2 Degrees is a new Australian produced documentary with a universal call to arms for climate. After 5 years co-producing the project Ange Palmer reflects on the blood, sweat and tears involved as a film maker.
For those of you who may believe that the film industry is all fun and red carpets, think again…I’ve embraced a few pretty crazy challenges in my short lifetime (think dodging pirates in the Malacca Strait, starting a business touting washable sanitary pads, undercover agent scoping sea turtle slaughter) but this one really took the cake.
Our film 2 Degrees was completed in July 2013 after 5 years of hard slog. It took me around the world and grilled my soul but there are no polar bears or melting glaciers to be seen. Instead we engage with passionate warriors fighting for change on the front lines. People like you and me. We got to see (and feel) what really happened when the Copenhagen Climate Conference collapsed in 2009, the anguish and confusion, and also witness an inspiring community campaign led by a feisty 80 year old woman in South Australia.
There were many moving moments. Working in the Democratic Republic of Congo was particularly hard for me…having lived in Asia I thought I knew what poverty was about but I was unprepared for the DRC which some call ‘Africa’s broken heart.’ We worked tirelessly. Often jet-lagged, I was operating as the production manager (read mother-hen, crisis control) for a small film crew in foreign cultures, languages, climates and currencies.
Towards the end of 2009, when about half the film was shot, production ground to a halt as money that had been pledged evaporated in the GFC and 2 hard years followed as we desperately tried to raise more finance.
The parallel journey to this however was the increasing sense of urgency to birth the film as the environmental dilemma around us deepened. Our in-boxes and conversations were filled with climate news; we were marinating in it, and inevitably this started to take its toll.
We rode the waves of the climate denial machine, scientific horror and the knowledge that those we had filmed in developing countries were increasingly going to bear the brunt of our profligate existence here in the world of economic wealth. This is what climate justice is all about.
Our challenge was to create a film that would engage our audience’s imaginations and hearts. We researched climate change communication and knew that presenting facts and figures was no longer effective, though useful for The Inconvenient Truth eight years ago, and that proclaiming doom and crisis was also useless.
2 Degrees reminds us not to switch off from climate change, and encourages us to explore our response to it more deeply. Audiences to date have been incredibly moved with tears and spontaneous applause. It seems we’ve got it right.
Journalist George Monbiot, Academic Clive Hamilton and leading climate scientist Kevin Anderson appear in 2 Degrees . 13 year old change agent Xiuhtezcatl Martinez is also featured as a vibrant voice for youth.
One of the things that has become very interesting to me through this time is the question of how we, as sensitive, intelligent humans respond psychologically to the deep grief and despair that potentially arises within us as we comprehend the reality of out situation. For me three key themes have emerged:
1. There is no one ‘solution’ to climate change.
The esteemed ecofeminist activist Vandana Shiva reminds us of the importance of diversity. She says that it is not about a SINGLE solution; that only multiple solutions will have the power to make the changes we need. This is important – don’t believe in one magic answer. And certainly don’t believe that governments will pull us through. There are millions of solutions, as many solutions as people, and each person contributes as they unleash their empathy and creative action on a daily basis.
Like the intricate biological web of the ecosystems that we thrive in, we must celebrate and trust the diversity of our being and our solutions.
2. Hope is Dangerous.
I like Author Margaret Wheatley’s thoughts on ‘indestructible motivation’. She suggests that ‘hope is such a dangerous source of motivation. It’s an ambush, because what lays in wait is hope’s ever-present companion, fear - the fear of failing, the despair of disappointment, the bitterness and exhaustion that can overtake us when our best, most promising efforts are rebuked, undone, ignored, destroyed…
My only request is that as you do your work, you become curious about finding a more enduring source of motivation than needing your work to bear fruit, to be successful in creating positive and enduring change. Beyond hope and fear, there is clarity available, the clarity of knowing that this work is ours to do no matter what. We may succeed, we may fail - but no matter what, we will continue to persevere on behalf of other human beings.’
3. Action is the best medicine.
See point 1! Know that you are taking action in your own ways. And add to this the action to care for the most important part of the Earth that you alone are totally responsible for – your body . I strongly believe that before anything else we need to nurture ourselves carefully so that we are well, strong and courageous, having no anxiety or fear.
Some say that film makers should put 50% of their efforts into making the film and 50% into distributing it. We feel like we put 150% of our energy into production so now the distribution challenge is a little daunting. Most independent films are self-distributed these days and whilst this has distinct advantages for the production company, such as retaining all rights to the film, there is much work involved. Anyone interested in assisting with this process is welcome to contact us at email@example.com . Organising a community screening in your area would be a great start.
2 Degrees is showing :
Date: Wed August 20th
Venue: Chauvel Cinema, Paddington
Price : $15 concession $18.50 general
Film Website www.2degreesmovie.com
Ange Palmer is Co-Producer of the feature climate documentary 2 Degrees which has its Sydney Premiere this month. Ange has an extensive background in the environmental arena and is also a mother, and qualified medical herbalist. She is interested in the interplay of health, emotion, gender and nature. Ange lives in Nelson, New Zealand.