After an extended moment of cross-armed aloofness on the Coop bench, I turned seriously towards Oren. “What’re you gonna do with that banana peel?” He paused, thoughtfully. “I don’t know…” We both stopped and glanced at the camera before a rising tide of laughter overtook me and I lost composure. “Hey, you can’t laugh! Now we have to do it all over again!” Cut! We cued up Banana Number 2, crossed our arms, and shot our second take of Scene 1, in a video we hoped would educate people about our new community compost program, elicit some laughs, and inspire a few donations and signups. Underneath it all, though, we were soaking in the Sunday sun, sharing some laughs, and relishing in a work task that welcomed creativity and spontaneity.
Oren and my video planning discussion in the greenhouse that morning had evolved (or devolved) into a discussion of virtually everything else, rendering us clueless by the time we met Fanni and Kelly at the Coop to start shooting. We started kicking around ideas for a general film outline and potential humor points — slapstick banana peel slippage; hilariously misplaced compost efforts — but nothing quite flew. My only vision entailed a dramatic scene of myself bailing off the top of the Shadow — our huge and gloriously sketchy black farm van — into a somersault; sprinting to pick up a curbside bucket, and returning to shouts of “GET IN THE VAN!” and an excessive burn-out departure. I floated this idea no less than three times, before admitting to myself that a dramatic somersault combo off the top of a moving black van is more of a personal aspiration. While I’m optimistic that this opportunity may yet present itself, this simply wasn’t the video for it.
Eventually, however, we did come up with some ideas, and got to filming. Basically, underneath all the humor and lightness, we needed to convey how the program works. And from the community perspective, it’s actually quite simple: collect compostable materials in your green-lidded buckets, bring them out to the curbside one day per week, and have them picked up by the Shadow and replaced with clean and empty buckets to fill for the next week. That goes for individuals and businesses. There’s a flat fee to pay for the service, and your food “waste” goes to productive use on a local vegetable farm. Good deal. From our perspective, however, there were more details to work through, and Oren and Kelly figured out most of the logistics of arranging a space for us to wash buckets, sourcing screw-top lids, and arranging to use Whitefeather Organics’ dump-trailer to transport the material to their farm to be composted. Then there was the creation of the gofundme page, rate determination, dissemination of profits and compost, etcetera etcetera. By this point, though, the details had been more or less ironed out, and so we were tasked with making the promotional video.
After shooting our scenes by the Coop, in the kitchen, and by the curbside, we returned to the bench for the closure. I took my extended moment of cross-legged aloofness and turned to Oren once more. “What’re you gonna do with that orange peel?” This time there was no pause of uncertainty. “Have you heard of the new community curbside compost collection program?” Why yes; I have. Pan to Kelly with two thumbs up, and it’s a wrap. Smugly satisfied, we headed back to Oren’s place to edit and polish.
Watching through the scenes was almost as fun as shooting them initially: Oren, wistfully biting his banana while looking at the garbage can; Kelly’s, terrible flub of the “easy, screw-top lid” she’d just so enthusiastically introduced; the Shadow, backing sketchily down two blocks of 5th Ave- side door open, auspicious tow strap hanging out the back door. Classic stuff; classic stuff. Feel free to check the vid via the link below, if you’re so inclined. Whether or not you care to donate or sign up, if you get at least a fraction of the pleasure we experienced in the process of recording, we will have been successful.