A filmmaker whose follow-up film is in the Tribeca Film Festival is providing the rare documentary with a somewhat happy ending, as he chronicles surprising return of the electric car. NY1's Technology reporter Adam Balkin filed the following report.
Think about the documentaries you've seen. Chances are, many point out problems in our society that seem almost insurmountable, and they don't have happy endings.
Five years ago, director Chris Paine's film "Who Killed The Electric Car?" was such a documentary, asking why seemingly every manufacturer working on these greener, plug-ins was pulling the plug on production.
Now, just a few years later, there are three electric cars on the market -- the Chevy Volt, Nissan's Leaf and the Tesla Roadster. Given this unexpected happy ending, Paine made a follow-up documentary, "Revenge Of The Electric Car."
"We finished that first film five years ago and thought the electric car was down and out, and then within two years you began to think, 'Wait, this thing could be coming back.' So we thought, let's make a follow-up movie," says director Chris Paine. "Everybody's getting into the game, and I think we're just lucky to have been filmmakers there for this amazing transition in such a major industry."
Those filmmakers were given in-plant access to follow the struggles and risks that GM, Nissan, Tesla and an independent retrofitter have dealt with in getting electric cars on the road.
"The last film was about how vested interest oil industry, the car industry that doesn't want to change, can shut down great ideas and sometimes that happens," says Paine. "Other times, forces, zeitgeist, oil prices, people saying 'I believe' can make things turn out for the better."
Though the film leaves off with the uncertainty of today, Paine, an electric car owner himself, has his fingers crossed for a trilogy.
"In the next year, next two years, everybody's coming to the game -- BMW, Mercedes, Ford. They're all coming in because they see this is a great niche and they want to be part of it," says Paine. "So in theory, in five years we could, I don't know, have a movie called 'What Happened To The Gas Car' or something like that."