KickStarter Project: Masa Revolution – From Humble Beginnings to Food Truck Frenzy (video)


Project by Patricia Nazario

About this project

Masa Revolution is a bilingual 90-minute documentary film about the humble beginnings of  street food in Los Angeles, how popularized food trucks are redefining casual cuisine and how some real estate investors and brick-and-mortar restaurants are resisting this cultural shift.

With a lense on L.A., Masa Revolution explores the way we engage food and our appetite for breaking bread in different social settings: Tribal family feats, communal taco stands, intimate fine dining.

This visual story takes you behind the “order here” window of catering trucks.  Nicknamed Roach Coaches for many years, mobile food vendors have a rich and slightly negative history in Southern California.  Masa Revolution gives you an upclose look at some of L.A.’s most popular plates-to-go: Thick Mexican burritos and fusion Korean Tacos to Indian Dosa and Shrimp Creole.  The film also introduces you to the two side of L.A.’s food truck scene:  Blue-collar Hispanic immigrants and white-collar corporate hipsters.  The industry is split along cultural, social and economic lines.  Loncheras (traditional taco trucks) on one side.  Gourmet trucks on the other.  The industry’s also governed by a singular set of laws.  L.A. City and County politicians are debating ordinances and implementing new regulations to reign in entrepreneurial chefs serving gourmet dishes off food trucks.  Restaurant owners complain that they have less overhead and can offer competitive cuisine for lower prices.  Gourmet truck operators say it’s a free market and that state law prohibits politicians from regulating competition.

The 90-minute feature documentary captures the stories of Spanish-speaking immigrants who’ve operated loncheras for decades, gourmet food truck operators, the voice of restaurant owners fighting to protect their investments and citizen journalists.

I was on assignment for a local news radio station when I covered the food truck issue for the first time.  I was using my flipcam to record video of parking citations on a row of clunker cars at metered spots along Wilshire Blvd. when a heavy-set man in his mid-late 50s used his belly to block my lense.  He demanded to know what I was doing!  He wanted me to stop recording the cars, so he was trying to bully me.  My knee-jerk reaction was to hit the off button and start defending myself. I told him that I was a journalist on public property and that I was getting video of these cars for a story I was producing about the food truck conflict on the Miracle Mile. I handed him my business card and took a few steps back from the curve, so I could continue getting descriptive shots of the cars without focusing on license plates.  He hung around and stared at me to try and intimidate me, but I just kept shooting until I had the footage I wanted.

What his abusive behavior said to me was that food trucks were threatening the traditional power structure on the Miracle Mile and someone was fighting back.  It was their knee-jerk reaction to resist changing times:  Social media versus brick and mortar, youth rebellion versus social conservatism, socioeconomic separation versus cultural fusion.  A shift was happening.  Food trucks were the catalyst.  It seemed similar to other events that’ve challenged our nation’s status quo and shaped our collective consciousness:  The Disco Era in the 1970s, the Cuban migration to Miami in 1980s, and the birth of Rap Music. I wanted to capture the moment, so I launched my own independent production company and hired freelancers to cover the story.  I’ve self-funded the entire enterprise. Over the last six months, we’ve recorded more than 100 hours of footage.

Your support on Kickstarter is crucial to getting Masa Revolution through Post Production and into documentary film festivals across the United States this fall, 2011. The crew has rallied around the project.  Everyone is working at reduced rates.  Every contribution we receive will go towards these  expenses:

*$20,000 – Editing (A 7-week full-time schedule, Assistant Editor, film sound design and mix, color correction, film trailer, and for cutting various versions of the film to share in as many different outlets as possible: Theatrical, Domestic Broadcast, International Broadcast)

*$2,200 – Original Music Score (rights for world release)

*$10,000 – Licensing, Animation, Translation and Subtitling (Spanish/English)

*$5,000 – Legal/Business Fees

*$2,500 – Editorial Consultant

*$2,000 – Festival Submissions

Many media outlets have produced print, radio and television news stories about the controversial pop-culture boom of gourmet food trucks. Several of those trucks are featured in this film:

Project location: Los Angeles, CA