Below is an interview with Director Chris Paine and Journalist Robert Steadman with UK-based Blue and Green Tomorrow:
ROB: Was it difficult to gain behind the
scenes access to the auto industry after the first film? Was there a
level of distrust among the execs?
CHRIS: Yes. It took time and there was distrust on all sides at different times. We knew we were vulnerable to car industry PR efforts and they knew they couldn't control what we did editorially. One of my producers, Jessie Deeter, directs for the PBS show Frontline, and we used her guidelines about keeping our integrity about junkets and careful dealings with our subjects and the film was entirely independently financed. We had a few run-ins with corporate handlers but over time we got more access. Our one agreement was that we wouldn't release any footage until 2011. There was risk all around.
ROB: Do you feel the tone of the film could risk your credibility?
CHRIS: Both films share a common thread for me as a filmmaker and a journalist - great stories that needed time to tell. The first film is about frustration and anger- what went wrong one day in capitalism. This other is what went right. As 90 minute films, they are both condensations of much longer stories that reflect both a journalistic and artistic vision which is more then any single tone. Both films reflect my experience that plug-in cars are an important advance forward on many levels.
ROB: Do you/The manufacturers
hope this movie will help to market and drive sales? If so are you
pleased with the inherent ethical implications of this?
CHRIS: Frankly, I hope this film encourages more people to give highway speed plug-in cars a shot whatever their perspective or politics. There's incredible push-back to fundamental change because we are all creatures of habit. We spend a lot of time justifying those habits and no amount of reasons will change us. For example, there are some incredible advantages to plug-in cars. First among them in my view is they can slow down the export of vast amounts of money to other countries for petrol. Second, you can make the energy to run them domestically and renewable, and finally they are better driving experiences. But no one will even consider one in any capacity until they actually can experience one. It's all just argument until you give people experience. That's why this film is not an argument - it's a story about momentum to change.
ROB: How did the new film come about?
CHRIS: I reached out to the car makers on hearing that electric cars might be coming back into production. Many said no. A few eventually said yes. And I found independent money to make the film.
ROB: What are your personal feelings on the outcome of the film?
CHRIS: I'm glad to have completed two films on one topic with such different stories. One is about how great innovation gets blocked by vested interests and resistance to change. The other is about innovation taking hold because of some very big risk takers. Hopefully this trend will continue.
ROB: Have you had any feedback from the auto industry yet?
CHRIS: The automotive press is a good indicator. They did not like the first film. They like this one much better but of course with caveats. For most people the electric car seems so risky. What if I am wrong? Very few people want to to be wrong. And our film gets that blowback but that's okay, its part of the bigger story.
ROB: Do you have any personal comments about climate change, Carbon emissions, etc., you'd like us to print?
CHRIS: I care about the health and the quality of life whether its drinking water, the air that we burn up with our cars, or the food we consume everyday. If we continue to trash these with fossil fuels, our situation will get worse and worse. This is a shame because we have the intelligence and renewable resources to do much better.