A Fascinating Look at Trona, CA from Two Very Disciplined Filmmakers

Ransom Riggs

For the last year, filmmakers Alex Jablonski and Michael Trotten have made one short documentary film every month -- twelve in all. They were inspired by a musician friend who consistently released one album a month for several years. It sounds insane, but the films are quite good, and beautifully shot, and often moving, so the proof is in the pudding. Totten says, “In the past I’ve let this idea of ‘I don’t have the right money or equipment or subject matter’ prevent me from moving forward. Sparrow Songs has taught me to get rid of the idea of perfection because it doesn’t exist." I think that's something a lot of creative people would do well to take to heart.

The final doc of the twelve-film cycle, "Fall Comes to Trona, CA," was just released, and it's a really nice portrait of a town I visited and became totally fascinated by last year, when I took pictures there for one of my strange geographies columns. It's a hot, bombed-out-looking place that's closer to Death Valley than a major city. It has the country's last in-use dirt football field, which it turns out is kind of the heart of the town. It's impossible to pass through Trona without wondering why on earth people live there -- which is exactly what this documentary sets out to discover.

Sparrow Songs - Episode 12 - Fall Begins in Trona, CA from Sparrow Songs on Vimeo.

If you liked that, check out all the other Sparrow Songs.