Spark: A Burning Man Story (2013) Movie Script

[no sound]
[mysterious drum and flutes, ]
[Drum and flutes continue, ]
I drew a line on the ground.
And I said, "On the other side of this
line, everything will be different."
And everything has
been different.
[ "Feel the Love" by

To a lot people who aren't here,
this is just a big party
in the desert.
But really it's a place where
you can explore
the possibilities of what we
would create on this world
if we weren't so busy with
our 9 to 5's.
The place is an idea.
And that idea is that people have
permission to be whomever they want to be.
That's so powerful
and so alluring,
that people go to the
worst place in the world,
just to get a little
taste of it.
[WOMAN]: Burning Man is all about
"Why not?" overwhelming "Why?"
Why not dress differently, act
differently, think differently... why not?
[LARRY HARVEY]: We use the word
ethos, and ethos means a way of life.
This is all about identity.
It's hard to belong.
And that's really, in creating a city here...
talk about a powerful sense of place.
A cosmic sense of place.

[MARIAN GOODELL]: We had drawn all
these people like moths to the flame.
They were having these
transformative experiences.
But what if they were more
than we could handle?

[HARLEY DUBOIS]: People say, "What,
you do Burning Man all year round?
Which is insane, of course, because I feel
like I do five or seven people's jobs.
And if we do our job well,
no one even knows we exist.
They don't see
the infrastructure.
There is no book on
how you do an event called
Burning Man.
We sort of made it
up on the fly.
Is this going to work?
Let's try it.
[WILL ROGER]: I did have some
advice from circus carnies
and designers and architects
and people like that.
[GOODELL]: The ten principles
are guidelines.
You know, it's
something to work with.
It means...
Everyone is invited to come
and play and build and do.
Helping each other find that
little spark of creativity.
It means being responsible for
and also being
responsible for others.
I am holding the
Pick it up,
even if it's not yours.
You brought it in,
you can take it home.
[GOODELL]: You know, we have very intimate
partnerships, you know, the six of us.
Michael Mikel met Larry in 1988.
And then Larry briefly
dated Harley.
And then Crimson came along
and brought Will in.
And then I came along and was
brought in by dating Larry.
So then what you have are, you
know, intimate relationships.
I'm not really a joiner.
And I like to stand off
and watch how people behave.
See I never had to
join anything, people join me.
You know, that was
my solution to that problem.
[TV static]
[Man]: Your first...
Well, I've had enough!!
[man laughing]
I really wasn't an artist.
I had a very, very modest, small
landscaping business.
I was hanging out with
a lot of people,
all of whom were,
in their spare time,
writing novels or painting
pictures or playing music.
So it was sort of a
Bohemian scene.
We had a friend who was
a carpenter, you know, and uh...
I just called him one day and said,
"Let's burn a man on the beach."
That's all it amounted to.
I think he may have asked me
to repeat my statement.
[drumming and jingling]
And along the way,
we called a few friends.
[drumming and
jingling continues]
[people chattering]

[woman] Stay back!
[MIKEL]: In 1988, I heard
about a group of people
who were going to go
down on the beach
and burn this wooden figure.
And at the time I was involved
with The Cacophony Society.
We did things like
parties in unusual places,
stage plays in
abandoned buildings,
We'd do pranks.
Anything could happen.
You don't know-you have no
idea what's gonna happen.
Not necessarily fun, or great,
but it could be.
[LAW]: Could be frightening, could be
transformational, you just don't know.
That's the spirit of Cacophony.
[MIKEL]: We loved to dress
up in all kinds of costumes.
And Burning Man takes a lot of
that from The Cacophony Society.
[HARVEY]: Michael Mikel and John Law
attended some of the beach burns.
That crowd were
connected to others
who'd been out in the
Black Rock Desert.
And using it for
artistic purposes.
It sounded to me like
an ocean you could walk on.
[Mysterious desert music]
[LAW]: We drew a line in the
dirt and stepped across it.
And it was entirely
And it was primarily the
environment and...
and a set of free spirits
that made it so.
[HARVEY]: The diversions available
were very modest in number and scale.
[drumming continues ]
[engine roaring]
Real slow, perfect, real slow.
Keep coming,
right at that speed.
Hold that pose.
[people yelling, cheering]
[drumming ends with
cymbal crash]
[cheering and howling continues]

[welding sparks]
[KATY BOYNTON]: I have a degree
in child development.
And I was a nanny
for years and years.
Burning Man definitely
changed my life.
Once I got on the playa,
I remember, we hopped
on our bikes.
and I practically slammed
on my brakes and went,
"Oh my god. What is this place."
I walked away from
Burning Man going,
"I need to learn how to weld
'cause I've got ideas."

[MARCO COCHRANE]: There's so
much work involved in it,
that I needed people who were
just tenacious lunatics.
Katy was one of the many
miracle people who showed up.
And worked, just full-on,
10 hours a day, 7 days a week.
[sparks buzzing]
[BOYNTON]: When I was coming
back from Burning Man,
I had this
vision in my head.
I had this idea of this
heart that had been
exploded and pieced
back together.
There's so many things that
break our hearts.
And that's what we do.
We pick up the pieces
and we put them back together
and we keep going.
I want to take large
pieces of sheet metal
that will lay over top of it
and be welded together,
riveted together.
In my head it's going to be
about 12 feet tall.
So, that's it.
OTTO: How's it going, Avis?
It is going very well, sir, we're
getting a lot of work done.
Okay. Are you helping
with the muralists?
Or are you out
painting out there?
Right now, sir, I'm just
trying to locate a cigarette.
Here's a cigarette.
I'm a veteran.
I've put my life on the
line many times
for people of this nation
and I really hate seeing it go
down the toilet
like it is right now.
Wall Street has affected a lot
of people in a lot of ways.
And I figured,
if I'm going to do this,
I'm going to do it right
and I'm going to do it big.
Burning Man is a great venue
to build giant stuff
and blow it up.

There's five buildings involved.
They range from 50 feet tall
to 72 feet tall,
so it's a huge piece.
Think about building a block in
downtown in a major city,
that's basically what we're
doing out of wood.
So this is the bull, this is going
to go in the middle of Tecate Park,
Tecate Park is the... is in the
center of Burn Wall Street
surrounded by its four banks and
the New York Stock Exchange.
And then up here, we're going to
have two big glowing red eyes
so at night, again, he'll have
his big demon eyes glowing and,
you know, to show the evil
that is Wall Street.
[VON DANGER]: To me, it's more a
representation of, uh, to the powers that be
of this is what happens to you
if you don't fix things.
When the riots start, everyone
will go down to Wall... Wall Street
When you don't know how to
feed your kids, what do you do?
Go kill the rich people
and take all their stuff.
I'm a Marine.
I swear to defend the Constitution against
all enemies foreign and domestic, there uh,
Congressmen and Senators and
These will be capped,
and you can see the ones that are
completed over there that are capped.
I'm not a Kool-Aid drinker,
I don't believe in everything
Burning Man says is the word of...
of the almighty
or whatever like that.
Like, I don't think you should
radically include the hippie
that shows up with just a
backpack and no water, no food,
and expects us to take care of
them 'cause it's a gift economy.
I think, everybody should carry
their own weight,
and enough to help the rest of
the community out.
I mean, obviously we are, most of
the people go to Burning Man...
Hey! Stop hammering!

I got married at 24.
She was 21.
And she at the time was a
professional figure skater.
I'd always tell people what she
does and what I do
it's the exact same thing.
The curtains go up,
the lights go on and it's either
the Jon show or the Jamie show,
you know, she'd come home
with a medal,
and I'd come home
with a bag of money,
but it was still a show.
Well, it's very disconcerting,
in a one week period of time,
to realize that
everything that you've done
in your entire life
leading up to that point
could potentially be wrong.

The a-ha moment for me was,
like, the burn of the man.
And I saw myself in that image.
I saw myself and my life
and everything that I thought
that it was supposed to be
going up in flames.
I lost my job in banking,
I got a divorce,
I came out of the closet.
The last decade of
my life has been
in a constant state of change
and the only thing that's been
consistent in my life
in the last 10 years
has been Burning Man.

Playa Skool is a Burning Man
theme camp.
And we're about
150 members strong.
It was created as a school
because we thought that
our form of giving back to the
Burning Man community
was to create a
platform of learning.
Welcome, citizens of Black Rock
City, is this amazing or what?
I was a founder of PlayaSkool,
I've been leading the project
management aspects of it,
leading the communication
aspects of it.
We have water trucks that we
have to rent.
We have a 40 foot
kitchen trailer.
All of those things need to be
transported to the Playa
and picked up from the Playa.
It's an overwhelming amount
of work.
Yes, we decided four yes...
Okay... for crying out loud.
Okay... four per person.
This is hard...
Okay so then the better
way to do this is...
Because that's actually what
we should try to do here...
[GRACE]: So the question isn't,
"How does the system work?,"
maybe the question is, "How can I
get tickets to Burning Man 2012?"
And we need to change this to not say,
'Burning Man Ticket Lottery FAQ, '
this is 'Burning Man Ticket
Distribution process FAQ.'
Are you going to make these
edits or do you want me to?
[GOODELL]: There's a lot
happening right now.
We're trying to improve
our infrastructure,
we're trying to improve
our processes,
we're trying to grow
the Burning Man Project
and have it go out in the world and create networks
and connect with people in different cities.
You know, a lot of change.
This is to help improve
the ticket process...
But I wouldn't want anybody to
think that they're doing a quiz
to prove that they're a burner.
I've been helping produce it
since late '96, early '97,
depending on how you want
to slice the numbers,
so at least 15 years.
Fifteen years?
I mean that's longer
than my cat,
you know, it's longer than
any roommate or lover I've had.
I think most of the people here
are on the media team,
but you're the art team
and you're part of art cars...
[GOODELL]: And we all took on
whatever was in front of us.
I took what was dropped
in my hands,
which was public relations
and communications.
So Larry, this is the media team
and... and friends.
And all I wanted to do was
help Larry and the rest
make the magical circus happen
in the Black Rock Desert.
Because that was the most interesting
thing that I imagined I could ever do. know, why is it this, why
is it pagan, or whatever it is
that you hear that you think the
group might learn from,
please feel free to ask it.
[WOMAN]: What are your thoughts
on the expansion of Burning Man?
Do you see where it could be
a point where it gets too big
and it loses the essence
of what it is?
Believe me, that... that
question's been asked for years.
I guess the question is
'Too big for what?'
There's some pretty important
edits here that are...
There's structural typos,
and then there's...
[GOODELL]: If the most important
thing about being a woman
is to have children
and have a family,
yeah, I absolutely sacrificed having
children and having a family for this.
Hands down.
But I take a lot of solace in the
fact that what I've actually done
is build a community that won't
be abandoning me
when I'm in my 60's
or 70's or 80's.
I'm pretty certain that, that's
what we've done is build
a community of people that are
going to look out for each other.
[GOODELL]: I don't have enough
stress right now.
If you two would look at me
and ask me to write faster,
it might help.
You don't like me, do you?

[BOYNTON]: When I got back from the
playa I kind of put a post on Facebook,
saying um, "I'm looking for
work of any sort."
"I will paint your room,
I will organize your closet."
"I will watch your kids, I will
do your grocery shopping."
"Let me know what you need."
And I've been coming out
once a week since then,
working my way
through her house.
I was forced out of my house because
I couldn't afford it anymore.
But, I do feel like if I have to
go back to couch-surfing
and living out of
the back of my car,
I feel like I'm stronger
and I'll be able to do that.
Yeah, this is, this is, uh,
it's difficult to talk about
my fears around her.
Just that...
She's gone through
some scary things.
And she's gone through sheer
terror and loss of everything,
and, um, is still doing it.
And, I don't want her
to get hurt.
Listen... listen, you guys.
The existential threat
that we face as a camp,
is the fact that we are... we're
marked against the ten principles.
And the one principle that we
got really, you know, raked on
was leave no trace.
So, anyway, put some thought into it and
let me know when you have a short list.
- [Man]: Okay.
- [Woman]: All right, guys.
[Man]: Take care, everyone.
Alright everybody, bye.
Oh my god.
You know, and it's like,
I get anxiety.
I get, like, really... like, here's when,
like, I get all the crazy anxiety happens.
Because I realize, like,
holy shit, you know, like,
we have this
massive thing going on.
That's global with
people everywhere
and so many moving pieces and,
you know, I do, I, like... I get,
like, tightness in my chest,
because, you know,
there's just so much to do.
[DUBOIS]: You know, there's this camp out
there that kind of did it all wrong.
And I kept hearing about it from this
place and that place and the other place.
And I pieced together that...
that it was one camp.
So I'm convincing myself
that I'm ready, yes, I'm ready.
[DUBOIS]: When I met Jon, he was
really open and I thought, you know,
he could really help me
get a leg up
on something that could ruin us.
Really, honestly,
this could ruin us.
And there has been a regular stream
of actual... concern is the word
about plug and play camps,
that it is eroding our event.
You know, I think for us, you know,
Playa Skool was an experiment
in what plug and play really is.
We had 200 people,
they wanted to come with a RV,
have everything that requires that
most people that come to Burning Man
to really think through,
they wanted it ready for them.
[CHIP CONLEY]: I have been
there seven times.
I had my
50th birthday party there.
I decided to do
a gift economy to my friends.
And so I invited 110 friends and
we did have a vegan caterer.
We heard Chip liked
dark chocolate,
so we made aged balsamic dark
chocolate truffles.
Our client asked if we could
pre-decorate their bikes,
not because they don't want
to be creative,
it's they want to get
out of their car and...
They want to get on that art car
and they want to get...
go do that sunrise, you know, photo shoot
in the buff with all their friends.
[DUBOIS]: The benefit of having
these camps is that
we're getting people who can
influence the world.
That can telegraph further
and wider and better
to get our message out to
people who are influential
and can help with it.
The trick is,
do they really get it?
[CONLEY]: The last thing
any of us want is a...
a bunch of venture capitalists
and Silicon Valley CEOs
being all that
Burning Man represents.
But many of the artists' projects
are funded by wealthier people.
So I actually don't think that money
necessarily itself is the problem,
it's what you do with it.
[GOODELL]: The electricity created
by the Burning Man experience
will change lives and everybody
who comes there repeatedly
is coming there for a reason-
is getting something from it.
So helping contain that
and frame it-super fun.
And the results from it are people
connecting with each other,
and people having hope, and
having faith in other people,
and trusting humanity
and our purpose.
And that's worth replicating, and
manifesting, and keeping it going.
[emergency warning sound]
[Anchorwoman]: Well coming up
ticket fiasco at Burning Man...
why some of the most devoted participants
may not get to go this year.
[Anchorman]: Burning Man has been
surging in popularity in recent years
and sold out the
last two years...
Nobody expected the number
of registrations that came in.
So, you know, that's... that's, I think,
why I can't get a hold of anybody
around the office right now,
because they're all trying to
figure out what
those next steps are.
We are fucked.
This is, like, the worst situation
I have ever been in my entire life
and I wake up
every morning crying.
There's nothing fair
about this anymore.
It's how do we keep our
community from falling apart?
[Anchorwoman]: The annual
festival in the Nevada Desert
switched to a lottery for its
ticket sales this year.
[Anchorman]: The critics say the
new system will destroy
the free-for-all spirit that
Burning Man is known for.
All those theme camps and the
art... is that going to be there?
Because a lot of people say
they can't go now.
They don't have enough tickets to go
out and build their contribution.
There's a lot of people
I don't see all year,
I only see them at Burning Man.
It's a thing that our community
has done all together.
You know, what's fair?
The fair is that a lot of people
put a lot of energy
into this event over the years.
All of the thoughts about doing
bigger stuff, which we had...
we had plans to do, I'm not
going to bother... why would I?
Our camp is called MalMart.
It was really beautiful.
Our structure, I think our top
floor was nine stories.
Over 60% of our camp
does not have tickets.
It's pretty much impossible to
put together a camp this year.
[GOODELL]: Less than 25 percent
of their people have tickets.
That means our esplanade,
our interactive infrastructure,
some of it is five, seven,
and ten years old.
They're... they can't come and interact,
they can't bring out their motorhomes,
they can't even bring out
their rider truck.
It takes 10 people to unload.
Fuck you and your stupid lottery
It's really hard to take when
people are just pummeling you
with all of the weight of their
Who the fuck do you think you are playing god
over who goes to Burning Man and who does not?
When you're afraid,
you can't think forward, okay?
People are panicked. A large section
of the community is panicked.
They are panicked, but we owe it
to them not to be panicked.
Absolutely, but it's almost like we don't
want to listen to what they're saying.
Right now, let's see,
the top one on my screen is:
"BMorg: Nice job fucking over
all the people
whose lottery request for
two tickets were denied.
Too bad you didn't save more tickets for
theme camps and experienced Burners."
See how many U's are in this
"Fuck you."
That's the whole comment.
There, to my knowledge, hasn't ever
been a crisis facing the community
that appeared in the A section
of the
nine months before the event
That's probably a good indicator that this
is in a different category than previously.
The story is newsworthy, but isn't
that more of a testament to
authenticity that people are searching
for in the rest of the world
than it is whether or not
this lottery system worked?
The fundamental value of this
event is its social capital,
its absolutely unparalleled
accretion of social capital,
which is being destroyed by the
by people's perceptions that the
values that they contributed to
they contributed to... around a
certain set of values,
are not being upheld by some
nefarious force.
Well, what would you do?
I mean, you can't just make the
event bigger.
Yeah, this is... it's like in
our house every day of the week.
[LA GRACE]: Obviously everybody
is freaking out about
what's going on with the tickets
for Burning Man this year.
The... the initial reaction was
- - was absolute shock
and complete frustration and,
you know, flat out anger.
And so then that heightened all the other
little things that people whisper, like,
"Oh, they're, you know, it's... they're...
they're, you know, they're about money"
and "It's changed"
and "It's, you know,
they're not what it used to be".
You know, and so it heightens all the
things that it whispered in the hallway
and it... and... and it elevates
them to a shout.
If we can all get on board
and create a semi-transparent
one that might even say, that
these groups..
Are the curators and are
somewhat... managed.
[STEVEN RASPA]: I've just got to
say though,
I'm very uncomfortable with
the term curator.
The thing that I love about
Burning Man is that
we haven't applied judgment
to people's work.
Everybody's effort
is equally valued.
Oh we totally apply judgment.
[RASPA]: The biggest part of
the experience has been
the uncurated aspect of it.
So if now we're... we're placing a
higher premium on things that are
judged by this small group
of people,
I think it sort of antithetical
to the larger amazing spirit of
of the whole thing, personally.
So I... I'm saying that this is
important but language-wise...
We don't have a choice.
We need another word.
We're already curating
out there.
The camps themselves...
...Matt says you can't just join
No, you're right.
That's why we wanted to change the
word is what you're saying, Steven?
[RASPA]: Right, and I don't want
us, then, how... how many...
how much effort did we put into saying, 'we're
not a festival, we're not a festival? '
We don't schedule everything,
we don't curate everything.
So I don't want us
to become a festival.
It's not as... as... as simple as
putting butts in stadium seats.
That works if it's just a
spectacle, that's...
but then people wouldn't feel
the way they do.
I mean, people want... people
want to go to the Super Bowl
and they're disappointed
but they don't get irate,
as if they had been betrayed
by their parents, you know,
as if it was an
intimate betrayal.
We've always faced existential
you know, from the very
This is nothing like the
dread year of '96.
That involved personal,
deep, dark stuff.
People are streaming
into the circle.
This is swordfish-people are
streaming into the circle.
We had 10,000 people and we got to that size
that you couldn't manage, really, anymore.
[fire burning, screaming,
crowd yelling]
My children,
evil lurks amongst you.
That's right, there are those amongst
you who are not spontaneous,
those amongst you
who are not creative.
Hard though it may be to
believe, you know who you are.
[crowd screaming, becoming
We'll talk to him after the show
if we survive.
[LAW]: We did absolutely
everything we could
to try and ensure that the event
wasn't unsafe.
And... and it was unsafe,
we couldn't control it.
You know, we burned
the Helco Tower
and that was a 32 foot tower
with 10 gallons of gasoline
aerating in the dry air.
And I was watching the wind to
make sure that it didn't shift
because if the wind shifted, you would
have been... I would have emulated.
[noisy crowd]
[explosion, crowd cheering]
[cheering and yelling continues]
[GOODELL]: And that was
I remember... I didn't think I
was going to come back.
It was before I met Larry and thought
I wasn't ever going to come back.
I was terrified.
It was definitely Mad Max and scared
the shit out of everybody there.
You keep people back.
Move back as far as possible, we've got
propane tanks right there that are too close.
So there was no guiding force,
no organization at all.
So it was like a train tipping
around a corner, like,
about to go off the
rails for days.
[crowd yelling, fireworks]
[flames burning loudly]
[firetruck sirens]
At, like, 6:00 in the morning,
somebody who was
high on something
ran over a tent
with two people in it
and then hit another tent
with another person in it.
[HARVEY]: It became apparent that we were
responsible for everybody's welfare,
there wasn't anybody else.
It was on us.
So then we were de facto
The State,
which... which was a conundrum for
the... for the... the hipsters,
you know, what... what does an
anarchist say to that?
[raucous crowd, fire burning]
[LAW]: I could see where
it was going.
It's like if we're going to
keep doing this event,
we're going to have to have
a bureaucratic infrastructure,
and, you know, spin stuff.
And I can't-I couldn't do
I couldn't be part of that.
[HARVEY]: It was a question of two
different visions of what it should be.
Should it be civilized or should
it be essentially a...
a repudiation of...
of order and authority?
But if it's a repudiation of
order and authority
and you're the organizer and it
involves thousands of people,
what's that say for you?
What kind of a moral position
is that to be in?
We could have just said,
okay, we're done.
That experiment was fun,
it's done, it's complete.
And we could have not gone
to the other level,
but clearly there was more to be had if
you were interested in what we are now.
Well, I didn't want to be a cop and
I didn't want to be a bureaucrat
and it was clear that that's what was
necessary for the event to get bigger.
Well life after Burning Man has been,
you know, like 15 or 16 years for me.
I keep my little office for my little sign
business here, and I, uh, write here,
and it is a unique building,
they have giant neon clocks
and neon letters that wrap all the way
around the building on the 16th floor.
So I keep the neon going and
also work on the clocks.
I took my son to Disneyland not that long
ago and we had the time of our life.
A wonderful time.
But you have to accept the
control factor
that maintains the
infrastructure of Disneyland.
Same thing with Burning Man.
It's a great event,
but it's anything but
an uncontrolled event.
It's a controlled, professionally
mounted, corporate-owned event,
which makes money.
[MIKEL]: During those early days
that John Law's referring to,
yes, there was tremendous
amount of freedom.
And we can always go back to
that... to that small group,
You're never going to go any
further than that.

In order for us to survive and
get along on this planet,
we need to engage everyone.
We have to engage thousands,
millions of people.
kAnd I think that, for me, is
the most important freedom.
This is significant, it's a
significant thing, it's important.
We have to do it, we're giving our
lives to it, it's that important.

[BOYNTON]: My engineer ran
into some major problems
with the calculations that she
couldn't get past
and so she asked if I could find
somebody else.
So that's... that's actually kind
of stressful for me because I'm...
I don't really know how much
it's all going to cost to build.
So that part has been
very stressful.
So, like, tonight is to give me
a good nest egg
so that as soon as I know
what I need to order,
I can order some of it
and get started.
It's behind the freezers,
the double freezers.
This one's still... they're
still dirty though. Okay.
Do you have tablecloths?
Yeah, she can't find it,
we're using the blue ones.
The thing is is that you have to have your
Burning Man application in by the 20th
if you want, like, placement
and stuff, which I do.
You do have to know, like, what kind
of a footprint you're going to leave,
like how much you're going to
need to dig and all that stuff,
which I don't know yet.
So I can't even start.
Can't even do anything.
Can't order metal,
can't do anything
until I know exactly what we
need to build with.
Not that I have any tickets yet anyway, so
that's still something that's up in the air.
[inaudible conversations]
[tinkling glass]
Thank you all so much
for coming tonight.
I really, really appreciate
the enthusiasm and support.
This piece, um, it started
a long time ago for me.
And there was something that
happened there on the playa.
And it really really inspired me
and I thought of this idea,
And I thought, "You know what,
I have to make this."
So the final piece is going to be
12 feet tall and 14 feet across.
There will be... there will be hammocks
inside where you can go in and hang out
and really feel safe and warm
and loved inside of it.
With this whole ticket thing,
I mean,
everybody lost a lot
of faith in Burning Man.
And I, myself,
had to think about that
and why I went to Burning Man
in the first place,
what made me fall
in love with it.
And what made me
fall in love with it
was the art was for everyone.
And that's really
important to me
and that's what I love about the
Burning Man culture,
is that, you know,
we all come together
and we make this happen.
[GOODELL]: Come here.
Come here.
What? Oh yeah, get me out of
Come here, come here, come
here, come here, come here.
So this is a perfect day for all
of us to appreciate each other.
Very grateful for everybody
and for our opportunity
to be here together.
And thank you for
the creative act
that sparked other creativity
and inspiration
and desire to
be around each other.
Who are you talking to?
Oh, right, thanks.
You're welcome.
Now let's carry on.
Thank you, Larry.
Community is a pain in the ass,
because you have to deal with
all kinds of drama, you know.
And as you get older, you're
kind of less patient with drama.
But really, the reason for me
to keep doing this
is a very sound one.
I know myself.
And if I detest and quit this
it would kill me.
My life would not have meaning.
I wouldn't be forced out of
I wouldn't be in contact with,
with people.
I would... I'd be
just this wretch,
I'd be this lonely guy.
This is the best thing that ever
happened to me.

the Department of Public Works
which is the crew of volunteers
that come out for a month
prior to the event,
set up the infrastructure,
and then maintain it during
the event and take it down
and pick up all the glitter and
peanut shells after everybody's left.
The entire infrastructure of Black
Rock City is stored here on the ranch,
so I am responsible for the overall care
and maintenance of it in and of itself
but also the infrastructure
that supports that.
These are staff art cars...
the DPW.
They may not be as pretty and
flamboyant as the other people's,
but we're busy putting the event
together and not so much time
working on the cars.
Just to create a... a line of 100 shipping
containers straight is no easy task in itself
and all these are... are pretty
much guaranteed to be packed full.
[YARBROUGH]: Okay, so this is a
caf container, Center Camp caf.
I'm seeing some tar pitch and
tents and some bicycles and
benches and tables and... and yes, we
picked this one at random just now.
[OTTO VON DANGER]: I want to
get that done today.
I want to be done with that damn
Most of the crew has been here
for about two months,
two and a half months,
some of them.
Administration-wise, you can add
another four months.
When all is said and done, it'll be
seven and a half months out of my life.
Every one of their problems
is my problem too.
Because if they're not happy,
then they're not producing,
or they quit.
It's a huge endeavor,
I cut every corner I can,
and we have to work at a pace
that's fast and furious.

You know, at least we can see the
light at the end of the tunnel.
We're a month out, we're about two
weeks from hitting the playa.
So this is the paint crew.
Say hi, paint crew.
Burn Wall Street!
We were really surprised
by the demand.
The lottery system worked
just the way it was supposed to.
And what we found out is that a lot more people
want to come to Burning Man than we expected.
So we're in a supply and demand
issue right now,
and it's stressing
the community as a whole.
We're going to be offering some theme
camps tickets to its core supporters.
The people that it really takes
to make sure that camp happens.
The criteria we used
to judge which camps
are going to be getting tickets is based
on first of all the 10 principles.
Whether you fully embraced
the 10 principles...
If you take a collaborative group
and randomize who gets to go,
you break down the entire
purpose of the collaboration.
And then people don't trust their
membership in the collaboration.
And that sucks.
We are hell-bent in doing
what we do best,
which is finding really good
solutions to problems
that other people might
just walk away from.
Because this is our community.
And everyone in our community
is valuable.

And we're going to take the
coil, Katy, back over to...
Oh god, we are a week and a half
out from Burning Man,
a week from when
we pack up and leave.
I don't like talking about it
'cause it freaks me out,
but we're going to be fine.
Oh my god. Let's put the pump up through
the square, the rectangle, please.
We are putting on the first two heart-shaped
ribs of the interior structure,
which there will be
a total of six of them,
so these are the first two
of the largest ones.
So this is... this is a big day.
Luckily, I have a really good crew
of people, volunteers and such,
that keep showing up every day,
so we have extra pairs of hands
and that's been critical.
There we go. There we go.
Wait that needs to stop.
The breathing deeply and yeah.
Watch your step on those things,
Usually every year, I mean,
we get a group of us
and we come down to Haight
and kind of kick off our... our
adventure down here
looking for costumes and
whatnot, so...
Look, it doesn't matter
how I dress up,
I always end up
looking like Bea Arthur.

That's adjustable.
That's a good thing, yeah.
Medium doesn't work,
I think I need large.
I've got a little kudunkadunk
I got to get rid of.
[WILL ROGER]: We're at the
Black Rock city center
where the Man is going to stand
in the 2012 event.
And we're probably within a few feet
of where the Man is going to stand.
I was a dreamer.
Once I was a dreamer.
I thought I could be an artist and
I opened up a studio in Oakland.
And Crimson saw one of the ads,
and it's a self-portrait
of me with a werewolf mask on
holding a glass dildo.
immediately drawn to it.
Yeah, so we finally decided
that after 19 years,
we're going to get married
on the playa.
We thought that that would be
appropriate for us,
for our wedding.
[ILO KRATINS]: This is our...
our Burning Man effigy.
It's made of a little more
than 400 pieces.
It's about 35 feet tall,
it weighs approximately
3,000 pounds.
We have a crew of
20 to 25 people.
It takes us about six days
from start to finish
from a pile of lumber
and plywood.
The procedures for
making everything
are put together in
people's minds
and passed down as sort of
an oral history each year
because there's a definite way
that this has to go together
in order for it to
go together easily.
They say, "Build it, burn it,
repeat as necessary."
[ROSE]: It's basically a bunch
of wood that's nailed together.
And I don't know if it's a
child-parent relationship
or it's something
much bigger than ourselves
that is a relationship that really
is about drawing you to the man.
But for me, it's more
psychological and subconscious.
Much deeper.
I don't know if I'll ever know.
I mean, maybe that's the reason why
we don't tell you what it means,
we want you to
figure that out for yourself.
Oh no.
Oh guys that's even more
No clown nose on the man!
Right now, this is the
Black Rock Desert,
but as soon as you break
the bottle of champagne
it's Black Rock City.
It's the city that
we build, 2012.
Mr. Will Roger, cofounder of DPW,
actually the founder-founder of DPW,
my best friend for the longest
time, I love you, Will.
[cheering, applause]
You still got the touch.
So this is my 18th burn.
The real thing begins
in this moment.
So what we have this year
coming is 60,000 people
and those people are all
going to be affected.
You people here today are the
people from this moment on
that creates the framework
and the cauldron
that will cook their souls.
[cheering] Okay?
You're... you're creating
that cauldron.
And so I... I hand this off... I hand
this spike, the city, everything to you,
it's dedicated to you and
this moment going forward
and the effect it will have
on the world.
[cheering, clapping]

What's happening is we're setting
the trucks into place right now.
They're trying to square it.
And this is our boss.
That's Otto Von Danger.
This is his project,
Burn Wall Street.
[over construction noise] Pay a little
attention, move it into place and let it down.
Alright, I'll try.
And you can do a little bit.
That's way too much,
you're not going to
be able to move it.
That way?
- Oh, shit, shit, shit.
- Relax, just relax.
Fuck, fuck, mother fuck.
Just relax .
I need to go out like that.
Yes, what are we doing?
They're going to try to
set that corner first.
Oh my god.
Oh, it's looking good.
It is, it looks beautiful
right there.
One side down,
the other side resting.
Thank you God.
I'm frustrated about the piece
not being out.
There's still a lot of work
to be done to it,
which can't happen 'til it's installed and
it's still sitting in a fucking truck.
And I keep getting told
"Go talk to this person. "
"Oh, you're going to need that? Okay, wait,
first you've got to go and do this."
"And then go back and talk to
that person."
Then I go back and that person's
not there anymore.
Well, now who do I talk to?
That's cool, we'll dig
stuff out, it'll be fine.
It'll be fine, thank you.
Is it true that you get billed
for heavy equipment,
you get a
bill for what you use?
No, I don't know.
But you've got... just tap into
your endless wealth.
Yeah, this is the first I've
heard of that at all.
Your trust fund.
I would think that...
how could they trust
...they'd have to tell you and get you to
sign an agreement you're going to pay...
I would think so. And frankly, right now I
wouldn't feel like paying them for shit
'cause they aren't fucking
showing up.
Katy, start crying.
It's tough to be the boss.
But she's doing good,
it's just really stressful.
But then when it's hers, it is
hers and she's doing it.
Welcome... welcome... welcome
to the Cordon Bleu.
We're really doing well, we're
really on good schedule.
You know, making sure that the
infrastructure's going in place,
making sure that the build is
going on time.
Are there any parts that we can
take off the back side?
You guys know my goal is, you gotta
stack people on top of each other
if we're going to fit the maximum,
maximum amount of people.
It's like 180 degrees from where
we were last year
in this complete panic mode.
Knock on wood, ahh!
Can you do me a favor? Can we
pull down the schedules?
Awesome. Thanks, Travis.
Alright, next adventure. Daxie!

So you want to go for a ride?

[indistinct chatter]
It's nice out there, very calm.
It's beautiful.
Oh well this is my
leg-pilot, see?
Radical co-dependency.
Collective Interdependent-
so someone said,
"this is a radical, collective,
co-dependency experience here."
We believe in radical
Radical collective codependency.
That's why they corrected me.
That sounds like something you
go to a clinic to get cured of.
I know. Well, the clinic for it
is Burning Man.
Why don't we start a clinic to
cure people of Burning Man
and that's where-that's where
the money is.
Oh the ticket thing.
Yeah, the ticket kerfuffle.
It turns out it's the best thing
that ever happened to us,
but I didn't expect the public
to think of it that way.
In curating those tickets, we
sent out a message.
It's not quite always enough to
just attend.
You need to contribute.
Yay, I get to drive.
Just steer towards what you want
to see.
Where are we going, Zolie Mae?
[ZOLIE MAE]: Uh, Salt Temple!
Who's got the map?
I do. If you follow the esplanade
around, you should run right into it.
Do you want to go see that
thing right there, Zolie?
I think that might be the Temple of Salt.
We have no idea what we're looking for.
ZOLIE MAE: Then why didn't you
look on the map.
KYRSTEN: We did look on the
ZOLIE MAE: Let's go
on that first.
- Make yourself at home!
- Okay.
Hold out your hand, I want to
give you something.
- Thank you.
- You're welcome.
What you got there?
Want me to put it on for you?
White out.
Get in the car for a minute
until the weather blows over.
Stay down low, Zolie Mae.
[ZOLIE MAE]: I am.
How close are you to being done?
Everyone always keeps
asking us that.
When you find out, let me know.
Everybody's so frazzled.
We've been working on average
16 hour days
since we got here two Sundays
trying to keep, you know, trying
to keep the morale of the troops
and myself up as much as we can
while we fight this weather.
Literally, last week was 110 degrees
every day and windstorms all night.
In fact, one of the windstorms was so bad
it took this trailer we're in right now
and launched it about
six feet in the air
and back on its rear end while I
was in it.
There's been some engineering
I scaled back one level off the Bank of
UnAmerica and three off the Goldman Sucks.
In this weather, there's only so
much work you can do
and my crew is totally exhausted
at this point.
But uh, that's...
that's life out here.
Now I've got to go out and play
strong leader,
keep these people motivated,
keep them on task or getting resting so
that when the weather does get better
I can get them moving.
It's an endless job.
There's a few buildings that
they had planned to build
and they're not going to be able
to build it.
They're also not going to be
able to have people
up on the second story
of the main building
because there's not time to
build the stairs and the balcony
and the balusters and railings and
everything you need to make it safe,
to make it code.
Like show biz, you have a date
that you open
and everything has to be
up and running.
It gets to be these traditions.
Some of these camps are
so well established,
they have a following.
And one of my favorite camps,
[Carnival music, ]
It's a Disney land where the
participants create all the rides.
And it goes on for miles.
Good morning!
That is beautiful!!
Get me a Marian and me shot,
you know what I'm talking about.
I sure do.
You look so good, you look so
freaking H-O-T Caliente.
Yeah you should have received
a page. Over.
[on talkie]: I did, it said that you
wanted to have a meeting. Over.
Did they happen to use the word
"urgent" on that? Over.
Okay, if you guys are part of
the volunteering for the stuff,
if you could wait
under the shade there.
And she's eating
with us too, right?
Um, no, I had-
I didn't arrange for that.
I would mind talking to you for
just a brief moment...
Okay, Rosie-Lelia, I think I'm going to
send Matt in to grab those documents.
Was there some drama going on?
I saw rangers here.
And then also there's the couple you have
on the list. Are they arriving today?
Hi, Marian. These gentlemen here
are looking for Matt Cheney?
Can you... and they're supposed
to meet them at the VIP lounge,
are you able to direct them?
There's no VIP lounge.
I'm going to kill Matt Cheney
for even saying there is.
We know everybody who's
in the camp.
I... I... I don't have just anybody drop
in because it's really a private place
with a bunch of people
that don't want to be...
Right, I understand.
Are you having fun?
Yeah, we're having a good time.
And this is your first time,
Yeah, do you have any
Ummm... no.
I can't walk through this camp without
getting bombarded with 15 questions
from people about how,
you know, can I, you know,
"how do I get water in my RV,"
or you know, "how does
this work," and you know,
that's all part of
radical self-reliance,
is them really figuring that out
for themselves.
They're investment bankers,
they're artists,
they're interior designers, they're
medical doctors, they are actors,
they're models, they are, you
know, I mean you name it.
They're all used to their lives,
and I understand that because I
used to be that person,
and you know, now I'm not.
They see me as this, you know, this guy who
just like does all this stuff for people.
I need to shave, this is not
appropriate, I am a diva.
He's a sparkle pony.
I am a sparkle pony.
[LA GRACE]: Here, you know, it's
really about trying to suspend the ego
and explore for 7 days,
a different experience
because of that.
We're PlayaSkool, you know,
and we're all in this together.
It already looks super rad right
Seeing those back pieces on makes
it really feel like, "Oh my god."
It's that enclosed space that I
wanted it to be,
like that comfortable spot.
Yeah, the plaques are inside,
it's awesome.

[muffled] It's beautiful.


[intense, loud drumming]
[desert wind]
I'm late I'm late,
I'm so friggin late,
it's a very important date.
Gotta go, gotta go!
No time to say hello goodbye...
I'm late!
Alice when did you arrive!?
More tea for the queen!
We have Merril Lynched.
Bank of UnAmerica,
Chaos Manhattan,
and Goldman Sucks!
[CHORUS SINGING]: We are the
We may be hung over!
But we are the 99%!
We're going to occupy this stock
We are the 99! We are the 99...
CHORUS: We are the 99%...
Now I can buy everything.
I can buy everything I need.
Anybody else want some free
money? Free money!
[Chorus singing]
We are the 99%
Now this is going to be a
satisfying burn!
Does anybody know what I'm
talking about?
Oh yeah, give me one
like this...
Try the ramp of death
right here.
Leave the planet surface,
be free.
Be one with the air.
You hesitate, you're going to do
it, you're going to circle around,
and you're going to hit the ramp
of death.
Look at that tiger fly.
Look at that, look at that.
That was impressive.
Did you see that, ladies?
You're gonna get laid tonight.
Come on green fairy girl.
Come on, pink tutu boy.
Come on, we haven't had a naked
man do it yet, let's go.
Ramp of death!!

[fireworks, dub step music]

Ohh yeahhhh!
[crowd roaring]
[music ends]
Next year, I will not do this.
Let's get this show on the road,
what do you say?
You know, if I can create
something out of dust
that's pretty fabulous,
then I can do pretty much
anything that I set my mind to.
I feel like I really got from
this what I was looking for,
And feel really confident that I could start
a project and finish a project and...
and find success in that
for myself,
not from the outside world telling
me that it was good or bad.
I love Burning Man, I'll always... it'll
always have a special place for me,
but this does not
define my life.
I mean, my life is way more
than just this.
It's been a catalyst for me
but it's not, you know, this
does not define Jon La Grace.
It's been a really interesting journey
to be part of a six-way marriage.
I think it's a perfect synchronicity
that of the six of us,
that two of them are life
It's actually sort of symbolic of the six
of us and our commitment to each other
'cause we can't really separate from each
other and what we're been doing together.
And your union, to me, is part of
a collaboration that we're all,
not just the six of us, but all
60,000 of us, are doing,
so thank you.
I now pronounce you with the power
invested in me by all of us...
[cheers, applause]
Husband and wife!
Procession is leaving Center
[bells chiming]
Thank you, everybody.
Thank you, firemen.
It's going to be a great night,
no dust.
Mwah, mwah, mwah,
I love you all.

[crowd cheering loudly]
[intense dub step music ]
[loud explosions]
[music fades]

[ "Let it Go" by Michael
Franti and Spearhead]