It’s simply not feasible to bring the grid to the local inhabitants. Not that they would necessarily want it, anyway.
Director Jonathan Taggart’s photography makes me want to go on pilgrimage to stand in nature’s chapels, cathedrals and coves spanning these remarkable locations.
Testimony to the tenacity of the producer and director was their ability to get in and interview and film. A project some three and a half years in the making, they were acutely aware of what was needed to let the off-gridders tell it how it was.
This is why weaving the stories of the off-gridders together has sensibly resulted in the emergence of only a few common themes.
Obviously concern for future eco-sutainability. And equally a desire to do the right thing in terms of their own human eco-footprints in the here and now. And from that, common concerns for water purity and waste water.
But these off-gridders always tell unique stories. Their own lives, their own experiences.
So their narrative is rich, complex and diverse. That diversity helps make the movie compelling.
Phillip indicated that maybe only 2.5-3% of the interviews found its way into the full-length feature movie. That’s very tight editing, and this concentration on what to use and what to discard has paid dividends.
This kind of documentary could be instrusive and impact negatively on the lives of those being observed. The ethical stance worked and Phillip found their hospitality was instrumental in making aspects of Life Off Grid.
Again, that careful, disciplined approach meant that everyone had the opportunity to feedback before anything was on screen.
Then, the most human of touches. Phillip indicated there was a kind of unexpected delight in the finished movie, across the board. Even among those who had documented their disappointments and inability to continue to have a life off grid.
So who might want to watch this full length feature movie – or its tv equivalent at about 60 minutes long?
For a start, New Zealanders who’ve been raised with Barry Crump’s Good Keen Man, or even Country Calendar and relish hearing about the independent life-stylers.
More than that, just about every high school junior learning ecology and environmental awareness.
In fact, for anyone with an interest in how we live and how others live this is a movie to watch. It will quiet you, and give you more than enough to think about from a different perspective. Including some gentle, teasing paradoxes.
There are economic and environmental ambiguities involved in both living life off grid and on grid. Yet, everyone who participated in this movie didn’t take themselves or their lifestyle choice so seriously that they couldn’t see the funny side to it all.
Which is what makes the documentary so highly watchable.