Act II: Postcards, Maps, & Storytelling

July 3, 2009

Upon first glance, it’s hard not to compare Jenny Deller to Al Gore.  (Although, let’s face it, Jenny Deller is much better looking.)

In Future Weather, Jenny’s first feature film, the main character finds the effects of global warming so terrifying that she sets out to try to stop it.

Moreover, like Vice President Gore, Jenny Deller’s efforts to bring awareness to environmental issues extend off-screen. The Future Weather team maintains a complementary blog documenting the filmmakers self-described “humble efforts to develop a sustainable independent film + news, interviews and commentary on all things green.” (As if working on a movie wasn’t enough work….)

As it states on the eco-film section of the film’s website:

One of our key aims in getting Future Weather in front of audiences is to raise awareness about global warming now.

Heck, even Future Weather’s website is doing its part to save the environment. Ecological Hosting “operates from a data centre running on solar power with a solar panel array capable of generating upto sixty kilowatt-hours of electricity each day.”

Upon second glance, however, the similarities start to fade and Jenny shines through for what she is: a damn good storyteller.

* * *

When Jenny Deller tells me how Future Weather was born, she describes an imaginary postcard that relays a message like this:

“Dear 13-year-old daughter,” writes single mother. “I’ve longed to move to California to try my luck in show business. I’m sorry I had to abandon you but I need to follow my dreams. I left you some money in the cookie jar. I love you.”

While those aren’t Jenny’s exact words, it is a fair representation of the image that inspired her: A flimsy piece of cardstock that tells so little and changes so much.

After hearing this, all I can think about is the very first story I wrote in college. It too started with an image of a postcard, never sent, but tacked to a wall.

Feeling self-conscious that I only think about myself, I quickly replace that thought. I think about an essay I recently read by Michael Chabon who also tacked his inspiration to a wall. Not a postcard, his inspiration took a more literal shape. It was an incomplete map of his childhood neighborhood given to him by one of the developers.

Chabon reminds his readers of the power of maps, citing other literary examples – Heart of Darkness, for one.

He expresses gratitude for being given this map. In years to come, it would serve as inspiration to explore a modern day terra incognita – the unknown world of writing.

* * *

Beyond Laduree’s experiments to halt global warming, Future Weather depicts not one but three characters – Laduree, Laduree’s mom, and Laduree’s grandmother – trying to make sense of their environment.

It’s Jenny Deller’s talents as a storyteller, how she navigates through the complex relationships between mothers and daughters, that have the biggest impact on her audience.

It’s the final days of the competition. Take a few minutes and vote for Future Weather. If you already have, why not pass it on to a friend?


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