“Becoming Sustainable” debuts in online film festival Culture Unplugged June 16!

Update: “Becoming Sustainable” is now live in the Green Unplugged online film festival!  Click here to be taken directly to the film.
Click here to explore other films in the film festival.

Heads up, Sust Enable fans!

The short film, “Becoming Sustainable,” based on The Sust Enable Project, will be available to screen online in Culture Unplugged, a global eco-consciousness film festival beginning June 16, 2015 and extending for six months.

Culture Unplugged is a global film festival that aspires to share “conscious films that may awaken us to our holistic future—integral individuals and human communities thriving in coexistence with nature.”  Since 2008, Culture Unplugged has been visited by 64 million viewers from 231 countries.

“Becoming Sustainable,” delves into an evolving journey of “what it means to live sustainably,” told through the eyes of one young filmmaker-activist’s efforts to live a lifestyle “as sustainable as possible” in the modern United States.  Its innovative recursive narrative and aesthetic styles establish it as the first “meta-mentary.”

“The best way to view the metamentary is to imagine that the film itself is sentient,” says director Caroline Savery.  “That as you are watching it, the film is watching itself, and modifying its behavior based on what it learns.”

Please make sure to watch “Becoming Sustainable” on Culture Unplugged and share it with friends and families!  Details and a direct link coming soon.  For questions, email sust.enable@gmail.com.


Update on release of Becoming Sustainable

Dear fans and followers of The Sust Enable Project,

I regret to report that Becoming Sustainable: a metamentary has not been accepted into 11 of the 12 film festivals I submitted to.  Becoming Sustainable is the 25-minute short version of the intended feature length film about The Sust Enable Project (for more information on Becoming Sustainable, check out this blog post).  This has been disappointing, of course.  However, there are some bits of positive news to share, too.

Becoming Sustainable has been submitted to the HotDocs DocShop, an online shop where “registered professionals such as buyers, commissioning editors, acquisition executives, distributors, sales agents and festival programmers” can view and purchase rights for films.  Any film submitted to HotDocs, whether or not it is accepted into the festival, is eligible to participate.  It’s possible I will get some very influential eyes on the film that way.

Additionally, I have been personally invited to submit to an innovative online film festival with a unique approach to celebrating and sharing consciousness-shifting independent media.  This unique network/organization, with sustainability-consciousness at its core, is called Culture Unplugged. I have a strong feeling that Becoming Sustainable, for its reflexive, autoethnographic storytelling about the fruition of sustainability consciousness, will fit in perfectly with this organization and its festival!  Furthermore, I am also stoked that the film will be viewable online for six months during the online festival–free for any to watch. Please check out Culture Unplugged’s website and show your support.

There’s also one more film festival pending: the Pittsburgh Independent Film Festival.  The Sust Enable Project was entirely shot and independently in Pittsburgh, PA, and its significant community activities, such as the Community Feedback Sessions and the Sustainability Jams, touched many lives in Pittsburgh.  I am hoping to at least have the opportunity for my festival premiere at this festival.  I will find out in early May.  For those based in Pittsburgh who would be keen to watch the film at the festival, those festival dates are June 26-28.

Lastly, this experience has shown me the importance of targeting the right audience for this work.  I always felt that I wanted people to be “taken on a journey” through watching The Sust Enable film… that they would start out with a certain conventional concepts of “sustainability” at the start of the film, and end up down the rabbit hole of deep meanings!  However, I have discovered that many people (like me, in 2008!) don’t realize that their ideas about sustainability need any examination.  So perhaps a direct approach will not work.

On the other hand, I think the people who would absolutely “get” what TSEP is all about are 1) people who already grapple with sustainability on a daily basis, and who are humbled enough to know there isn’t one right answer to the meaning of sustainability (and that their own ideas are constantly subject to change!) and 2) people who are interested in human consciousness.  It may sound odd, but I am considering implementing a personal, targeted campaign to the latter group, represented by organizations such as IONS (Institute of Noetic Sciences) and Evolver.  Why?  Because I realized one of the best and simplest ways to explain the motivation behind the experimental styles in Becoming Sustainable is to say: “Imagine that this film you’re about to watch is sentient.”

“Imagine that it’s just like you, in the theater, watching itself.  It starts out with a certain ideas about sustainability, and as it goes along and learns more, it begins to adapt its way of thinking and reflects on its own behaviors.  (Hence the term, meta-mentary!)”  In certain audiences, comprised of people who think a certain way about consciousness, I believe this framing plus the work itself will strike a strong chord.  And perhaps the support of these such audiences can be leveraged to reach a broader audience.

Regardless of the details of how it manifests, I look forward to being able to share Becoming Sustainable with you all.  You have been a part of this journey.  Thank you!




Update on status of Sust Enable: The Metamentary

Update 12-3-14: Check out our latest newsletter to TSEP Supporters here.

Dear Sust Enable fans & followers,

Where to begin?  It has been a strange time these past couple years, and I have not been as good about keeping y’all updated as I would have liked.  I had big things in mind for Sust Enable: The Metamentary (SE:MM) as you know, and big things are still ahead–although they are not the same “big things” I originally dreamed of.

Back in February – July of 2013, my cinematographer and main creative collaborator Jon Skocik and I convened to begin editing a short “proof of concept” teaser film.  This proof-of-concept would combine footage from the original Sust Enable webisode series in 2008 and footage shot with an all-volunteer crew in 2011, and would exhibit some of the story elements and recursive stylistic designs intended for the feature length documentary, SE:MM.  We began this venture feeling that we had done all we could do to “tell” people about the holistically-sustainable vision for the SE:MM film, and now to move this film forward we had to “show” in film form what it is we were trying to accomplish.  This tool would then be used to seek substantial funding.  By this time, it had been over three years since I had begun trying to make a feature-length documentary that would explore the meaning of sustainability on all levels of the film’s creation (story, styles and real-world production).

From August – November 2013, I moved into my parents house and worked full time on seeking organizational partnerships and grant fundraising for SE:MM.  Nearly every conversation I had with a potential creative partner or production house was positive–now we just needed the financing.  I submitted three full-scale grant applications for thousands of dollars.  For every one, I was declined.

This was the final lesson in a long trail of failed grant applications, teaching me: grant fundraising was not a viable option for SE:MM.  The same pattern of high-stakes, energy-intensive, and ultimately declined grant applications was true for every time in the project’s three year history that we had sought significant financing to support the next phase of SE:MM development.  With grant fundraising proving a constant dead-end, we had iteratively boot-strapped our production phases with countless hours of volunteer labor, modest cash donations from individuals, and lots of support and cooperation from in-kind partners.  But that was the last straw.  I had given so much of my life over to the Sust Enable project.  I couldn’t afford to give any more and have nothing to show for it.  I decided that I would be done with SE:MM if my full-time outreach & fundraising efforts did not produce workable results by November.

On November 21, 2013, I moved to Denver, CO and began a new life.  That was it.  I was done with SE:MM.

But, as many folks reminded me, there was no sense in declaring I was “done” with SE:MM entirely.  It would be closing off a door to what is and was a huge part of my life.  At first I avoided any thought of Sust Enable for a few months, nursing my bitter wounds.  Gradually, though, I began to consider Sust Enable with fresh eyes.

The Sust Enable Project has important messages in it that I want to share with the world.  What if I changed my assumptions about how I could share it?  What would it mean to me to truly “release” SE:MM for me: not in the sense of releasing a film, but as though releasing a bird from closed hands?  I want to share it, I want people to share in it.  But it had become clear that the form I had dreamed it in–the feature-length experimental documentary–was not to come into manifestation.  Did that require me to let go of all the work and effort entirely?  With the resources and vision I had, how could I release the project in a way that would allow me to feel “done” in a fulfilled way?

While at first that short film was intended as a proof-of-concept exhibitng some styles, themes and scenes for the purpose of a feature “teaser” and fundraising tool–slowly, creepingly, over time, the film morphed into a standalone short film.  Eventually, this became the goal of the project.  Once I had finally let go of my fixation over how I wanted this project to be created and received, I was able to see how it would be possible for me to actually release it.

Today.  A day I never knew would come.  Today I am proud to announce:

Becoming Sustainable: a metamentary is a 25 minute, 10 second short film that has been submitted to a dozen film festivals throughout the United States and Canada.  If it is selected, it will screen, and then a possible distribution deal will emerge from that.  While, believe me, dear followers, I would love to share the full film freely with you all right away, I feel it’s better to allow the anticipation and buzz to build up a bit.  I believe it’s worth it.

The next step for me is to email all the donors of the film.  If you had donated to Sust Enable, via our crowdfunding campaign or another form, and had been promised a DVD of the film in return for your donation, I will honor those requests and send you a DVD of the short as soon as I am able.

Next, I plan to release a majority of the film’s interview content under a Creative Commons License (to the extent I am permitted to do so by the participants’ release forms).  That means interview content from Sust Enable: The Metamentary will be freely available to use, recut and remix.  So all the good moments and nuggets of insight won’t be lost, but will instead be liberated for people to interface with the media as they see fit.

Lastly, I plan to release a short book, with the working title, “The Metamentary Manifesto.”  The Manifesto will be a passionate call-to-action of the need to commit and challenge ourselves to holistic ecological thinking in our filmmaking undertakings.  The Manifesto will also provide an in-depth mapping of how the proposed and planned Sust Enable: The Metamentary film would have embodied the utmost in recursive, adaptive and ecological practices in filmmaking.   I aim to time the release of this book at or shortly after the debut screenings of the film in film festivals (hopefully) across the U.S.

With this three-part release strategy–short film, raw footage, manifesto–I will feel that all the content of the Sust Enable project that I hope will better the world, awaken people’s ecological awareness, and broaden their “sustainability literacy”–will be done.  Truly done.  Free, released, and complete.

So then, maybe then… I can move onto other things.



TSEP is hiring!

Exciting announcement: TSEP has an immediate need for an experienced documentary film producer!

The ideal candidate will be effective, experienced, creative and available immediately, as fundraising for a late Summer 2014 Production is already underway.  You can read more about the opportunity here.

Please spread the word!  Doing so will help bring us closer to a sustainable feature-length documentary film.   Continue reading


Sust Enable as a platform for openly “workshopping” sustainability

Sust Enable has adopted many forms throughout its development from a seed film idea two years ago, derived out of filmmaker/author Caroline Savery’s remarkable struggles with the Sust Enable episode series in 2008.

Caroline wanted to share how her life had been radically altered–for the better–through practically testing her naive, culturally-influenced attitudes about what sustainability means in a three-month “sustainable living” experiment.  With a ten-year background in filmmaking, she wanted to tell this story through the film medium–namely, with a documentary that would illustrate her trials, tribulations, and her maturing philosophy that this one little word, “sustainability,” could encode a massive shift in culture, consciousness and conduct.  And from the tough-earned insights she learned about sustainability, it was important to her to approach the production of the documentary film in an authentically sustainable, holistic way.

This seed developed into an ambitious vision.  What if the entire film production process was built upon an adapting, evolving list of sustainability principles?  The world is currently working out definitions of sustainability in a variety of settings, fields, and lives–are there any emergent, common themes to this movement that the film could use as guidelines and models?  What if the film’s entire process embodied these values–would the final product not only be about what sustainability means, but actually look, feel, and be a more sustainable film?  How would this effort contribute to global sustainability? Continue reading


Sea Change for Sust Enable

Hello everyone,

It is my joy to share with you today some new direction for Sust Enable: The Metamentary.

If you are wondering “what has Sust Enable been up to lately?,” I appreciate your curiosity!  The Sust Enable project has evolved through many phases, just like any growing organism.  It has been in a dormant period lately, as we had to honestly assess our capacity as an all-volunteer, micro-budget endeavor.  Sust Enable is about to emerge from a dormant phase, but it is certainly not dead, or even ailing.  It has merely been thoughtfully evolving, same as ever.

The film’s main mission has always been to try to embody sustainability as effectively as possible at all levels of the film’s creation, and thus to serve as an educational model and empowerment tool.  This film is going to try to live up to its working title of “metamentary” by going “beyond” traditional cinema structures and devices (building on, not hating on, I’d like to note!) and innovating a more sophisticated, holistic model of filmmaking, film style, and storytelling–as justified, of course, by our film’s expansive, slippery subject matter.  In this effort to embody sustainability as best we can, at times, the Sust Enable project has:

  • adopted a radically inclusive collective production structure;
  • held Community Feedback Sessions which morphed into Sustainability Jams, where people shared practical sustainable lifestyle skills and shared their perspectives on what sustainability means;
  • employed online collaborative devices to maintain collaboration between all volunteer stakeholders;
  • and we have gone through many different visions of what the film would look like.

And in this ongoing process, I have sheared away a lot of what Sust Enable is not, and discovered amazing insight into what Sust Enable is.

Sust Enable is a very special project.  As its Director, I have recognized that for me to hold the complex vision for what Sust Enable needs to be, my ambitious artistic standards exceed my drive and abilities as Producer.  One thing I have learned is that I need an experienced, highly creative production team to bring this project to life. Continue reading


Sust Enable director Caroline Savery to speak at Evolver Convergence

Caroline Savery will speak at the Evolver Convergence in Pittsburgh, PA on Saturday, June 2nd from 2:55-3:40pm in the Local Reskilling Room.

Her presentation, entitled “Visionary Cinema: Mirroring a Conscious Evolution,” will explore how evolutions in collective consciousness are mirrored in the films we create, and how recent popular innovations in cinema narratives, language and style–like the increasing popularity of “reflexive” stories and styles–speak to exciting new territory in how we think of ourselves and our challenges.  She will close by discussing how “a metamentary” like Sust Enable–which explores the social struggle to define a “true” meaning of sustainability–builds upon this trend, expanding possibilities for framing our social challenges in our minds and hearts, through using film methods that invite the audience to engage with instead of absorb its story.

Reserve your tickets NOW for this incredible weekend of mind-bending insight from some of the most forward-thinking innovators of our generation.


News (new people, new workshops, new momentum!)

The Sust Enable team would like to welcome Meg Koleck and Sarah Megyesy to our project! Meg and Sarah will be serving as Assistant Producer interns for this semester. We really look forward to working with you. And thanks for being so inspired, and for appreciating–or at least tolerating–our ever-in-flux “organic” filmmaking process.

With the help from these two new producers, Sust Enable’s production capacity has expanded! We are looking for people who would like to share their definition of sustainability with us from around the Pittsburgh area. What does it mean to you to “live sustainably?” What parts of your life are “sustainable?”  Why does sustainability matter to you? If you’d like to be interviewed, or know someone who should be interviewed, contact our director Caroline at carolinesavery [at] gmail [dot] com.

Belated thanks to Kevin May (Phil Osophical) for teaching at our last Sustainability Jam on August 11. The topic was “How to Conduct a Gift Circle” and how gift circles relate to sustainability. Our next Sustainability Jam will be on September 8, and the topic is “Maintaining your Bicycle”.  You’re invited! Check out the full invitation here.

In other news… Caroline Savery, our director, will be teaching a workshop on “applying the wisdom of sustainability to activist organizing” at the Building Change Conference in Pittsburgh, PA on Saturday, October 15th!  Check out the amazing initiative behind the Building Change conference, and read about Caroline’s workshop here.

We are also proud to announce that we have just received our LLC status from the state of Pennsylvania. Hooray, we’re legit!  A lot of good things are happening now, with much forward momentum…

Thanks for your involvement!

– The Sust Enable Crew