Cape Wind News and Notes from the Producers

Updates about the Cape Wind project, notes from the road, upcoming event promos, and other missives. Navigate by topic via the list on the right. And if you're already a fan, get your sweet Cape Spin swag here!

The Cape Spin Team does IDFA

December 1st, 2011 by Daniel Coffin

Firstly, I’d like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the folks who helped send us to Amsterdam via our Indiegogo fundraiser.  Without your support we wouldn’t have had such a successful ground game and wouldn’t be entertaining several of the offers now on the table.  THANK YOU!

With that out of the way, IDFA was quite the festival!  All told, there were 364 films, some 3,000 filmmakers, buyers, festival programmers and guests, accompanied by incredibly supportive Dutch audiences, all buzzing to keep the silver screens and parties going day and night for ten days straight.

We showed up in Amsterdam armed with flyers, buttons and a small electric powered boat to croon our prospective buyers in.  You can imagine we had fun:

Cape Spin team Sale-ing

Our international premiere was a hit, playing to a raucous sold out crowd in the Pathe Munt theater, followed by a Q & A with Robbie and John.  The Dutch audiences loved the humor and gave us warm compliments post-screening.  Better yet, early in the festival, Cape Spin was in the top ten most watched films in the Docs For Sale…one of the main attractions of IDFA.

Now that the festival is over, we move on, seeking new territory and new audiences.  We’re planning to launch a booking page for folks to get their communities signed up for screenings, so stay tuned.  If you’ve got some time to kill, take a close look at our post card below.  If you’ve been following the Cape Wind story, there’s likely some characters you’ll recognize!  If you need some hints, email us and I’ll send you the guide.

IDFA Post Card

Trying to Keep up with Cape Wind?

October 20th, 2011 by Daniel Coffin

One of the “stars” of our film, Sean Corcoran of NPR, has been diligently following the Cape Wind story for all of us, and I encourage you to check out his WCAI blog dedicated to Cape Wind happenings.  His most recent post rehashes some of the details of the slowly unwinding financing drama that has been hitting bylines for the last three months.

The new news is that Cape Wind Communications Director, Mark Rodgers, says that they don’t plan to break ground/water until at least next year, which makes sense considering they’ve only got two months left in 2011 and only half the power sold.  While this part of Cape Wind’s ten year drama doesn’t get much attention in Cape Spin, it’s an important story with big implications for the fledgling industry.

Did I mention that we’re going to IDFA in Amsterdam!? (we’re very excited).

Cape Spin Invited to IDFA in Amsterdam

October 19th, 2011 by Daniel Coffin

We’re proud and elated to announce that Cape Spin has been invited to the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam coming up at the end of November.  IDFA is recognized internationally as one of the premier marketplace festivals for documentaries – read all about it.  We’ll be part of the Green Screen competition and going up against some fine films, some of which we caught at the Woodstock Film Festival last month.

No dates have been announced, but here’s the official program for the Green Screen competition.  Hope to see you there!

A Thoughtful Write-up from Woodstock

October 10th, 2011 by Daniel Coffin

Paul McGinniss, author of the New York Green Advocate blog, attended one of our screenings at the Woodstock Film Festival and sums up here:

Thanks for the kind words, Paul.  For those following closely, there will be a big announcement coming soon about our next stop on the festival circuit.

Martha’s Vineyard Recap

August 11th, 2011 by Daniel Coffin

In case you missed it, our sneak peek on the Vineyard was quite an event.  I arrived on the island Tuesday morning, and we were set up at a fine spot called the Point Way Inn thanks to the folks from the Martha’s Vineyard Film Society and the Martha’s Vineyard International Film Festival.  Despite the wonderful scenery and accommodations, I found it hard to relax.  As is the case whenever you start putting your work out there, our nerves were tight, and I was stuck in a loop praying the sound in the theater would be good.  By the time of the screening at 8pm, I had managed to convince myself that everyone was going to love – or at least enjoy – the film.  I can assure you that the Union Chapel is a great place to catch a film, and the sound was not a problem.

Pre-screening tech check. Sound looks good!

There were, however, several other disturbances that were not predictable.  Have you ever been rained on while watching a movie before?  Well, our gracious attendees have.  About halfway into the film, a microburst (or perhaps just a small thunderstorm), descended on the Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs, and, due to a strong wind from a couple weeks prior, the two windows at the top of the steeple were stuck wide open.

Heavy winds and a soft mist, growing to a light rain, cooled our guests off for about five minutes as lightning and thunder cracked outside.  At one point everyone had evacuated their seats in the middle of the chapel and were standing around the edges intently watching the film.  I’m not sure, but I think the confusion during that section of the film may have helped fuel the second disruption which took place during the post-screening discussion.

If you’re familiar with the Cape Wind saga, you know that tensions, invective and strong opinions are abounding.  We’ve had no luck avoiding it ourselves, and because our goal with the film is to be objective and make the best case for both sides, we knew that we would ruffle some feathers, (and if done correctly, feathers on both sides).  The first speaker was Audra Parker, head of the opposition group, the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound.  She was not too pleased with our portrayal.  I’d also note that after the screening, the two employees of Cape Wind who attended voiced their own concerns over our editorial choices, so the score was more even than it may have appeared.  I won’t go into detail, but you can read several journalists’ perspectives at NPR, Vineyard Gazette and Vineyard Times.  While we did receive many warm compliments, especially after the panel was over, the general gist of the criticism was about perspective.  Virtually every issue about the Cape Wind controversy gets air time in our film, but our goal was never to resolve those issues.  They have been fought over in court, in the public dialogue, and in the bureaucracy of the local, state and federal governments.  Many of the issues in fact will never be resolved.

Our goal with the film is to document the process, to show how a battle like Cape Wind is fought, in the trenches, in the planning rooms of the organized combatants, through the often-muddied lens of the press.  The film raises more questions than it answers, it elicits visceral reactions, it incites debate, and, hopefully, it heightens dialogue.  Be sure to stay tuned as we continue to book sneak peeks and premiere next year.  And if you’re interested, we are accepting requests for this circus to come to your town next summer.

Spinning at Harvard

November 9th, 2010 by Daniel Coffin

Been awhile since the last post, but we’ve been quite active. Still shooting (4 years now!), and we’re in the final throes of editing. For some nice reading, check out a review from our recent screening at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. It was part of a film series they do every year called Global Voices.

Panel Discussion at Harvard with Profs. David Veiter of Harvard and David Tuerk of Suffolk University and our dashing Producer, Dan Coffin

The same day I was at Harvard, Robbie was up at Camden giving the 60 minute rough cut a go-round. The Camden film festival is great every year and getting better. Response has been positive and we’re looking forward to rolling out next summer. Stay tuned!

Sneak Peek Recap

August 20th, 2010 by Caitlin Rotman

“Is anyone going to like me after tomorrow?” fretted director Robbie Gemmel. It was 1:30 am the day of our much anticipated Sneak Preview. We were sitting in the only open joint in town: a deserted Dunkin Donuts off of Route 134 in South Dennis. Producer Josh Levin munched on a chocolate covered donut. Robbie drained a Hood milk and bagel. I nervously stole glances at my illegally parked car (hey, I thought we’d only be there a minute).

Not only was this the first time that we would be showing such an extensive cut of the film—about 60 minutes—but we were showing it to the people most invested in and opinionated about the subject of Cape Wind. The people that have become part of this movie have been a big part of the lives of the production team for the past three years. And now they would see and judge the film… and us. As Robbie lamented, “what have we gotten ourselves into?” I moved the car to a legal spot… this could take a while.

One of the major purposes of the screening was to show the film to precisely these people: to get them all together in one room and interact. The list of guests included Cape Wind Associates CEO, Jim Gordon; The Alliance to Save Nantucket Sound President Audra Parker; Clean Power Now Director Barbara Hill; founder, Cliff Carroll; local television and radio personality Peter Kenney, also known as “The Great Gadfly;” state representative Matt Patrick; members of the local Wampanoag tribe; and a slew of representatives from environmental organizations and businesses. The Alliance to Save Nantucket Sound and Clean Power Now were also each given fifty tickets, so both camps had an army of supporters that charged the crowd. There was quite a buzz surrounding the preview, too, with a piece in The Boston Globe, and on the radio (still looking for the WBUR link).

By 6:30 pm, guests were arriving, an arsenal of cameras were ready to go in the staging room next to the theater, all the producers were dressed to the nines, the caterers were handing out sandwiches, and the wine and beer was flowing. Guests both for and against the Cape Wind project were mingling outside while the sound check was underway.

The film commenced and it immediately became clear that the room was polarized. Most of the supporters were on the left, and the critics sat on the right. The audience was responsive to every joke, every jab, and every detail; in that respect, it was the ideal first audience for the film. Warring applause tore across the auditorium in support of each side’s respective triumphant moments.

The screening was divided into three parts. Part one introduced the characters and many – but not all – of the issues pertaining to the Cape Wind project. Part two was a 12-minute preview of The Electron Project, which traced and explained the origin of Cape Cod’s current energy regime, so far only looking at coal, natural gas, nuclear, and wind. The Electron Project will be integrated into the final documentary, as well as expanded into a nation-wide project online, and the goal is to reveal the impacts of the life cycle of energy, including the serious impacts of windpower. The final part showed the climactic federal approval, minus the footage of the most recent events and the lead-up to the approval, including the entire Section 106 process with the Native Americans.

At the end of the screening there was a feedback session. The room was still charged with emotion, and the first audience members to speak up were particularly upset about what wasn’t there. Remember folks, the film isn’t finished. Hearts sank. We were relieved when feedback from those who weren’t on any particular side said that it was a remarkably unbiased representation and a fun, engaging, and informative film. Hearts rose again. Both proponents and opponents of the project seemed to be more-or-less satisfied with Part 1. Many commended The Electron Project; they felt it conveyed information about our energy infrastructure that has not yet been adequately communicated. Critics of Cape Wind felt betrayed by the Electron Project, claiming that it makes it seem as if wind, and Cape Wind specifically, were an exclusive alternative to “dirty energy.” We will be working to better clarify and integrate the Electron Project (which should not be considered an endorsement of anything) so that it seamlessly flows with the rest of the film.

The after-party in the Cape Cod Museum was a blast. The catered affair with full open bar allowed nerves to be smoothed. A few juicy arguments could be overheard, but for the most part, everyone was relieved and ready to have a good time.

Peter Kenney and Jim Gordon "talking"

Peter Kenney and Jim Gordon "talking"

That night, after all was said and done, a few of the production team sat under the stars at the beach house where we were staying. There was an unusually odd looking bright patch in the sky. We learned the following day that it was two planets: Jupiter and Uranus. Not sure what the cosmological significance of it was, but it helped explain the general confusion. Although the event was a huge risk, and downright terrifying, we’re chalking it up as a success. The film was mostly well received, and the criticism was constructive. Now we press on and tie up the many loose ends which were pointed out, and hopefully people will see the wisdom in our approach.

The PA Post – Big News: Sneak Preview of film coming August 12!

July 14th, 2010 by Caitlin Rotman

On August 12, 2010, we will host a SNEAK PREVIEW of the film at the Cape Cinema in Dennis, MA. Many of the key players – both opponents and proponents – in the Cape Wind story will be in attendance, and following the screening the audience will be invited to participate in a discussion of the film and the future of energy on the Cape and beyond.



More excitingly, perhaps, is that we will have several cameras rolling at this sneak preview, as the characters in the film watch themselves in what was for them a decade-defining struggle to either construct or thwart Cape Wind. Some of the footage from the sneak preview will be included in the final scene of our film!  Yeah, the movie within the movie – pretty cool, right?

You might wonder why we are creating movie-in-a-movie. In my June 24 post, I shared how our producer Dan Coffin got a taste of life aboard a fishing boat. By interacting with stakeholders in the controversy and literally experiencing their perspective, we get an intimate and privileged perspective of all sides of the debate over Cape Wind. Ultimately, our goal is to inform the public by sharing what we have filmed, and compel citizens to develop an opinion on the matter. The best we can and hope to do is share with you, the public, and allow you to start making your own decisions – informed decisions. So, as disseminators of information regarding the Cape Wind project, we are further spinning the mill when we discuss the issues surrounding the wind farm proposal with virtually everyone we meet. If our film is in this way truly becoming part of the story, we hope that in addition to informing the public about Cape Wind, we can also help the various sides of the controversy find common ground.

The best part is going to be the grand celebration just across the lawn in the Cape Cod Museum, drinks and hor’dourves on us! And YOU ARE INVITED! If you’re interested in attending, sign up for our newsletter on our home page, and you will be automatically entered to WIN TWO TICKETS to this historical event! In addition, since we want the most engaged members of the debate to be there, we will be giving tickets away to people actively responding to our blog posts.


So you thought the fight was over? Not so fast…

July 11th, 2010 by Caitlin Rotman

A few months ago, with Ken Salazar’s blessings over Cape Wind, the permits for the project were finally granted. The bell finally rang on the exceedingly long permitting process, but that merely marked the beginning of a new round. Undeterred, the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, along with other opposition groups, immediately geared up to swamp the Cape Wind project with a series of lawsuits from every angle possible. Just after Ken Salazar’s announcement, Audra Parker, President and CEO of the Alliance explained in an April 29 USA Today Op-ed : “Lawsuits will be filed by the Native Americans whose burial grounds will be desecrated; by residents, fishermen and business leaders who make up the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound; and by communities concerned about their economic future.” Proponents of the project are pleading with the opposition to drop it. Nevertheless, The Boston Globe reported that the first of these suits have been filed, and concerns the negative impact that the farm could have on the migration of birds and whales. And, as a follow up to our last post, the Martha’s Vineyard/ Duke’s County Fisherman’s Association and Jonathan Mayhew (father of Matthew Mayhew, whose boat Producer Dan Coffin filmed aboard), also filed a suit this week, reports the Martha’s Vineyard Times. In order to stop the project now, a legal injunction would have to be ordered.

The PA post: Squid and Whiskey (my introduction to Cape Wind)

June 24th, 2010 by Caitlin Rotman

No, I did not get drunk off of whiskey. That might have been a bad career move for my first week of work. I am Caitlin, and I just began working with Rebirth Productions as a Production Assistant. That means that I go along on many of the shoots, conduct research and coordinate logistics, keep the notes, help film, collect sound, make sure we don’t forget anything, and when we do, I go find whatever we may have left behind. And, occasionally, I’m the lucky one who gets the coffee. From my privileged perch, I get to see all that goes on in production, and then while the producers are cranking away with the editors (they’re doing a lot of that these days), I get to share with you what our production team is up to. Expect lots of updates from now on!

So, what do squid and whiskey have to do with this? I’m getting to that…

My first week on the job, we were filming the fishermen. Cape Wind Associates is hoping to build America’s first offshore wind farm on Horseshoe Shoal, and opponents to the wind farm claim it will disrupt fishing in that area for at least the amount of time required to build the project and perhaps longer. The chief fisheries that occur in Horseshoe Shoal are squid, conch, and scup. The squid fishery is the most productive, but it is only in operation for a few weeks out of the year.

To get the story, we shot fishermen in a meeting with the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, we filmed them on a boat out at sea while fishing, and we filmed them from the air, trawling around the Cape Wind Meteorological Tower.

In order to film the fishermen at work, Producer Dan Coffin pulled his weight aboard the Quitsa Strider, captained by Matthew Mayhew and operating out of Menemsha on Martha’s Vineyard. In his 24 hour trial, Dan became a fisherman. Sleep was replaced with hours of hauling lines, manning the helm, sorting through fish (thanks Division of Marine Fisheries) and hoisting crates. All that while he was filming the process and trying to keep squid goo off the camera lens.

But, there was a minor logistics problem: Director Robbie Gemmel and I needed the camera early the next morning on the Cape in order to film those same fishing boats from a helicopter before they sailed to other fishing grounds, off the shoal. So, we figured it out: the boat would land in Woods Hole near midnight to offload over 3,000 pounds of fish. We got a call from Dan a few hours before they docked. The message: bring a bottle of whiskey. I guess that the life of a fisherman is… trying. It is hard work and sometimes tough to make ends meet. I witnessed this firsthand at the Alliance meeting, and so did Robbie and Dan. A week earlier, I certainly would not have predicted that I would be sitting on a dark and isolated dock, at midnight, waiting for 3,000 lbs of fish and film equipment, with a bottle of whiskey. I will admit, Robbie and I tried not to get too carried away by the ridiculousness of the situation, and we saved most of the whiskey for Dan and the crew; they needed it more than we did.

I am no fisherman, but I certainly appreciate them, because I love to eat seafood. And, having driven hours to get to the dock when I should have been sleeping, there was no way I was leaving without some of the darn squid. After all, opponents to the project claim that the “premium quality” Nantucket Sound squid will be no more if Cape Wind is to be built. So, thanks Dan, for getting me some squid, just in case. I was told that meals on the road would be covered. I didn’t realize this is what was meant! And now, I certainly have a much greater appreciation for where my seafood comes from, and all the effort that goes into catching it.

Here is the final result of the squid spectacular when I got my payment home: behold the Grilled Sausage-Stuffed Squid. (Recipe here ).

Sausage-stuffed grilled squid fresh from Horseshoe Shoal

Sausage-stuffed grilled squid fresh from Horseshoe Shoal

What are your thoughts regarding the plight of the fishermen? If the fishing grounds do end up being disrupted, and possibly indefinitely off-limits to fishermen, would it be worth it for clean renewable energy? Is the Horseshoe Shoal fishing dispensable, considering the ramifications it could have for the fishermen? What are your thoughts?