I flat love documentaries. Nova, Frontline, and Independent Lens on PBS are all recorded in my household.
But honestly, but about 90% of the documentaries I watch are about war, death, poverty. Depressing shit. So when I come across something that is literally the exact opposite I am a “happy camper.” Well I came across one of them the other day (trailer above), which I am betting almost nobody here has heard of, much less seen. It was produced by American Public Television (APT) and showing now on PBS at like 3 AM. I’ll let the production studio that filmed Dreamland explain:
California has long been known as a land of dreams–a place irresistible to visionaries from all walks of life who come to innovate, create, entertain, and accomplish feats that, in turn, go on to change the world. But dreams don’t just happen–they are made. Built up piece-by-piece, day-by-day.
Dreamland tells the story of one day in California. Filmed simultaneously from dawn until dusk on November 19, 2010, it follows a remarkable ensemble of Californians who are pushing the bounds of the possible.
I have a Category of posts here called “People Are Amazing.” I actively try to find these people and those posts features people doing amazing things. From TED videos, to extreme sports, to a single person trying to change the world when everybody and everything seems to be against them. I need a category for each of the people in Dreamland cause they flat out rock!
Dreamland will make you feel good to be apart of the human race..
First why don’t we start with the musician featured in Dreamland, Liz Phair, so you have a little soundtrack for this Diary, cause her song Avalanche she records that day they were filming kind of serves as just that for the documentary. I’d heard of her, but honestly can’t recall a single song she’s done.
I now own four of her albums. At the start you see her driving to the studio and telling her producer she as an idea for a song. She plays a few cords and sings a couple lines and honestly I thought to myself, “well that sucks, how is she going to get a song out of that.” By the end, well you get the above, which I can’t stop listening to. I’d also love to know the story behind it, cause like myself (we’re about the same age, early 40s) when I Googled her she appears to not have much success with love.
Then you have rock climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson. In Dreamland they are attempting to do something nobody has ever done before–free climb El Capitan’s Dawn Wall in Yosemite Valley. In case you don’t know what that is, well it is this.
The point where they are listening to their weather radio and learn blackout, zero visibility conditions are coming, they decide to, well of course keep climbing. In the end they don’t make it, but as one of them says, we’ll try again later.
We also have skate boarder Bob Burnquist. When he found out the folks that live next door to him were selling like 25 acres of their land he bought it, and then built his own 360-foot long, 80-foot high personal mega ramp. I am a huge fan of the “Big Air” skate board stuff in the X-Games, but what he does for Dreamland makes that look like nothing. It is staggering. I can’t even wrap my mind around it.
In the screen cap you see in the below video, the gap between the two ramps with netting so you don’t die if you miss, he installed a metal hand rail, and instead of just jumping that gap, he rides the rail across!
Even if you don’t know anything about skate boards you’ll watch the below with your jaw on the floor.
Maybe my favorite part of Dreamland is Sarah Gerhardt. Shows you can “have it all.” A scientist and chemistry professor. Sarah has wonderful husband and two children. In her free time, when she isn’t teaching or in the lab, she likes to surf “big waves.” The first women to do it, heck one of only a handful of people that do it in the world regardless of sex. Cause well, you can die (and many have) when you try to surf a 75+ foot wave. The first time she did there were people taking photos, and as her husband said when she pulled it off:
She was famous the world over before she even got to shore.
Oh this is what a “big wave” looks like.
Then you have Steve Sillett, who might have one of the “coolest” jobs in the fucking world! A botanist that spends around 100 days a year living in the canpoys of Redwoods, 350+ feet up studying the effects of climate change on the centuries-old tree.
Steve tells a story that 800 years ago a Redwood was a seed, or just a little plant you could step on, and then well you have this. It makes you think that the cycle of life we are used to. The next minute, the next hour, we forget somethings on this planet have a longer focus. And that our climate only changing a degree or so in 100 years might not seem like a lot, but we’re not taking the “long” view of things!
Here is Steve doing what he loves (he is in the middle).
Kevin Johnson is a former NBA All-Star that is now the Mayor of Sacramento. His segment starts with him talking to his senior staff that his single goal is to make Sacramento the world leader in clean energy. That his state and town have the resources to do it, so lets do it. They could follow, or they could lead. He’d prefer to lead.
There are other folks featured. Like Yvon Chouinard, avid environmentalist, rock climber, reluctant businessman, and owner of the outdoor clothing and gear company Patagonia. Heck I am wearing one of his pullovers. His company moto is literally:
Go surfing ….
He doesn’t want them to work any longer and harder then required. He wants them to enjoy life.
Or the Ceja family, which they need to film an entire documentary on. They came to the Napa Valley from Mexico with nothing but the cloths on their back as migrant farm workers and transformed themselves from grape-pickers to Vineyard owners in a single generation.
Dreamland is extraordinary people doing extraordinary things!