Max Good - Max Good released his first feature documentary in 2011, Vigilante Vigilante: The Battle for Expression, a unique exposé on the phenomenon of anti-graffiti vigilantes. The film screened at venues worldwide, including the New Orleans Film Festival and the International Festival of Films on Art. It can now be seen on Netflix. Previously, he worked as assistant producer and distribution manager on the Academy Award-nominated documentary, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. Perpetual Ed, Max's first short documentary at Stanford, premiered at the Sheffield Doc/Fest in 2014. Dry Season, co-directed with fellow student Tyler Trumbo, has played at several festivals, including the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival and United Nations Association Film Festival. Max is fascinated by marginal characters and provocative stories. Often taking an interventionist approach, his films aim to challenge comfort and complacency.
Tyler Trumbo - Born and raised in the mountains of Virginia, Tyler Trumbo worked the past several years creating short works that showcase the passions of artisans and musicians who call the Appalachian mountains their home. He is now pursuing his M.F.A. in Documentary Film and Video at Stanford University where his short films have screened at various venues such as the Slamdance Film Festival, Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, and Cinquest.
TERRA: What inspired you to make a film about California’s drought?
TT: Hearing that we’re in the worst drought in 500+ years really caught my attention. I was also shocked at how little urgency or substantive media coverage there was. The town of Willits was on the front lines of the crisis and seemed like a perfect place to make a short film.
TERRA: Give us a behind-the-scenes snapshot of what life was like in the field.
TT: Going into this small town as two Stanford graduate students felt a little uncomfortable at first, but people were almost universally helpful and open. We drove up to Willits several times and spent two extended weekends there shooting. We stayed at the Old West Motel, which you can see in the closing shot, and we ate a lot of food at Ardella’s (the diner in the film).
TERRA: Are there any updates about the town and the status of its water?
TT: From what we understand, the critical situation in Willits has eased up a bit since last winter. But the overall situation in California is looking pretty dire.
TERRA: What types of equipment did you use? Do you have a favorite piece?
TT: We shot the film on the Panasonic HPX170, which was provided by our school. It’s a DVCPro HD camera that’s been around for over 5 years. We recorded sound separately with a boom and lav mics to a Sound Devices 702T recorder. Then it was all edited on a Mac with Adobe Premiere CC.
TERRA: Did you have any particularly rewarding moments while making the film?
TT: We had a great time shooting at the Green Gulch Farm, which was a last second thing during production, but ended up being a great scene in the final piece. It was interesting to see how a collective of people worked together to not only adapt their water use, but look at ways to change lifestyle habits in order to conserve in the long run.
TERRA: What are the 3 things you’d never go into the field without and why?
TT: 1) An open mind – that is one of the most important things for any film, but for this project especially. We constantly had to adapt to circumstances, one of the most important being that it rained during the shoot. It ultimately changed the themes and final thoughts that are left at the closing of the film that were not intended from the beginning of the project.
2) Clif Bars and trail mix – they save you in a pinch from going hungry or losing steam.
3) Extra batteries – especially 9 volts for wireless mics.
TERRA: What inspired you to become a filmmaker?
MG: Being moved and informed by films made me want to participate in this form of expression not only as a viewer but as a creator.
TT: Wanting to share not just ideas, but experiences. Hearing an idea is interesting, but experiencing an idea causes me to remember it.
TERRA: What’s your favorite aspect of filmmaking?
TT: The constant cycle of vision and revision. It is intense and extremely difficult to let go of previous notions and concepts, but as a film moves forward it is exciting to see what shape it wants to become. Being open to that change allows me to constantly be learning not only about film, but about life from every aspect of the making process.