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by Mark Elijah Rosenberg
March 13th, 2007


At the premiere of Big Rig, director Doug Pray said that he set out thinking he would make a doc about the myth of the wild trucker life-style: high speed and danger, dodging cops and taking drugs, lot lizards and madmen. But once he got to know American truckers – over the course of five years of riding and shooting – he made a U-turn and ended up with a film that celebrates the hard-working, honorable and insightful men and women who are the lifeblood of America’s commerce. “If you bought it, a truck brought it” is the trucker creed, with so many goods transported by truck that a national stoppage would shut down the American economy in three days.


This dynamic film features gorgeous shots from across the country and interviews with about 20 drivers of all types, talking on a wide range of issues – from customizing your rig to the economic struggles of the independent trucker, from the destruction of truck stop culture to the destruction of American freedom. One driver showed how he was getting $800 for a long haul, and over $300 of that would go into diesel fuel – which is cheaper to produce than regular gasoline, but costs on average $0.50 more per gallon. The situation, drivers say, is not tenable.


Many of the truckers in the film were at the premiere, and I asked if it was possible for drivers to switch to other fuels, or if they thought America might change the nature of shipping entirely. But they said their profit margins are so tight, and fuels like bio-diesel and ethanol are still not readily available, so they can’t afford to try to switch. As one driver put it, the oil companies, the shipping companies, and the Department of Transportation “have us by the cojones.”

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Rooftop Films is a New York based non-profit whose mission is to engage diverse communities by showing independent movies in outdoor locations, producing new films, coordinating youth media education, and renting equipment at low cost to artists.

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