Docs

Talking Biofuels with Fumes

Known for its hit show and format, Wa$ted, Fumes is working on another green program, a documentary about the strange and disturbing turns the desperate search for alternative fuels is taking. Carthew Neal speaks with Lindsay Gibb about the new doc and how to reach audiences with green programs.
August 13, 2008

Known for its hit show and format, Wa$ted, Fumes is working on another green program, a documentary about the strange and disturbing turns the desperate search for alternative fuels is taking. Carthew Neal speaks with Lindsay Gibb about the new doc and how to reach audiences with green programs.

Tell me about your new doc on biofuels.

We pitched it at IDFA last year and it’s called The Dirty Story of Green Fuel. It’s looking at how, behind the biofuel’s hype, there is an enormous humanitarian and environmental disaster caused by the deforestation of plants in Indonesia and people being pushed out of their land and moved into city slums just to create this new oil for us. This has come out in the media so I suppose now we’re also wanting to look into the future of fuel and where that might come from. There are people investing billions of dollars and research into genetically engineered fuels, but there are also smaller players who are more in touch with nature and nature’s secrets.

There’s a woman in New Zealand who’s trying to create fuel out of sewage and she thinks she’s going to do it. She’s got all these investors behind her.

In India, the Indian railway Ministry have planted 7.5 million toxic weeds along their railway because they’ve been told the fruits can create an oil. I mean there are these sort of very strange players. The person who owns this new oil owns the world’s future; they’ll be the most powerful person in the world. So there’s this real quest to find the oil and I think that’s what’s really interesting and exciting. As fuel prices go up people want an answer.

Where are you at with presales and funding for this doc?

Since November there have been no documentaries in New Zealand commissioned for the main channels so it’s been very difficult. We just got a new round so we’re hoping that we’ll manage in New Zealand and we think it’s pretty likely. And there’s a number of presales we set up from IDFA lasts year that will top it up. Jan Rofekamp from Films Transit is the film representative. It’s been one of those projects that’s taken a long time to get moving, which is the documentary thing all over, it’s a slow process. We are planning to have it done by mid 2009.

With Wa$ted, and green programming in general, how do you feel is the best way to reach an audience?

There are so many different ways to get the message across. I think there’s a full spectrum of people who don’t even think that turning on a switch is using power and that’s a resource and those are the people we’re trying to reach with Wa$ted. It’s for those people who have no idea that drinking out of water bottles has any other impact other than having to pay for it. There are also far more people who are more enlightened who want to know a lot more detailed information and I believe those are the people who are more prepared to sit for longer periods of time and watch things that are more dense with information. The information is very dense in the New Zealand version. We move very quickly, every scene is only two and a half minutes, so we’re quickly onto a new subject. So you don’t get a lot of detailed information but you get the reason, the purpose, the shock, why you should change, and what it all means to you in a very short turn around. Wa$ted is slotted into the genre of television that people are used to [home reno shows and the like], so people know how to watch it.

About The Author
Managing editor with realscreen publication, an international print and online magazine that covers the non-fiction film and television industries. Darah is an award-winning journalist who has spent over two decades covering a wide range of issues from real estate and urban development to immigration, politics and human rights, primarily with The Vancouver Sun. Prior to joining realscreen, she was editor of Stream Daily, realscreen's sister publication covering the dynamic global digital video industry. She also served a stint as a war reporter in Afghanistan for television and print, and was a national business blogger with Yahoo Canada.

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