American Blackout will premiere on NatGeo on October 27. The power grid down original movie depicts what life would be life in the United States after a cyber attack on the nation’s electrical system. America goes black for less than two weeks, but a horrific number of deaths, massive civil unrest, and economic turmoil quickly occurs in the National Geographic film. The movie airs three weeks before the first nationwide power grid drill is scheduled to take place. The Department of Homeland Security, FEMA, and a host of other federal agencies, utility companies, and private businesses are slated to take part in the massive emergency disaster test.
Power grid down movie director Jonathan Rudd stated during a Q&A session for the media that the cyber attack in American Blackout was specifically chosen as the disaster cause because such a situation is no longer science fiction scenario. Earlier this year the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) revealed earlier that the country has experienced approximately a 68 percent increase in “cyber incidents” at federal agencies during 2012. The DHS also warned that the cyber activity increase appears to include hacks by Middle Eastern nations such as Iran.
The NatGeo movie director had this to say about the basis of American Blackout:
“The research drove the narrative. This film is obviously a drama, but we were determined to be as informed as possible and we spent countless hours trying to get it right. We needed to know everything that would be affected in a 10-day nationwide blackout … and that turned out to be basically everything. Our team of researchers interviewed leading experts in various fields — cyber security, search and rescue, emergency medicine, sociology, engineering and more. We also sent experts the film script to have them weigh in, and we made changes based on their feedback.”
The Inquisitr recently received an early copy of American Blackout to review. The movie was shot from a first-person user-generated point of view. It follows several families or groups as they deal with the power grid down scenario. Viewers may not be introduced to the character’s entire back story, but quickly begin to feel that they not only “know” but can identify with the folks on the TV screen.
The official promo description for the movie reads:
“After it becomes clear that the blackout isn’t isolated to a small region, curiosity may turn to concern for the entire country. Electronic communication will become increasingly difficult, as most backup power systems are only capable of maintaining normal operations for short durations.”
The cyber attack disaster movie showcases a variety of characters, from all walks of life, areas of the country, and ages. It shows the dilemmas people who have food will be in when they encounter hungry neighbors and citizens. The NatGeo power grid down film also includes a small group of college students trapped inside their urban dorm. One of the more industrious college students uses a plastic milk crate to craft a pigeon trap in order to garner some food.
Jonathan Rudd had this to say about why he chose a Blair Witch style of storytelling:
“As viewers, we are watching more and more material online, and consequently becoming increasingly fluent in the visual language of user-generated film,” he said. “Because user-generated footage is shot by regular people, a more immediate connection can be drawn between the viewer and the event depicted. Our hope is that this very personalized form of reporting will allow us to immerse our audience in an intimate representation of how American people survived this event.”
A character living in a NYC penthouse learns the hard way about the dangers of attempting to open one of their only cans of food with a massive butcher knife after the power grid goes down. A manual can opener is a very basic emergency preparedness tool which should be in every kitchen cabinet – and a spare in the box of disaster supplies in the garage.
When asked what he hoped the audience would take away from American Blackout, director Rudd said:
“That a sensible amount of preparation is advisable over keeping two cans of tuna in the kitchen. America is defined by its spirit of resilience and this film affirms that; even in the deepest of crises, people can pull through. I am currently on the lookout for a set of large barrels for water storage and a wind-up radio, while our drama producer has already hosted a neighborhood meeting and is stockpiling bottled water.
During American Blackout, a screen occasionally pops up and cites intriguing statistics about the consumption of government or commercial utility provided necessities and preparedness facts. Fires occur in cities, suburbs and rural areas in the days following the downed power grid. One of the most heart-tugging parts of the power grid down movie is when a little girl sadly waves good-bye to her father and saying in an adorable voice, “Bye-bye daddy … daddy when are you coming back … daddy?” Imagine the little boy at the end of Shane, add some pigtails and tear-stained cheeks and the scene is set. You just know that the worried man walking down the street desperately searching for food and water may never have the opportunity to hug his little girl again.
Travis Fox, the award-winning producer of the Lights Out Saga, an upcoming independent feature-length film also about a downed power grid, weighed in on the moral dilemmas Americans will face during a disaster.
“I began delving into the morality and shades of gray that exist during a disaster. People generally aren’t ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ Good people will fight for or steal food if their kids are starving. The storyline of Mark’s brother [main character in Lights Out Saga] was a good example. Mark got mad that his brother took food from empty houses, but he had done very similar things in order to survive himself. The ‘good’ families turned away at the gate of their stronghold are another example of morally difficult situations. I think the key is keeping your capabilities discreet, your resources discreet, and your weaknesses discreet – and help people in need as best you can. I think as self-reliant people we have that moral obligation. But on the other hand, our families will always come first.”
Research for American Blackout included working with leading experts in the cyber security, emergency medicine, search and rescue, engineering and sociology fields. Additional preparedness related experts were sent copies of the script for their input and some changes made based upon their recommendations. Power blackouts which have occurred in San Diego and New York City, as well as following Hurricane Sandy, were also used to help craft the film and develop realistic disaster scenarios and government response.
[Images Courtesy of National Geographic]