I first heard about Sundance’s renegade biofuels enthusiasts via email. The folks from Freedom Fuels, a new documentary about biofuels, were in town for Sundance — well, roaming town that is. They weren’t actually in the festival, but they were there to screen their movie regardless, traveling around town in a biodiesel-powered school bus showing it to anyone who’d climb aboard and watch. “We would love to have ya come on by and say howdy,” wrote Heidi, one of the film promoters. I love saying howdy, so I was game.
But I kept getting waylaid. Watching movies, chasing the Everything’s Cool people, trying to touch celebrities. It’s a rough life, trust me. So I kept missing them. They’d call and update me on their locale, since not having a permit meant they had to keep moving. “We’re at the Starbucks,” Heidi would tell me. “We’ve moved closer to Albertson’s,” she updated me later. “We’re on Main Street.”
Finally, after several days of chasing, I caught up with the film director/producer, Martin O’Brien, downtown, after they’d abandoned the bus in favor of a music venue. I asked him a bit about the film, and why they’d decided to take it on the road … literally.
O’Brien, a resident of Oakland, Calif., had worked as a bricklayer, rave promoter, and medical marijuana … uh, he said, “in the medial marijuana world.” And then he met the fuel of his dreams.
“I got fed up with driving around with blood dripping out of the back of my car from Iraq,” said O’Brien. “And somebody told me the story about Rudolph diesel, and how he invented the first diesel engine to run on peanut oil. I realized I could actually get off oil myself, so I made it my personal thing.”
And so he got a diesel truck, and started filming Freedom Fuels, and 12 months later, here he was not at Sundance exactly, but in the vicinity of Sundance, driving around on the bus, talking to folks about biofuels, and handing out fliers and films to scary looking guys in big trucks. And not expecting to make a dime on it — they’re giving the film away.
So, why deploy it this way?
“I mean, look at Sundance. All these different people come here to tell their stories. There’s even a documentary they’re making right now called The Waiting Line, about waiting to be seen at a film festival, or waiting to be seen on TV,” said O’Brian. “With our distribution system, it cuts all that out of the middle. So we can just go directly to the people.”
Even, that is, if the people are in Starbucks.
“I don’t like Starbucks, but people go in there. It’s function before fashion though, any means necessary. The ice caps are melting,” said O’Brian. “I’m trying to avoid that if I can.”
The film is free! free! free! And online. Check it out. Here.