Stephen Gagne of Ashland is one of the directors of the documentary “Thrive,” showing today at the Varsity Theatre and Friday at Southern Oregon University. Jamie Lusch / Daily Tidings - Jamie Lusch

Film sheds new light on energy solutions, resistence

Afuturistic $7 million documentary film called "Thrive," directed by Ashland resident Stephen Gagne, will have its Ashland premiere today at the Varsity Theatre.

There'll be a panel discussion afterward featuring the movie's producers-authors, Foster and Kimberly Gamble.

The flashy and engaging film, rich in special effects produced by Liquid Buddha Studios in Ashland, was released last November.

Its premise: that people can produce limitless, free energy and reduce wars and starvation related to energy, but backers of the old and expensive energy systems are standing in the way.

The movie shows at 7 p.m. today, May 24, at the Varsity Theatre and 7 p.m. Friday, May 25, in the Rogue River Room of the Stevenson Union at Southern Oregon University.

The SOU show is free to students, staff and faculty, with a $5 to $10 suggested donation for others.

Both showings will be followed by panel discussions with the public by the Gambles, Gagne and Goa Lobaugh of Liquid Buddha.

The film is narrated on-screen by the Gambles, who seem to ride a "navigator, like a flying carpet" to any spot on Earth (or off it) as they explain who is controlling the world's oil, gas, coal and nuclear resources and keeping them expensive, Foster Gamble said in a phone interview.

Plentiful and cheap energy can be created using a doughnut-shaped structure called a torus, which creates harmonic resonance, amplifying and generating energy, Gamble says.

"It's a simple concept but hard to create devices that can access the energy directly," he says.

Gagne, after years as chief sound technician in movies and for Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead, Crosby, Stills and Nash and other groups, hooked up with Gamble in the 1980s.

Gagne took a film course at New York University from Martin Scorcese and did sound for his "The Last Waltz" and Barbra Streisand's "A Star is Born." His colorful career featured many inventions, including an underwater piano for PBS specials on dolphins. The instrument was designed, he said, to communicate in a dolphin's language frequency.

With the torus as a glowing fixture on the navigator set, the Gambles interview a range of authorities on energy and political systems — chiefly in the areas of energy, food, health care and education — and note how "we can ... liberate our planet and our true human potential," according to their website, The film may be streamed free from that site.

Gamble, an heir to the Proctor & Gamble fortune, has devoted his life to the study of alternative visions of "possible futures," says Gagne, and has started think tanks and hung out with visionaries such as Buckminster Fuller.

Gagne shot the narration scenes with the Gambles over six weeks at Fir Street Studio in Medford.

The film took seven years to make because the Gambles wanted to shoot it at full Hollywood quality, rather than having it look like a documentary, says Gagne. He said he had to learn how to integrate and advance the latest technologies, including Apple's "Color," an extension of PhotoShop for video.

"I designed energy-efficient lights that you plug into the wall, instead of getting a generator truck, as you have to when shooting a Hollywood movie," says Gagne, "and I designed camera motion systems and a high-definition camera because they weren't available at that time for film."

Gagne was lead director, director of photography and lead editor, with a staff of editors. They took the film through 21 rough edits. Gagne did sound editing at Skywalker Ranch in Marin County, Calif.

The goal of the film, says Gamble, is "to help empower a self-creating and decentralized movement for thriving the world by furnishing basic information, not what's being told us by the corporate media, about the environment, health, science, the media, the economic system — and to share tools that are most effective to restore our integrity and freedom."

Gagne, skilled at piano, clarinet and saxophone — and a frequent player on the local music scene — roughed out sketches of music for professionals in Los Angeles to score the film, which, he notes, uses 96 layers of sound that are not made "dark or manipulative" when accompanying criticism of present economic and political systems.

The present systems resist, says Gamble, because "the vested interests in coal, oil, gas and nuclear have a $200 trillion piggy bank they don't want broken, but it's not just the money. The elite financial forces have a strong interest in controlling humanity by three big ways, the financial system, energy and food.

"The possibility of off-the-grid devices in our homes, cars and factories would undermine all that."

The film has had more than 2 million views so far, says Gagne, noting the website offers more interviews with experts as well as a fact-checking site for what's said in the film.

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at

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