These cutting-edge animators
are creating a live-in hackerspace
in a California forest.
By Jon Kalish
In the mountains outside Santa Cruz,
Calif., an intentional community is under
construction. On 10 hilly acres in Aptos,
three filmmakers who live in tiny houses
and their friends have established a sort
of rural hackerspace where nail guns are
more prevalent than soldering irons. The
compound also has a small organic farm.
The guiding philosophy can be summed up
in three letters: DIY. This utopian outpost
is called Trout Gulch by its inhabitants.
Ever since they made a big splash with
a music video for Icelandic pop diva Björk,
there’s been a steady stream of offers to
work on videos and commercials, from
the likes of Sprite, Jeep, and Honda. So far
they’ve only agreed to work on two: one for
the video game Spore and one for AT&T.
“We’re building a 21st-century Hobbit
village in which things are extremely
bucolic and integrated into nature, but
we’re also embracing the best of technology,” says 29-year-old Isaiah Saxon, who
grew up on the property and returned with
two filmmaking buddies, Sean Hellfritsch
and Daren Rabinovitch.
“We’ll only do advertisements for products we use,” explains Saxon, the tall,
slender filmmaker. “We could certainly be
maximizing our potential to make money
right now, but that would hinder and slow
down the development of this neighborhood that we’re building. It would take us
on a road to possibly an empty existence.”
This back-to-the-land trio has a digital
animation company called Encyclopedia
Pictura, which is very much in demand and
Jon Kalish ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Manhattan-based radio reporter and podcast producer. He covers the
DI Y scene for NPR.
affords them the luxury of not having to
worry about the rent. So they manage to
balance lucrative film gigs with their zeal
for DIY projects at the Gulch, as it’s known.
Trout Gulch Farms
30 Make: makezine.com/30