Filmmaker Talks About Going CarLess in LA

In the mid-2000s, Alabama single mom Katie Rogers was living in Mar Vista and commuting to a job at the Coldwater Canyon offices of TreePeople. Despite the challenges of making this 30-mile round trip without a car, that’s just what she did for about three months, with a cameraman in tow.

She wound up with 80 hours of raw footage and is now editing it down into the feature documentary CarLess in LA. At the time, she used the $2500 earned from the sale of a Toyota minivan to purchase a Sony HD camera.

“There are no buses that go over Coldwater Canyon, so I either had to hike or “mountain bike” ride on the last leg of the daily journey to get to work,” Rogers tells FishbowlLA. “It was truly “trekking” LA! I would ride my bike home though because it was mostly downhill and actually a nice ride. But not on Coldwater itself, that would have been too dangerous. I found other routes.”

Via, Rogers has just raised the $10,000 she needs to complete the project. On the heels of Ciclavia’s latest overflow downtown event, CarLess in LA is in many ways an ode to the joys of urban bicycling.

“Some parts of LA are more bike-friendly than others,” Rogers suggests. “I didn’t get too much road rage directed at me, but I really believe sharing the road means that bikes have to be respectful of drivers as well as expecting drivers to respect cyclists. You do have to have a cycling style though; you have to be pretty assertive but still smart.”

During her time in LA, Rogers also pursued screenwriting and says one of her scripts was for a time optioned. Mirabelle and the Ancient Forest is appropriately inspired by tree-sitters trying to protect the Redwood forests in Northern California, telling their story from the fantastical perspective of forest elves. The titular Mirabelle is a forest fairy trying to save her best friend. Though not currently working this side of her career, Rogers says she was represented at one point by UTA and also hip-pocketed (for other scripts) by an agent at CAA.

When asked about the contents CarLess in LA, Rogers is wary of offering even minor spoilers. But she does tease with the information that on Day Four of her 2006-2007 80-day experiment, her cinematographer’s bike as stolen. Among the people interviewed for the film are Diego Cardosa, a key implementer of the Gold Line, and the mayor of Bogota, Columbia.

“I was lucky to get in interview with Mayor Penalosa,” Rogers says. “He changed that town by making public space and public transportation “sexy.” He says, make it sexy and even the rich will want to go there. Every Sunday for part of the day, there is a car-free day in a certain area of Bogota – amazing!”

Rogers aims to complete CarLess in LA by summer’s end, at which point she plans to submit it to film festivals.