Goodbye Gauley Mountain: An Ecosexual Love Story tells the story of ecosexual artist-activists Beth Stephens and Annie Sprinkle as they join forces with rural West Virginians in a quest for environmental social justice. While it’s a fight for survival, this documentary goes where others haven’t, injecting the struggle with sexy fun and surprising new ecojustice strategies. Goodbye Gauley Mountain raises awareness about the devastation of mountain top removal (MTR) mining while celebrating the Earth in all her queer ecosexual glory, introducing queer art-making strategies for social change to broader queer communities.
This film is the documentary story of what happens after Beth Stephens first witnesses the shocking destruction of the Appalachian Mountains via MTR while flying into West Virginia from California to visit her family. She learns that even her beloved Gauley Mountain is on the nation’s Endangered Mountain List. It is being mined for coal using a deadly combination of explosives and heavy earthmoving equipment in the process of a relatively new mining technique called mountain top removal (MTR). MTR is so rapid that peaks formed hundreds of millions of years ago are obliterated in months. More than 500 mountains have now been flattened and 2300 miles of freshwater streams buried. Stephens’ view: this permanent destruction is madness and must be stopped before it is too late. As there is little time to waste, Beth vows to return to West Virginia with her collaborator-wife Annie Sprinkle to expose the wanton destruction of the oldest, queerest mountains in the world.
Although growing up a queer woman in the heart of Appalachia was tough in many ways, Beth would never trade the thrills, delights and embodied joy of a childhood spent fishing Gauley River, skinny-dipping in the swimming hole dubbed, “Daniel Boone’s Bathtub,” and peeking through the windows at the snake handling services in the Pentecostal Church up Scrabble Creek. Beth wants to save the mountains because they are so strange and bio-diversely beautiful that it almost hurts. Growing up in this neck of the woods is the primary reason that Stephens became the ecosexual she is today. She wants to save this place for the ecosexuals currently living there, and to maintain spaces of resistance to corporate globalism that Appalachia holds in its anarchistic heart, even as global corporatism eats it alive.
Goodbye Gauley Mountain: An Ecosexual Love Story begins when Beth returns to West Virginia with Annie. The film situates Beth as a West Virginian with a long family history in mining. It defines for viewers the Clean Water Act during a protest at the Department of Environmental Protection where Beth even invites the WV state troopers to sing the WV state song with her during a protest. But the cops don’t even know their own state song, The West Virginia Hills. As ecosexuals, Beth and Annie travel from mines to tree-sit lessons, from protests to interviews, where they explore mountain peoples’ deep love for and connections to the land. Intelligent and heartfelt interviews with coalfield social justice activists as well as Beth and Annie’s own observations and responses to MTR amplify this love. They also explore Beth’s growing up years while participating in an outdoor Freedom to Marry, Summer Marriage rally sponsored by Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). Coal mined here is used in all our cities, and the film juxtaposes rural and urban, beauty and ugliness, humor and sorrow to depict small communities and their highly marginalized people who sacrifice everything they have as they face massive environmental destruction for short-term corporate gain.
In some of the film’s most arresting images, Beth and Annie introduce ecosexuality as a concrete practice of love and as an unconventional activist strategy to save this region. They enact their own tree hugging tendencies, traipsing through mud, smelling the flowers and performing their pollen-amorous love for the Earth by whatever means necessary. Beth proposes to Annie to marry the Appalachian Mountains themselves in a cemetery filled with miners who died in the service of coal, and the documentary concludes with their magical, charged and controversial Appalachian Wedding in a little chapel where hillbillies, activists, family members, students and circus animals vow, ‘til death do they part, to love, honor, and cherish the Appalachian Mountains. Through humor, performance, auto-ethnography and documentary storytelling, the filmmakers and those they encounter shift the metaphor from Earth as Mother to Earth as Lover, depicting the possibilities of a more mutual relationship between people and planet.
3. BUDGET FOR: GOODBYE GAULEY MOUNTAIN: AN ECOSEXUAL LOVE STORY
Total Budget: $60,925
Funding Raised to Date: $24,970 plus $19,200 of in-kind goods and services
Completion Funds Needed: $16,755
Amount Requested: $ 5,000
Prior funds were raised with the generous support of the University of California:
Academic Senate COR Faculty Research Grant, $8000 in 2011
Academic Senate COR Faculty Research Grant, $1500 in 2010
Arts Research Institute, $2000 in 2011
Arts Research Institute, $2900 in 2010
These monies were used to purchase equipment: a digital video camera, hard drives, microphones and tape stock; for travel to and from West Virginia; and to hire a videographer, a sound person, and an assistant to assist in editing the initial rough cut. Given the budget cuts at UC, these funds are no longer as available as before.
Filmmaker Diane Bonder’s estate: $3,000
These funds were used to pay a professional editor.
Private Fundraising Events: $2620
These funds were used to make the trailer, finish paying the editor and to design and begin building a website.
Many individuals have generously contributed places to stay, still images and their own video footage to this project in order to make the film happen. Others have contributed time, food, and transportation.
Additional Post Production Elements
Voice over recording – David B. Steinberg $ 500
Sound Mix – Erik Valenzuela $1200
Animation – Hannah Metzner $ 350
Music Rights for Hazel Dickens (film festivals 2 years) $ 500
Google Maps Usage $ 500
Design and Creation of Titles $1200
Up-converting to hi resolution footage for final output $3000
Color Correction – Robert Arnold $5000
Post production assistance – Julia Reardin $2500
Master QuickTime and DVDs for Screenings $ 300
HD CAM for Screenings $ 400
DVD Cover Printing Costs for Labels and Covers $ 950
DVD Duplication Costs $ 300
Copyright registration $ 55
Director and Associate Director Fees $5000
This could be paid later using lecture or screening fees.
4 FUNDING REQUEST
I am requesting $5,000 from the Frameline completion fund. I would use this funding to prepare the footage for color correction and then complete the color correction process, as well as to master the DVD authoring for the output of the film.
I will raise additional funds, or contribute my own money if possible, to pay for the sound mix, music and Google map usage rights, up-converting from lower resolution footage to the full resolution HDV and the few other post production tasks needed to complete.
Over the last year, I have submitted funding/grant applications to the Roy Dean Fund, the Chicken and Egg fund, the Sundance Film Festival Documentary Fund, and to Cinereach. I am still waiting to hear from the Chicken and Egg Fund, Sundance and Cinereach grants. I have also held two private fundraising events, one in West Virginia, which attracted many of the activists (and my family) in the film as well as others who generously donated most of the funds I needed to complete the trailer. I then held another fundraiser in Minneapolis, Minnesota that attracted a large queer contingent who responded very positively. I was lucky enough to receive a surprise review from a former editor of the Utne Review at this fundraiser: http://www.thelinemedia.com/features/lineortwo091212.aspx.
I will apply for additional grants whose deadlines and award timelines will allow me to finish the film before the summer. I am also planning to hold private fundraisers in the Bay Area: one at the Visual Aid theater in San Francisco, one at the Sunrise Center in Marin County, and one more in Santa Cruz to tap the friends and connections I have in the arts, activist, and academic worlds around the Bay. If these fundraising efforts do not yield sufficient money to finish this film, I will do a Kickstarter project; I conducted a successful Kickstarter campaign for our Purple Wedding to the Moon project in Los Angeles several years ago. Now that the trailer and the rough cut of the film are virtually finished it will be feasible as part of our funding mix.
Annie Sprinkle and I intend to make our directors’ fees when the film finally begins showing and/or gets fees though a distributor. We also make our fees through speaking and lecture engagements (although we also do some lectures for GLBTQI and environmental groups for free). The assistance of Frameline would help speed this film to completion and would be very much appreciated.
5. DISTRIBUTION AND EXHIBITION: I plan to complete this film by May 2013 so that, if it were accepted, it would be ready to premiere in the 2013 Frameline Festival. It would be a great honor to premiere it here in San Francisco where Annie and I are active in the queer, feminist and sex positive communities. We are also becoming more and more involved in the environmental activist communities as well and are combining our dedication to these communities to make work that serves both. Throughout our decades-long careers as artists, activists, and educators, we have built devoted audiences. This documentary adds something to the landscape that doesn’t yet exist. First, few environmental documentaries include a queer perspective and do not reach the enormous GLBTQI communities. We aim to fill that void. (And we hope ‘E’ for ecosexual will soon be added to this list.)
Second, our lectures and art works are already introducing our ecosexual approach to artists, activists, and a range of other people as a possible strategy that they can use too. Having completed other shorts, we decided to make a full-length film because the sensuousness and reach of film is a very powerful way to engage a wide range of imaginations. If we can represent environmentalism as sexy, fun and satisfying, we can inspire both young and old (queers) to become more conscious of the plight of the Earth. They can begin to consider ways to and hopefully act more consciously around their own use of resources, corporate support and generally how to love the Earth in order to enhance his/her/its abilities of continuing to sustain humans as well as other life. This film will introduce queer art-making strategies for social change to broader queer communities.
Our third audience would be the general public. We interview many seemingly non-queer people that Stephens knows from having grown up in West Virginia, and most of these people are marginalized by stereotypes of West Virginians or because they live in a sacrifice zone, in one of the most impoverished regions of the country. Yet because most people everywhere today face economic and environmental problems, and have the power to effect solutions, the film has strong cross-over appeal.
For distribution, we have connections to many organizations: Queer Cultural Center, Center for Sex & Culture, Femina Potens Gallery, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Keeper of the Mountains Foundation, Mountain Justice, Greenpeace, Sierra Club, Beehive Collective and Rainforest Action Network, the University of California, as well as an international network of arts organizations and feminist theaters/galleries, queer and more mainstream venues.
We feel strongly that this film will show in GLBTQI film and arts festivals internationally, as four of Annie Sprinkle’s films have done. We expect to be included in big, well respected as well as smaller (documentary) film festivals. As we travel extensively to lecture, perform, and teach, we will be able to show the film at universities and art centers. We would like it to play on HBO, PBS, Independent Film Channel, Netflix, and other mainstream channels. We would offer it free to screen at GLBTI centers and environmental gatherings, and we will post it to our web sites.
We expect lots of press: for the past 12 years of collaboration, we have garnered positive reviews from the NY Times, the SF Chronicle, Germany’s STERN, other major newspapers and magazines, and we have appeared on radio and TV. We maintain several web sites and do daily social networking, appear on blogs and talk on Internet and broadcast radio. At the end of the film, we will offer information as to how viewers can get involved. Our ultimate goal is to inspire, even to seduce queers in all their forms and glory into caring about environmental issues – helping fight disasters like MTR and save the Earth’s communities – by making this very challenging effort more appealing to join by representing it as sexy, fun, and diverse.
6. SAMPLE DVD DESCRIPTION: The sample DVD is a 66-minute long fine rough cut. I am adding one more little animation this week to explain the history of coal. Sound mix, hi resolution digitizing and color correction are yet to be completed. The text and titles are yet to be designed and the credits at the end need to be expanded and designed as well. When the animation and titles are added the film will be 70 minutes long.
Filmmaker Beth Stephens lives and works in San Francisco, CA, and sometimes escapes to the Santa Cruz Mountains for writing retreats in the redwoods. With an MFA from Rutgers, her filmmaking grew out of multimedia art, video installations, photography, and performance. Her short films: Do You Mind? and Lüba: The Mother Teresa of Art, have screened in such festivals as Frameline and the Philadelphia Festival of World Cinema. For the past ten years, she has collaborated with her partner, Annie Sprinkle. Their series of short films chronicle their environmentally focused weddings to various entities in nature, as well as to each other. Their films and documentation works have screened in museums and festivals nationally and internationally. Stephens is a professor of Art/Digital Art and New Media at UC Santa Cruz. For more information about her most recent work, see elizabethstephens.org and sexecology.org. The website for Goodbye Gauley Mountain: An Ecosexual Love Story is in the process of becoming the online information home for the film.
Annie M. Sprinkle is an internationally acclaimed artist, whose film, The Sluts & Goddesses Video Workshop Or How to Be A Sex Goddess in 101 Easy Steps, played over 300 international film festivals and museums, including the Guggenheim NYC and several Frameline festivals. Starting out in x-rated features in the 70’s and 80’s, she has since appeared in B movies and TV shows. With a BFA in photography, and Ph.D. in Human Sexuality, her multimedia projects – favorably reviewed in the New York Times – are currently dedicated to exploring ecology, helping to make the world a more sustainable and love-filled place. See http://anniesprinkle.org and sexecology.org.
CREW AND CAST
Editor Keith Wilson
Editing Assistance Jordan Freeman, Julia Reardin, Sheila Malone and Andrea Anderson
Cinematographer Jordan Freeman
Sound Design David B. Steinberg
Original Music Joan Jeanrenaud, Tony’s Circus, David Steinberg
Additional Music Hazel Dickens and the Dead Peasant Society