Kirby Scudder and Mark Halfmoon plan to discover what inspires Californians
With the economy still shot, people feeling grumpy, and everyone complaining all the time, you’d think Californians were an unhappy lot. Not so. There are plenty of people in our golden state who continue to find the West Coast an inspired place. And two local men are about to hit the road on a cinematic adventure to prove that even though complaints abound, we’re living in a great state, and perhaps it’s time to remember that.
Kirby Scudder, local artist and executive director of the Santa Cruz Institute for Contemporary Arts (SCICA), is teaming up with local filmmaker Mark Halfmoon to travel across California this summer with the goal to conduct 900 interviews and piece together a documentary titled, “Inspired by California.” With this project, they’ll interview people from all walks of life in towns throughout the state and ask each person three vital questions: 1. What inspires you about California? 2. What are the unique resources available to you in this state that sets it apart from other parts of the world? 3. Tell us one personal story about California that could happen only in California.
The pair set off on their journey on May 17 when they headed up to Palo Alto to the Facebook headquarters hoping to hold interviews. They’re back in Santa Cruz through May 25 conducting local interviews before begining a journey counterclockwise through the state—from Watsonville, Pacific Grove, Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and San Diego to the inland and northern regions of California.
“We want to set up as much as possible specific dates and times [for interviews] but we also want to allow time for randomness … to interview people on the street, movie stars, executives, everybody,” Scudder says.
They’ll return home to Santa Cruz to their respective apartments at The Tannery in the middle of August, and from there, they will work on editing their compiled footage into a 90-minute-long film that will hopefully be completed in early 2011, and, ideally, they would love to premiere it at the Santa Cruz Film Festival in 2011.
Along their journey, Scudder will work as the interviewer and Halfmoon will provide the camera and editing work, splicing together stories and posting them frequently on the project’s Facebook page: facebook.com/inspiredbycalifornia.
“I hope people walk away with … knowing that even though economics are tight and falling apart, [they will remember] how much we have and how rich we are as a people,” Scudder says.
The pair is raising money for this adventure by way of the sale of posters that were donated by local artists Ray Sumser, Maureen Halligan, Gazelle Rider, Nick Anderson, Adrian Rasmussen and Elijah Photenhauer. In addition, the project is still seeking sponsors.
The pairing up of these two creative men with a vision to help get Californians inspired again was in itself an inspirational meeting. Both live in The Tannery, a housing complex on River Street composed of artists. Having met previously, the pair re-connected a few months ago when Scudder proposed the concept to Halfmoon. Scudder was inspired to do a project like this after watching the news and “hearing a politician talking crap about California,” he says. “I thought that it’s annoying to listen to people talk about the state in context of it being a problematic state, so I thought, ‘what if I went out there and did a project about language and people talking about the resources in California.’ If it’s so bad here, people would be leaving in droves [but they aren’t]. That was the core of the project.”
For Halfmoon, the conversation came at the perfect time: “I really love California and I’ve been thinking about doing a journey like this. I think we’re going to find some really good stuff and stories. It’ll be uplifting and encouraging.”
They call their project a “Polaroid snapshot of this time in history, and what Californians think of the state.” For their trip, the men will travel in a commuter bus that has been donated for them to use as a camper and office.
When they return, they hope the experience will have allowed them to “discover that we have an amazingly strong population here,” Scudder says. “The film Borat, was designed to make everyone look an asshole. We’re going out unbiased, and we care about what everyone has to say.”
For more information, visit facebook.com/inspiredbycalifornia or inspiredbycalifornia.com. GT will be hosting a weekly blog from Scudder and Halfmoon, as they share with us about their travels on the road. Look for the first installment at under “blogs” in the last week of May.