We are all Radioactive : The residents of Motoyoshi reveal their secret fears about radiation, and global experts — who don’t always agree with each other — attempts to explain the effects of radiation on human health. Visit them online: http://www.weareallradioactive.com
We Are All Radioactive is an episodic documentary film created by San Francisco-based journalist Lisa Katayama and TEDTalks creator Jason Wishnow. It tells the story of a community of young surfers who are helping to rebuild a small coastal town destroyed by the tsunami in Japan in March 2011. Motoyoshi was a secret surf spot for ocean enthusiasts from Sendai. When the tsunami swept away the people and buildings there, a team of young surfers drove out to the coast, pitched tents on unaffected patches of land, and started helping generations of fisherman become entrepreneurs so they could spearhead their own reconstruction projects and develop new business ideas. Seven short themed chapters make up Season 1. Half the footage is shot by our team, and the other half is shot by the locals themselves. The first half of the series was entirely crowdfunded. All the episodes are subtitled in Japanese and English. Join the conversation on our Facebook fan page: https://www.facebook.com/weareallradioactive
About the project
A year after the earthquake-tsunami-nuclear explosion trifecta hit northeastern Japan last March, many small towns along the northeast coast of Japan are still struggling with the same unanswered questions. Is our food safe? Is our water safe? Can I sell my fish and vegetables at the market? Will our children die prematurely of cancer? Can we ever trust the government again?
In the summer of 2011, a few months after the quake, the film crew befriended a group of surfers based in Motoyoshi — a small coastal town 100 miles north of Fukushima. Living in tents pitched on one of the only unaffected patches of land in town, these surfer-turned-activists are rallying to get a multi-generational community of fishermen and farmers back on their feet.
In Japan, they shot interviews with locals, anti-nuclear activists, and global experts on radiation. They also gave waterproof video cameras to the residents of Motoyoshi, so they can film their experience through their own lens while we’re not there. The result is a series of beautiful and informative vignettes that get more up close and intimate than an ordinary film crew could ever get.
We Are All Radioactive combines technology, entertainment, and solid investigative journalism to provide answers to fundamental questions about radiation and the complexities of disaster response on both a political and sociological level.
The footage also touches on the work of Architecture for Humanity, Greenpeace, Surfrider Foundation, and Safecast — all major global non-profits dedicated to helping Japan respectively with post-earthquake reconstruction, human and environmental rights, water safety, and radiation monitoring.
How it works
We Are All Radioactive is an innovative experiment in online filmmaking that integrates storytelling, fundraising, and awareness-raising.
The film is designed to air as 3-4 minute episodes for the web. Each episode will either highlight the personal experience of a key character in the community or distill a theme that reflects the struggle to rebuild the region. Even though they’re rolling it out online first, they’re using a professional film crew — sound designers, award-winning editors — and have been looking to distribute it on TV and at film festivals. We did also hope to one day do a feature version based on the episodes.
Fundraising is a key component of the project — episodes will only air as they get funded. Each episode costs us about $3500 to produce.
As they did roll out new episodes, they introduced new features that let people navigate on the website to do things like: learn more about the characters and themes; log radiation readings on a fun interactive map, putting the situation in Japan in perspective to natural background radiation around the world; and connect directly with nuclear experts via a curated Q&A platform.
Jason Wishnow, Director
Jason Wishnow is the filmmaker behind TEDTalks, the award winning video series watched nearly one billion times. Wishnow works at the intersection of film and emerging technologies and has been called an “online-video virtuoso” (New York Times, 2009), the “enfant terrible of digital film” (The Guardian, 2000), and one of the ten most influential digital filmmakers of 1999 (RES Magazine).
Lisa Katayama, Producer/Director
Lisa is a journalist who writes about Japanese culture for Wired, Boing Boing, The New York Times Magazine, and NPR. She’s spoken publicly about Japanese culture at major conferences in Japan, Singapore, and the US. She’s best known online for the award-nominated blog TokyoMango and for founding the design thinking boot camp The Tofu Project.
Yuko Inatsuki, Editor
Yuko is a bilingual Japanese/English editor and cinematographer. In the past year, she has worked on two documentaries, Mrs. Judo and The Power of Two, which was showcased at DocFest and won the audience award at the San Diego Asian Film Festival in 2011. Originally from Nagoya, she’s an experienced diver who aspires to be Japan’s greatest female ocean explorer.
Alex Morgan, Editor
Alex is the founder of BAFTA award-winning boutique editing company Axworks. As well as directing, producing, and editing human rights and environmental projects through Axworks, Alex has carried on his freelance work, cutting a variety of documentaries and features with creative agencies and clients including TED, Amnesty International, and the BBC.
Digital Telepathy, Web Design
DT is a boutique San Francisco-based user experience design agency that has created awesomely successful web sites for clients like Tim Ferriss, Joie de Vivre Hotels, and Summit Series.