Exclusive Interview With ‘I Wish For You’ Director Stuart Rideout

Stuart Rideout’s short Film I Wish For You speaks on Climate Change. This breathtaking film which stars Oscar winner Jeremy Irons and well-renowned actress Maxine Peake won the 2020 Best Environmental Film Award, the 2020 Best Cinematography Awards at the Venice Shorts Festival, and screened at the Oscar-qualifying HollyShorts Film Festival. We had the absolute pleasure of speaking with Stuart about his film and how it was working with his star-studded cast.

Why choose to create a short film for the campaign?

I knew straightaway that I wanted to create a piece of film that an audience could forge a strong and emotionally visceral connection to.

We felt that a short film format would allow us the freedom and time to fully develop and explore the character arc of Mia and her relationship with her grandfather. The format allowed us to bring a dreamlike quality to the film as we travel back in time and play with memories and abstract events that allow an audience to invest in the characters and the journey they undertake.

Why decide to enlist in author Michael Morpurgo to create the basis of the film’s theme?

I had some initial thoughts that I shared with Beth Tegg and her team at the Climate Coalition. They involved an idea of some kind of love letter to the world that explored our relationship with nature and the natural world around us. I initially thought this could come from a child.

I felt we needed a writer to help us breathe life into these initial thoughts and Beth mentioned Michael Morpurgo which I thought was a genius suggestion as Michael’s writing is so full of warmth and he just has this wonderful way of looking at our connection with animals and nature – he is just such a brilliant storyteller.

So we asked him and I was delighted when he agreed to do it.

We had a meeting with him and I laid out my thoughts and a few weeks later he came up with “I Wish for You” – I loved the way he built the relationship between Mia and her grandfather and switched the letter to the grandfather’s point of view.

Watching and listening to Jeremy Irons reading the letter Michael Morpurgo wrote was I think one of the main highlights of the process.

The campaign utilized social media by creating the hashtag #showthelove. How do you use social networks to reach larger and younger audiences.

Facebook had agreed to work with the Climate Coalition on the initial launch of the film – this meant it was pushed out across Facebook with the hashtag #showthelove.

The various charities that make up the Coalition (over 100) then shared it on their own Facebook pages and the shares then grew massively from there.

A few days later it was launched on YouTube and Twitter, again using the #showthelove hashtag, through the Climate Coalition and all the charities and again the amount of shares grew exponentially

I think it then ended with the #showthelove hashtag reaching 26million people.

Do you have plans to expand the campaign to a physical event?

The film stands at the center of the yearly #showthelove campaign that takes place in February and culminates on the 14th Valentine’s day, hence the green heart logo.

The week allows the Climate Coalition to engage with various communities across the country at grassroots level, it encourages people from all walks of life to join in a conversation about climate change through various events.

There are loads of creative groups and thousands of people take part from football clubs to businesses, community groups to musicians, schoolchildren, choirs, faith leaders as well as MPs and business people.

Everyone is encouraged to share their experience and creativity especially their green hearts on social media using #showthelove

Did you make the film eco friendly or zero waste? If so how?

RSA Films who produced the film take pride in the fact that they are a very ecologically friendly production company.

We kept the film crew to a bare minimum as well as the travel involved in making the film.

Do you have plans to make films regarding the environmental effects of large scale companies?

Not at this stage no.

We face huge challenges from climate and environmental changes and at the moment I want to encourage people to stop and think about how climate change affects them on an everyday level. I feel it’s important to work on a personal level showing people a way forward and trying to get them to reengage with nature as well as showing them the effects we as humans have on it.

To me it’s all about engagement, I find people really do care about the environment.

Just look at the reaction to the BBC’s Blue Planet episode on plastics in our ocean. Public opinion and behavior changed overnight.  80% of people changed their lifestyle and this lead to UK supermarkets listening directly to the concerns of its customers.

What tactic have you used to reach older audiences who may not have social media and don’t know much about their environmental impact? What does The Climate Coalition do to help the environment? How can people help?

I actually think older people are very much engaged in and concerned with environmental issues and the challenges we face.

From the very outset I knew that it was vital that our film worked across a generational gap, hence the granddaughter and grandfather narrative and when I read Michael’s screenplay I knew it had a beautiful timeless quality that sort of transcended the generations.

I have found that the film really appeals to an older generation as well as younger ones.

The brilliant thing about the Climate Coalition is that it is comprised of a wide range of charities from Surfers Against Sewage to The Women’s institute so by its very nature it has a very wide audience that is cross-generational.

One of the best aspects of The Climate Coalition is the way its encouraged people to contact their MPs as well as arranging huge petitions to lobby government. This led directly to the UK government working across party lines to pledge to fight climate change for Show the Love and as a result the UK government took a pivotal role in The Paris Agreement

People can sign the declaration The Time Is Now  https://thetimeisnow.uk/

Here you can use your voice to tell your MP that you want to build a greener future and stronger economy.

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