'Truth spoken without moderation reverses itself'
This blog is a source for intellectual exploration. It includes a list of alternative resources and a source of free books. The placement of an article does not imply that I agree with it, merely that I found it thought-provoking. There are also poems and book reviews. Texts written by me are labelled. Readers are free to re-post anything they like.
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
How a 3-Minute Film Is Making a Long-Term Difference on Climate Change
This is the story of how a three-minute film watched by over 120 world leaders at the United Nations this morning was produced by a newly empty nested mother of three who had never produced a minute of film before.
It began 26 years ago when my friend, Cindy Horn, and I were pregnant with our first born and concerned about what the scientific community was telling us about the man-made threat to the planet that was soon to welcome our innocent babies.
Our concern soon translated into the start of the Environmental Media Association, whose mission was to get writers, producers and directors to include environmental issues into the content of their stories. We are proud of founding and nurturing EMA, with our husbands, over so many years and of the leadership, now led by President Debbie Levin that made it so successful.
Three years ago, my husband and I had Bill McKibben to our home. I had known Bill, the founder of 350.org, for years. Bill was just starting to tour colleges and universities to inform students about the serious nature of the climate crisis and its impact on their future.
I will never forget our home being filled to the brim that day with electric conversation. This was a turning point in my life. Of course, I knew our climate problems were serious, but like most, I chose to keep from acknowledging the degree of the crisis. We gave a lot of money every year to different environmental causes -- we had even founded an NGO. However, once that "ah ha" moment comes and you get how critical this crisis is, you can't turn back.
This was the most exciting time to be alive, but also the most frightening. Every week there seemed to be new evidence of global warming from methane ice melting in Siberia, to new irreversible glacier melting in Antarctica. The situation seemed so dire. The media wouldn't pay attention to the issue, and no one seemed to care about climate change. Even the movement seemed depressed.
But then, a little over a year ago, there seemed to be a sea change in the air. It was as though everything lightened up. Everyone in our movement, including Al Gore, felt a tipping point had begun. Solar, wind and organic products were becoming less expensive. We had reasons to feel optimistic. Even as extreme weather events began to worsen, we felt there was a way forward.
Last February, I heard that the Secretary General of the UN had called a special summit today, September 23, on climate change. Every world leader was to come before the UN and discuss what they would do for their country about climate before the Paris Summit treaty in 2015.
I was psyched. Along with Marty Kaplan at the Lear Center and others we called a special UN support meeting in Los Angeles. Around 50 environmentalists from all over the world came, including the heads of major NGO's and Ambassador Tomas Christensen from the UN.
Out of this meeting I met the wonderful Bets Taylor, who introduced me to another incredible woman named Irene Krarup. Irene runs the V Kann Rasmussen Foundation that funded a great deal of the UN climate summit. Through the two of them, I heard that the UN wanted to have a short film on climate change for the opening to set the tone for the day.
Of course, I kept thinking of someone I could get to help with this. The next morning I woke up and to my own amazement, I thought, "I can do this!" So, my two new lady friends put me in touch with the newly staffed UN group led by Dan Thomas. The team was clear they wanted a video that would be inspiring, empowering, optimistic and solutions based -- this was to be the "Can do Summit!" I felt that optimism, so it was easy to think about where to go with it.
Famed cinematographer Louie Schwartzberg had been a friend of ours for many years. Norman and I had followed his career in nature films and his heart-felt spiritual journey for a long time and had always been admirers.
Louie and I were simpatico from the very start. We shared a common vision and shared similar values. Louie was and is a joy to work with. From the beginning, we had two films in mind. The short film that became "What's Possible," which will be viewed by all the world leaders at the UN Climate Summit and then we will release the short film that is "A World of Solutions."
We weren't sure how to start. But I did know who to go to for the script, and that was Scott Z. Burns. Scott and I had known one another for years, and he had a sterling reputation in all areas of filmmaking, but I knew of him as a terrific writer. I also knew he cared deeply about the environment, being one of the producers on The Inconvenient Truth. Scott immediately stood up and wrote the spine and essence of our little film, "What's Possible."
We also knew this had to be voiced by Morgan Freeman. If anyone ever wonders what the man is like behind the voice, you must know there is a reason his magical voice is so powerful, musical, sensual and simply divine. I've had the pleasure of getting to know Morgan over several years. He has been to our home for dinner. We have run into him at parties, events and far-off places. Nonetheless, it took courage for me to ask him to do the narration for the film. Our mutual friend, his agent Fred Spector, called him for me, and Morgan's attitude was, "I live on this planet too." Morgan's team was amazingly supportive and wonderful throughout.
When it comes to music, everyone's dream composer is Hans Zimmer. I had sat next to the Academy Award winning composer a couple of years ago at a dinner party. His lovely wife, Suzanne, had become a regular at several of our events at our home.
Of course, when I called he said he would turn his world upside down to work on this video for the sake of his children and grandchildren. I couldn't have been more elated.
From the beginning, Hans was so warm. He took my breath away. Not only that, he spent an entire weekend composing such an incredible composition that is so gorgeous, almost everyone cries or gets chills towards the end (Hans felt it needed an anthem!). I cannot tell you how blessed I feel to be a part of working with these amazing artists.
So yes, this little video has been a labor of love. Whether it reaches the world leaders or has a longer life on the web, ultimately it won't matter. The key thing here is we all simply have to do what we feel destined to do. I know that is a strong word.
A few days before this showed at the UN, we had a party to celebrate the Climate March. Many heads of major NGO's were at the party and it was a very supportive, festive event. The film was shown at the party and it was wonderfully received. At one point, however, the head of one of the biggest environmental organizations in the world came up to me and said he thought the film was sweet and could be helpful, but only to a point. I understood what he was saying. This is a 3-minute film to be shown at the UN in front of world leaders who have probably already made up their minds. If it gains a life on the net afterward -- and that is the hope -- maybe it will empower people to put pressure on their world leaders or, at least, themselves and neighbors to become involved in this fight for our children's survival.
We made this film understanding the ephemeral nature of the media and its power. All any of us can do is our best. The real fighters are those on the ground doing the hard work -- whether in their law offices fighting major battles between the lines or those doing the life-threatening fighting in the field. The most important thing I hope to get across here is that once you set your mind to something you really can do it.
Obviously, I have had the help of my husband and all the incredible contacts we've made over the years together. My friends and family have been enormously supportive. We have the Lear Family Foundation and other foundations that have been supportive.
Norman and I share a favorite quote from Goethe, "At the moment of commitment, the entire universe conspires to assure your success." I think no matter what your resources are, whom your friends are, what age you are, what part of the world you live in, once you make that commitment you will find your unique opportunity to give back and the universe will support you. It is a very personal experience. This is my story of how this three-minute video got made. It is here on this page for you to see. We all hope you enjoy it and will pass it around. It really wasn't made for those world leaders -- it was made for you.
You can get started now, by sharing our film and its message of hope on social media. Or by here, where you'll find several powerful climate petitions directed straight at world leaders.