I'm a filmmaker and writer born in New York City and now living in London, England. Over the past two years, I have researched, written, produced, directed and narrated my first feature documentary, Critical Mass. You can watch the trailer for the film on our website: http://www.criticalmassfilm.com
Over the years, I've seen many very powerful environmental documentaries that, while being otherwise well-researched, stop short of linking the increased frequency and intensity of environmental issues with rising human population. I'm not saying that people are 'bad' or in some way unhealthy for the planet, not at all. However, it is true that the sheer number of people alive today plays an important role in the impact of what those people are doing. The number and density of people in particular places also has a very important impact on how we think, feel and behave. My intention was to explore this connection between us and our environment.
I was lucky enough to find out about the rodent population experiments of John B. Calhoun, a scientist working at the National Institute of Mental Health in the US. Between the late 1950s and early 1980s, Calhoun conducted experiments in crowding, social dynamics and the impact of density-stress on psychological, emotional and social behaviour. He deliberately constructed enclosures for his rodents that imitated the structure and conditions found in human cities.
The story of Calhoun's rodent experiments form the narrative arc of the film and raise some worrying parallels and startling insights into the human condition.
Speaking of the human condition:
In October 2011, the world’s human population reached 7 billion.
The United Nations Population Division projects that there will be more than 9 billion people on the planet in 2050.
The Royal Society and Institute of Mechanical Engineers in the United Kingdom have both published reports on the impact of population growth in the past year. These recent reports, among others from organisations like the World Wildlife Fund and the Global Footprint Network, show the clear role of human population growth and human consumption in the environmental crises and resource depletion we see consistently unfolding around us.
By 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in water-scarce areas, and two-thirds of the world's people will live in areas classified as “water-stressed”.
At the current rate of growth, China in 2035 will consume 68% more oil than the US.
By 2050, if current trends continue, the world will need to produce 70% more food than it does today.
Now, for the first time in history, more than 50% of the world’s population live in urban areas. This trend is set to continue, with 70% of the world’s people living in cities by 2050.
If the immediate future of the human population is not only growth but high density living in urban areas, then the experiments of Dr. John B. Calhoun, which were deliberately intended to mimic the structure of human cities, are more relevant than ever.
For the individual human being, seeking to live a fulfilling life rich with experiences and interactions, growth and crowding are not only physical-biological issues, they are emotional and psychological as well.
As the world becomes more crowded and resources become more constrained, how do we build relationships and societies which supply our psychological and emotional needs as well as our physical ones?
The film is now complete. So why do I need your help?
In the film, we use some archive footage, such as excerpts from old television interviews or news reels. The companies that supply this footage don't do it for free, and I've only been able to afford the festival rights to the footage so that we can screen the film at festivals. We're getting plenty of interest from potential distributors, but without the "all media-worldwide-in perpetuity" licenses for the archive footage, we're unable to distribute the film commercially. Those "all media" licenses can be pretty pricey.
$30,000. Like I said, pretty pricey.
The money will be spent obtaining the "all media" licenses for the archive footage we have in the film. Once we have these licenses, we can arrange, either independently or through distributors, to release the film commercially. That means cinemas, DVD, TV, VOD, the whole shebang. Basically, you will be absolutely instrumental in turning 'the film I made' into 'the film people have seen'. That's a big deal, so thank you in advance!
We've chosen the Flexible Funding option because any money we can raise will help, so even if we don't make the target, the money will bring us that much closer to getting the film out into the world. If we raise more than the target, those additional funds will go towards the cost of the rewards, the expenses of attending film festivals and markets and of course releasing the film. The more money we have, the more we can do to get the word out and get the film out.
We've got some great rewards for you:
For a donation of $10, you'll receive a signed A4 poster printed on 100% recycled paper, designed by the fabulous Ben Gregory (http://www.bengregory.co.uk/).
For a donation of $25, you'll receive the poster and a link and password to an online copy of the film which you can stream as many times as you like for 28 days.
For a donation of $50, you'll receive the poster, the link and a limited edition DVD of the film.
For a donation of $100, you'll get all of the above AND your name listed on our website as a Critical Voice. Afterwards, you'll get a personal Q&A session with me via Skype.
For a donation of $250, you'll get the poster, the link, the DVD, your name listed on our website as a Critical Supporter AND, as well as the Q&A, I will give you a Tarot reading.
For a donation of $500, you'll get the poster, the link, the DVD, the Q&A, the Tarot reading, your name on our website as a Critical Partner AND a limited edition stencil print by the renowned London artist Ben Oakley (http://benoakley.com/).
For a donation of $1000, you'll get the poster, the link, the DVD, the Q&A, the Tarot reading, your name and picture on our website as a Critical Icon AND I will wear a t-shirt with your face on it to the film's premieres.
For a donation of $5000, you'll get the personal treatment. Provided with reasonable travel expenses, I will bring the poster and DVD to your house, where I will cook dinner for you, your family and friends. After dinner, we can watch the film and after that, I will answer all your questions for as long as you like.
For a donation of $10,000 we'll be family! You'll get the poster, the DVD and the Q&A, but it doesn't stop there: I will personally film your family's next wedding, bar or bat mitzvah, christening or confirmation! Can you feel the love?
I'm sure you've heard this a million times, but anything that you can give really will make a difference.
If you can't afford money, please spread the word on the Face-twit-digg-redd-blog-ospheratron.
This is a genuinely independent film in one sense, which is that we haven't had money or help from any establishment, but in another sense, like all creative endeavours, it is deeply dependent on you.
Thank you all for reading, for watching, for sharing and for donating.