In this age of global commerce, what defines “Made in America?” Does a suit made of Italian fabrics and tailored in a shop in Philadelphia count? How about gas pipelines made with Chinese steel?
Beyond those distinctions, there is a major grassroots initiative advocating and championing products that are manufactured here in the US. The initiative is called the “Made in America” movement, and it has been growing steadily over the last few years.
Josh Miller is a filmmaker who recently released a documentary called, “Made in the USA,” which highlights the efforts of this group as they hope to increase the awareness and support of producers of U.S.-made products.
Though he has come a little late to the party, Miller has quickly become one of the movement’s strongest ambassadors and at-large spokesmen.
Miller admittedly had little interest in the topic until it affected his own family, when his father-in-law lost his job at a manufacturing plant in West Virginia.
This became a flash point for Miller, as he saw this happening all over the state. In true American spirit he resolved to do something about it.
Understanding that many consumers get their news and information from entertainment, Miller says, “I thought that it would be perfect to make a film.” He reached out to some fellow filmmakers, and from there, “Made in the USA: The 30 Day Journey” began.
The film itself is an eye-opening journey into the heart of America to explore the dangers of a declining manufacturing base. In the film, Miller clearly shows the overwhelming odds we face as a nation to reverse the trend of shuttered businesses and jobs moving overseas, while trying to restore our middle class. The film is also an inspiring look at some of the individuals who are helping to change the world one gadget and service at a time.
Initially, Miller’s goal was to travel the country and see if he could live for a month on products only made in the United States. After just a few days of eating butter, sleeping outdoors in the playhouse of his friend’s daughter, and not being able to shower, Miller good-naturedly worried if he’ll ever make it through.
The film quickly transitions from gimmicks into a poignant exploration of the unraveling of the American Dream. Miller traverses the country to interview a number of small business owners, from toy makers to brewers, restaurant owners, designers and filmmakers who are committed to making their mark in an unsettled environment.
Miller deftly highlights the challenges and successes of these entrepreneurs, and the passion they have for their employees, customers, and communities. Through these business owners we learn the how and why of the loss of manufacturing jobs, the economic toll it takes on our country and communities, and how the Made in America movement is helping to unite people across the nation to bolster American jobs and opportunities.
When watching Miller’s film, one also sees the impact some of the trade agreements have had on certain working class, manufacturing communities and why many in these towns want America’s politicians to appreciate their concerns when negotiating–and enforcing–trade agreements.
Miller’s film ultimately achieves its main goal of bringing all these voices together to cast light on the US manufacturing crisis, and has even been recognized by the West Virginia legislature, which passed a resolution this spring officially supporting his efforts. Miller hopes his film will help to marshal the resources and outreach of the Made in America Movement to make them all more effective. So far, there is great support within that community, and now Miller wants to take that message to the rest of the country.
Miller’s film has been featured recently on Huffington Post, and a soon-to-be released piece on ABC News’ “Topline.”
Miller has also been asked to speak at a number of schools, with great success, and is creating a curriculum of the film to make it available as a teaching tool for middle and high school students.
Made in the USA is available for streaming at Chill.com.
Visit the Made in the USA Website to learn more or order the DVD.
Resources about the Made in America movement: