Project Description: I am requesting funding to create a film titled “Goodbye Gauley Mountain,” to explore the environmental and cultural devastation caused by the coal mining technique known as mountain top removal (MTR). The narrative will weave autobiographical information with environmental consequences through the ongoing story of the destruction of Gauley Mountain. My grandfather invented a coal bit to increase coal production in the 1930’s. He opened a machine shop, created a successful business, and raised his family at the foot of Gauley. I spent my childhood there. Being informed that Gauley Mountain was being mined using MTR suddenly made this issue very personal for me and spurred me to action. In the West Virginia coalfields the climate between mining, environmentalists, and communities that are affected by and economically dependent on coal is highly contentious. Strong feelings abound on both sides of the MTR debate. This radical mining technique has decapitated 470 mountains so far and is tearing the social and environmental fabric of Appalachia apart. In this film footage of MTR sites juxtaposed with shots of unspoiled Appalachia, interviews with people associated with the coal industry, as well as environmental activists and community leaders will show the story of an epic fight for survival.
Proposed Research: I will accomplish the following goals in the Mountain Top Removal (MTR) documentary entitled, Goodbye Gauley Mountain:
1. Bring national and international attention to the environmental and cultural degradation caused by MTR.
2. Create a film that aesthetically explores the beauty of Appalachia and tells the story of MTR in a dramatic, unique manner that utilizes an artist’s sensibility instead of the typical documentary style.
3. Meet with individuals and organizations involved in this struggle between industry and local communities to learn more about MTR and related ecological issues. My research on MTR mining in West Virginia (WV) began in the winter of 2007 while flying over the coalfields of southern WV. Although I had grown up around coal mining I was shocked and dismayed at the enormous scale and number of MTR mining sites below me. In the summer of 2008 I visited several mining sites in WV with an award-winning land reclamation expert. Close examination of these reclaimed sites made me realize that once explosives and large-scale mining equipment have lowered the elevation of a mountain, it cannot be returned to its original approximate contours (or previous levels of biodiversity) as prescribed in federal mining regulations. When I heard that MTR had started on Gauley Mountain in 2008, this issue became personal as well as political. I have been researching this issue and learning as much as I can about MTR since then. Over the past year and a half I have photographed southern WV MTR sites. I have also begun conducting interviews with persons involved in opposing MTR. These people include the former West Virginia Secretary of State, Ken Heckler as well as Paul Corbit Brown, a native West Virginia photographer who views MTR as a social justice issue. I met Jack Spadero, a federal mining inspector, whom the Bush administration fired for insisting that mining violations be cited, fined, and corrected. I’ve also met with members of activists’ groups including Larry Gibson of the Keeper of the Mountains Foundation and also Judy Bonds and Rory Mcllmoil of Coal River Mountain Watch. I am planning to interview employees in the coal industry as well as their families who depend on mining for their living. Creating a one-hour film about Gauley Mountain would be the most powerful way for me to make a meaningful statement about MTR. As a native West Virginian I have access to a world that is often closed to and/or misrepresented by well-meaning outsiders. Through exploring how the commons, the watersheds, and the communities of the Appalachian Mountains (the world’s second richest bio-diverse environment) are being destroyed in the name of cheap coal; I intend to awaken the American public to the true cost and long term consequences of this form of mining. Ultimately I hope this film will help bring about the abolition of MTR.
Rough Production Schedule:
2009 Spring: develop filming plans Summer: film with film crew Fall: review and log footage
2010 Winter: edit with editor Spring: shoot additional footage Summer: finish editing and post-production Fall: Release film
Budget Item 1. Video Equipment: HDV Camera + Manfrotto Tripod $3998.95
Budget Total $15,023.51 I am requesting funds to update my current equipment and obtain other necessary equipment needed to produce this film. I am also requesting funding to film and to accomplish a large portion of the editing that will be necessary to finish this piece. I need to update my video equipment from an older standard video format camera to one using the current standard of high definition video in order to make a state of the art production. Sound will also form a critical component of the work as a large portion of this film will involve numerous interviews with activists, government officials, citizens of towns affected by MTR, and members of the mining industry.
Requested Equipment: Canon XH-A1 3CCD HDV Camcorder Kit, 1080i, 16:9, 20x Lens, 24f Mode, includes Anton Bauer ElipZ Battery Package and Camcorder Bag $3399.95 http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/473465- REG/Canon__XH_A1_3CCD_HDV_Camcorder.html
2 Sennheiser Wireless Omni Pack System @ 549ea. $1098 (B&H Photo)
Video Tape Stock, Sony VG 63 Min. High Definition Mini DV/HDV Tape Videographer Grade HD @7.25 ea, 100 =$725 videotapestock.com
Research Trips 2 round trip tickets from San Francisco to Charleston, WV@ 435 each (Continental Air) total+$870 1 car for 2- 10 day trips @ 340.78×2 total =$681.56 (Travelocity) Gas @ $100 per 10 day trip x 2= $200 (based on previous trips)
Filming, Logging and Editing Assistance Filming: I plan to hire a camera person and sound person in West Virginia to assist me in filming and acquiring sound. They each charge $20 per hour. We will shoot for 10 days for 8 hours per day. = $3200 This is the best price I could secure. We will use my equipment. Having a small professional crew will enable me to obtain better footage/sound in a much shorter period of time than I would be able to obtain by myself. It will also allow me to focus on directing each scene and taking care of other details involved in each shoot (signing releases, scene checks etc.) If necessary I will shoot and record any additional footage and audio myself. I plan to use audio that I have already obtained over the course of this past year.
Logging All of the footage and sound that we record has to be logged in preparation for editing. I estimate that this will take about 100 hours. I would like to hire a UCSC student to do this for $10 an hour. =$1000
Editing I expect that is will take at least 100 hours to edit this film. My editing assistant is a UCSC alum and one of my former students. He edits for $15 per hour. $1500
Taxes and shipping I will cover any overrun in this area as I am not certain what the total will be. I will secure outside funding to pay for additional post production work which includes additional editing sound mixing and creating the sound track, adding titles, making copies etc.
External Funding Needs: I have received support for a related project already in collaboration with my partner. We recently received an artists grant from the San Francisco Arts Foundation to create collages that deal with environmental issues. These collages will be exhibited in San Francisco in November 2009. This film will take place over the next 3 years. Mountain Top Removal will be prominently featured in this work and the collages will act as sketches or story boards for the film. I am in the process of researching appropriate funding sources to complete this film. The grants I am currently researching are: Horizons/Frameline Film and Video Completion Fund New Voices Media Fund Women Make Movies Ace Feature Documentary Grant Pacific Pioneer Fund Awards I am also willing to use my own funds when necessary.
Faculty Research Grants:
This request is both an extension of and a different approach to the request made in my last proposal. My over arching goal is to to secure a mountain top (MTR) removal site and to restore it as an environmental art work. In the process of attempting to do so I hope to contribute to the abolition of MTR. Making this film will not only bring national and international attention to this situation but it will also give me greater access to the communities and players in the MTR saga. As my project is an extended one, I need to know the people in the communities that I am working with in order to attain my goals of true restoration together with them. Making a film will help me get to know the local communities and visa versa.