With Death Valley hitting the highest temperature recorded on earth this week at 130 degrees, plus fire tornados in Northern Cal and extreme heat warnings all over, ‘The Troublemaker’ couldn’t be more important and more timely. We are in a serious Climate Crisis — so please pay attention everyone. This is our future and we need to take action. ‘The Troublemaker’ follows two individuals who are doing just that — taking action.
The Troublemaker’ will be released worldwide on Friday, August 21st, in English, French, Spanish, German and Italian. We all need to stand up for our future today, or we simply may not have one.
It is in times of crisis that we find out what really matters to us, and get to discover who we really are, as individuals and as a society.
The TroubleMaker follows the personal awakening of two people as they learn to accept the reality of climate breakdown and decide to do something about it.
One of them is Roger Hallam, key strategist and co-founder of ‘Extinction Rebellion’ (XR). Roger is a former organic farmer and academic expert in the spread of radical protest movements. Beginning in the U.K. in November 2018, his ideas and strategic thinking have helped to inspire thousands of ordinary people to non-violent civil disobedience and mass arrest.
Sylvia Dell is a retired IT worker and mother of 4 from Totnes in South Devon. She is not a ‘climate activist’ just an ‘ordinary’, sensible, peace loving citizen, doing what she thinks is right.
INTERVIEW WITH DIRECTOR, SASHA SNOW
As a filmmaker I have spent the last 20 years exploring our fractured and self-destructive relationship with the natural world, looking for stories and people that might inspire us to change.
I have always been interested in visionary individuals that attempt to stir society from passive acceptance and who are prepared to suffer for their ideas in the process.
‘The Troublemaker’ is the result of this 20-month journey, supported all the way by the editorial wisdom of the team at Passion Pictures, one of the finest independent production companies in the U.K..
As ever, the hardest parts of filmmaking are never the filmmaking! In a world where more people seem to be making films than actually watching them, the path to raise funding and then find distribution is always a long one. The trick is to have an idea you believe in strongly enough to keep going, whatever it takes. This becomes more the case when you’re making films about potentially uncommercial themes or about subjects that traditional media might regard as being too truthful for their audiences to stomach. It’s entertainment that they want, so any truth-telling has to be slipped in through the back door.
Being on the streets during the April rebellion in London was an experience I’ll never forget, and I haven’t met a person yet who was there who’s not felt the same thing about it. There was just this extraordinary positive energy on the streets, a feeling that the public had woken up and that now anything might be possible. It was a historic moment where the physic barriers to civil action seem to have suddenly dissolved. And despite the set-backs that XR has suffered since those heady days, we now know that the potential is there for very rapid public mobilization.
Roger Hallam is one of the co-founders of Extinction Rebellion (XR), a protest group that advocates for non-violent civil disobedience and engagement to bring about policy change in the face of the overwhelming scientific evidence that we are facing a climate catastrophe. Although Roger had some formative experiences of his own with the direct consequences of climate breakdown when he ran an organic farm in Wales, he was always interested in how to radically change society. After having his farming business wiped out by heavy summer rains in 2007, he moved to London to work on a PhD at King’s College London in radical protest movements. It was here that the strategic ideas that later led to the formation of Extinction Rebellion were nurtured, prototyped and tested in practice.
Sylvia Dell is a retired mother of 4 living in the beautiful market town of Totnes in South Devon. She’s about the last person you might expect to get involved in any form of radical protest, and has never broken the law in her life. That was up until she actually read the UN report on global climate change published in 2018. Initially overwhelmed by the idea that we only had 12 years left to save the planet, she eventually found solace, community and inspiration for action through her local Extinction Rebellion affinity group. And then she became aware of hitherto undiscovered qualities that have enabled her to act. In order to be able to look her children in the eye, she’s found herself morally compelled to do everything she could to affect change.
However, much as Roger and Sylvia are fascinating and courageous people, the film is not really ‘about’ them. I guess there’s a tension here between the function of the ‘hero’ figure in narrative story-telling and the real world consequences of idolizing anyone. The film takes the troublemaker trope as the hook for a message about the power of collective action, I guess trying to subvert our deep rooted need for a story to have a hero, when in the end, the hero is us.
I think the idea that we can fix the climate problem through individual acts of consumption or voting behavior is a refection of the same paradigm that has got us into this mess in the first place. If we act as individuals we’ll change very little- at least the changes will be too slow to make a difference. We need a rapid transition to an alternative economy based on a different form of political and democratic engagement. This is founded on more active civil participation in the decisions of government through the medium of citizens assemblies. Much has been written on the potential of this elsewhere, and it has been used in several modern democracies as a means of solving particular and apparently intractable problems, for example on the question of whether abortion should be legalized in Ireland.
To get governments to return to the drawing board to re-invent how democracies function will take significant civil pressure applied through non-violent civil disobedience, a method that has also had striking successes through history- with achieving women’s suffrage in the UK at the beginning of the last century; with Ghandi’s push for independent from the British Amore in the 1940’s; and with the civil right’s movement and Martin Luther King’s leadership in the 1960s. All these movements had the direct involvement of a very small proportion of the population but they commanded the moral authority and ultimately the sympathy and political support of the majority of the people.
A film is never finished even when it finally goes public. In a way, that’s when the filmmaking really begins- for a film only becomes real when an audience can watch and respond to it. After finishing a film, I’m always left feeling a little bereft and exhausted. I always think it will be my last but somehow, another story, just too good to ignore, seems to always come calling.