Hey, gang. Full disclosure here – what follows is some shameless self-promotion mixed with a couple hot-button issues. We’ll return to form a little later in the month when I regale you guys with two real life spooky stories just in time for Halloween…
My first exposure to “Ag-Gag” laws came earlier this year, when Coast to Coast AM did an episode covering the support they’re gaining in Washington and the horrors they’re designed to shield the public from. Basically, Ag-Gag laws are anti-whistleblower laws, effectively making it illegal for animal rights activists and journalists to get jobs in factory farms with the intent to shed light on the abuses that take place within. In the past, folks have gotten jobs in the industry with the sole purpose of secretly documenting what happens to these animals, before they’re turned into the meat we eat. These Ag-Gag laws make all that illegal, under the guise of protecting corporate secrets, or whatever else bullshit they try and sell us.
Now, thankfully, these laws aren’t being met with much support. The factory farms want them, local government is all too willing to play ball, but animal rights and freedom of the press are pretty much no-brainers when it comes to popular opinion. Therefore, even though they are attempting to pass the laws more and more each year, for the most part they’re getting shut down. Not that that’s actually changing any of the practices at any of these factory farms, but there is some amount of accountability.
What really twisted my melon though was when the guest on C2CAM detailed exactly what these Ag-Gag laws are trying to suppress. Holy shit, guys. Do you have any idea what they actually do to cows/chickens/pigs to turn them into the meat we eat? And I’m not just talking about, at the McDonald’s farms. I’m talking EVERYWHERE. Everywhere that produces meat that isn’t designated “free range.” It’s absolutely fucking disgusting. Here’s a couple images that were burned into my head that night…
Chickens are kept in these tiny little compartments called battery cages. The chickens are stacked on top of one another and forced eat, sleep, defecate, and most importantly, lay eggs their entire lives. Imagine a huge wall of these poor animals, hundreds, if not thousands, on them all on top of each other. Some die and are left for days, rotting on top of the ones around them.
They take female pigs and put them in these confined spaces called “gestation crates,” where they are pumped full of sperm and bred their entire lives. Essentially bred to death.
Cows with broken bones and oozing wounds that go untreated until it’s time to be turned into meat. Others, are milked until they collapse from exhaustion (and pumped with steroids to make sure that takes as long as possible) before they’re sent to be slaughtered and turned into beef for school lunches.
I sat there that night listening to all of this stuff and couldn’t help but think…Can you imagine if someone made a movie where all this stuff was happening to humans instead of animals?
A few months, and several conversations with fellow filmmakers, friends, and vegans/veggies later I decided to do just that. Make a movie where we see a group of free humans, living simplistically off the land, taken by unseen captors and forced through the same processes we put over 250 million animals through each year with 100% accuracy (or as much as budgets allow). Yeah some might consider it torture porn, in line with the Saw or Hostel movies, but hopefully the bigger picture of what we’re seeing would give it a greater resonance than that. I’m a fan of horror movies, but not particularly those horror movies. I’m more of a science-fiction fan myself, and the amount of allegory and symbolism with a project like this makes it feel more like a really gory Twilight Zone episode to me and a riff on Hostel.
Not to mention, the social significance a film like this could have. People will know the “gimmick” going in and all the stuff they see happening to our characters they’ll realize happens to millions of animals each year. Will it radically change the way the world eats? Probably not, but it will get people talking, and more importantly thinking (and possibly even voting) differently.
I decided to call the movie The Jungle: 2099 because the story itself feels very in line with Upton Sinclair’s 1906 novel about the meatpacking industry in Chicago. The “2099” part is a reference to the futuristic, post-apocalyptic setting in which the film takes place as well as the riff on the 2099 Marvel comic line I remember as a kid. You can find the movie’s Kickstarter campaign here…
Just a word on how Kickstarter works – we don’t get dime of any of the donations unless we reach our goal. Kickstarter also doesn’t take any money from our backers unless we reach our goal. The campaign lasts until the end of October, so if you choose to support the project, no cash will exchange hands until November 1st, or so. So far, we’ve had a lot of support from not only friends and family, but random strangers that totally dig what this movie is trying to do. That speaks volumes about this project. Any filmmaker can hustle 20 bucks from their Uncle Jimmy, but to have someone you don’t even know say they believe in what you’re doing is worth so much more.
Thanks for your time.
– Pat O’Sullivan