Building the future today.
Interview with Writer/Director/Producer Karl Baumann
Why did you make your film?
I made the film to showcase the possibilities for Los Angeles to shake its reputation as a “car-centric” city. Since moving to LA, I’ve been surrounded by inspiring urban planners and I wanted to represent an alternative vision of the city, based on our shared conversations and dreams. The CicLAvia events, like the one I shot in downtown, have been symbolic of LA’s new direction. It’s been inspiring to witness what happens when you block off the streets from cars to let pedestrians and cyclists take over. These events are not just fun and inclusive gatherings, but also a way to experiment and test out a new city. I also wanted to reveal the power of such events for inviting citizens to reimagine their city through active participation.
Why should audiences watch it?
I think it will give audiences a fresh perspective on Los Angeles, on urban design and where our collective future is heading. I also think the drone and goPro footage are dynamic and give a unique, contrasting sense of scale to these large urban spaces and public events.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
I think the film is universal because everyone wants an enjoyable, healthy urban space to congregate with both loved ones and strangers. It’s personal in the sense that it came from particular conversations with my friends and colleagues on how to make the city better. The film focuses on LA, which is where I live, but is equally applicable to other urban centers.
How have the script and the film evolved over the course of their development and production?
The film actually came out of an interview I did for another project, that was ultimately scrapped. I didn’t want to lose the energy of that interview, which touched on topics that have been on my mind for years. So I spontaneously decided to go out and shoot CicLAvia and do on-the-street interviews with urban planners. The project then moved very quickly and naturally. It also helped that I worked with a great composer, who was able to build a beautiful, musical dimension to accompany the kinetic imagery.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
The video won the “Best Active Transportation Film” at the New Urbanism Film Festival in 2016. It was affirming to see it resonate with the judges and audience alike. The best part of the screening was this very visceral gasp from the audience during one scene in particular. It was a scene that I shot with a helmet-mounted goPro. I was biking around downtown in a bike lane, dodging construction, when I had to narrowly squeeze in between a bus and a dump truck, as their side mirrors were just inches from head. It created a great cinematic effect while also revealing the perils of urban riding. I think that visceral, on-the-ground perspective - combined with the drone footage - breathed a lot of life into the short documentary.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
I was very thankful for the positive feedback, especially since this was a quickly shot film with no budget. Now, I just hope to share it with other festivals and audiences.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com
I’d like other citizens to be inspired to take action to transform their city. CicLAvia itself was based on Ciclovía in Bogotá, Colombia. Hopefully our city’s iteration in turn will inspire a larger community of concerned citizens who care about urbanism and healthy alternative forms of transportation.
Who do you need to come on board to amplify this film’s message?
I’d love for any social marketing folks, journalists or bloggers to amplify the video’s impact by sharing it with a larger audience.
What type of impact/reception would you like this film to have?
My biggest hope is that it will inspire others to find events and organizations - or start their own - that work towards alternative transportation and healthy, people-centric forms of urbanism.
What is a key question that would help spark debate or begin a conversation about this film?
The biggest questions are: how can we make cities more enjoyable, sustainable and affordable? What are fun, public ways to test new urban forms before they’re built? How do we reorganize the city away from cars and towards alternative transportation?
What are the key creatives working on this film?
Chidi Onyerjuruwa shot the drone footage, which was central for giving the film a unique perspective. Alejandro Martinez shot the original interview with Tafarai Bayne, which kickstarted the project. James Craft, who I work with on every project, scored and recorded the beautiful musical composition. I directed, produced, shot and edited the film.
Interview: January 2016
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
DTLA Street Futures
Building the future today.
Director: Karl Baumann
Producer: Karl Baumann
Writer: Karl Baumann
About the writer, director, and producer:
Karl Baumann is a designer, filmmaker, and researcher. He is currently an Annenberg Fellow in the Media Arts + Practice (MAP) Ph.D. program at the University of Southern California. His work combines speculative design and community art. Working across cinema, games and mobile media, his methodology is based on collaborative design and user participation that explores the future of civic engagement, urbanism and networked technology.
Key cast: Tafarai Bayne, Gary Benjamin, Lila Burgos, Erika Thi Patterson
Looking for: Film Festival Directors, Distributors, Journalists
Made in association with:
NUFF Screening: October 2016