Photographed in Greater Rochester, NY, narrated and edited by Matt Ward and Rob Carr.
Arlington, VA photography by Matt Ward (exceptions below).
Aerials from Google Earth ©Google, Inc.
Contains video from Top Gear ©BBC Worldwide Ltd.
De Natura Sonoris No.2 by Krzysztof Penderecki ©EMI.
White Summer/Black Mountain Side & Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin ©Atlantic Recording Corp.
In returning home after graduation, I've had the opportunity to shoot some of my own Arlington, VA stills, but this video contains three captures we nicked from Flickr users: brownpau, adegen, and Kevin Borland.
©2009 Matthew E. Ward, Robert Carr. Material Not For Sale.
About The Film:
For now, this trailer is all that exists of the project.
Why? Eleven weeks before my graduation, I and my fellow suburbanite brother-in-arms Rob Carr had conducted interviews with small business owners, business and economics professors, entrepreneurs, shoppers, and the general manager of our local regional shopping center. We crashed one, and then was cordially invited to another, multilevel marketing webinar. We read books, we wrote essays, and towards the end, we just ran out of time (and I out of money.)
In retrospect it seemed stupidly obvious that Rob and I, in spite of our talent and unquenchable curiosity, could finish anything resembling a finished documentary in less than eleven weeks, especially when it took the first six weeks to get legal permission to film at a mall, and chat on-camera with customers and staff, even while we were still black and blue from the previous mall cop bollocking.
But more specifically because we both sensed this project could become something more than just a mere school assignment.
What started (on my end) as a look into the history and inner workings of the enclosed shopping center, and (on Rob's end) an aesthetic and cultural examination of suburbia, grew into something the likes of which the both of us would be picking the brains of people a thousand times more educated than we, and would probably require us to seek graduate programs in architecture, economics, sociology, business, and Western History, in order to be able to tell our story intelligently. Our burgeoning project, we found, stood at the crossroads of all these disciplines.
With only a journeyman's knowledge of a sliver of all these fields, and threatening to become lost in any particular one of them as they are complete films in and of themselves, and not to mention my own relocation to Northern Virginia, where the supposedly ebbing but nevertheless persistent recession merely kissed and said "bye for now," I lost track of what the movie was about—and most cripplingly put the future of the project in jeopardy by losing faith in the importance of our original subject matter.
The ensuing economic drama, which Rob and I were falling in love with the idea of covering, ran tangential to the subject of malls. But this rueful socioeconomic pit of doom is just one factor among many, along with the still nascent but increasingly powerful Internet, that is changing the priorities of new generations from the old American Dream of my parents' youth, to dreaming somewhere else, likely urban, likely foreign, with comfort and benefits many Americans can now only... dream of. The comparo makes my local malls and the highways leading to them look mighty anachronistic indeed.
And that makes me sad. But hopeful.