Chris Paine

Chris Paine

Chris Paine was born in Palo Alto, CA - the region known as Silicon Valley for its abundance of high tech companies. He studied film at New York University and acting at New York's Playhouse Theater before he eventually graduated from Colgate University in 1983. Paine returned to his Silicon Valley roots literally and figuratively, co-founding the robotics development and supply firm, Mondo-tronics with partner Roger Gilbertson in 1984. Among Mondo-tronics' clients was NASA, for whom they provided nickel titanium wire for the Mars Pathfinder mission.Despite the contract, Paine was a political activist throughout the 1980s, involved with Nuclear Freeze and projects protesting the Nevada Nuclear test site. He protested at the Concord Naval Weapons Yard during the Contra War in Nicaragua and was active in raising awareness over threatened rainforests in South America. He also used his film background to shoot footage in support of local California conservation initiatives.In 1990, Paine began working in film production, serving as an assistant to writer-producer Michael Tolkin on the "The Rapture" (1991), Robert Altman's "The Player" (1992) and "The New Age" (1994). He wrote and produced the Sundance-screened short "Mailman" (1995) and contributed segments to the MTV series, "Buzz" (1990-97). The multi-talented entrepreneur returned to high tech just in time for the internet boom, launching Internet Outfitters in 1994. In 1999, the highly successful marketing and software development service went public and became AppNet. Paine served as the company president until a 2000 merger with Commerce One, when he returned to the entertainment business. That year he executive produced a documentary on "Neuromancer" cult author William Gibson called "No Maps for these Territories." His next project as executive producer was "Faster" (2003), a documentary about the MotoGP motorcycle world racing championship.The documentarian and activist found his next opportunity right under his nose when the EV1 electric car he was leasing from GM was repossessed and destroyed. Upon connecting with other EV1 lessees, Paine discovered that the entire fleet of electric vehicles was being systematically crushed, with little explanation and no alternative-fuel vehicles planned to replace them. Paine looked in vain for coverage of the strange event in the media. Finding none, he decided to report it himself, resulting in his writing-directing debut, "Who Killed The Electric Car?" The film helped put the need for alternative energy sources in the spotlight, but also addressed the role of large corporations in environmental issues and the public's demand for accurate information when corporate and government entities are less than forthcoming. For his work on "Car," Paine was nominated for a Best Documentary Screenplay award from the Writer's Guild of America and a Best Documentary Award from the Broadcast Film Critics Association.