Off-grid isn’t a state of mind. It isn’t about someone being out of touch, about a place that is hard to get to, or about a weekend spent offline. Officially, “off grid” refers to a home or town that is disconnected from the electricity and natural gas networks that serve a region. Living off-grid, therefore, means having to radically re-invent life as we know it. It means choosing to live in a way that is dramatically innovative: a way that draws on skills of the past and is inspired by concerns for our collective future.
Life Off Grid explores the lives of Canadians in every province and who have made the choice to disconnect. The film explores the ways by which a variety of people, all with different environmental concerns and constraints, live away from contemporary civilization. It raises important questions about the future: questions about the struggles and successes found along our path towards a life that is environmentally and socially more sustainable. Off-grid homes are experimental labs for our collective future, an intimate look into unusual contemporary domestic lives, and a call to the rest of us leading ordinary lives to examine what we take for granted.
Life Off Grid travels from west to east, from province to province and territory to territory, on a two-year journery exploring how and why Canadians disconnect from larger infrastructures. The film explores themes of motivation and inspiration, unpacks the challenges associated with regional climates and economies, and shows how people living off the grid deal with the everyday demands of heat, light, water, food, and waste.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
Director Jonathan Taggart is a Vancouver-based filmmaker, researcher, and an award-winning photojournalist. He is a PhD student at the Institute for Resources, Environment & Sustainability at the University of British Columbia, and a founding member of the Boreal Collective of Documentary Photographers.
Producer Phillip Vannini is Canada Research Chair in Innovative Learning and Public Ethnography and a Professor at Royal Roads University in Victoria, Canada. He is author/editor of ten books, including the recent Ferry Tales: Mobility, Place, and Time on Canada’s West Coast (Routledge, 2012).
This film questions how identity, perception and stereotypes are portrayed and overlap to provide different meanings and readings revealing that some issues are timeless and ever present in our lives.
The film tells the story of the women photographed in vintage knitting patterns Riddiough had collected dating from the 1950's. Each character narrates common themes and issues we all face. Along with these tales, we hear the ongoing debates in visual culture and the modern world that link back to the previous time when the images were taken. Weaved into the work are film techniques used in the 1950's with the related internal monologue created by 'extreme close up' and 'close up'. These references to film terminology are employed to emphasis 'moving image' when utilising stills from found imagery; the use of archive and still images perhaps makes it harder to be confident of what we are seeing and in turn this considers 'reality' in another time and space.