“DIRT! THE MOVIE” co-director, Gene Rosow
[PREMIERE SCREENING: Monday, Jan. 19, 3:00 pm — Temple Theatre, Park City]
We set out to make a feature-length documentary DIRT! The Movie inspired by the book Dirt, the Ecstatic Skin of the Earth written by William Bryant Logan. When we started out on this project we were thinking of either a four-part television series or a feature-length documentary for theatrical release. We could either explore the subject as a topic as the book had done, or with a more traditional film narrative — in our case, telling the story of dirt and humans from dirt’s point of view. My producing/directing partner on this project, Bill Benenson, and I had both worked producing feature films as well as documentaries for television, or in my case, for theatrical release. But two developments changed the whole scope of the project. When we began to tell the story of dirt, to many it seemed like a quirky topic, an intriguing typical indie subject. But over the five years (!) we’ve been working on this project the subject became more central as climate change, the global crises in food production and safety and rampant destruction of the environment accelerated. And the bandwidth of the media through which we could tell our story expanded and is expanding dramatically. We had always conceived of the story as one that should be told using various media in different versions (for educational and community outreach). So now the story has the potential to blast past traditional feature-film length or television formats and explore its own viral universe. The story we are telling first in feature documentary film format is turning out to be the tail that wags a media dog of educational and public engagement projects devoted to imagining a sustainable future. That means subjects presented in the film for 2 to 4 minutes can be expanded to 20-minute stand-alone documentaries, or in some cases hour-long programs suitable for television, as well as “dirtisodes” for the Web and mobile technologies that allow us to present the story in a multiplatform media mosaic.