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International producer back to campaign for Greens

Lizzie Gillett
List Candidate for the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand

6th October 2008

Former Channel 9 reporter raised 1.3 million dollars for international eco-documentary and now stands as list candidate for the Greens


Lizzie Gillett started out as a news reporter here on Channel 9 but in just seven years managed to work her way up to the role of Producer on a cinema documentary.

Lizzie's been working in London for 7 years and has just finished producing a feature documentary tipped to be next year's box-office hit, called 'The Age of Stupid. It's a futuristic cinema documentary from Director Franny Armstrong (McLibel, Drowned Out) and Oscar-winning Producer John Battsek (One Day In September, In The Shadow of the Moon). Oscar-nominated Pete Postlethwaite stars as an old man living alone in the devastated world of 2055, looking at "archive" footage from 2008, asking: why didn't we stop climate change when we had the chance?

The film was an epic 3 year production that was always ambitious but grew into a monster project that Gillett struggled to manage.

"I'd never done anything like this before so it was a huge challenge to manage the 105 person crew, in six countries, with the £500k budget over the three year project".

Gillett is hugely proud of the finished film but also of the innovative "crowd-funding" scheme the filmmakers used to finance the project.

The £450k budget for The Age of Stupid was raised by selling 'shares' to people who care about climate change. These investors all own a percentage of the film - as do the crew, who all worked for massively reduced rates. If the film makes as much money as Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 - admittedly the biggest grossing documentary of all time - an initial £500 investment would recoup about £60,000. On the other hand, if it makes as much as Franny's film Drowned Out, a £500 investment would recoup only £50.

"Most investors didn't put money behind the film based on financial motivation, though of course they'd love to get a good return. They did it because they believed in us and wanted the film to be made."

Making the film politicised Lizzie and led to her standing as a list candidate for the NZ Greens.

"Until about 3 years ago I had no idea what impact my life was having on other people around the world, and in the future. I simply hadn't questioned where most of my stuff came from and where it went when I was finished with it. I certainly hadn't thought about where the energy I use came from."

As a climate change campaigner fully aware of the carbon emissions from air travel she couldn't justify flying home to NZ on a regular basis and for that reason, hasn't been home for three and a half years.

"I missed two of my best friends weddings because I couldn't justify flying home for only two weeks, which was terribly hard. I was also really concerned about my 91-year old grandmother and couldn't wait to come home and see her".

She has hit the campaign trail running with Greens events almost every day since she arrived back including the bustling farmers market on Saturday morning. She plans to screen clips from The Age of Stupid and give a talk about the process of making the film in the next few weeks.

"To avoid runaway climate change we need action at all levels of society. On an individual level I try to live responsibly as possible, in the public sphere we are hoping the film will be seen by millions and shift mainstream perceptions; now I am entering the political sphere and want to work towards New Zealand becoming a model sustainable country."



* The Age of Stupid is on schedule to be released at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2009.

* For more information about The Age of Stupid, see http://www.ageofstupid.net or http://www.channel4.com/news/articles/arts_entertainment/film_tv/petes+green+documentary/1580147 this Channel 4 news piece about the film.

* High resolution photos of Lizzie working on the production are available.

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