About three years ago I crafted a personal talk designed for universities and corporate audiences that highlights that the most pressing environmental issues are not happening 1000, 1500 or 2000 years from now, but are occurring right now, in our very own lifetimes.
Oftentimes, however, we are just too busy; the issues too overwhleming or esoteric; and the change so dramatic and surprisingly fleeting – that we just can’t comprehend or allocate enough “care” to face the enormity of the challenges inevitably presented to us on the global stage. Though I don’t believe my talk has sprung the world into action, it indeed hit a very deep emotive chord with the audiences that stayed with them.
I always felt the speech would have much more impact as a film. In fact, I would wake up at nights with visions of the film in my mind. After meeting Director Clayton Haskell on a Discovery set, I approached him to shoot the film with me. That was 2 1/2 years ago. After working with him a number of times afterwards, namely on the End of Bees film, I brought the idea up with him again. It wasn’t until March of this year that production for eXtinction began.
eXtinction, like my talk, reveals a very personal, heart-wrenching look at the pressing environmental issues of our day and, more specifically, ones that are happening in our lifetime, and more personally – projected on my life – from birth to death.
Just weeks before shooting I wrote to my closest mentor in my life, Tom Eisner. He had been suffering from Parkinson’s and I had not seen him for quite some time. I wanted, more than anything, to see him once again. I sent a message, letting him know that I was well. That he would be proud of me. And that I was coming up to Cornell soon to give a talk on campus, hoping that he may just be able to join.
On March 17th he wrote:
I am delighted to hear from you, but I am out of commission. But if I am possibly miraculously recovered, I will make an effort to see you. It’s always nice to hear from you. Tom
Eight days later Tom passed away.
It was one of the first times in my life that I felt true loss. And that was reflected at my talk at Cornell just five days later, which quite personally was one of the most difficult and emotional speeches I had ever given.
When I think of him, it still brings me to tears. And it was clear to me that eXtinction would be not only dedicated to Tom, but would be an homage to his life, his passion, and his life’s work – through the body of work of one of his eternally-grateful and deeply-devoted mentees.
Most of my career has really been about telling the positive side of the green movement, but I believe for us to really recognized the challenges that we face, we have to understand the extent of those challenges. I hope that eXtinction, through powerful imagery, story-telling and the exploration of personal loss and vulnerability – brings that to the hearts, minds and spirits of those that watch it. If I had to describe the film short in one word, it would be: Chilling.
On July 7, I gave friends and loved ones a sneak peek at the environmental art film through a private screening at Phaidon | Store; co-sponsored by ABOVE Magazine and benefiting Charity: Water. I hope that I can do more private screenings, perhaps in London and LA, but ultimate plans are to feature it in film festivals this coming year. So look out for it in the coming months and I keep you updated in Twitter and Facebook with more information.
Video highlights from the event: