Featured Student: Zach Horton

While working on his Ph.D. in English at UC Santa Barbara, Zach Horton – who also served for a year as the EHI Graduate Fellow – directed a number of film projects. Two especially noteworthy ones are the documentary Whatever Happened to Solar Innovation? and Swerve, a feature film serialized into ten chapters that imagines life in a future post-apocalyptic California. Scroll down to watch both.


Swerve is a nonprofit Collaborative Media Commons project that was created at UC Santa Barbara. An interdisciplinary team of graduate students, undergraduates, faculty, and film industry professionals collaborated to produce this feature film, which is serialized into ten chapters, each approximately 20 minutes in length. Scroll down to watch all ten chapters (plus a trailer).

Directed by Zach Horton; Produced by Norman Douglas Bradley and Zach Horton; Written by Zach Horton, Alison Reed, Dave Marmor, and Michael Grafals.

Synopsis: In a future post-apocalyptic California, the new frontier is a vast nano-contaminated Zone cut off from the all-connected Grid and the ceaseless flows of bodies and information outside its borders. Only the insane or criminal would venture into this low-tech, body-corroding backwater: that’s what Kaja has been told. But when her best and only friend Adelle disappears, apparently kidnapped and taken to the Zone by an anti-nanotech revolutionary group, Kaja is forced to enter this bizarre and alien world. There, where even fundamental matter and individual identity are up for grabs, as a virtual assassination team moves in for the kill, anti-technology cultists plot a takeover, and a mad cyberscientist prepares a vast mind-harvesting experiment, Adelle will begin to suspect that her entire brain is an elaborate organic computer program… But what, exactly, does it do?


Chapter 1: Welcome to the Zone

Chapter 2: Inscription

Chapter 3: Work

 Chapter 4: Information

Chapter 5: Deletion

Chapter 6: Adelle

Chapter 7: Ruins

Chapter 8: Simulations

Chapter 9: Feedbacks

Chapter 10: The Snake

Whatever Happened to Solar Innovation?

Feature length academic documentary exploring the social and environmental potential of advanced (post-silicon) solar photovoltaic technologies, and the bankruptcy and decline of the industry.

Produced by Christopher Newfield and Zach Horton at the Center for Nanotechnology in Society, University of California, Santa Barbara.