So what is Burning Man really like? Emmy-nominated documentary explains

This great 30 minute documentary is from 2008’s the American Dream. Current TV, Al Gore’s alternative media channel for eco-chic Burning Man hipsters, had a large crew out there (also in 2007, 2006, and 2005). Their 2008 Burning Man coverage was nominated for an Emmy.

Emmy-nominated TV Free Burning Man is the name of a comprehensive production that covered the event from 2006 to 2008.   Eighteen person crews hit the desert every year with multiple RV’s several FCP edits systems.  On a daily basis short format content was fed via satellite back to the Current Network in California.  One defining element was putting cameras in the hands of Burning Man participants (creating what we termed “meta-coverage”). Production culminated with broadcasting the burning of the man live on Current.    Tv Free Burning Man was nominated for an Emmy award in 2008 for new approaches to news and documentary. I was integral in the development of this approach and co-executive produced from 2006-2008.

No word on why they stopped – it seems like there was no shortage of topics to cover. Maybe they wanted to purse other more Emmy-worthy topics.

With interviews set over the backdrop of the man Burning, this does really well to capture the experience – what the Burning of the Man is like, and what Burning Man means to a lot of participants. The idea that you’d be lucky to see even 5% of everything that’s going on. It’s a good one to show friends and family, since it’s kind of sanitized. No sex, drugs and dubstep to see here, move along! After the documentary, the other 2008 videos will keep playing.

Seeing how the solar cauldron is lit, and the flame is then taken to light the Man and fire up the fire dancing of the fire conclave, is excellent – it’s a ceremony that’s easy to miss in the mad excitement before the Man burns. I also like the list of all the camp names scrolling along the bottom, it takes the whole half hour to go through them all.

Larry Harvey is featured throughout. He says “anyone that’s a part of something has a right to criticize it”…amen to that. That’s what Burners.Me is all about. Through criticism, we can improve, whereas stubbornly sticking to “the way we do things” impedes growth. Larry explains his world domination plans further: think tanks and discourse from up high and engaged communities at the bottom – create the context, crowd-source the culture (community does all the work, in the context created by the leaders), leading to control over everything in between. “If this thing doesn’t mean more than just a party in the desert, I’ve wasted my life. And more and more people are starting to feel that way”

Current TV itself was modelled on the principles of Burning Man.

Here’s the documentary:

TV Free Burning Man 2008

Here is a nearly hour-long Anthology of the TV Free Burning Man work from 2006-2008, edited highlights from 4.5 hours of footage. It doesn’t seem to have much overlap with the 2008 documentary, and there is a lot of great footage. Love the Animal Camp safari, followed by a swift cattle prodding! And Vertical Camp’s “apartment building in a box” is right up my Default World alley. I fondly remember Big Rig Jig, but did not realise that you could get inside the tankers and it was a lush rainforest. I did not see the Flaming Piano Trebuchet in action, it’s awesome. The anthology also covers the early Burning of the Man on the night of a lunar eclipse in 2007, and the subsequent Crude Awakening 100-ft high oil platform Burn.

I like BMOrg Environmental Manager Tom Price’s description of the event as “an open source demonstration of technology you can’t find anywhere else in the world”, and his perspective on Burning Man as an experiment in urban planning and public transit.

This robotic installation, The Hand of Man, a giant hydraulic hand controlled by a glove, is amazing. Possibly the coolest interactive art installation I have ever seen. From memory (admittedly hazy!) it did not keep working for the whole week.

2 comments on “So what is Burning Man really like? Emmy-nominated documentary explains

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