Rob Stewart: The Sharks are Not Enough

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After reaching notoriety thanks to his documentary Sharkwater, filmmaker/environmentalist Rob Stewart found his next subject while taking his movie around the world. In China, a student asked him about the point of trying to save the sharks in circumstances aquatic life is in dire jeopardy as well.

His response took the shape of Revolution (now playing at the Roxy in Saskatoon, coming soon to Regina), a documentary in which Stewart goes around the world visiting areas affected by climate change, deforestation and the most pressing threat, Ocean acidification. I talked to Rob recently about his movie. Even though he seems weary of talking about the subject, Stewart is not done trying to get his message to the people.

– While making the film, did you make an effort to separate your job as a filmmaker and your activism?

– There is no real difference to me. I’m making movies because I’m an activist. This is the way I believe I can change the world most profoundly. I’m not in it to make the greatest piece of art.

– Did you know where you were heading to, every step of the way?

– No. There were a lot of surprises. Canada’s involvement was a huge surprise (tar sands, withdrawal from Kyoto), the involvement of children in changing the world… We went from having giant budgets to small ones, so the movie changed quite a bit along the way. We made a US$ 5 million film for a million bucks.

Revolution is a very optimistic film, but I failed to discover the reasons of this optimism.

– Every successful revolution worked because people knew where they needed to go. Right now, this is the first time we have the tools to tackle this problem: There is a billion people connected through Facebook, there is more technology in your phone than what got us to the moon, we have a million of conservation groups working for the same cause. Instead of fighting against corporations, we should be fighting for a brighter future, a world that works.

– Just as a filmmaker, how do you feel you have changed from Sharkwater to Revolution?

Sharkwater was like film school for me. I never went to film school or operated a camera. I learned everything on the job. It taught me I could educate people to take better decisions and sent me on a career path.

– You have a number of roles in Revolution (director, writer, producer, editor). Which one would you hand off in a future project?

– I don’t think I’ll produce the next movie. This was too much for me. I would like someone else to focus on the business side while I worry about the creative side.

Author: Jorge Ignacio Castillo

Journalist, film critic, documentary filmmaker, and sometimes nice guy. Member of the Vancouver Film Critics Circle. Like horror flicks, long walks on the beach and candlelight dinners. Allergic to cats.