In February, after discussing "I, Party Cup" with a representative for the Solo Cup Company, I sent the following document summarizing the film as well as the materials that Solo had offered to provide. Several weeks later, Solo (under auspices of Dart Container, the company that acquired Solo in 2012) informed me via their representative that they had decided to rescind their cooperation. I’m posting this here merely as reference for forthcoming Kickstarter update to the film’s backers.
WHAT IS THIS FILM ABOUT?
This film is about the human being(s) whose choices and stories brought the “red party cup” into our world. Who are they? What are some of those stories, those choices?
Think of the film as a short documentary “portrait” similar to this…
Who? This is the key, core question of “I, Party Cup.”
The trailer I created encapsulates this approach succinctly:
WHAT IS THIS FILM NOT ABOUT?
"I, Party Cup" is not a piece of outsourced "PR" about the Solo Cup Corporation, or the history of this product. Nor is it a muckraking "expose" about environmental impacts or trash or corporate policy. This is not an "issue" film. It’s not Frontline. It’s more like This American Life, or this:
WHAT APPROACH AM I TAKING WITH MY RESEARCH?
My approach—as with most documentary projects—is to accumulate much more information and material than I’ll actually use, and sculpt it down in post-production. In this information-gathering stage, I make the analogy to “following bread crumbs”: I won’t know which story or stories are exactly the right ones for this film until I encounter them, which I can only do by moving from one person or bit of information to the next.
WHAT MATERIALS AM I INTERESTED IN?
These are all archival materials that you’ve said Solo is willing to give me access to:
- old video, old commercials, some marketing vids as far back as the 70s.
- technical drawings of the cup, engineering sketches, prototypes, and other product-design materials
- print ads and marketing literature from the origin of the party cup to the present day.
WHO AM I INTERESTED IN TALKING TO?
To facilitate my “following the bread crumbs” approach, I’d love to talk to all of the following as a start:
- head of marketing
- retired plant manager (Neil, you mentioned him in our call)
- someone in charge of sustainability
- someone in product design
These conversations can happen over the phone. They are intended to fill in background information so I can start to narrow down my ideas about who, what, and when to shoot on-camera interviews. (This is called “pre-interviewing.”)
INTENDED LENGTH: 5 to 10 minutes.
WHERE IT WILL BE SHOWN: online, premiering on Grist.org. Documentary festivals may follow after that, but the primary distribution will be on the web.
TIMELINE: My intention is to continue research and production through February and March, and finish postproduction by April.