who did not request a receipt after my transaction. I never do, mainly just because I don't want a paper record of what I am doing at the bank. Someone might find it in the garbage, steal my identity and start spending all of my money. Don't worry, it wouldn't go far. Then I realized I can kill two birds with one stone here: if I don't ask for a receipt, it is less to throw away. Imagine if everyone you knew didn't take a receipt from the ATM. I have no idea how to calculate that, except to ask everyone at the bank to put their receipt in a bag and weigh it (is that creepy?), but it seems like it can cut down on an awful lot of trash.

I also decided to start paying my bills online. At first this seemed like a shady idea, what with all of the hackers and online terrorists out there looking for my bank information. However I found an option that not only allows me to not write checks (which will eventually be thrown away), but it also stops sending the bills to my house, which I always throw away, or keep for some time then throw away. In the interest of the film, I guess I could keep going with the bills-in-the-mail to see how much I am reducing in a year, but I would rather feel like I am making a difference now.

Enough of that optimism. I would like to leave you with some disturbing pictures. These are images that I am sure Wes and I will revisit during the film, so you can get a preview of what we are after. This is a pile of garbage I saw while shooting in a building in Midtown Manhattan. This is the garbage accumulated in one week at one restaurant on a fairly quite midtown street. Look at what we are putting back into our Earth. Maybe you, like me, will never look at a restaurant the same way again.

(click for BIIIIIIIIIG)

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Wes In The West

Hi everyone! Thanks for coming to check out the blog. We will try to keep you up to date with the filming of Wasteland. We know that many of you have asked yourself how so much garbage has accumulated in your weekly trash? Or stood in your closet wondering how in the hell all this stuff got here? I am probably one of the most guilty out there in terms of consuming my fair share of goods, not recycling, and creating a ton of waste. Though I date a woman who is currently planting trees and forming a zero waste community in the north of Ecuador, I still have difficulty just showing up to Starbucks with my own reusable coffee cup.

Thus the film is really an adventure for two filmmakers who in their hearts know there is a problem, but have definitely not become the antidote to it. We are looking at the garbage that accumulates from American consumers, what is done with it, and why we are buying all this stuff in the first place? We know that you as friends and family are very supportive of this film, and for any of you that have input or ideas for us to examine further, we welcome your suggestions.

Also, we are poor (namely because we are documentary filmmakers) and sometimes in need of a warm place to sleep, and an electric outlet to charge the batteries for another day of shooting. If you are able to provide us with any assistance, I can assure you that Aaron is ready and willing to cook you a great meal while I do very little. We begin shooting in the coming weeks. Pictures to follow, and if you find us snooping through your trash can, just remember that it is in the name of art and social justice.


Wasteland The Movie

Welcome friends, to the blog for the new as-yet-shot documentary, Wasteland. I feel this blog will be a chance for us (directors Aaron Rosenbloom and Wes Meilandt) to share our experiences as we go off on our quest to shoot, edit and distribute our film on our own. We will be working with a little bit of equipment, money, resources, gasoline and connections, but a lot of burning desire to tell an important story.

Our film will be about the way the citizens of this country consume and then throw away what they do not want. We will talk to average families, garbage men, political leaders, environmentalists, authors, professors and experts on all topics relevant to our film.

We will also be premiering clips of the footage we shoot here on the blog, and will want your feedback, since this film will ultimately be for you. Hopefully it will be as fun to watch as I am sure it will be to shoot.