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As The Dust Settles: A Participatory Documentary Shot at Burning Man

The run for this film has ended.

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As The Dust Settles: A Participatory Documentary Shot at Burning Man

Roger Ingraham, Katheryn McGaffigan, Jamie Dee, Jeremy Lubman, Tarynn Wiehahn
2013, 85m, documentary

Every summer, deep in the Nevada desert, a temporary city is created by tens of thousands of people. The week-long celebration is known as Burning Man. Radical participation, gifting, self-reliance, and self-expression are a few of
the core principles.

Through our mosaic of personal perspectives, our participatory documentary reveals an intimate glimpse of what we discovered about love, the environment, the gift economy, reality, art, creativity, and ourselves.

Produced by: Mike Hedge
Cast: Roger Ingraham, Katheryn McGaffigan, Jamie Dee, Jeremy Lubman, Tarynn Wiehahn
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The 3-week run for As The Dust Settles: A Participatory Documentary Shot at Burning Man ended on Mar 22nd, 2016. Thank you to all the fans that supported it!
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- mardi hicks

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The Ten-Day Interview

10 questions with As The Dust Settles: A Participatory Documentary Shot at Burning Man director, Roger Ingraham, Katheryn McGaffigan, Jamie Dee, Jeremy Lubman, Tarynn Wiehahn at the half-way mark.
Friday, March 11th, 2016
  1. 1 Hi Mike! Would you mind telling me what the initial seed was that made you want to make As The Dust Settles?
    The idea for the documentary began back in 2006 and 2007 when I saw hundreds of beautiful and inspiring photos from Burning Man posted to Flickr. I remember being awe-struck by the color and the art. I thought it would be amazing if I could shoot a documentary there, using a new 4K resolution camera that was soon to be released, called the RED One. I had also recently been part of a photography project called A Million Little Pictures, where hundreds of people were given disposable cameras. Our photos then got displayed together at a group art show. After reaching out to some friends on Tribe.com about the project, several people suggested the idea of having a bunch of people each document their Burning Man experience. Eventually, all of those ideas merged into the idea of having several collaborating filmmakers all combine their experiences into one multi-perspective documentary. I reached out to directors I knew, and they reached out to their friends. It was like a giant snowball; more and more people were added to the project, until ultimately we had about 25 people participate.
  2. 2 This is such an interesting concept for a doc. You essentially have multiple characters directing themselves and documenting their experience and transformation. What were your expectations going into a shoot like that? Had you been to burning man before?
    My expectation was that the people who had agreed to participate would keep their agreements, which was simply that they would contribute 50% of their time at Burning Man to the project, and spend the other 50% fully immersing themselves. We called this the 50/50 rule. I knew things would not go as planned, and the elements would give us quite a difficult shoot, but I never predicted what ended up happening with several of the people involved. We shot the documentary in 2008, which was my first year attending.
  3. 3 How much footage did you end up having after you finished?
    We ended up capturing about 440 hours of footage, from about 17 different cameras, shooting 10 different formats. We had footage from the three RED 4K cameras, several pocket cameras shooting HD, and even a Flip camera.
  4. 4 I know editing took a long time with this film. What was your editing strategy? How were you able to make sense out of so much footage?
    We had paid someone to do some editing on the film, but after many months of no real progress, we created a plan for each of the collaborating directors to go through their footage and create a rough edit. That ended up being easier said than done. Eventually I had to commit to get the edit finished myself. Unfortunately somehow a few of the cameras had their timecode set incorrectly, so our media was not sorting well. I ended up having to resort the footage manually. I did this for each of the 7 days of production. Once I had each day in exact chronological order, I started editing down each day til I had a rough edit, which was 23 hours long. I then kept editing that down til I had something more watchable at 2 1/2 hours. Then after numerous test showings, and great feedback by awesome supportive friends, I finally got the film down to the final 90 minute cut.
  5. 5 What was the biggest challenge making this film?
    Trying to get the edit finished. Or maybe being forced to re-edit the entire film after we had the film submitted to a dozen festivals. Or maybe when one of the people who was paid to do some editing, took the media from the hard drives and created fake crowdfunding projects. Very stressful and a complete nightmare at times. Very grateful that I managed to make it through all the challenges.
  1. 6 What's the film that made you want to become a filmmaker?
    I don't really have one film like that.
  2. 7 You're not one of the main characters in the doc but you were there with them. What was your experience like?
    My experience is exactly what our huge Making Of Video is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXu9eo1AxTc. I leave out all the drama though. It was tough.
  3. 8 What's the biggest thing you learned from making this film?
    I wish I had learned something positive and powerful, but I'm not sure that happened. I guess I learned to be very careful with my commitments, and also very careful with who I trust. I talk about a bunch of the things I learned in a blog I wrote for HopeForFilm http://trulyfreefilm.hopeforfilm.com/2014/04/a-participatory-documentary-is-it-possible.html
  4. 9 You produce and support so many projects. What do you like about producing?
    I enjoy the behind the scenes feeling. Coming up with fast solutions. Always making things happen.
  5. 10 What's next?
    For now I'm looking forward to refocusing my time finally, after committing so many years of my life to getting the documentary finished and released. We have the film released on our website http://www.asthedust.com and on sites like Amazon and Hulu. The DVD includes a bunch of extra content including the Making Of.
  6. About the Interviewer: Ben Hicks
    Ben Hicks is a writer/director and co-founder of Fandependent Films. Ben is currently working on making Fandependent Films awesome and is finishing up his first feature film entitled Kids Go Free to Fun Fun Time which was selected for the 2017 IFP Narrative Lab.
    Ben Hicks
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