Daniel Coffin is the producer of Cape Spin! An American Power Struggle. The documentary examines the contentious Cape Wind project in federal waters near Massachusetts. Offshore Wind Wire recently caught up with Coffin to ask him some questions about his film.
Offshore Wind Wire: What inspired you to make this movie?
Daniel Coffin: There were a number of factors. I come from a political science background. Cape Wind seemed to be the rare phenomenon that did not come right down party lines and also is about an issue that I feel is very important, which is energy.
This particular project, in this beautiful iconic location, instantly divided Democrats and divided Republicans and they started siding with each other and forming odd alliances. It seemed important to tell that story.
OWW: What has been the response?
Coffin: From the people involved? It’s been good.
We made a conscious decision to present everyone’s best case but definitely called them out when they were stretching things or saying things that weren’t quite right.
We were worried that all sides would just hate what we had done with them. And we were also trying to inject humor. In some ways it is a tragicomic farce of the way permitting and regulation are done in the United States.
But we’ve had great response from both sides. We were pleasantly surprised.
OWW: What were the biggest challenges in making this movie?
Coffin: We found that financing the film was very difficult because the complex politics of the battle made it really difficult to be seen as neutral.
Besides that, it was gaining access to both sides. Gaining their trust.
We were constantly being checked to see if we were on one side or the other. But the way we made it was really to embed ourselves with both sides. We wanted to be there when conversations were happening. We needed them to let us know if something was coming up. Getting that access took time. That was probably the hardest part.
OWW: Separate from the movie, what do you think the future holds for the Cape Wind project?
Coffin: The fate of the Cape Wind project has been unclear for some time, though the developer has recently made significant gains, beginning the site survey and engineering as we speak. There are still questions about the financing and pending lawsuits, though the Martha’s Vineyard fishing group recently dropped their challenge.
I would say we’ve got at least another year of high stakes politicking. Eyeballs are glued to it. This is one of [Massachusetts Governor] Deval Patrick’s flagship projects so this will draw attention. I can’t say if the project will ever be built, but I do know that it has already had a huge impact by educating people about energy and driving our national energy policy, which is a testament to the dedication of folks on both sides of the fight.