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Fisher Stevens on the Changing Structure of His Leo DiCaprio Climate Change Doc

Fisher Stevens’s National Geographic documentary Before the Flood follows around UN Messenger for Peace and Climate Change Leonardo DiCaprio as he travels the world and witnesses first-hand the real and devastating effects of climate change.

Stevens talks to Fandor about getting the call from DiCaprio to do the film and starting the shoot with a very loose structure which eventually had to change.

“[DiCaprio] had no plan. He had financing from RacPac [Documentary Films], and he was going to be named the UN Messenger for Peace and Climate Change. That was the only thing he told me, and I said, ‘OK.’ And he was going to do The Revenant,” says Stevens.My idea was three things. ‘We’ll open it with you becoming the UN Messenger of Peace, and we’ll also keep The Revenant ball going, that you’re making this other movie, because it’s about the beginning of the industrial revolution. Maybe there’s a thread there, and then maybe we end in Paris a year-and-a-half later [at the 2015 climate conference].’ That was the only plan, so that was our big structure. He was like, ‘OK.’

“Then, we just filled it in, and The Revenant happened. A great thing for us, sh***y for them. They ran out of snow; it was one of the warmest winters in the recorded history of Alberta, Canada. They were supposed to have snow, and they had no snow. For ski resorts, it was a nightmare. Then, Paris, we had this whole big scene planned. He was going to get up on top of a bus. There was going to be a million-man climate march. He was going to get on the bus, make his speech, we’d end the movie. The terrorist attacks hit. His speech is cancelled. The march is cancelled. It gave us an opportunity to film more, and then I said, ‘What if we ended with your speech?’ We asked, ‘Can he speak at the conference?’ They were like, ‘Yeah. We’d love Leo to speak.’ He brings attention to the issue. When he spoke at the UN the first time, more people watched his speech in the UN than any speech that had ever been delivered at the UN since I don’t know when. It was a big wake-up for the issue, for the cause.”

Read the full story here. Watch the full movie below.