There is now less than a month left in the fundraising campaign for Beyond Best Evidence: The UFO Enigma, and the response has been very disappointing, I'm afraid. I remain hopeful that this home stretch will see a jump that moves us further towards our goal, if perhaps not all the way there, but despite myriad radio appearances to talk about the project (and over 8,000 visitors to this site since the campaign started), and nice write-ups from folks like Greg Taylor at The Daily Grail and Greg Bishop at UFO Mystic, the support hasn't happened (note: many thanks to the hardy "band of brothers" who have contributed so far).
Crowd fundraising developed as a way for filmmakers (and other artists) to maintain an independent voice in a world where media consolidation has diminished the ability to make those voices heard. As I've said before, a film like Beyond Best Evidence, with a thoughtful and intelligent discussion about the UFO phenomenon and all of its possible facets / explanations, simply isn't going to get made in the mainstream media system these days (note: if someone can do a similar film in the same way, I'll happily admit I was wrong). Networks don't try to enlighten these days - they are solely concerned with selling advertising, and sadly, in our consumerist society run amok, that imperative has trumped any other considerations when it comes to documentary filmmaking in particular, especially where it concerns a subject like the UFO phenomenon, which has been tabloidized and commercialized virtually to the point of no return. As a result, we get "reality TV" and what the networks call "factual programming", which is about as close to Orwellian "doublespeak" as you can get.
But maybe that's the world we live in these days. Maybe people are happy to sit back, not get involved, and just digest the grey glop that the multimedia conglomerates feed them. Maybe they don't want to be challenged. Maybe they don't want to think, or confront uncomfortable subjects. Maybe they've forgotten how.
In the New York Times yesterday there was a great opinion column by Charles Blow. In "A Summer to Simmer" Blow wrote:
At a hearing of the Senate Finance Committee about oil subsidies, John Watson, C.E.O. of Chevron — which reported last month that first-quarter net income rose 36 percent from the same period last year to $6.21 billion — said that “I don’t think American people want shared sacrifice. I think they want shared prosperity.” The problem is, Mr. Money Bags, that you and other corporate interests are the only ones sharing in the prosperity. For Americans on the lower end of the income spectrum, it’s all sacrifice.
The people who run these massive corporations - like the health insurance companies that want to raise health insurance premiums while reporting record profits for a third straight year, even as people forgo critical care - don't want an informed populace. They want slaves to the system.
But what does this have to do with the UFO phenomenon?
On the surface, nothing. But underneath, where free thought exists even in the worst of times, it has everything to do with the UFO phenomenon, because UFOs are something that can't be controlled by those giant monopolistic corporations, and the politicians who have sold their souls to those corporations. UFOS represent something subversive - possibilities that they would prefer we not think about, because if we do, then just maybe we'll start to take a different view of our world, and our lives. In short, we'll start to think for ourselves again.
Whatever UFOs might be (including the possibility that they can all be explained in prosaic terms), just considering them in a serious and thoughtful way is dangerous to the existing order... and we live in a world where we need a lot more dangerous thinking, because we've been placed in an existential trap, and it's time we tried to find a way out.
Is Beyond Best Evidence: The UFO Enigma going to get us out of that trap? Of course not. No film can do that, regardless of the subject matter. But it will be a small step in the right direction of reclaiming our ability to imagine a world other than the one that we've been told is the right one, and that's what I've always tried to do as a filmmaker. I don't try to encourage people to agree with me, or anyone else; rather, I encourage them to think for themselves about the world in which we live, even when their conclusions might be different than my own.
Best Evidence: Top 10 UFO Sightings from Paul Kimball on Vimeo.
I wrote at the beginning that I'm very disappointed by the response this campaign has received. The reason isn't because it will take profit away from my company (all profits from the sale of iflm will go to charity), or because I particularly want to spend months traveling and conducting interviews and then editing the film (not exactly the most profitable use of my time and talents), but because I think the film would be important, on a number of levels not just related to the specific question of "what are UFOs?"
Those are the kinds of films that I think should be made. The disappointment stems from the fact that not very many people seem to agree with me...yet. I'm asking for your help over the remaining 27 days to change that, so that we can move forward together, to raise a little hell.
Words of wisdom from some fellow Canadians!