"A popular government without popular information,
or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue
to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both."
James Madison

title:                                    CONSUMED - TEASER
production:                       Parallax Pictures
director/editor:                Harold Boihem

click here to play movie[T1/DSL][56k]  (coming soon to a website near you)


Consumed Feature Documentary Film Synopsis

Parallax Pictures has recently begun production on a feature length documentary film for theatrical release.  It will be the first film to explore the significance of Ralph Nader and the modern consumer movement within a historical, political and economic context. On a more fundamental level, the film will present a critique of the ever-increasing ownership of the mass media by powerful private interests. We will demonstrate how this condition impedes a free flow of information within our society and stifles our democratic process. The film investigates the overall significance of Ralph Naderís work as a countervailing force to this corporate domination.

The Consumed feature documentary film looks at the primary, opposing forces that shape our lives in the modern world - democratic ideals on the one hand and the concentration of wealth and power on the other. The colossal struggle between these forces sets the stage for an analysis of Ralph Nader and the consumer movement. Battles fought by consumer activists have defined the contour of American life in this century. Every person in the United States, every single day of their lives, is affected by the achievements of the consumer movement. Anti-trust laws, food labeling, auto safety, the right to access information from the government, environmental and safe energy legislation, are only a few of the victories that continue to shape our lives. So integral and pervasive have these changes become that we often take them for granted and fail to see them. The Consumed feature documentary film brings to light the epic story of corporate and bureaucratic abuses of power that stand in opposition to democracy and the public interest.

Movements representing the public interest against the growing might of corporate power have organized at various points in the century. When the consumer movement first sparked to life at the turn of the century (1900-1901), all the features of the modern corporation were already in place. Legal decisions laid the groundwork for corporate entities to enjoy most of the privileges of a private citizen with few of the responsibilities.  Thus empowered, American businesses have grown into international giants expanding with ever increasing influence over our daily lives. History shows that when corporate hegemony goes unchecked, abuses of power and wealth are inevitable, and freedom and liberty are threatened.

Ralph Nader is a natural focus for the Consumed feature documentary film. Nader transformed consumer advocacy, shifting it from bargain hunting and coupon clipping to an institutional analysis of corporate power and government policy making. Yet, despite a brief flirtation with Nader some thirty-odd years ago, the mainstream media has largely shunned him, even ignoring his recent Green party bid for the presidency. Using Ralph Nader as a point of departure, the Consumed feature documentary film explores the fundamental relationship between information and democracy. Throughout history, from Montesquieuís Spirit of Laws, to Upton Sinclairís The Jungle, to Naderís Unsafe at Any Speed, critical social commentaries have proven instrumental to actualizing democratic change. In any democratic society, a free flow of information is a necessary function in guarding against bureaucratic corruption and in maintaining a balance between the profit making goals of big business and the interests of the public. At other moments in our history, the flow of information emerged from a diversity of sources and perspectives. Yet today, the mass media, once essential in spearheading reforms through institutional critique, have now become an arm of the corporate empires they once criticized. Beneath the layers of our media saturated culture are essential stories of battles fought in the name of the public good. These are crucial dramas within our history that remain untold. The Consumed feature documentary film tells these stories, and in doing so, explores the critical issues of how American democracy functions and how our history and knowledge of the world is constructed.

Throughout his career, Ralph Nader has continually championed the belief that an open marketplace of ideas is necessary for democracy to succeed. It is this tradition that will guide the Consumed feature documentary film in order to reach a diverse audience, opening minds and creating new possibilities for democratic action and institutional change.

Consumed Documentary Stylistic Treatment

In order to make a powerful statement that will reach the largest viewing audience possible, the Consumed feature documentary film must be highly engaging. It must be able to effectively compete within the independent theatrical marketplace as a successful form of entertainment. To this end, our goal is to mimic and parody the various styles and techniques of television news journalism, documentary, and fiction programming with our presentation of the feature documentary, Consumed. This stylistic treatment is being developed to comment on, and critique the ways in which various modalities of representation influence and shape the way we understand the world. By twisting the frames of representation inherent within the mass media, and blurring the lines between them, we intend to create a unique and highly entertaining form of satire. McLuhan said, "the medium is the message", and for us this will most certainly be the case. Thus, in its very form, the Consumed feature documentary is designed to provide cutting edge entertainment with a message. As sexy and funny as a feature film, as relevant as a social documentary, and as sensational as a daily news show, it is a film that will shatter the stereotype of traditional documentaries, and, image after image, layer upon layer, reveal a portrait of America from the inside out.

Consumed Documentary Elements

The foundation of the Consumed feature documentary film will rest on in-depth interviews with Ralph Nader and those closest to the events surrounding the formation of the modern consumer movement. These interviews will include Joan Claybrook, Robert Fellmeth, Mark Green, Beverly Moore, John Schulz, Tom Stanton, Bruce Wasserstein and other early Nader proteges. Additional key interviews will be conducted with journalists and authors such as David Bollier William Greider, Hayes Gorey, James Ridgeway and David Sanford. In order to popularize the film further, we will also attempt to secure interviews with celebrities and high profile individuals such as Warren Beatty, Jerry Brown, Jimmy Carter, Noam Chomsky, Phil Donahue, Bill Gates, Whoopie Goldberg, Jim Hightower, Winona LaDuke, Oliver Stone, and Nader 2000 supporters such as Michael Moore, Bill Murray, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon.

Another critical component of the documentary film will be the selective usage of vintage archival material. From turn-of-the-century (1900-1901) images of the early consumer movement, to footage of JFKís Consumerís Bill of Rights speech, to Nader hosting Saturday Night Live and his appearance on the Michael Douglas Show with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, all will combine to help create an entertaining and captivating film.

Consumed Documentary Themes

The feature documentary Consumed is organized around five different themes: the history of democracy, the rise of corporate power, origins of the modern consumer movement, the story of Ralph Nader and his historic rise to celebrity, and the fundamental relationship between information and democracy.


First Film Production PageScript-to-Screen Film ProductionParallax Pictures Home Page