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Living the Change: Inspiring Stories for a Sustainable Future

A feature-length documentary by Happen Films directors Antoinette Wilson and Jordan Osmond charts new territory in the race to save our planet. The film premieres on 1 March as the opening event of Bay of Plenty’s Sustainable Backyards month.

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“Here are the issues we all need to be talking about, and with local examples of people who are making a difference. We need these solutions now.”
– Malcolm Rands, Co-founder of ecostore and Chair of Fairground Foundation

“A sumptuous looking film with a smorgasbord of people who give a damn, and who’re all trying to change the only world we have for the better.”
– Te Radar

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Living the Change: Inspiring Stories for a Sustainable Future is a balance of sobering truths from future-focused environmental experts and inspirational stories from individuals, couples and families around New Zealand who demonstrate that making a difference can be easy.

To view the film’s trailer go here: livingthechangefilm.com

Jordan Osmond says the motivation for the film came from a desire to show people there is a simpler, easier way to live that promises plenty for us all and respects the places we live in.

“I hope this film encourages us to look at what we consume and its impact on us and the planet. From the amount of energy we use each day to who we choose to support when we buy our food. We can’t have business as usual but with green energy; we must make much more fundamental behavioural changes that see us using less. Every one of us has the power to create positive change by becoming more conscious about our lifestyle choices.”

Antoinette Wilson says the film aims to add to the eco-consciousness discussion. “There is already a lot of information out there about environmental degradation, so we knew that we needed to introduce experts who could not only explain those issues, but offer realistic solutions.

“We’re thrilled to feature USA’s Charles Eisenstein, whose viral short films and essays online have established him as a genre-defying social philosopher and countercultural intellectual. He’s a speaker and writer focusing on themes of civilisation, consciousness, money, and human cultural evolution and his audience is growing and growing – his book The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible was featured on Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul Sunday in 2017 because she was so enchanted with his approach to thinking about a ‘New Story’ for the future. We felt very lucky to have interviewed him during a visit to New Zealand that coincided with our filming. He’s pretty extraordinary!”

Throughout the film we also hear from Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Canterbury University, Dr. Susan Krumdieck. Her research focuses on developing the engineering methods, innovative technologies and adaptive systems for curtailed fossil fuel consumption. She is an expert in developing new ideas for dealing with oil supply issues in transportation systems and urban planning and has been awarded over $7M in research grants as principle investigator.

“I’m not disillusioned with solar or wind or anything; I know that the substitution of those things for fossil fuels isn’t possible,” says Susan. “So as long as we keep telling ourselves the story that it is, we aren’t actually doing the thing that we have to do, which is just leave the stuff in the ground. Which means what? There’s only one thing you can do then, which is to use less of it.”

Jordan says that telling solutions-focused stories is at the core of the Happen Films approach. “The people featured in the film are beautiful examples of people who have chosen to do things differently. As we travelled the country searching them out, we found ourselves feeling inspired and hopeful over and over again.”

We meet Andrew Martin, a former financial trader who left the corporate world in Australia to establish a thriving permaculture property in the Bay of Plenty that attracts interest and visitors from around the world; Greg Hart, who is transitioning his traditional Hawke’s Bay sheep and cattle station to one that uses diverse, integrated, regenerative farming systems; Robert & Robyn Guyton, who have created a huge, luscious forest-garden in Riverton; Frank van Steensel and Josje Neerincx, who bought a patchy piece of land in 1996 and developed it into Wairarapa Eco Farm, a Community Supported Agriculture market garden, providing weekly bags of organic fruit and vegetables to around 150 members in the region and beyond; Stephen McLuckie, the co-ordinator of North Shore Auckland’s Shore to Thrive, a strengths-based and community-led partnership project, fermenting locally led change and positive outcomes through events like Repair Cafe, and many more.

Offering a big-picture perspective to these inspiring stories, Shane Ward, an international regenerative design consultant, speaker, teacher, writer and founder of Action Ecology, draws attention to waste: “When you dispose of something you can’t throw it away… it goes somewhere. You might not know where that is, it might be out of your sight …but there is no such place as ‘away’.”

He doesn’t mince his words on the subject of sustainability. “Being sustainable is not just a nice thing to do. Being unsustainable is not just a bit unfortunate. It is an existential threat to our species. People don’t seem to get that. We actually need to do something about it, or we’re gone.”

Antoinette says she wants everyone watching the film to come away feeling the potential of the situation. “I think Robert Guyton’s words say it all: ‘There are a lot of things that could depress you out in the world. But if you take each negative act as almost like an opportunity, or a provocation, to do your thing, which is the opposite of that – you know, give more life – then it’s fun, then it’s a winnable game.’”

Living the Change will premiere on 1 March at the Holy Trinity Church, Tauranga and will screen for one night each at the Academy Cinema in Auckland on 3 March and the Penthouse Cinema in Wellington on 5 March. Following a screening in Melbourne it will be available for purchase online at http://www.livingthechangefilm.com/ from 10 March.

Tickets for premiere screenings are on sale now and the digital copy is also now available online.

 “The most impactful thing we can do to reduce climate change is to change our consumer choices. In particular, reducing our consumption of meat, but there are also many other things we can do. This beautiful movie illustrates some other ways people choose to reduce their impact, in an attempt to live in harmony with the environment. It starts the conversation about how we live, how it’s impacting on our health and the environment, and alternative ways we could be living to benefit both – we have a lot more choice than we think!”
– Megan May, Little Bird Organics & The Unbakeries [Note: this quote must be used in full – no extracts]

ENDS

For interview enquiries, preview requests or for further information please contact: Penny Hartill, hPR 021 721 424, penny@hartillpr.co.nz

Editor’s notes:

Happen Films was founded in 2014 by Jordan Osmond, with its aim to showcase and demonstrate inspiring solutions to the multiple global crises we’re facing today. To date they have produced and directed 16 short films and two feature-length documentaries. All of their films have so far been made available online for free and Happen Films is funded by YouTube views, donations, and Patreon contributions. Jordan and Antoinette are self-taught filmmakers dedicated to making solutions-focused films.

Antoinette Wilson and Jordan Osmond

Jordan Osmond grew up near the historic gold-mining town of Ballarat in Victoria, Australia. A budding photographer, in his mid-teens he saw the Michael Moore film Bowling for Columbine and was immediately impressed by how much the film had impacted him. When Food Inc. led him to think more carefully about the origin of his food he saw that documentary film was having an impact on how he lived his life. He wanted to get behind the camera and have a positive impact on the lives of others.

As he was teaching himself from online courses and videos how to use a camera, an opportunity came up to work on an unusual film project that would see him living ‘on set’ for a year. The Simpler Way Project brought together nine strangers on a property in Gippsland to explore simple living and community. Its culmination was the 1.5-hr feature film A Simpler Way: Crisis as Opportunity, which went on to be shortlisted in a number of film festivals and has received nearly a million views on YouTube. Over the course of the year Jordan made short films in his spare time, exploring similar themes, and realised he’d found his niche in a space where few people were making high-quality films – and he knew where his future lay. Jordan is director, cinematographer, writer, editor at Happen Films.

Antoinette spent her teens volunteering at Christchurch’s Environment and Peace Information Centre. While living for a year in Brazil at age 16 she was one of 60 students to represent the world’s youth at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. Rio 92 was an unexpected eye-opener for this romantic greenie with ambitions to save the world’s forests and oceans – it seemed green politics was complex and large-scale change a daunting challenge. She entered a career in book publishing in her early 20s, working in-house for Hazard Press, Random House Australia and Pluto Press Australia. But finding she wasn’t one to be tied to a desk, she took her desk job with her to Buenos Aires in 2004, where she spent six years dancing tango, running a B&B, managing a boutique tango festival, and working as a freelance book editor for New Zealand publishers.

A minor health crisis in her late 30s saw her exploring where her food came from and she soon found herself on a long road of exploration into energy, environment, economics and the overlapping crises that – having turned a blind eye for the previous 20 years – she now saw as imminent and inevitable. During a year-long project in Victoria, Australia in 2015 as a participant in the documentary film A Simpler Way: Crisis as Opportunity, Antoinette met filmmaker Jordan, realised the extraordinary capacity of film to educate, and teamed up with him in Happen Films. Bringing her publishing skills to a completely new medium, she works alongside Jordan writing, producing and directing their films. Happen Films is currently based out of a 20-square-metre un-plumbed palace in the foothills of the Kaimai Range, Bay of Plenty.

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