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The Making Of

Producer, Director and Videographer Bo Boudart talks about ensconcing himself amongst the Native American tribes of the Great Plains and Southwest as they fight back against dirty energy technology and struggle to establish green economies on the reservation.

Independent Lens: What did you hope to accomplish with this film?

Filmmaker Bo Boudart: I hope that those who see POWER PATHS will see it as an inspiring story of what community groups can do to effect change in their use of energy and where it comes from. We want audiences to understand that there are human and environmental impacts that result from society’s choices of its energy use. This documentary shows how individuals and communities must participate in the way we use and choose energy.

IL: What led you to make POWER PATHS?

BB: I was looking for examples of what people were doing on a local level to bring more renewable energy to their communities. I heard what the Navajo, Hopi and environmental grassroots groups were doing to shut down a coal plant and their efforts to obtain pollution credits for investing in renewable energy. This inspired the making of this documentary.

IL: What were some of the challenges you faced in making this film?

BB: You need to have your own internal GPS to find locations on Native reservation lands in the Southwest and the Great Plains many of which are very far apart.

IL: How did you gain the trust of the subjects in your film?

BB: We met Norman Brown, a Navajo community organizer and filmmaker who we asked to become a co-producer for the production. Norman helped us gain access to Native Americans who we wanted to participate in the documentary.

IL: Tell us about a scene in POWER PATHS that especially moved you.

BB: When a Navajo mother was hooked up with solar energy and saw the first light bulbs light up her house, she cried and hugged her three children.

IL: What has the audience response been so far?

BB: Audiences have said they were unaware of the energy issues with Native American communities. And I think people assume large-scale, renewable energy projects are not economically feasible on the reservations, especially on a scale that could power cities like Los Angeles, Phoenix and many cities across the Midwest.

IL: The independent film business is a difficult one. What keeps you motivated?

BB: I have been an independent for over 30 years because I am motivated to produce documentaries that convey stories about attaining justice for indigenous communities, about wise use of the environment. Perseverance and passion gets these films produced.

IL: Why did you choose to present your film on public television?

BB: Getting a wide audience should be every filmmaker’s desire, and national public TV offers that opportunity to reach a larger audience.

IL: What didn’t you get done when you were making POWER PATHS?

BB: I wasn’t able to visit my cabin in Alaska.

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