Writer/Director Chris Paine’s documentary feature film Who Killed the Electric Car? premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2006 before its release by Sony Pictures to critical acclaim in 100 U.S. markets. The film was the third highest-grossing theatrical documentary of 2006 and screened with An Inconvenient Truth in many markets.
The film was written and directed by Chris Paine, and produced by Jessie Deeter, and executive produced by Tavin Marin Titus, Richard D. Titus of Plinyminor and Dean Devlin, Kearie Peak, Mark Roskin, and Rachel Olshan of Electric Entertainment. The film grossed over $1.75 million – a large number for independent documentaries of this type.
Currently in wide DVD release, Paine’s film investigates the events leading to the quiet destruction of thousands of new, radically efficient electric vehicles. Through interviews and narrative, the film paints a picture of an industrial culture whose aversion to change and reliance on oil may be deeper then its ability to embrace ready solutions.
Who Killed the Electric Car? and Chris Paine were nominated by the Writer’s Guild for Best Documentary of 2006. The film also received nominations from The Broadcast Critics Awards and The Environmental Media Awards for Best Documentary of 2006. The film won the audience award at the Canberra International Film Festival and won a special jury prize at the Mountain Film Festival.
Festivals and Awards
1) Nominated: Best Documentary – Environmental Media Awards (2006)
2) Won – Special Jury Prize Mountain Film (Telluride) (2006)
3) Nominated Writers Guild: Best Documentary
4) Nominated Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards, 2007 Best Doc. Feature
5) Won – Audience Award at the Canberra International Film Festival.
The film screened at the following Film Festivals:
San Francisco Film Festival
Sundance Film Festival
Deauville Film Festival
Seattle Film Festival
Los Angeles Film Festival
Canberra Film Festival Tribeca Film Festival
Berlin International Film Festival
Atlanta Film Festival
Newport Film Festival
Mountain Film Festival
Sony marketed Who Killed The Electric Car? in over 100 theatrical markets to become the third highest grossing documentary in 2007. Netflix now lists nearly 150,000 ratings of the DVD release from renting customers. Over 400 reviews have been written on Neflix and it is in their Top Ten List of “important movies you should see.”
Thanks to the massive push behind An Inconvenient Truth (we were a trailer for that film in theaters) and internet word of mouth, this West LA-produced documentary reached people around the world and helped inspire change.
The success of Who Killed the Electric Car? rather goes beyond electric cars. It has been an inspiration to independent producers of documentaries and with the advent of video on the Internet, has led to an entire movement of video production marketed around the large distributors, such as Sony, with numerous other documentaries gaining an audience directly.
Pain has been working on a sequel – Revenge of the Electric Car. This is scheduled for release April 22nd at the Tribeca film festival in New York.
I found the original documentary a bit far from unbiased, and strangely naive. Having worked in large corporations, I almost view conspiracy theories as almost an anthropomorphism of corporations. After you see a large corporation go through five CEO’s in seven years, and with “reorganization” become a ritualized annual event, it dawns on you that there is really no one home in these entities. No one is in charge. Chaos largely reigns. And assigning any particular point of view or mission would be viewed almost as a joke within the organization. Cubicle city doesn’t really have a leader, a mission, or a point of view. It just is. And it lives to continue to live, turning on any perceived threat with the same reptilian focus and process. It is what it is, but an intelligent “conspiracy” it is not. And a secret is an absurdity in organizations that thrive on rumor at the water cooler.
So I personally found Paine’s view in Who Killed the Electric Car almost painfully naive – a child mind’s view of the world.
That’s a little bit in conflict with the fact that the mission and intent of the film is definitely one I share. I think the adoption of electric drive in transportation is a heroic imperative with a very deadly clock running against it, the only hope to avoid a worldwide financial meltdown of unprecedented proportions – a 20 year depression with the collapse of banks and financial institutions world wide. This dark picture is so completely detailed in my mind, that I normally don’t even speak of it as it almost doesn’t matter and most of our viewers would dismiss it as total madness and irrationality on my part.
But I’m also very intrigued by how techno-social change actually occurs. I was in a privvy position to watch this first hand over the course of a couple of decades with the development of the Internet, and I’m profoundly moved by the difference between how most people THINK change is achieved and how it is actually achieved. The latter being by large scale rather slowly developing grass roots movements led by key individuals.
And I almost view it as all part of God’s plan. We really can’t have a society where we completely retool our communications infrastructure, at an expense of hundreds of billions of dollars, because somebody has a good idea or because some fad concept becomes the object of desire at the moment.
Similarly, we cannot spend a trillion dollars on retooling our transportation infrastructure based on such notions.
And so we wind up with a governments, existing businesses, automobile manufacturers and oil companies all fighting with all the tools they command to MAINTAIN THE STATUS QUO. And we have a small, but growing army of “fringe” people, all working on the concept of electric vehicles. It is THEIR job to maintain the status quo. It is OUR job to wrest change in that status quo. And all is right with the world.
Picture a hive of ants where 95% of the ants work to maintain the anthill against all comers and against all change. But they always maintain 5% of their population as scouts and foragers always looking for new ways to find food or improve the anthill. If they stumble on an idea for change so persuasive, members of the 95% start to defect. At some critical mass, the anthill suddenly adopts. Where that tipping point occurs is very interesting. But we have seen all of this play out in just this way with the INternet. And I think we will with electric transportation as well.
But we might have to revise what electric transportation IS and what it means several thousand times along the way until it becomes irresistable to the anthill.
In the meantime, our government, our automotive manufacturers, and the oil companies are doing EXACTLY WHAT THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO BE DOING. And we’re doing exactly what we’re supposed to be doing. There is no evil. THere is no conspiracy. It just is what it is and it works this way for good and varied reasons emerging over tens of thousands of years of human development.
The way I think of this is that there are 166,000 gasoline stations with a vested interest in selling gasoline. All 50 states tax gasoline and cummulatively derive $25 billion in annual revenues from it. The United States government also taxes gasoline and derives another $25 billion from it. The five largest and most profitable corporations on the planet are all oil companies and EACH of them generate more annual revenues than 90% of the COUNTRIES in the world. The entire middle east is economically ENTIRELY based on oil production.
On OUR team we have a few hundred guys with a mad on willing to part with the ducats to put LiFePo4 cells in a car and thus gain a vehicle for themselves, some independence from the problem, and the ability to show others how to do the same. They do all this in sheds and garages with hand tools. Virtually none of them have sufficient capital to start a hot dog stand. It’s all gesture. And a single car.
So how come I feel like we have the larger team surrounded?
Because we do. Everytime they show their car, we add another couple of hundred. At some point it will be 10,000, then 100,000, then a million. At that point, it will start to grow. Addictive and contagious.
But in doing EVTV, I get a chance to talk to a LOT of people who are intensely passionate about electric cars. They are so passionate, that they devote multiple tens of thousands of hard earned ducats to build their own, none really being otherwise available for sale. This is like an ARMY of those scout ants and they are IMPASSIONED about it. They REALLY want it. I have seen that fire in the eye before – the early Internauts. And I have seen it play out.
If you do not fear it, you are simply unaware – a non sentient. Be afraid. Be very afraid. When tens of thousands of people worldwide all begin swirling around one dream, with that LEVEL of intense of passion, you have already loosed the hounds of hell. It is a force that cannot be resisted and its growth feeds on itself. The religion spreads. It is both addictive and contagious. And ultimately large corporations and governments, NEVER a source of innovation and change, are totally helpless to stop it. AFTER adoption, they can only scramble around to rewrite history to show that indeed THEY INVENTED IT. Which is why the misunderstanding of how change happens.
In order to transition from defending the status quo, to defending a NEW status quo, you HAVE to have invented the new status quo. And so our work is not done, until they wrest history away from us, and indeed present it as an accomplishment of corporations and governments. Only when we are conveniently marginalized and forgotten do we win completely. Nature of the beast.
Of course, by then, most of us, being natural scout ants, are on to the next big change thing.
And that’s pretty much where I’ve lived my life – with nearly unerring accuracy. You can pretty much bet electric vehicles are the next big thing because Jack Rickard showed up to pray over it. I didn’t event it. And I’m not going to do it. I’m just here to pray over it and tell everybody about it. I claim no authorship of any of it nor the Internet. I’m just really good at showing up at the right time at the next big thing. Once it’s not NEXT, I move on.
In a strange way, so is Chris Paine. Among ALL The people I talk to about electric cars, I always ask what interested them first in this. Of course, the very few old hands all have interesting stories about that. But among the vast majority, and I would say 80% of everyone I talk to, they ALL mention the 2006 film Who Killed the Electric Car. It is almost bizarre. I would rate this film, as THE most influential documentary ever made and THE major influence among our viewers to initiate their interest in electric vehicles.
Since announcing EVCONN (was it three weeks ago????) we’ve already received 37 paid registrations and 12 people bringing cars. I know that doesn’t seem like many. But I’ve done a lot of trade show conventions actually. We ran BBSCON/ISPCON from 1992 through 1998 twice a year. It went from 100 guys to 6000 all paying $695 and in the end featured 225 educational sessions in three days. (No, that’s not a typo). But I’ve never really seen a takeoff on a new show like this. I know it seems like few at the moment, but as I say, I’ve done this before. We have more registered NOW than I planned to have at the event at all. And it is scheduled for SIX full months away. If I had to guess, at the moment I would say 750 attendees and 40 cars. And I may have underestimated THAT. It appears the desire for a show of THEIR OWN about CONVERTING cars was kind of a pregnant idea – thank you Eric Kriss. I’m embarassed it wasn’t my idea.
So we’re not going to have an electric car show or convention. We’re going to have one very specifically about CONVERTING YOUR OWN CAR to electric drive. That’s to be the focus and entire subject. It is not going to be an OEM show or a feel good show. Hard info on how to and why to – by the people who do and know how to do. Not the sheeples who want to buy one or think they are cool. The guys who will go to their own garage and build their own goddamn car, – lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way.
But it is incumbent on me to make it the best convention I can. ANd in considering the topic of headline speakers, I keep coming back to Chris Paine and “Who Killed the Electric Car”.
This morning i signed a contract engaging Mr. Paine to come address the attendees of the first Electric Vehicle Conversion Convention EVCONN. On Thursday evening, September 22nd, we intend to hold a catered barbecue and beer event at 7:00 PM in my backyard overlooking the Mississippi river, with perhaps a tasting for a few from the illicit distillery in the garage (medicinal purposes) and a bonfire. I will introduce Mr. Paine as the Keynote speaker for EVCONN and he will stand and deliver an emotionally charged speech of such inspirational nature you will never have heretofor witnessed.
And besides – I think you’ll actually like Stag beer. More to come.
23 thoughts on “Chris Paine to Keynote EVCCON – Electric Vehicle Conversion Convention”
Very Kewl. I’m going to have to work out how to get the time off to make the trip with my car.
Awesome getting Chris Paine to speak! I like that his documentary spreads the blame out, it’s not just evil corporations — gov’t and the public get blame, too.
At first I was sure I wasn’t going to EVCCon, I was afraid it was going to be 2 people and Jack rambling for 10 hours a day. Now you are getting critical mass and awesome speakers, now I really want to go!
Well, that’s not very nice to hear.
But no. You all get to hear me ramble every week from the comfort of your own living room. I’ll continue to ramble post convention.
A convention/trade show is a MEETING. As host, I’ll mostly introduce people and make sure you MEET. The value is precisely in critical mass and interaction among YOU guys. And it is specifically to give some OTHER voices, even voices I may not agree with, a forum. Diverse views. That sort of thing.
I’ve done these before and they are magic. But it’s the mixture in the pot that’s tasty. THe pot itself is largely irrelevant. I’m looking at probably 16-18 sessions. In past shows, we actually ran multiple sessions simultaneously and one year we had 23 going simultaneously. Probably avoid that this year. But with enough registrants we might do 2 wide.
No, the convention isn’t going to be about me at all. I’ll be there, and I might even do a session. But mostly I’ll introduce people I think are cool and invited to speak at a meeting. A function at the junction.
Well, I tossed out a good dozen speaker guesses and one of them was on target. Get some star and green power [Hanks,DiCaprio,Fabio,Pitt,Begley,Jr.] involved to amplify pond penetration.
“…I almost view conspiracy theories as almost an anthropomorphism of corporations.” I’m not getting your whole conspiracy theories are reifications of corporations; the transitory tenure of CEOs leads me to conclude that the true power is vested with the directors and interlocks. To hold that there are no corporate conspiracies, secretive cabals, and tyrannical monopolists conflicts with any reasoned analysis of history, in my opinion. How many covert operations has the government of the United States initiated/effected? The Manhattan and Stealth bomber projects are secrecy exemplars. The RAV4ev battery story [ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDRBRuvct54&feature=related ], the
Phoebus light bulb cartel [ http://www.treehugger.com/files/2011/01/film-review-tirar-comprar-tirar-planned-obsolescence.php ], the Streetcar Conspiracy [ http://www.lovearth.net/gmdeliberatelydestroyed.htm ], and the actions taken by some against director Michael Moore [ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2lYd1LBTSM&feature=player_embedded ] should be eye openers and give real pause.
Yes, I know. Ergo the popularity of the documentary. I don’t share the view, just as you don’t “get” mine… we live in two different worlds.
But if you could see ALL that you cite from the inside, it looks entirely different, and your view of that is only very flattering for them to contemplate. I didn’t say that they wouldn’t WANT to conspire if they could. BUt most of those reports you imagine are just that …. great stories…unmatched by any realtime component that could be recognizable.
I suppose that in an odd reverse view, you could say that EVERYONE in a corporation is conspiring, simultaneously and in all directions. You can pick out your favorite and it will make sense, but’s largely cancelled out by all the other conspiracies within the body politic in the corporation. They are mostly united in an effort to get a larger salary or prevent loss of their jobs. They fail on both more generally than not.
IN general, my view is do not blame maleavolancy on anything that could likewise be explained by incompetence.
@PB thanks for pointing out Cosima Dannoritzer’s film. She is so witty, brilliant and very dear, close friend of mine. I like very much “To Buy, To Throw Away, To Buy” and have seen it many times so far. Particularly for independent documentary productions every publicity is more than welcome. I hope you liked it, and that many more will see it as well. Indeed triggers quite a few questions. Cheers!
I will be bringing an electric vehicle with me from New Zealand – albeit only 1:32 scale. I hope there will be oportunity to challenge you guys on the (slot car) track! A real opportunity to “get liqored up, play with LOW voltage and go for a drive” – in comfort and safety.
I’m guessing the idea has already been put forward but just in case I’ll put it forward too.
Would it be possible to film the key addresses by the speakers and attach these to the web site so those of us who can’t attend due to distance and $$ restrictions can still get the inspiration needed?
I am seriously looking at a very large EV project, a 36ft 10 tonne bus converted to a motorhome. It would need to be AC because one of the major issues is braking so regen would play a major part.
As far as the major corperations conspiring to keep any form of alternate energy or transport under control, if it’s in each individuals best interest to do that and it will affect upper level back pockets they will work as a team, sort of. A lot like education institues and govt dept really.
Keep up the good work, enjoy your shows and blog.
We just have purchased a large commercial land near Sebring Race Track http://www.sebringraceway.com/ so we can test our conversions there, before giving them to the Customers.
I think we could make 2nd EVCCON – Electric Vehicle Conversion Convention a year from the 1st one… Then do the race/show to bring attention of the public…
What do you think about this adea? My 2c…
This question of having a video of the EVCCON has come up several times. I guess the answer is that we are a TV show and of course there will be things make it to video. But the real answer is no, absolutely not.
In the first place, we already do a video show. But more, I don’t think you have a concept of what you’re asking. There will be things going on all over the place, all the time, for nearly five days. Now if it takes me 2:15 to explain constant current constant voltage, what would I do to edit five days of video happening in six places simultaneously?
Worse, I would have to MISS the convention to do the video shooting. Ain’t happening.
We just are not even going to consider trying to video shoot this convention. A convention is just that, a meeting of real people real time.
I’m not trying to be disingenuous here. I don’t want to do it. And if I DID want to do it I wouldn’t know HOW to do it. And if I did want to do it, and figured out how to do it, it still wouldn’t make any SENSE to do it and it would wind up being a huge mess anyway.
There are issues with the speakers. Not everyone wants to BE videod onto the Internet. It’s just hopeless. Unmanageable. Undoable. And probably undesireable.
If you want to see the convention, come to the convention. If you don’t want to come to the convention, stay home and watch EVTV. It all works.
It’s an interesting thought. We used to do two shows a year, one on each coast. And a racetrack does offer some very interesting possibilities. I have greenprix.com registered already I think.
But for the moment, I’m afraid I’m going to have my hands full doing this one right here in Cape Girardeau. If it goes, and it looks like a thing needing doing, we’ll look it for future venues.
Thank you Jack,
I will look into this too, I would love to go to EVCCON and get Porsche done by then… Looking at the ship options now 🙂
Nice Jack. Like the analysis of how conspiracies are spawned and perpetuated. Same goes in government as in corporations. A lot of small actors preserving the status quo – rather than a secretive sub-plot perpetuated under the cover of darkness by those “in the know.” No one can keep a secret. – David
Looks like marijuana really does induce paranoia (unless that’s a conspiracy, too! Hmmmmm.)
Looking forward to the Fall more and more each day!
As for corporations I have worked for, I take the organic analogy of the “schools of fish following the bait”: Single-minded, overly reactionary, and as quick to eat as to be eaten!
Sincere Thanks for all the hard work.
Looking forward to EVCCON, but I actually had a question regarding the two speedsters. Now that you have converted two of them with very different drive systems, which do you like better? I can understand the desire for the torque of the WARP9 and Soliton1, but the weight advantages of the AC50 and Curtis seem hard to ignor. Also in your speed runs with the WARP9 it seemed as though the back EMF limited the current as soon as the RPMs picked up. Any comment on comparing the two systems would be greatly appreciated.
Jack, sorry about the “rambling” comment! I enjoy your shows every week, I guess I meant to say it looks great you have critical mass and a great panel of speakers, even ones you don’t 100% agree with. No matter how great the speaker, a variety of speakers is better than 30 or 40 hours straight of the same speaker.
Hellishly good editorial Jack – one of the best things you’ve ever written.
I knew EVs were a great thing long before I learned of EVTV.ME [via evcast.com, if memory serves]. Greenprix.com is a very puzzling domain choice given your contentions: will all the race cars be required to be painted green? In an earlier entry you seem to be needlessly fretting about LiFePo4 batteries being outlawed because of a handful of fires. There are surely many more gasoline fires, yet gas tanks haven’t been outlawed. What sort of conspiracy would it take to outlaw relatively harmless batteries while turning a blind eye to far more dangerous gasoline, even exploding gas tanks? I watch the Friday Shows with great interest and often some awe. If the EV conversion movement is any paradigm shifting threat, I think a good bet is that it will likely be neutralized [watch Moore interview I shared], subsumed, or eliminated.
PS Nenad Jovanovic, Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your personal connection. Six Degrees of Separation!
what about inviting a local TV station??
Why not invite a national TV Network?
I’m sure Jack will work the cameras in somehow. It doesn’t take much to hire a few wedding videographers to tape the main speakers (not sessions) or to ask daughter Rickard to fly over the BBQ on that cool heli and take an aerial shot. I’m sure there are many amongst us techno-weenies that can help processing video files. There need not be a single big video production/film. Bits and pieces included on subsequent weekly programs would be great too. That EV fan on the local station will surely jump in if notified.
As more VIPs sign up, maybe the problem will be how to keep the paparazzi cameras out!
Oh, I’m sure the local TV station and newspaper will quite be all over it. Cape is a small city of 35,000 and they love to have visitors. KFVS has done two spots on us in the past, the last one very flattering. A few hundred guys with cars show up, it will cause quite a sensation in these parts.
I’m sure we’ll have shots of the convention woven into shows for the next six months after. I just wouldn’t count on being able to stay home and watch the show from a distance. Too much happens too quickly.
I’m getting used to the airport idea. They have acres of concrete down there. It’s six miles from the house. We can do all sorts of things with that kind of space. Bring in a mobile dynomometer. Slalom course. It’s a great venue for this sort of thing.