Let’s face it, there are a ton of food documentaries out there, many of them filled with enough doom and gloom to make Blackfish seem like an uplifting family film. Okay, maybe not that bad, but documentaries about the meat industry tend to be especially horrifying. Long story short, they’re not the sorts of films people are often excited to see. You watch them with a sense of duty, or perhaps even to satisfy a sort of morbid curiosity. In the end, you inevitably feel sick and betrayed.
Don Lewis is not making that documentary.
Don’s recent work includes WORST IN SHOW, a documentary about Petaluma’s ugliest dog contest, and The Violent Kind, a horror flick that showed at Sundance in 2010. He’s the first to admit that he wasn’t a strict Locavore or a champion for sustainable agriculture from the start; his interest was piqued when the Rancho beef recall first hit the news in January. Like the rest of us, he was confused, but he saw something more. There was a story to be told here, and it didn’t begin and end with the local processor shutting down.
“I don’t want to scare people, or lie,” Don assures me. For the most part, in fact, the film Don is making is a positive one. In addition to exploring the Rancho recall, he aims to shine a light on Sonoma County’s growing sustainable agriculture movement- chiefly the burgeoning grass-fed beef industry. He wants people to question why they eat meat- or don’t. Talking to the ranchers in his backyard has been life changing, he professes, and what he really wants is for people to explore food with him.
Talking healthy food (a little guiltily as we munch on pastries) it’s easy to see his passion for local farmers. We laugh as we commiserate about “tumbling down the food rabbit hole” and how a curiosity for eating locally turns into an obsession. Don is really just diving into this world, and in that sense he’s the perfect person to tell its story. Frankly, I’m really excited to see what he turns out.
The film’s working title is “Culling the Herd”. In making this documentary, Don’s hoping to answer some questions about the Rancho recall, but- perhaps more importantly- he hopes to take viewers along as he learns more about sustainable beef and what it means to be a part of this industry. An experienced filmmaker with a Master’s in Cinema Studies, Don is adamant that he doesn’t want to half-ass this project. He quit his job to focus on the film and is currently running a crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo for proper equipment, representation and a few other essentials. All of the proceeds from his fundraising efforts will go toward completing the documentary.
If you have a minute, take a look at his trailer here and please spread the word (and kick in if you can!) He has also recently partnered with the San Francisco Film Society, so if you would like to make a tax deductible donation please feel free to contact him at PetalumaFilms@gmail.com. He’s got some fantastic incentives but- more importantly- you’ll be helping him tell the story about our friends and neighbors who are working hard to bring healthy, sustainably grown food to our tables.