I’m expressly interested in the anthropological implications of narrative filmmaking. I think fiction films often present a less alienating path to empathy and understanding than documentary because of the degree to which the director and actors allow themselves to be vulnerable, and the control they can exert over this vulnerability in a context where everyone is aware of the camera. Because of this ethnographic lens, when I think about making films, I’m rarely compelled by one specific, particular story. The compulsion I feel is to make a film that somehow represents an entire lifetime, or, as in this case, an entire region. It’s quite impossible to do, of course; there will always be times, places, and people left out. But for me, a screenplay like the one I am proposing is a start, enough of a cross-section to leave the viewer with at least SOME impression of the kaleidoscopic marvel that is simply walking down the street.
The title, PEAK OIL, refers to the direction I believe we are beginning to turn towards as a society: away from the alienating influences of industrialized productivity, consumption, and consumerism (exemplified by the oil industry) and towards a way of living that is more humanistic and compassionate.
When he was awarded his star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame, Roger Ebert said: “Movies are the most powerful empathy machine in all arts. When I go to a great movie I can live somebody else’s life for a while. I can walk in somebody else’s shoes. I can see what it feels like to be a member of a different gender, a different race, a different economic class, to live in a different time, to have a different belief.” This is the best manifesto there is for defending why I want to make movies, or why movies deserve to be made. By juxtaposing five very different characters’ stories in PEAK OIL, I will create a script that will allow the reader (later the viewer) to experience an array of life experience in a condensed amount of time. As we seem to be mired in an especially vitriolic and reactionary discursive era, I think this kind of empathy is particularly important to propagate.
Until next time ❤
Dylan – Edmonton, AB