My dad, Mike Taylor, has spent most of his adult life running a small production house in Montreal. High production values, integrity, and so on, but no glory, no glamour. Actually, the studio, like so many others there, used to be between the hooker district and the gay village, so I guess there was a certain showbiz air …
Anyway, the business was what he knew, and he felt a duty to employees to keep it going. Now, the success of the company’s first documentary, The Great Warming, may screw all that up — but it’s really his own fault.
The 6-year odyssey that’s resulted in The Great Warming (set for theatrical release Nov. 3) has had a life-changing impact on my family. To say the climate-change documentary aired on Discovery Canada and then on PBS is to leave out the long and excruciating hunt for funding, the ugly legal wrangle with a Hollywood entourage, the marriage-grinding stress and financial hardship, the amazing people who got on board, and the growing acknowledgement that this is a subject that must be talked about, and a film that covers it well.
People familiar with TV or movie production will probably say, “Big deal — everybody goes through that.” Well, nobody told my dad. He was the head writer, director, and interviewer (like I said, a small company), and he was the idea guy. He’d worked with CEOs for decades, but Hollywood freaked him out, and often disgusted him.
As the production and distribution stage kicked in and my wicked (as in wicked-good) stepmother hobnobbed with celebrities, broadcasters, and financiers — for better and for worse — my dad was benched, and came to spend most of his time scanning books, magazines, and the web for ideas none of us had time for. The damn thing was done — why tinker any more?
That tinkering resulted in the one reason most people in America have heard of The Great Warming — the “religious green” content. This isn’t about faith groups “co-opting environmentalism” as a neighbor grumbled yesterday; that’s certainly not what happened here (and personally I think that’s a really counterproductive mindset). In fact, the coalition around the film started in a very different place. This is the email he sent when I asked him to track the idea:
This is the article that triggered everything, called The Death of Environmentalism. It’s quite negative about the environmental movement, but justifiably so in many places. I believe I read it around the same time that the NY Times article about Rich Cizik and the Evangelical “creation care” movement came out … and somehow they clicked together in my head, and I thought that this was the missing element in TGW. (My dog park friends thought I was completely nuts to do this Evangelical story, as did both our film crews … but I think I’ve been proven correct.)
Both movements have wonderful but slightly (sometimes very) blinkered people driving them … but when they’re put together, which we’re doing (i.e., Karen, plus Brent Blackwelder of Friends of the Earth and Richard Cizik of the NAE were the real instigators), you get a pretty wonderful coalition. In that regard, we are much, much closer to bringing an understanding about climate change’s implications to a very broad audience in the States.
So there you go…
Kinda reminds me of that scene in Working Girl where whatsisname asks Melanie Griffith where she got her idea to put Trask and radio together. You too?