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
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.
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?
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.
I was also impressed prior to meeting Bill and knowing about his past, that Ford was the company that didn’t need the bailout.
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.
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.
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.
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Image Sources: sociallysuperlative.com and SHFT.com