Michelle Voss, producer of The Infinite and Velocity, took some time to talk with us about her projects and her commitment to helping young people see the potential for a world powered by renewable energy.
The Video Project: What inspired you to make Velocity and the Infinite?
Michelle Voss: This is kind of an odd answer, but my film inspired me. I was able to hire an incredible cinematographer on Velocity, and, after shooting footage in Denmark and watching that footage, I knew that I had a very special project on my hands. I knew I had to make it more than just a little film about a wind farm, which was the original funder's concept. I knew the film had to touch on larger issues and to put wind power into a context of sustainable development, because alternative energy is really the cornerstone of that issue. The Infinite grew out of this same idea, that renewable energy is really the key to our future, and, hopefully, The Infinite will inspire a few young adults to go into solar engineering or into alternative energy finance or into nonprofit activism -- anything that will create a more sustainable future for us all.
VP: What goals do you have for your projects?
MV: I want my projects to stimulate people to think critically about the world around them. Specifically, I want people to realize that there are creative solutions to the myriad of problems we face. Too many projects are all about doom and gloom, which certainly has its place, but I don't think that we see enough solution-oriented messages in our media. We need to show people-- especially young people -- that we can change the status quo, that there is a better way.
VP: What do you enjoy about making films that will be shown in classrooms?
MV: Well, this is a real hot-button issue for me. I believe that most of the media our children (and our adults!) see is the equivalent of junk food. There is very little media that is nourishing for any human being's mind. As such, I take great pride in working with a company like The Video Project whose mission is to educate through film. What a tremendous endeavor! There is so much valuable information that film and video could deliver to children and young adults, but we're feeding them rubbish on television. Therefore, it is very rewarding to know that my work ends up in classrooms as part of a teacher's pedagogy and curriculum, where students will learn the information within a context and then discuss it. (I could really turn this into a Master's thesis on Baudrillard's postmodern concept of the simulacrum and Neil Postman's writings about living in an image-based culture versus living in a print culture, but I'll stop myself!)
MV: What are you currently working on, or what is in the works?
VP: I am currently working on a project about growth in Austin. We're a small, quirky town, and we are terrified of becoming another Houston or Dallas. Houston is the fattest city in America, which is a direct result of sprawl, so Austinites are trying to find ways to encourage growth inside the city limits, while simultaneously preserving open spaces so our population can stay active. It's a major challenge, and everyone has an opinion about how we should handle growth in Austin. This all makes great fodder for documentary film.