To escape a high cost, low wage nation, three unforgettable Americans join a fast-growing community living out of cars, vans, and RVs—and attempt a radical revision of the American Dream.
A 60 year-old woman moves into a minivan and sets out on a quest for self-determination; a young girl comes of age in an RV after her parents sell their suburban home and embrace “roadschooling”; a self-made YouTube star saves others from homelessness—one van at a time. All three join a vibrant nomadic counterculture, fueled by an increasingly broken economy.
Their collective road trip traverses a wide swath of the country, from the oil fields of West Texas to the towering evergreen forests of the Pacific Northwest. Along the way, hopes and expectations meet hard realities. They seek true freedom, but at what cost? How will this radical experiment change them? How will their journey change the way we see America? Set in a time of despair and resignation, Nomads is an emotionally-rich cinematic experience about the search for hope and meaning in a world that feels increasingly unsustainable.
HOW WE WORK
A couple in filmmaking and in life, we are a nimble two person team—both directors and crew: Vanessa shoots, Josh records sound. The ability to stay small, and quarantine together, allows us to embed with our subjects for long stretches of time.
We’re learned a lot of the skills we’re using to live off the grid from the subjects of our documentary. That's more important than ever in this pandemic era. As we continue filming, we’re avoiding airplanes, hotels, and restaurants. We’re criss-crossing the country in our Honda Civic, camping out of a tent on public land, cooking on a propane stove, and using a modified bucket for a toilet.
We're grateful to the nomadic community for not only giving us the knowledge—and the confidence—to keep everyone safe and healthy, but teaching us how to experience the epic grandeur of America in a whole new way. That grandeur will be the canvas on which our documentary unfolds.
Director | Producer | Cinematographer
Vanessa Carr has worked as a director of photography for a decade, filming documentaries and series for PBS, HBO, Disney+, Showtime, FX, and others. Most recently, she was a staff director of photography for the upcoming Disney+ series On Pointe and The New York Times' documentary television series, The Weekly (FX/Hulu), which was nominated for nine Emmy Awards. Vanessa co-produced Heroin: Cape Cod, USA for HBO and Stickup Kid for Frontline, and shot both. She holds a master’s in journalism from UC Berkeley. Nomads is her first feature documentary as a director.
Director | Producer | Sound
Josh Gleason is a director and producer of documentary film and television. He co-directed The Disrupted, an observational feature about America's struggling middle class that premiered at DOK.fest Munich in 2020. He directed and produced True Believer, a short doc that played at festivals around the country, including the Ashland Independent Film Festival and the Nantucket Film Festival--and streamed on The Atlantic. He’s directed and produced numerous programs for PBS, including episodes of American Experience and Finding your Roots. Before becoming a filmmaker, Josh reported and produced stories for NPR.
Rachel Shuman is a documentary editor and director based in greater New York City. Some recent film editing credits include True Believer (Ashland Independent Film Festival 2019), Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf (DOC NYC, 2017), One October (Full Frame, 2017), and Brothers (DOK Leipzig, 2017). Rachel has also worked as an editor on nonfiction programming for A&E, History, and MTV, and is a proud board member of the Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellowship. Originally from Boston, Rachel received a BFA from the California College of the Arts in San Francisco, and an MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York.