After two years of being screened at many film festivals and community viewings throughout the world, we have published (in its entirety) our award winning short film Homegrown Revolution for free viewing on YouTube.
It has been a crazy ride and exciting to have an award winning film and we sincerely thank those of you who supported this film in many ways. A big THANK YOU goes out from our hearts to those who supported us, purchased this video, screened it, shared it or simply let the film’s message lead you to a new way of looking at your yard. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! We really appreciate it.
Our unlikely little film was a surprise success story. For those of you who don’t know the history, I’ll recap briefly. For those of you already know it, go ahead and skip to the end of this post to watch Homegrown Revolution.
Homegrown Revolution was made in a whirlwind three days after a last-minute invite for Dad to speak at Peter Sellars’ UCLA class in 2007. Jules Dervaes was to be the lead-in and local authority on sustainable food to Michael Pollan’s presentation.
By now, we had given so many presentations, the explaining of our project and “Urban Homesteading” was becoming a tad redundant – there are only so many clever ways we could explain what we have been doing the last 16+ years. Plus, the fact that this was a night class had many of us expecting a room of yawning and under-caffeinated students blinking sleepily at their laptop screens and surfing Facebook, content to get class credit simply for being a body in the seat. Short of handing Red Bull out to everyone, we seriously thought NO ONE would wake up for this Urban Homesteading and sustainable food presentation.
Looking back at the time, I realize how far the movement has come to the point it is today. It wasn’t long ago at all, but in 2007 the movement was just blooming and I was finding out that most students didn’t care or know about Urban Homesteading — or even anything environmental or sustainable. There’s always the usual small but core group of students who were into changing the world and activism but we knew we had to reach to the others in the class that might not even have a first thought about the food they ate or about gardening.
At the family meeting / lunch following the invite, Dad turned to me (since I have unofficially become the tech geek / “electronic gadget whisperer” of the family ) and inquired about a video slideshow we had put together for a virtual tour of the Urban Homestead called “One Step at a Time.” This video brochure had been published on our website at the time since it was first uploaded in 2004 (soon to be uploaded to YouTube for kicks).
As I am not a video editor and had no training at all, my foray into messing about with video clips had been a sink or swim experience. After mucking about in Adobe Premier, I had managed to put together some footage that resulted in One Step at a Time and that short film seemed pretty cool when it was made; but I was now slightly embarrassed about it and wanted to give Dad something newer and peppier for the students.
Anais and I got to work in those three days before the presentation. We had multiple tapes of footage of the garden, animals and various projects throughout the yard but very little of ourselves. So, I spliced those with some of the news media interviews for a narrative effect.
I really wanted to do little interviews on our own footage; but given the short amount of time and our aversion to being filmed by one another, it just wasn’t happening. (NOTE: Seriously, I did try. I approached Justin with a camera as he did his biodiesel brewing and asked him in my best TV reporter voice to explain what was doing. I received an “are you kidding me?” stare for my troubles. Turns out, it’s hard for us to be enthusiastic about giving each other interviews. Try explaining to someone who already knows what you are doing, what you are doing. It isn’t easy. )
For fun and to appeal to the college kids who were my own age, Anais and I added in some well known musical favorites to create a edgy mash-up type music video.
Turns out, as R.E.M’s moody guitar in “Drive” snapped up the students’ attention at the first minute to the final frame of the fist-in-the-sky rallying image and the drumming strains of “Revolution Cry”, we had gained this class’ full focus and subsequent and enthusiastic ovation and shouts. Yes, even the too-cool-for-school jocks of UCLA’s NCAA basketball team were into it.
Later that week, we decided to publish Homegrown Revolution on YouTube (cut to 10 minutes since YouTube wouldn’t allow videos of longer lengths at that time) and it kind of went viral for a time and gained over 500,000 views.
We started to use Homegrown Revolution for an intro to Jules Dervaes’ workshops and presentations and considered it a type of “video brochure” or “infomercial” to Urban Homesteading. Fast forward to late 2008 and we received a phone call from the awesome folks at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival asking if we wanted to submit our film for consideration.
I seriously had no idea what they were talking about! Film? What film? We don’t have a film, I thought.
They soon convinced us that they were really asking for Homegrown Revolution which one of their members had seen on YouTube. This touched off a flurry of more video editing. Since the original version contained a lot that was not our footage, we began to re-shoot a lot of scenes and I soon had Homegrown Revolution up to over 25 minutes long. But because Wild & Scenic had accepted Homegrown Revolution into their program as it appeared on YouTube, we knew we had to keep it to 10 minutes.
In the end, the final product came out at 15 minutes after we all refused to cut out anything more. There was also concern from some of Film Festival folks about remaking Homegrown Revolution so much that it would no longer feel like the original version so we felt a little restricted in our creativity. I did try to obtain the rights to some of the footage / interviews that appeared in the original version but with so little time to remake the film, it turned out easier to just re-speak most of it instead of dealing with all the paperwork. Again, all this had to be done in a short amount of time – definitely not enough time to be at one’s full creativity.
Unfortunately, although most of our words as they appear in the 2009 version of Homegrown Revolution had been spoken to interviewers previously, it was hard getting family members to say the same lines with enthusiasm and with the same passion as they had when speaking to someone “new” and curious to what we were doing. Looking at the film today, I can see all the mistakes and where it could all have been better.
But this was a collaborative project done by all of us — with each family member taking part in the filming, editing and structure of the film. Neither of us had any previous film editing / filming experience but we hope the passion and enthusiasm show through any technical flaws and other problems.
It’s also important to note that the film was made entirely in-house on computers powered by solar/green sources. All transportation was done in a biodiesel-fueled car and all camera/mic batteries were rechargeable and charged with solar energy. Waste was kept to a minimum – paper composted or recycled and all publicizing materials printed on post consumer paper.
We are humbled by the impressive impact Homegrown Revolution had in the film festivals both nationally and internationally. It was never created for a film festival circuit but has a true homegrown, homemade story behind its creation. Today, whenever I am frustrated by learning something new or seeing where I fail in trying to get something perfect, I just need to look at where our little film that could has taken us.
I am compiling a tally of the festivals and known public screenings to be published at HomegrownRevolution.com but here are the AWARDS and HONORS Homegrown Revolution has gained so far:
Best Environment & Ecology Film North America,
Swansea International Film Festival, UNITED KINGDOM
Prize of the Mayor of the Capitol City of Slovakia
Ekotop Film Festival of Sustainable Development, SLOVAKIA
Best Short Documentary
Southern Appalachian International Film Festival, TENNESSEE
El Capitan Film Award
Yosemite International Film Festival, CALIFORNIA
Best Sustainability Film
Green Screen Environmental Film Festival, CALIFORNIA
Robert T. Nanninga Award for Excellence,
Cottonwood Creek Film Festival, CALIFORNIA
Westpac Award Best Short Film Runner Up
Reel Earth Environmental Film Festival, NEW ZEALAND
NOMINATED – Best Film, Climate Change & Sustainable Technology
CMS Vatavaran Environmental & Wildlife Film Fest, INDIA
European Spiritual Film Fest, FRANCE
Footage aired on Oprah’s 2009 Earth Day show
You can still purchase the DVD here for community screenings or to just own a copy. We’re still sending the film out to festivals who request it, so if you know of any film festivals or other opportunities, continue to send them our way. Thanks!
Sharp eyed or observant readers might notice we now have a new YouTube address: http://www.youtube.com/urbanhomestead
We’ll still have the http://www.youtube.com/dervaes one but we might FINALLY be getting into sharing how-to videos. We are launching this new channel for video clips showing snippets of life from the Urban Homestead as well as some how-to videos.
So be sure to subscribe to this new channel to get all the latest videos – thanks!