We reached out to our festival filmmakers to ask them questions about the experience of making their films.
What inspired the story?
Director Fisher Stevens: Leo and I have known each other for many years and were both impressed by each other's efforts and curiosity in environmental issues. We both questioned how in this day in age, and from what science tells us, and we have all seen, how this issue is still one that is often debated. We realized the importance of going on this journey and really seeing first hand what the impacts of climate change are, and understood the importance of making a film that was emotional and impactful. That we couldn’t just do the usual doom and gloom type of film. This is an issue that is overwhelming for many to understand. We wanted to try and find a way to make and important and entertaining film that would really galvanize people to want to take action. We agreed that having Leo in the film would be essential and hopefully find an audience that wouldn't normally watch a film about climate change.
Describe challenges faced when making the film.
FS: It is a hard topic, people's eyes can glaze over once you start speaking about climate related issues. It is a massive subject that can take a filmmaker into a million different directions. We met so many incredible characters doing important work that it was challenging and painful to have to cut certain scenes and people out. Another huge challenge was to figure out how to make these scenes digestible and relatable for an audience.
How do you approach storytelling?
FS: For me, storytelling is all about characters and a journey. It has to be emotional. This is why we realized the importance of making this a film about Leo’s journey as well.
What impact do you hope this film will have?
FS: We wanted first and foremost to make people aware of the importance of this issue and that there is a ticking clock. To try to get people to understand that we all have to think differently about their everyday actions and what effects they may have on others and the planet. To try to get people to vote for candidates that believe in climate change and aren't in the pockets of the fossil fuel lobby. And to make people understand that it isn't too late. That if we act now we can turn this massive problem around. Unfortunately when we made the film, the U.S. was moving in a very good direction to try to curb this issue. We now have an administration that might as well be a who's who for the fossil fuel industry that is doing everything they can to deny that climate change is man made and even a problem.
Were there any surprising or meaningful experiences you want to share?
FS: One of the most inspiring people I have ever met in my life, I had the pleasure of meeting while making this film. His name was Piers Sellars and he was an astronaut and scientist at NASA. He broke down the actual facts about climate change for Leo and myself using the most advanced data available to man. He was also dying of pancreatic cancer and wanted to make it his final life's mission to make people aware that we have to stop pumping so much carbon and methane into the atmosphere before it is too late. Piers was a beautiful soul and passed away soon after the premiere of our film. But he stays with me and helps me fight this issue on a daily basis.
FS: Quite a few exciting projects on the horizon. I am going to direct a feature film called Palmer about an ex-con and his unlikely father-like relationship to a young boy who likes to dress as a girl in a rural American town. Also, I am working on another is a documentary on the ocean and shark activist Rob Stewart, who lost his life recently while making a film on saving sharks. We want to make sure his story is told and his mission lives on.
Anything else you want people to know?
FS: When we were making the film, we were told that we would start seeing unusual storm patterns, and experience floods and winds to the likes we had never seen before. We didn't think it would be a year later! We need to fight. Now more then ever, now with this Trump Administration full of these fossil fuel lobbyists, it is going to be more and more difficult to ensure the lives of our children and grand children will not be endangered due to climate change. Thank goodness many states are taking climate change in their own hands and making huge strides. They are the hope! Stay engaged and make a difference in your everyday life when you can.