"The Kenton Lead Blob" is a documentary film from director Zach Putnam and Richard Percy.
Zach Putnam is a concerned citizen who decided to research an environmental pollution problem in Oregon and expose the truth to the world.
- Film Name: "The Kenton Lead Blob*"
- Director: Zach Putnam and Richard Percy
- Producers: Richard Percy and David MacKay
- Runtime: 10 minutes and 8 seconds
- Screening: Friday, November 10th, 2017
- Website | Portland Tribune Article | LinkedIn
- Tagline: "When Zach saw a news article that suggested he was living in a hotspot of lead pollution, he took action. Connecting with his neighbors through social media, a community-led investigation began, with hopes of getting to the bottom of any causes and health risks that could be affecting them and their families. The surprising answers they found only raised more questions. This film was produced as a student project in the University of Oregon Master's in Multimedia Journalism program."
Interview with Zach Putnam:
We had an opportunity to catch up with Director Zach Putnam for an in-depth look behind the scenes at this film.
- Why did you think that the Oregon Documentary Film Festival was a good place to submit and screen your film? “Though this story is hyper local, I think it holds lessons that apply much more widely, so I'm always looking for more audiences to show it to. As a showcase for documentary storytelling, the Oregon Documentary Film Festival seemed like a perfect fit.”
- What is the title of your film and is there any special meaning to the title? “The Kenton Lead Blob* was the name my neighbors and I gave to this scary-looking hotspot on the lead contamination map published by the Oregonian newspaper. The asterisk we added later, after the nature of the "blob" became more clear.”
- Why did you choose to tell this particular story? “I began researching this story out of pure self-interest when I first saw the hotspot map. As the story unfolded, it was so fascinating that I decided to document it with my co-producers.”
- Did you discover certain story elements during the production of this film that you never expected to find in the planning stages of this project? “Everything in this story was a surprise for me. I hardly knew anything about lead contamination before I started, much less what could cause it.”
- What camera(s) did you use to during the production of this film? Discuss any advantages or limitations that you may have run into, from an equipment perspective. “Mostly shot on Canon C100, with some Canon 70D.”
- Did anything happen during the production of this film that was very interesting, but never made it on camera? “There are lots of things that we didn't squeeze into the final short doc, like our attempt at filing a FOIA request and lots more general info about lead poisoning and intrigue in the Kenton neighborhood.”
- How did you fund this film? Did you use crowd funding? Do you have pressure to recoup the production costs somehow? “We produced this short doc as graduate students in the University of Oregon Master's in Multimedia Journalism program, so we received support from UO in the form of equipment and the guidance of our faculty advisors.”
- What kind of audience reaction are you getting to this film? Discuss any Positives or Negatives that you feel comfortable talking about. “Portland International Raceway has announced new regulations on leaded fuel as a result of our investigation, and many of my neighbors are grateful for the light we shed on that situation. Despite being such a local story, I've been surprised how intriguing many people from all over the country have found our story. We even won a national Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Video Reporting.”
- Do you have plans for a sequel or future film that you are working on? Please discuss. “The Forest Service just contacted me to tell me that they finally are going to come back and try to determine what caused the contaminated moss sample in the first place, so perhaps we will need to make a sequel about that.”
- You have completed a documentary film, which is a huge achievement. Do you have any advice for a future filmmaker that is about to start a documentary project? Advice that you wish you had been given before you started yours? “My advice is for after you make your film: share it! I think too many filmmakers post their film online and hope it get discovered by an audience. I highly recommend submitting your film to media platforms, contests and festivals so it can be seen by as large an audience as possible. Be prepared for lots of rejections (and no replies) but that is normal. The point of all your hard work is for someone to watch it, so make sure to follow through on the distribution part of the equation.”
"When Zach Putnam saw a news article that suggested he was living in a hotspot of lead pollution, he took action."