It’s been just over four months since we returned to Santa Fe, NM and began post-production on our film, Our Place on Earth.  In this time I’ve periodically had the Tom Waits song, What’s He Building in There? pop into my head.  I often speculate this is what people wonder about our process…

Tom MIller, Editing at home

Tom MIller, Editing at home

While our process is a little less sinister than the song’s protagonist, I sometimes feel as if we are tucked away, working in our little corner of the desert.  While there is no secret to what we are doing – sharing success stories of communities taking action in the face of a changing climate— our current stage in the process is much quieter than the last.  (Our Instagram feed has definitely slowed down, mostly because we assume our followers aren’t so interested in daily shots of our computer screens.) 

The last couple months have required us to spend quite a bit of quiet time reviewing footage (a lot of footage) and applying for grants.  All of which, in comparison to last year’s constant travels, feels like we have stepped knee-deep into molasses, wading our way to the shore.

We’ve also run into some interesting and unexpected challenges, which include:

  1. Being your own boss and team, all the time. (Coming from the public sector where you thankfully never make a decision on your own, I’ve definitely experienced decision fatigue.)
  2. It’s hard being creative all the time.  Things that we think shouldn’t take a long time end up taking ages – again the molasses.  For example, we are lucky enough to have connected with a fantastic web development firm here in Santa Fe (, who are helping us with a poster concept (and depending on grants, hopefully more).  But, who knew conveying the film’s overarching message to a viewer in the five seconds they take to walk past a poster would be so difficult? (OK, I knew it would be difficult, but our creativity well we pretty low when we approached this, which made it take even longer.)

So, what are we doing about all this?

Well, in an effort to make this stage of our process more interactive (at least virtually), we’ve decided to take a new approach – we’re now tracking our time and will be reporting out on our process as we go.  Over the next few months we will release a series of blog posts about how we spend our time and how we are approaching this endeavor of making an independent film.

We’ll be sharing successes, challenges, and any unexpected turns we make along the way.   As first-time filmmakers, we have a lot of questions – luckily the film community is a collaborative one with a wealth of resources available online (a shout out to No Film School – a tremendous resource).   There is also what appears to be a growing movement of increased transparency and support for independent filmmakers (for example, the Sundance Institute is launching the Transparency Project).

We are excited to contribute to this body of knowledge by sharing our process and hopefully, provide a few answers to other first-time filmmakers.

To start, here is an overview of how we’ve spent our time over the last year plus: 

OPOE Time Tracking

We’ll add to this as we go, but a couple of general takeaways:

  1. We couldn’t do this without a supportive and extensive community of partners, family, and friends. (Behind each of the circles above is a wealth of support and generosity from a global community.  We couldn’t be more grateful!)
  2. Fundraising takes a long time and is a lot of work.  Just stating the obvious.
  3. Research, research, research!  We picked one of the most complex and fluid topics to make a film about – but that’s why we’re doing it.  We’re constantly looking for ways to make climate change discrete and tangible, which means we are never idle.

Our next post in this series will focus on fundraising, including an overview of our 2014-crowdfunding campaign. 

That’s it for now – but we’d love to hear from you: how do you balance your creative process and the natural cycles of quiet reflection and external stimulation? 

Ok, one last thing...

Music Links - Toro y Moi,  What for?   Jóhann Jóhannsson,  Fordlandia   Calvin Harris,  I created disco   Shamir,  Northtown  Rokia Traoré,  Beautiful Africa  Blood Orange,  Coastal Grooves  

Music Links - Toro y Moi, What for?  Jóhann Jóhannsson, Fordlandia  Calvin Harris, I created disco  Shamir, Northtown Rokia Traoré, Beautiful Africa Blood Orange, Coastal Grooves 

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