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Meet the 2015 Tribeca Filmmakers #18: Peter Hutchison, Kelly Nyks and Jared P. Scott Compose a ‘Requiem for the American Dream’

Meet the 2015 Tribeca Filmmakers #18: Peter Hutchison, Kelly Nyks and Jared P. Scott Compose a 'Requiem for the American Dream'

READ MORE: Meet the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival Filmmakers

Anchored by a series of interviews with Noam Chomsky, this definitive documentary of the “Two Americas” is an unvarnished account of how policies have helped concentrate wealth in the hands of a few at expense of everyone else. This is an eye-opening, revised vision of the American Dream, in the wake of a dying middle class.

What’s your film about in 140 characters or less?

Noam Chomsky unpacks ten principles that perpetuate the vicious cycle of wealth and power concentrated in the hands of a select few.

Now what’s it REALLY about?

For decades, Noam Chomsky has warned against a dangerous trend – the increasing consolidation of wealth and power in the United States. This trend, he cautioned – if remained unchecked – would expand exponentially… corroding the healthy functioning of democracy and our sense of solidarity as a nation. Today, with America owning the dubious distinction of having the highest level of income inequality among advanced countries, his words ring as eerily prescient. In “Requiem”, Chomsky traces a half-century of policies designed to favor the most wealthy and lays bare the collateral damage – why most Americans feel they no longer have a realistic chance of achieving the Dream their parents and grandparents did. .

Tell us briefly about yourself.

We have all worked on socio-political and environmental films over the years – sometimes together, sometimes individually – with a shared goal of endeavoring to tell stories about the most important issues of the day. For the same reasons we watch documentaries, we make them – and we try our best to harness their power to inform, inspire, and become platforms for discussion and tools for social change. 

Biggest challenge in completing this film?

We’ve had the tremendous fortune of interviewing many of the foremost thinkers on the most pressing issues we face today: the unprecedented threats from anthropogenic climate change, the ever-deepening partisan divide in our politics, rampant consumerism fraying our social fabric… Without exception, the biggest filmmaking ‘obstacle’ becomes how to construct that interview material in a way that creates a cohesive and focused narrative. Professor Chomsky, however, raises this bar to new heights. With a veritable encyclopedic knowledge of any number of areas – from the history of the Civil Rights Movement – to dialogues on equality and democracy in Ancient Greece – to the economic structures that drive the distribution of wealth & power – to his own revolutionary work in redefining linguistics – Chomsky can speak thoughtfully and at length on a wide range of subjects. Working with extensive material shot over a number of years, and distilling it into a focused and accessible 75 minutes, was an enormous – albeit deeply rewarding – challenge.

What do you want the Tribeca audience to take away from your film?

Professor Chomsky’s work around society and democracy has had a tremendous influence on us all, as filmmakers and people. ‘Manufacturing Consent’ and ‘Deterring Democracy’ in particular – texts we first encountered as students – have had a prominent impact on the way we’ve come to understand the world around us on a more meaningful level. There has been much talk about “inequality” as of late – but little discussion about how we’ve arrived here. And that understanding is key to any efforts to truly address our predicament, and create meaningful change.

Any films inspire you?

Films like “Undefeated” inspire us to lead emboldened lives through the display of a high school team’s relentless courage to carry on – stories like “The Cove” are affronts to our sense of what is humane and therefore demand action to change what is unjust – portraits like “Fog of War” offer insight into intentions, an opportunity to learn from our mistakes, and to think differently about our shared future – films like “Darwin’s Nightmare” unpack the complicated and brutal realities behind globalization, and insist upon our taking responsibility for the impact actions have upon others… even those faceless and the voiceless, living on the other side of the world.

What’s next?

Jared and Kelly are currently in production on a feature length environmental documentary exploring the national security implications of climate change driven resource scarcity (2016 release), in addition to developing a digital series in partnership with the New York Times titled “Luminaries” highlighting vanguard visionaries venturing to better the world we share through innovation and invention. Peter Hutchison is working on a documentary companion piece for Don Cheadle’s upcoming Miles Davis film (“Miles Ahead”), as well as a project on mindfulness.

What cameras did you shoot on?

We shot on Canon’s c300 and the 5D Mark II. We also used all Canon glass. The EyeDirect was used when interviewing Professor Chomsky, which allowed for a more personal and candid discussion over the course of the multiple shoots.

Did you crowdfund?
If so, via what platform. If not, why?

We’re deeply grateful for the generous support given by our Kickstarter community. Crowdfunding is a superb example of a welcome democratizing trend in filmmaking – allowing for audience engagement and support in the process on a level previously unheard of – and has made films like “Requiem for the American Dream” possible, when they simply wouldn’t have been before.

Did you go to film school? If so, which one? 

We’ve all learned by doing. Making our first doc feature together was film school in and of itself – a process that continues today.

Indiewire invited Tribeca Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2015 festival. For profiles go HERE.

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