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Ford Motors and SHFT.com Partner to Inspire Us All: Interview with Independent Film Producer and SHFT.com Co-Founder, Peter Glat

Posted Aug 23 2012 12:00am
SHFT.com and Ford Motor Company have released the first 6 films of their brand new documentary series, The Big SHFT: 10 Innovators Changing Our World and they are nothing if not inspiring.SHFT.com and Ford Motor Company have released the first 6 films of their brand new documentary series, The Big SHFT: 10 Innovators Changing Our World and they are nothing if not inspiring.


Looking for Green Inspiration?  Get to Know Independent Film Producer and SHFT.com Co-Founder, Peter Glatzer and His New Documentary Series, The Big SHFT: 10 Innovators Changing Our World

Although Peter Glatzer is as relaxed and laid back as a pet rock, he is immensely more interesting and certainly much more inspiring.  I had the pleasure of speaking with Peter recently about his thoughts on the past, present and future of sustainability and his SHFT.com partnership with actor and filmmaker Adrian Grenier and Ford Motors.

SHFT.com and Ford Motor Company have released the first 6 films of their brand new documentary series, The Big SHFT: 10 Innovators Changing Our World and they are nothing if not inspiring. The films feature eco-entrepreneurs and innovative leaders in their fields, including Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman, Bill Ford ; TerraCycle’s CEO, Tom Szaky; renowned organic chef and author, Alice Waters; and Rebuild the Dream’s co-founder, Van Jones.

The Big SHFT is a unique series of digital shorts featuring cutting-edge innovators making sustainable advances in technology from industries such as sustainable fashion and transport to advanced upcycling and smart plastics. The films stem from a partnership announced last year between SHFT.com and Ford to inspire people to make smarter environmental decisions through film, design, art, transportation and culture.

Prepare to Be Eco-Inspired

Looking for Green Inspiration?  Get to Know Independent Film Producer and SHFT.com Co-Founder, Peter Glatzer

EB: First, can you tell my readers what SHFT stands for?  Is it an acronym?
Peter Glatzer:  No It’s not an acronym.  It’s just an abbreviation for the word shift. And also we kind of figured that in this digital age there’s a lot of, you know, dropping of vowels when people text and abbreviating things. It also sort of changed the word to open it up for us to mean just about anything.  Like a shift in consciousness, a shift in habits, it could be a paradigm shift, a shift in awareness.  And we could trademark it because it is our own word.  In retrospect we love it and feel really good about it.

EB: How did the idea of The Big SHFT: 10 Innovators Changing Our World come about?  Where were you, who were you with and did it seem like a light bulb moment that you felt compelled to bring to fruition or did it feel like just another good idea to consider?

Peter Glatzer:  It was a “light bulb” moment.  Adrian [Grenier] and I were, and this is going to sound so silly, you’ll see what I mean when I say this, but we were in Cannes, not the Film Festival but the other one, the Television Festival MIPCOM.  So we were in the South of France and we were talking about the Industrial Revolution and how we’re in a way, in the midst of a different kind of revolution now.  An industrial one in a sense, but one that sort of has the acknowledgement of the environmental issues that were a casualty of the Industrial Revolution which was so good in so many ways but also left a dirty wake in its path.  We thought, God, wouldn’t it be great to explore the fact that we are in this huge sort of paradigm shift where technology and environmental awareness and industry are all kind of converging to change our future?
We brought that idea to our partners and shared it with them, changed it a little bit but they really loved what we wanted to do. We shaped it a bit together and that’s how it came about. 
It really was like a bolt of lightening.

EB: Tell me about the thought process that went into choosing your final list of green innovators to include in the documentary series?  Were there certain criteria they had to meet?  Was it tough?

Peter Glatzer:  It wasn’t super hard, It’s just that 10 isn’t that many to profile, you know? And what we tried to do was hit different market sectors and different parts of society.  So what was hard was narrowing down the lists in each of those sectors.  It was difficult in hitting on just one person in each sector to profile because, we could make a hundred profiles and keep going.
With everybody we have chosen, we are really inspired by them and they represent a different sector of the market or a different aspect of the SHFT we are talking about.

EB: I have watched the first four digital shorts that were released- Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman, Bill Ford; TerraCycle’s CEO, Tom Szaky; renowned organic chef and author, Alice Waters; and Rebuild the Dream’s co-founder, Van Jones – and the main feeling I had was one of inspiration.  What takeaway would you like people to have after watching one or more of the films in the series?

Peter Glatzer:  The desired result is what you just said: inspiration.  Totally.  And that’s why we focus on the personal side of these stories because anyone can relate to it.  When it’s a human being who’s been fighting a battle or just living a dream, or who has, you know, a committed vision that they see through, it’s just a basic, common human experience that you can relate to because it is someone’s personal story.

Inspiration is what we are after for sure.  And in a way, not that everyone is going to be a Bill Ford or an Alice Waters, but in your own personal life choices, you can make little everyday SHFTS that do add up in the aggregate to make a difference.  And that’s kind of the goal at SHFT to sort of embrace and applaud the small choices that we can make everyday because it actually does matter. 

You know it is easy to sit back and say, “Wow, this problems so big, you know we’ve got so many issues what can one person do to make a difference?”   Well if you start preparing meals that are healthier, that are local, that are organic, that are seasonal, you might get inspired and inspire others and you might feel better about yourself. 

You know with all these little choices I think small things do add up and we all have to start making these little SHFTs.

EB: When I heard you speak at Ford in June, you talked about wanting to inspire consumers to make the right choices.  Can you define how consumers can decipher what the “right” choices are and explain how the Big Shift 10 helps inspire consumers to make their choices the right ones in relation to sustainability?

Peter Glatzer: Well when we say “right” we don’t mean that there’s one right choice for everybody because I think everybody has their own ”right” choices you know?  What’s right for me, may not be right for you.  I don’t have children so I could buy an electric vehicle that is really small, a two door.  Parents need a different kind of car you know? 

And that’s one of the reasons I think Ford has approached their EV line really intelligently.  They have a line called “The Power of Choice” and I feel the same way about SHFT and I think Adrian and I really want to put that out there.  What we try to do with SHFT is show the myriad of choices that are out there that people really have at their disposal.  These are creative solutions and they vary.

Some choices might be great for one person and not for another but there’s other things around the corner that you know, you turn the page and, “Oh wow, that one makes sense for me!”  Whether it’s price point or design or aesthetic or whatever it is, we try to embrace those differences at SHFT. 

I think one of the things that inspire people to go in the green direction is options and choices.  Thankfully, the sustainable marketplace is really interesting and exciting and growing and varied. Five years ago it wasn’t so much so, you know? 

You don’t want to be told what to do, and you don’t want to be told that sustainability is good for you.  It’s not medicinal. it should be inspiring and you should want it.

When we make a partnership, like the one we did with Ford, we call them Founding Partners of SHFT and it’s a two year relationship and a deep brand alignment.  We look for companies that share our core values and they do. 

Because Bill Ford is who he is, and the company is what it is, we find that when we make content together it is so easy because our core values are the same and our messaging is very, very similar.  It’s not a struggle to come up with tings to do together and it never feels forced and it always feels very organic.  It’s been a great partnership and we still have a year to go and hopefully it will last even longer. 

EB: Well Peter that segues nicely into my next question.  As far as your piece on Bill Ford, Environmental Industrialist, What did you find most surprising about Bill Ford and his passion for green?

Peter Glatzer:  Well, you know, I love the fact that in 1979 he joined the company and he was an environmentalist.  He was a young man who had just a passion about the environment and had very strong opinions and views on how things should be done and a responsibility and [he was] sort of a steward of the environment.  But yet he was very conflicted going into the family business, which is you know, well he basically became an industrialist. 

And we cover this in the piece on Bill , there he was and he was sort of lambasted by environmentalist friends for being an industrialist, and the folks at Ford thought he was this crazy environmentalist and he wouldn’t be good for business.  And I think that anyone who has that kind of nemesis to fight against is going to produce creative, strong, positive results, which he clearly did. 

I think that plight is so interesting and that conviction he had makes for a very, well, I admire him.  I personally admire him and I think it is so much better than a company saying, you know, “Well, we’re gonna make a lot more money if we do x,y or z.”. 

I’m really interested in the stories where it’s a passionate commitment that happens to be better for the planet and it happens to be better for the company on the bottom line.  They’re making more money, their wasting less. 
I was also impressed prior to meeting Bill and knowing about his past, that Ford was the company that didn’t need the bailout.

In so many ways, Adrian and I are really feeling lucky that we are in this partnership with Ford and we just admire Bill very much.  But I think my biggest surprise was the 30-year trajectory and the battle and having to sort of combat cynicism from both sides, the environmentalists and from the Detroit folks.  And now, the happy ending is, he was right.  He was more than right.

Vindication doesn’t begin to describe, I think, probably how it feels to have been right and to be a leader in your industry in a space that is starting to really natter – finally. 

EB:  So when did you first become conscious of your impact on the future health of our planet and what did you do about it? 

Peter Glatzer:  For me it was just personal. About seven or eight years ago I was driving a hybrid car, I was recycling but that was about it.  And it was before people were really aware in a cultural way of what we were looking at for our future.  I just sort of started looking online for things and basic lifestyle options I might have and I found that the sustainable choices were very far and few between and the choices were not very attractive or very interesting.

And then personally I felt like, “What can I do?” I was a film a producer.  What could I possibly bring to this problem that I care a lot about?  And I thought it was maybe using entertainment to tell stories because that was sort of all I had to offer the world, in a way, and like how does that sort of fit into this issue?  So I created a TV show idea, I had this concept that turned into SHFT.com and I was introduced to Adrian by a mutual friend. 
I wasn’t really looking for a partner.  I certainly wasn’t looking for a celebrity partner, but it turned out that we shared a vision and a desire to do the exact same thing; to use our narrative story telling skills to hopefully have an impact on the cultural viewpoint of environmentalism and make it not so sidelined, but to put it onto the everyday life kind of thing the way other products were being sold and the way other lifestyles were being marketed.

We just thought why not do this with sustainability?   It is important that the marketplace and the economy goes in this direction and that’s really the bottom line.

The other thing is that the consumers do have a lot of power and that’s the thing that we discovered pretty early on.  You know people think it is the business that control everything and we are at the mercy of big business, but the truth of the matter is business has to listen to the consumer.

We vote with our dollars and businesses are always looking at what consumers want and I think that in large part, a lot of big companies have been shifting toward more sustainable products or more corporate responsibility in this realm because consumers care about it now.  It is simple, good business and makes good business sense.

I think in a lot of ways consumers should feel more empowered because when we ask for sustainable, organic, and responsibly made products, businesses have to supply them. That was a big eye opener for us and I think there is a lot of power in that. Market driven solutions is what we are after.  We are not a movement, we are a business, we are pro marketplace and I think that is where the SHFT really happens. 

EB: Peter, give my readers your big idea for people of all income levels to adapt today to begin to make the shift to a greener lifestyle?

Peter Glatzer:  Go to SHFT.com. [laughing] Again it is different for everybody and I don’t like giving people the one thing they should do or the five things they should do.  I am much more comfortable saying, "See what’s out there and see what’s right for you.

And so if you go to our site and you look at our shop and you watch our videos and you read some of our stuff and watch the videos I think you’ll be entertained, you’ll be tickled, you can spend a lot of time playing on there and you’ll come away with ideas that make sense for you. 




P.S.- People always ask me where I get my organic food and personal care products and I love to tell them about The Green PolkaDot Box ! Backed by the Organic Consumer's Association and EnvironmentalBooty.com, you can easily buy NonGMO organic groceries, including Harvest Fresh Organic produce, at wholesale pricing online.  It's like a Sam's club but focused on products for green, healthy living! You can even shop by dietary restrictions like gluten free, vegan or diabetic and it all comes right to your front door. Enjoy!



Image Sources: sociallysuperlative.com and SHFT.com
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