ecofabulous Exclusive Interview Josh Tickell
Hot new director Josh Tickell describes Fuel, his documentary about all things associated with oil, worldwide car culture, and the environmental effects these things engender, as “the little film that could.” That it most certainly is, having started as a modest project whose funding was derived from PayPal donations to, today, having made the Academy short list of potential Oscar nominees.
Tickell rouses audience members to action by showing that, yes, you, too can make a difference, and it can be made right now.
In this exclusive interview, Tickell talks about his years-in-the-making passion project, and the future of his campaign to raise awareness.
You describe Fuel as a film about a hopeful subject. Despite knowing so many sobering facts about oil and the environment, what is it that gives you hope right now?
All of these potential and real solutions coming together. We’ve got a new administration that wants to “repower” America; we’ve got new technologies that have just come out, from solar technologies to car technologies to wind technologies to algae technologies. We really, for the first time ever, have a genuine grassroots movement on our hands.
As an established author, why did you decide to use the form of documentary film to explore the subject this time around?
I saw what happened with An Inconvenient Truth and with Supersize Me. With Fuel I was committed to making a movie that could be made into a movement. That’s what I think we’re starting to see. We’re starting to see people interacting on the web, on Facebook. We’re seeing a community coalesce around the movie. They wanted to shut down a biodiesel gas station here in Los Angeles, and through a letter writing campaign, we got the gas station to stay open. That’s the power of the movement.
Some of the solutions you suggest and explore seem so simplistic to a certain extent. Why do you think some individuals have been reticent to make these simple changes on their own?
There’s a great line in the movie said by John Paul DeJoria, who is the co-founder of Paul Mitchell. He says, “People are waiting for the corporations to do it and the governments to do it.” What['s forgotten] is that the corporations and the governments are made up of people. So you’ve got this Texas standoff where everybody is waiting for the big boys to do it and the big boys are waiting for everybody else to do it, which is why Fuel the movie has to be Fuel the movement. When people use their votes and they use their money and they use their cars and they use their time and they use their energy, no one can stop it.
How does it feel to have made the Academy short list?
For this type of movie to have made the Academy short list means its reach is bigger than just “greenies” or “tree huggers.” This is a film for everyone. It’s not a scary film; there are some upsetting moments; there are some moments that make people mad. But you don’t watch Fuel and go, “God, I want to jump off of a bridge!” You watch Fuel and go, “I’m going to reorganize my neighborhood.” People walk out and they send us messages on Facebook about all the stuff that they’re doing [to make a difference].
If you had to give people one actionable item, one thing they could do to make a difference, starting today, what would it be?
From the miles to the wild, the simplest thing that everyone can do is to inflate their tires. It can save the amount of oil that’s in Alaska if we properly inflate our tires. That’s huge, a huge gift for future generations. It costs 25 cents, you can do it at any gas station; it takes five minutes.