Interview: Rob Stewart discusses Revolution, finding a solution and future projects
Canadian documentarian and activist Rob Stewart, carrying with him unbridled passion, a bit of radicalism, and rare optimism, wants to save the human race by changing the world.
“We’re on a pathway as a species just like a character in a movie, we’re really fucking up. It’s at the point where we turn it around and rise to the occasion to make a brighter future. And have a happy ending.” So explains Stewart, whose new documentary Revolution was just released on DVD, Blu-ray, and On-Demand. It follows up his environmental work done on the acclaimed Sharkwater, this time taking his campaign of preservation and action globally, chronically the slow death of oceans, forest, and other habitats, all of which look to lead to the downfall of humans.
There is a fine balance in creating such a film, however, one that Stewart seems to deal with effortlessly.
“You want to scare people so that they perk up and pay attention, but you don’t want to scare them into ambivalence so they’re like, lets’ just burn it while it’s here,” said Stewart during an interview for the film’s at-home release. “I’m naturally captain positive – if anyone has to be positive, it has to be me. We have all the tools, billions of people connected, everyone can know exactly what to do, how to change the systems. Everyone can be a hero now.”
It’s very curious. Revolution looks to capture the attention of a younger generation, for as Stewart explains, they are the ones in jeopardy. While the film is cinematically beautifully, simply narrated, and exacting while staying optimistic, Stewart does maintain some seemingly drastic ideas – ideas he asserts really shouldn’t be so drastic when you think about them.
Even if we fight to slow down these massive industries – agricultural, deforestation, oil, fishing – by 5%, which is 20 times our loftiest goals, we’re still going to obliterate everything,” says Stewart. “Pollution should be illegal. Full stop. We’re going to have to cap out population,” he continues, adding, “the faster we get to thinking how are we going to get there, what will it look like, the less likely we’re going to eat each other.”
Stewart also believes we shouldn’t be able to extract anything from the planet anymore, including anything from forests and mountains. “We’re going to look back on this and say, ‘that was ridiculous.’”
Stewart sees his role as symbolic and influential as it is anything else. While he continues to challenge himself to cut his own personal consumption, he focuses his attention more on large-scale global efforts, figuring out ways to get the masses engaged and connected. He concedes that every little bit helps, but radical changes need to be made.
He wants democracy on a phone, he wants transparency in government, and he wants it to happen soon.
Chatting with him for half an hour, he seems indefatigable, concluding years of filming, editing, and traveling with lots of press while already looking ahead to the next set of projects. One is a TV show that will look specifically at the future changes Stewart is calling for, while another looks to connect the world via a mobile app by consolidating charities, fundraisers, causes, and other environmental issues.
With all the work, and all the doom on the horizon, Stewart is gung-ho. “It’s going to be fucking awesome! We’re going to equalize the wealth, save species, make this place amazing, and allow kids to be heroes.”