I’m in a movie. I can’t believe it. If this is what movie stars go through, I have a newfound sympathy for them. Seeing myself on a screen and knowing that those words were going to be permanently there, those images not subject to improvement, those verbal mistakes forever recorded, it’s nerve wracking. I can see now why actors get anxious.
It’s a little like when the principal at school said, “This is going on your permanent record.” But who really cared about that in high school. This, this is a permanent record. I hope the editor is kind to me.
The movie is a short form documentary about embattled electric car enthusiast Paul Pearson versus the City of Santa Monica and the DMV. My role is to give commentary on what I believe are the legal arguments both for and against the city’s actions. I try to explain the logical underpinnings of what has gone on and why each side is doing what they are doing. Granted, I cannot speak with any authority for the City Attorney’s Office, and they keep mum on all of this stuff, but I make some educated guesses based on public policy and historical observations.
The documentary is by Director Andew Cappelletti, “Govt. vs. Green aka How to build an electric car in Santa Monica and stay out of San Quentin.” It will be shown at two free pre-release test screenings of the movie for Santa Monica audiences this coming Saturday, June 6, at 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.., in the Santa Monica Main Library’s Screening Room at 601 Santa Monica Blvd. The filmmakers and I will be present for a Q&A to follow the screenings of the short film. So if you want to quiz us, come on down.
I’m very excited about this. I’ve never been to a test screening before. I’ve walked the red carpet before, but always as the “Plus One,” the date/spouse/significant other, of a filmmaker. This has been a great learning experience, to see how independent movies get made, how guerrilla marketing is done, and to feel the excitement as a project comes together. It’s all quite exhilarating.
The movie chronicles Pearson from his pre-police raid status as a local character, adding some color and flavor to the Fourth of July Parade, to his newfound role of Future Technology Standard Bearer. His battle against the city of Santa Monica has gone on for months now in their bid to charge and convict him of building an electric car without a manufacturers license. In the process he has become a folk hero to the electric car community nationally.
The city’s case against him is based primarily on the testimony of two soon-to-be-retired California Department of Motor Vehicles investigators who asked him to convert a 1960’s era, gas-powered vehicle to electric, and his properly licensed and California Highway Patrol approved “Grasshopper” that he is frequently seen in around town. The fluorescent lime green single seater is an eye catching, eco-friendly, transportation option that produces no greenhouse gases. It will be on display at the screening.
Pearson and his wife, Anne, are frequently seen around town in their electric cars. For years the Pearsons in their purple roadster, have been spreading joy and the message of clean transportation. Last year they upgraded to a yellow roadster with red flames and two big dopey dogs slobbering in the back.
I love their electric cars. Last year when I was in the Fourth of July parade, I was honored to chauffeur Michael Feinstein, and as we waved to all the parade watchers, we had a great conversation about city politics, global economic resources. I admit that I liked the attention, perhaps that’s why being in my first movie is so exciting, or perhaps it’s because the community that we live in is so passionate about changing the world.
That passion and sense of fun is what Mr. Pearson puts in to his cars, and what Andrew Cappelletti put into this movie. By bringing light to the topic of governmental regulation, or rather the lack of real regulations in this new arena, Cappelletti made a movie that captures the mood of today, from the enthusiast’s perspective of what are the roadblocks to widespread development and application. By showcasing the difficulties that government throws in the way of inventors, he shows us how we are our own worst enemies.
By putting it on the record, Cappelletti is acting like a school principal who hopes to correct bad behavior in teenagers, so that their future is brighter, and in our case, cleaner.
David Pisarra is a family law attorney focusing on father’s rights and men’s Issues in the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 664-9969.