Programs about the environment are once again heating up the air waves. Realscreen highlights the hottest eco docs in the pipeline
March 1, 2006

Programs about the environment are once again heating up the air waves. Realscreen highlights the hottest eco docs in the pipeline

Fields of Fuel was still shooting when its website started getting 350,000 hits a month. Produced by Beverly Hills-based Blue Water Entertainment, the feature doc is shaping up to be a rollicking road movie for the green set. After filling up the tank of his vegetable oil-powered van, From the Fryer to the Fuel Tank author Josh Tickell (who also directs the film), will drive across the us to find out what it will take for America to become energy independent. Robbie Little at Little Film Company is the movie’s international sales agent. Thanks to US$200,000 from a private equity investor, there’s already $100,000 reserved for P&A expenses.

Environmental activist and Hollywood insider Laurie David (wife of Seinfeld co-creator Larry David) is behind HBO’s Earth Day special Too Hot Not to Handle, airing April 22. David raised a few surprised eyebrows when she persuaded conservative us net Fox News to produce and air the one-hour special The Heat is On: The Case of Global Warming in November. The doc assessed the human impact on the environment. Too Hot looks at the flipside by exploring how the most pressing issues about climate change affect people today. ‘This is not just about the environment,’ says David. ‘It’s a public health problem, a potential economic problem, and it’s a national security problem.’ David adds that the doc will be driven by facts, but she promises it won’t be wonky. ‘My whole thing is, how do you permeate popular culture? You have to use what you’ve got out there not only to entertain, but to educate.’ Discussions are also underway with Time magazine about co-hosting a related symposium on global warming.

Though ominously titled, Eleventh Hour is planned as a fact-based theatrical doc for mainstream audiences. The involvement of actor Leonardo DiCaprio as narrator, co-writer and a producer of the project should help extend its reach. Mankind emerges as the story’s main protagonist in this doc, which moves beyond climate change to examine the state of the global environment. Santa Monica, US-based Tree Media Group is producing. Budgeted for less than US$1 million, the film will finish shooting in April and is targeting a fall release date. The producers are already talking to publishers about developing a book and related curriculum material. Producer Leila Connors Petersen says there’s also potential for a series.

In April 2005, PBS earned an overall 2.9 rating by airing ‘State of the Planet’ and ‘Future Conditional,’ the most recent episodes of its eco series Journey to Planet Earth. That response helped greenlight the series’ ninth episode, ‘State of the Planet’s Wildlife,’ which will air April 18. Actor Matt Damon returns as narrator for the US$600,000 show, which will focus on wildlife extinction due to habitat, climate change, loss of migration corridors, poaching, and economic pressures caused by poverty and political insecurity. Produced by Screenscope in Washington, DC, the doc is distributed outside North America by London’s TVF International. PBS has the series’ tenth ep, ‘State of the Planet’s Oceans,’ in the pipeline, but an air date hasn’t been set.

About The Author