Earth Day gets its Revenge (of the Electric Car) in New York City

Scenes from Revenge of the Electric Car – Click above for high-res image gallery

The AutoblogGreen movie (we wish) sequel of sorts to Who Killed The Electric Car?, Revenge of the Electric Car, premieres tonight at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. We just spoke with a very busy Chris Paine, the film's director, earlier today – stop harassing him for tickets, people, he's got things to do – and he gave us a little bit of the story behind crafting this story.

chris paine"I want to tell character-driven stories," Paine said. "The film is not about the reasons why you have to drive electric car because Al Gore told you to. There are 100 ways to tell a story. The last film was done as a procedural, as an essay why electric cars were – and are – a good idea and why they were killed, which is because it was a disruptive technology that threatened too many invested interests." For the new film, Paine and his team started with a wide net before getting down to the four main characters – Bob Lutz (Chevy Volt), Elon Musk (Tesla Motors), Carlos Ghosn (Nissan Leaf) and Gadget (who "represents the thousands of people who have done conversions around the world and were doing them when the car companies couldn't care less.").

"This is the trick with making a documentary," Paine said. "You pick 12 stories and hope two or three of them pan out."

Some of the stories not detailed in the final film are Iceland's quest to bring the Mitsubishi i-MiEV to the country and Shai Agassi's Better Place project.

"The average vehicle [in Iceland] is a Range Rover," Paine said. "We started filming and the president of Iceland said 'I understand what's happening. It's criminal that we've been importing gasoline cars.'" The government convinced Mitsubishi to make Iceland one of the first iMiEV markets, but then Iceland's economy imploded. "So that story just flatlined," Paine said.

"We also started following the Shai Agassi story. We went to Israel and interviewed Shimon Peres. We met with Shai's family, we looked at the infrastructure and when they deployed a charging station in Japan." Delays in Better Place getting more vehicles on the road and some of the logistical realities meant that this thread didn't make the cut. "We felt that we were closer to Tesla, so that's the story we ended up telling," Paine said. "Shai's story is in my editing suite waiting for the 12-hour television series. If I can get the budget to make those films, I will."

That's the reality here, that there's much more to the revenge of the electric car than 90 minutes can hold. "This story is never going away," Paine said. "Effectively, the cars are back in the showrooms, and that's where we can end the movie."

For more on the film, including an article written by the film's producers click past the jump (then click on "Show Press Release").

Show full PR text
For those of us who worked on the film, "Revenge of the Electric Car," our world premiere in New York City at the Tribeca Film Festival tonight is a great sign for the future- and especially auspicious that it falls on Earth Day.

Chris Paine's 2006 rabble rouser, "Who Killed the Electric Car?" surprised the public because so few people knew how many electric cars had so recently been made and then quickly destroyed by the car companies. "It's great to see such a dramatic reversal so soon and there is a lot of credit to go around, with some very inspired entrepreneurs, rising gas prices, and determined activists- including AutoBlogGreen readers- from all sides of the spectrum," says Paine.

After "Who Killed the Electric Car?" was released, car companies were inundated by emails and phone calls from electric car enthusiasts, green car advocates, and people across the world ready for real change in mobility. People were passing "that film about electric cars" to others and all kinds of activist groups and student groups were organizing screenings, and started asking an important question: Why are gas burning cars our only choice in the marketplace and why are so many of those cars so inefficient?

With so many applying pressure and the tide turning, Chris knew he had a rare opportunity to follow what could be a great reversal in the global car industry. Whether or not it would transpire, he decided to follow the developing story.

Meanwhile, soon-to-be Executive Producer Stefano Durdic was driving his new electric car around the streets of Chicago and answering a lot of questions about the car. "I felt that more people needed to learn about this amazing technology. As much as I wanted to drive my electric car to everyone's doorstep across the country, I figured a documentary was a more effective way to spread the word. I reached out to Chris and we started working together right away."

Stefano and Chris wanted the next film to dig deeper into who and what it would take to bring these cars to market again. After months of back and forth and a promise to release no footage to anyone before 2011, the filmmakers secured access to two major car makers, GM and Nissan, and the new startup Tesla Motors. With the fresh memory of GM denying any access to Chris for his first film, it was clear that there were risks for all parties involved. The risk for the filmmakers was that they would not actually make the cars - "or worse, that we'd simply be a part of corporate PR," said Paine. And the carmakers were making themselves vulnerable to the possibility of ambush journalism. There were a few tense moments in those board rooms, testing grounds, and electric car development meetings over those three years of filming, and the cameras were able to roll on whatever was happening.

"Everyone has rolled the dice and the results speak for themselves," says Paine, "our film follows a great story and miraculously, there are once again electric cars coming to market less than five years after our last film." Behind the scenes, efforts of activists, engineers, entrepreneurs, enlightened consumers and even politicians have made what was once a longshot a very tangible reality.

On Saturday, April 23rd, Tribeca is hosting a second screening of the film that includes a panel discussion moderated by actor and EV enthusiast, David Duchovny. Panelists include Chris Paine, Pulitzer Prize winning Wall Street Journal columnist Dan Neil, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, and Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn. The screening sold out within hours of tickets going on sale. "We're thrilled with the early success of our film," says Durdic, "We're happy to play a small part in kick-starting this important discussion."

The filmmakers are working with potential partners and sponsors to bring this film to market. The goal is to showcase this global story across a wide array of platforms around the world to get it in front of as many people as possible. Those interested in bringing the film to their city can request the film online here.

Editor's Note: This article was written by members of the production team behind Revenge of the Electric Car. Given the role the team's first film, Who Killed The Electric Car?, had on the green car movement, we invited them to share some information about the "sequel" with our readers. They'll be checking out the comments on this post, so tell them what you think of either film. Of course, if your only comment is "play the movie in my town," then there's a better place for that.

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