'BASELINE' in Vox, NPR and Kottke
And our new strategy for filming during Covid-19
John here from the BASELINE series. I know your minds are likely elsewhere right now, but I’m excited to share a few links and give you a Covid-era update.
Kottke is still doing Kottke
Despite this film not existing yet, we are somehow all over the media this week:
Vox’s David Roberts interviewed me about the idea of using documentary to counteract “generational amnesia” on the climate crisis. (I think that happened because AR Siders, whose work on “managed retreat” from the coasts in the climate era is truly vital, tweeted at him and told him about BASELINE).
The blog Kottke picked up on that conversation.
And so did NPR’s “On the Media,” which featured the project this weekend.
Kottke (what up Web 1.0!) had a great description of BASELINE:
Taking a page from The Up Series, director John Sutter is making a series of films that revisit four geographic locations every 5 years until 2050 in order to document the effects in those areas due to climate change. The name of the series is Baseline and it’s a reference to the concept of shifting baselines, which the trailer above defines as “a phenomenon of lowered expectations in which each generation regards a progressively poorer natural world as normal”. The four areas the films will focus on are Alaska, Utah, Puerto Rico, and the Marshall Islands.
A friend messaged me after I posted the Kottke link saying that his homepage used to be Kottke.org. I’ve been obsessed, too. And I’m going to start reading again. (For those unfamiliar, Kottke is like THE original tech-culture blogger. Think 1998-original.)
So, anyway, all that was kinda fun.
Kids are helping us make this film
Now, the update: Partly because of Covid and mainly because it feels right, we’re starting to ask kids in these four locations to help us make this film.
It’s been wild and fun so far. We’ve sent cameras to a few young people in Utah as a pilot, and plan to send them to the other locations. (The iPhone SE 2020 isn’t super expensive as phones go, and they shoot 4K video with an adjustable frame rate.)
I’ll report back on how this is going soon. But I also wanted to say a quick thank you to other creators who are working in this space, which MIT broadly has dubbed “co-creation.” (Check out a report MIT’s Co-Creation Studio). Also take a look at the work of Pam Sporn, who’s been making films with high school students in New York for decades. And Paloma Martinez, whose short film “Crisanto Street” has been an inspiration to me as we’re trying to figure out this new mode of filmmaking.
Again, more on this soon. Meantime, have you seen interesting examples of “co-created” films? (Looking at you, iReport alums!) If so, please send ‘em my way.
I’ll leave you with a closing thought from John Lewis. These words have been bringing me comfort this weekend. He’s such an inspiration during this dark time. (I’m proud to have been repped by him while I was living in Atlanta). Rest in power.