was August 2001, when filmakers, Ryan Fenson-Hood, a Coloradoan and Patrik
Soergel a native of Switzerland, left Boulder, Colorado on a three thousand
mile road journey to make a documentary on how Americans felt about their
The two had become friends a
few years earlier, while studying film directing and editing at Famu, the
Czech Republic's Academy of Film, TV and Photography in Prague.
They planned to collaborate
on a documentary to, “...offset the contorted, yet influential, portrayal
of America made by the American media in Europe and internationally.”
Their goal was, “...to tell the truest and least commercially-driven
story possible," about the true
attitudes of Americans toward
They achieved their objective
by traveling across the American west and asking whomever they met by chance
- the simple question, “What do you think about America?”
Ryan and Patrik ‘s four week film shoot covered territory ranging from
Boulder to Durango, to the Grand Canyon in Arizona, to Las Vegas, Nevada,
then to San Francisco, and next to Joshua Tree, California, Taos, New Mexico
and finally back to Colorado.
As the trip progressed, Ryan
and Patrik found an interesting variety of people from many locales with varied
backgrounds, who were willing to talk to them and express their points of
view on America.
Among the people they interviewed
were: a Chinese immigrant, who had become the successful owner of his own
auto repair shop; a young Colorado entrepreneur; a Harley Davidson biker in
Nevada, turned born-again Christian; college students hanging out at
poolside in sunny San Diego;
a gay waiter in San Francisco; a college professor; a tree farmer; an Indian
woman, who lives in a village on the Second Mesa on the Hopi
Reservation in Arizona; a woman, who manages an ashram in Crestone,
Colorado; and muscle builders and street people at Muscle Beach in Venice,
As their trip ended, the country
experienced a serious turn of events, when the World Trade Towers in New York
City were attacked by terrorists and destroyed - on September 11. That was
the same day the filmmakers returned to Boulder. So, the opinions expressed
in the film were made before the great American tragedy of that fall, while
Americans still felt safe from terrorism in the continental United States.
After September 11th, the simple
question, "What do you think about America?" has taken on a whole
Patrik and Ryan
spent the next eight months editing their film - in studios in both the U.S.
and in Switzerland. The
original score was composed by Eros, from Locarno, Switzerland,
Dechen Hawk, from Boulder, Colorado and The Dead Cassuals from Seattle, Washington.
The final edited 52-minute documentary
was translated into Italian and was aired on Swiss TV. It is also currently
being considered for
broadcast by other European television
Meanwhile, Ryan and Patrik are
now working on a script for their first fictional film to be shot in May of
Ryan Fenson-Hood is currently
head editor at The Outpost, a Post Production House in New york City. In addition
to his studies at Famu, he holds a degree in Film and Foreign Study from Fort
Lewis College in Durango, Colorado.
Patrik Soergel works as an editor
for Swiss Television in Locarno and as an independent filmmaker. He was graduated
from the European Film College in Denmark and from Famu in Prague.
No Artificial Anything can be
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