Behind The Scenes: Filmmaker David Vassar

generation-on-wind-crew.jpgWho isn't curious about what happens behind the scenes while making a film?

Our second 'sneak peak' installment looks into the motivations and methods of filmmaker David Vassar, whose Generation on the Wind, will be shown on Sunday, April 23, at 6:30 pm, in the Little Roxie.

The film depicts the efforts of an island community to try to develop alternative energy - wind power - before that was even a 'thing'.

Not only is it one of Vassar's earliest efforts, it was also an Academy Award nominee in 1979.

Recently, the film has been carefully restored by the Academy.


We asked Vassar what inspired him to become a filmmaker?

"My goal is to provide the audience with an immersive and emotional experience that places landscape as a central character.

The hope is to inspire viewers to embark upon their own personal relationship with nature, one that will lead to stewardship and preservation.

In the words of renown oceanographer, Sylvia Earle, 'If you don’t know, you can’t care. If you don’t care, you won’t act.'"

Vassar also told us a little about his motivation to make this particular film, Generation on the Wind.


"In 1978, the price of oil soared and domestic reserves plummeted resulting in long lines at gas stations.

President Carter declared an ‘energy crisis.’

When I learned about a group of backyard mechanics, artists and environmentalists who were building a windmill to generate electricity on a remote island off the coast of Massachusetts, I sensed a story.

After raising independent financing from my lawyer and my landlord, I spent a solid year documenting the construction of the giant wind turbine.

It was an engineering story as well as a story of the American Spirit, but most of all it was a story about generating power from a renewable resource."

What does storytelling look like in 2017?

"I have written, directed and produced independent documentary films and television programs over the past four decades.

This time period coincides exactly with the technical revolution from film to video, and from video to digital cinema.

Certainly, there is a technical difference between 16mm and 35mm film, SD video, HD video, and 4K Digital Cinema.

Likewise, delivery has changed enormously, from theatrical release to television, educational distribution, and now streaming and VOD.

The technical aspects of acquisition and the distribution have evolved over time. But there is one aspect of filmmaking that remains unchanged.

In order to reach your audience you must tell a compelling and emotional story in creative and unexpected way.

That will never change."

What is your favorite piece of film equipment?

"I am a writer first.

After I finish a draft I print it out and mark up the edits.

So, my favorite piece of film equipment remains a #2 lead pencil."


Find out more about the 2017 Green Film Fest, which takes place at the Castro Theatre, Roxie, and venues across the city. 

 Photos: Elizabeth Zerbe