For a documentary that’s supposed to be about the solar industry, Catching the Sun doesn’t have a whole lot of sweeping solar-panel vistas or shots of factory-floor whizbangery. And that’s OK. The film, which premieres in New York on April 1, introduces audiences to the people actually bringing a clean energy future into the present: the workers and entrepreneurs often left out of wonky discussions about the economics at play. The film’s director, Shalini Kantayya, calls climate change a “nameless, faceless enemy.” Putting a face on the solutions — the rooftop solar installers, the unlikely Tea Partiers campaigning for decentralized solar generation — offers a new way in.

“We need a story that is about job creation, national competitiveness, and the fact that this is about innovation and the technologies of the future,” Kantayya told Grist. “The people that are clinging to last century’s technology are on the wrong side of history. It’s about showing that what’s good for the polar bears is also good for the working class.”

The exclusive clip above offers a sample of these shifting tides. For Kantayya, stories like Eddie’s — the first solar installer you see in the clip — are the reason we ought to feel hopeful about clean energy in the first place. In a recent conversation with Grist, the filmmaker and TED Fellow talked about storytelling in the climate movement, mixing energy policy with social policy, and how to make this story matter for the people it affects the most. Our conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.