Race to Save the World
Filmmakers looking to change the world through advocacy documentaries aren’t usually looking for fame and riches. So Joe Gantz understands why his brother, Harry, walked away from their movie business a year and a half ago.
“I worked with my brother for 30 years but we split up. That was about a year and a half ago. Making documentaries is not very profitable. You have to really believe in it,” Joe says. “You have to raise all the money yourself. Then you have to shoot for as long it takes—could be two years or three.”
Together, Harry and Joe won an Emmy Award for an HBO reality series that ran from 1995 to 2006. The brothers also received recognition more recently for American Winter, a look at working class families devastated by the economic crash of 2007-2008.
With Harry gone, Joe faced a mountain of business decisions. He was just starting on his next venture, Race to Save the World, a look at successful work done by climate change activists. But finances forced him to move his operation into his home, after 20 years in a professional office setting. Almost immediately, fundraising became an even larger part of Joe’s job. And he finally purchased a ProMAX Platform shared server system, which he had been contemplating for years.
Now, nearly four years after launching production of Race to Save the World, Joe and his crew are in the final stages. The story had taken them all across the country to discover the best people for the story. The latest film also drove Joe’s decision to finally invest in a much-needed shared server. He chose a ProMAX Platform.
“I bought it for its storage and archiving capacities,” Joe says. “We shoot a lot—more than 32 terabytes for this film. That’s hundreds of hours of footage that had to be worked through and narrowed down to an hour and a half. I was on every shoot, so I knew what we had. But it took my editor a good six months to become familiar with everything we had stored on our server.”
In the field, Joe captures images on memory cards. Back home with his editors, they transfer everything from the cards to the Platform.
“The ProMAX system works well for us. We rarely have the money needed to put into a big-ticket item like a shared server. So I put it off for a long time until I finally bit the bullet and got it,” Joe says.
A few weeks ago, Joe was at one of his editing stations looking at the last video shot for the movie. It had been taken during an early February trip to a North Dakota courtroom, where he and his crew filmed the sentencing of environmentalist Michael Eric Foster of Seattle, Washington, for acts of civil disobedience. Foster is part of a movement to shut down the building of the TransCanada Keystone oil pipeline.
Foster is a valve turner—breaking the law by turning off the flow of tar sand oil through the Keystone pipeline. In a 2016 protest, Foster and four other valve turners in five states simultaneously shut down the pipeline for about an hour.
“In North Dakota, they take their oil very, very seriously. So the valve turner there was the only one of the five so far to get any serious jail time. He got a year in jail,” Joe says. “Here was someone who was willing to go to prison for a year to make a statement about climate change. So we went up there to film the sentencing. What we witnessed in that courtroom was a very powerful moment.”