We reached out to our World Wildlife Day Film Showcase filmmakers to ask them five questions about the experience of making their films.
Answers provided by Tom Mustill, Director
What inspired this story?
TM: I met George Monbiot and he told me about Natural Climate Solutions, and how no one was talking about them or funding them despite their great potential. He released a short animated film and a letter signed by prominent figures including Greta Thunberg. It didn't really make much impact and I felt this was something people had to know about, so I decided to make a film about it that had George and Greta talking directly to you, to engage audiences with them in a way that they normally wouldn't, with a visual style very different from other campaign or environmental films. My hope was that this would get people talking about NCS, and we rushed to make it in time for the New York climate week that Greta was attending. We didn't have funding at first and just decided to make it in our spare time because we felt it was important.
Describe some of the challenges faced while making this film.
TM: We wanted to have the smallest possible environmental footprint ourselves while making this film. To accomplish this we took trains to Sweden and electric cars in the UK, powered our edit on green energy, had no single use anything, ate veggies and only used recycled stock footage (apart from the two interviews). This reduced our total footprint to 180kg of carbon. We paid to offset this 4x over (so the carbon would be captured sooner) in Natural Climate Solutions making the production carbon neutral. We wanted to show this was possible on a high production value film.
Were there any surprising or meaningful experiences you want to share?
TM: We did not expect the film to be viewed very much, perhaps a few hundred thousand views, but when we released it it went viral, clocking up over 55 million views and even being tweeted by heads of state, with Natural Climate Solutions being a big part of the UN climate and sustainable goals summits discussions in September in climate week. The meaningful part of this is that most of those views came as an accident of our distribution strategy-instead of releasing it on one site as is the received wisdom, we gave it away under a Creative Commons (CC) license to anyone who wanted to host it/show it. An unexpected consequence of this was that the places it received the most views were sites we would not have expected - 20 million on the FB page of the musician who leant us his music for instance - far more than on Greta's and our sponsors official pages where we expected most of the views to be. Hopefully more films will take this approach and give their films away under CC licenses.