The most insightful political film of 2012, “SPLIT: A Deeper Divide,” written and directed by Jared P. Scott and Kelly Nyks, is an educational documentary that delves into America’s broken political system and its 50–50 bipartisanship. Our political system was set up to create checks and balances, but “SPLIT” shows the us versus them mentality that is tearing the country apart. There hasn’t been a divide this big since the Civil War, and if it weren’t for President Abraham Lincoln we most likely would not have a President Obama.
The release of Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” was ideal timing. It’s up for Best Picture at theAcademy Awards and Daniel Day Lewis may win Best Actor. Tomorrow, President Barack Obama will be officially sworn in at the White House and begin his new term. He will swear with his hand not only on Lincoln’s Bible, but also Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Bible.
On the eve of the beginning of the three-day presidential inauguration, Examiner Dorri Olds sat down with Jared Scott in a New York City cafe to discuss his new film, upcoming award at Sundance, and his passion for social and political documentaries.
Dorri Olds: What is the name of your new film?
Jared P. Scott: “Artificial Leaf.” It’s one of the final five nominees of the prestigious Focus Forward competition called “Short Films, Big Ideas.” Kelly and I leave tomorrow for Sundance. We're being flown out there by Focus and are so excited.
What is “Artificial Leaf” about?
Chemist and MIT Professor Daniel Nocera and his simple formula for saving our planet through the creation of an artificial leaf. His research led him to an innovative idea to mimic how plants convert light from the sun into chemical energy for fuel.
What were the parameters of the contest?
Filmmakers from all over the world were asked to make three-minute shorts about a world changing innovation. Only 12 other films from the competition will be shown at Sundance, and we’ve made it to the top five. No matter what happens at the awards we already feel like winners. It’s such an amazing honor to have made it this far and we are so grateful.
You’ll be among the who’s who of the documentary world at Sundance, right?
When will you know who won the first prize of $100,000?
The winner will be announced at Monday’s awards ceremony.
Just curious, where does the name Jared come from?
A character on the show “Big Valley.” I tell people I’m an urban cowboy at heart. [Smiles] My brother was named Adam for one of the guys in the show “Bonanza.”
It seems your folks liked TV about the Wild West, eh?
[Laughs] It would seem so.
Let’s talk about the tremendous momentum of your full-length film, “SPLIT: A Deeper Divide,” and its upcoming worldwide distribution.
We’re thrilled that it has been embraced throughout Europe. Soon it will be used as an educational tool, internationally. The film's main focus shows how there would be no reason to argue about facts if we were all able to access them. Facts are inarguable. But these days, Americans base their opinions on skewed media reports, not facts.
Do you mean that anybody can say anything on the Internet and people may believe it as fact?
Exactly. And we cannot allow ideological media to define journalism. For example, NPR delivers straightforward news but it’s always going to be presented with a tainted left-leaning view. And the same holds true for right-leaning sources like FOX. “SPLIT” is a snapshot of our problematic political system. Our aim is to educate people about this warped media phenomenon.
Are you trying to change the world?
Yes, I humbly would like to think so. Films have a powerful way of doing just that. Kelly and I feel we have a responsibility as filmmakers and storytellers to make the best films possible about the most important social issues of our time. We want to provide education, inspiration and make an impact.
What's next for you and Kelly and your film company, PF Pictures?
"Requiem for the American Dream," is a film about the financialization of America that focuses on the historically unprecedented consolidation of power and wealth and what may be the death of the middle class in our country.