For what reasons did you commit to Yann Arthus-Bertrand's project?
When I met Yann, I was already wondering what I could do for the environment through the movies, how I could use thirty years' experience to help the cause. I was ready, and Yann was the first person to give me the opportunity to show I cared. So I signed up to the project immediately.
When did you first become aware of environmental issues?
When I was a kid, in the days before I became a city-dweller. In Greece and Yugoslavia, I had unfettered access to nature to the extent that I never considered it in those terms. I lived according to the rhythm of nature and I had a relationship with plants and animals that I would call normal. Then, I developed an all-exclusive passion for movies until, after reading so many articles on the subject, I became aware of the environmental tsunami that was threatening us.
At first, like everybody else, I trusted the folks in government, "who know better". It seemed obvious they'd do something about it. Trouble is, they don't do enough. Their efforts are totally out of sync with the scale of the oncoming disaster. While they take one step forward, the planet takes ten back. True awareness comes when you realize that we all need to contribute however and whenever we can. Even if it's only changing your light bulbs, recycling your garbage
or being more environmentally aware about what you buy, that's a massive step. Because if a billion people make the same effort, it is a thousand times more powerful than any government policy.
As the distributor, weren't you scared by Yann Arthus-Bertrand's desire to release the movie on all formats on the same day, June 5th, which means it being free of charge on certain formats?
My approach is that of a concerned citizen, not that of a businessman. The film being available online and aired by public broadcasting networks didn't bother me for a moment, because at no stage were we in this to make a profit. I found Yann's idea of making this wonderful movie available to the broadest possible audience on June 5th, World Environment Day, deeply symbolic. People often wonder what they can do on "Days" like that. On June 5th, they can go see Home. And if we can say that 100, 200 or 500 million people have watched the movie in 24 hours, it will be a very strong signal to those in power. By demonstrating people's commitment, we'll force them to act. It's a very ambitious movie as well as being Yann Arthus-Bertrand's directorial debut.
To what extent did you work with him?
I gave him total freedom when he was shooting. I merely brought my experience to bear in editing, while maintaining a certain naivety. Having seen very little footage, I was able to offer an opinion like any guy who'd walked in off the street.
So what did you find particularly powerful in the movie?
There are so many images, but I was particularly struck by the contrasts—seeing Las Vegas, which was built out of a desert and consumes thousands of liters of water for pools and golf courses, and then Indian women in saris digging for water in the arid soil. That's when you realize how crazy the world has become.
How do you respond to the argument that the film was only made through a lot of environmentally costly air travel?
Today, you can buy an electric car to take your kids to school, but we couldn't make this movie other than with a helicopter. A more valid comparison is the fact that in the whole movie, Yann generated less pollution than a single airliner flying empty from Paris to Los Angeles to pick people up. Let's look at the problem of the thousands of airplanes that travel empty rather than the supposed issue of a movie that was made with a helicopter because it couldn't be made otherwise.
What do you hope audiences will bring away with them?
First, I hope that as many people as possible will go to see Home to rack up a real landmark figure. Then, I hope each person who sees it realizes that they can play their part. The accumulated efforts, small or large, of thousands of people will make all the difference.