silicon mountain

September 18, 2020

in blowg

‘Silicon Mountain’ is a 30-minute documentary about the entire disgusting, tragic, wasteful life cycle of our electronic devices. From cradle to grave, these machines are driving unprecedented destruction of natural resources. And when we’re done with them—gotta get the PS5 now! Waiting for the iPhone 12! Oops, a software update rendered my Roku useless!—we throw them in the trash.

All this plastic and precious metals and toxic crap. Even the stuff that gets recycled is so often just dumped on other countries, where it is burned, contaminates local water, etc.

But there are some tangible solutions. With this film, we wanted to highlight the positive changes we can make. We got some pretty amazing access to people who work in the recycling industry, folks who are usually shy and distrustful of cameras because so many documentaries on this topic have burned them, made them the center of the blame.

In truth, the problem is threefold: there are the manufacturers who build this stuff from conflict minerals and design them to fail, essentially selling us products that become garbage in a few years; there are the consumers (me and you) that aren’t entirely responsible with our e-waste; and there are the recyclers, who have been known to offload the hard-to-process stuff on developing countries, (but most people in the industry seem to follow best practices.)

It’s all of us, we all share the blame, and instead of pointing fingers we can work together to address the issue. That means things like fighting planned obsolescence, allowing for transparency in supply chains, and giving consumers the rights and access to repair their devices.

I spent over a year on this project as a producer, coordinating with sources, diving deep into the research and traveled to 7 cities (Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo, Orlando, Dallas, Austin, Seattle, and San Francisco) to help make this film, often holding a boom pole and driving interviews. It was an amazing project to be a part of with the director, Jack HS, the cinematographer John Haas, and our executive producer Bradley Callow (RIP). It wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the Pattersons: Joel, Hillary and Stevie. If you have time, I hope you enjoy this film and learn something from it, especially thinking differently about your relationship with your electronic devices.

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