The topic of climate change will take the world stage for the next two weeks in Denmark, and a Venice filmmaker’s music video could find a place among the debate between scientists, political propaganda and a controversy surrounding whether or not the harmful effects to the planet are caused by humans.
The music video, produced by Eric Donaldson of Bicoastal Entertainment + Group, has been sent to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, which began on December 7th. The theme of the video, entitled “The Big One,” is written and sung by Andy Fraser, and spotlights Fraser’s interest and activism regarding global warming.
“It really is a message to the countries that will be attending the UN climate change conference and to the politicians around the world to say, ‘Look, we really do need to get together and do something about this thing,’” Donaldson explained during an interview at his Venice studio. “(Fraser) felt that the song by itself wasn’t enough, so he wanted to put some visuals with it.”
Music often has the ability to transcend language, culture and borders, real and imagined. Through 21st century technology, it can now reach millions on a global level in a very short period of time. And that is what Fraser, known to rock fans of the 1970s when he performed with the band Free, hopes will happen at the climate change conference, said Donaldson.
Fraser would like to see the video find an audience on the Internet that will hopefully reach the world’s scientists and political leaders.
“We want to disseminate it as widely as possible,” the singer/songwriter said.
Donaldson realizes that climate change has become highly politicized but thinks that the video transcends political ideology.
“Whether you come from a political standpoint or not, I think that the message of cleaning up the environment resonates around the world,” Donaldson said. “Whether it’s recycling or changing the light bulbs in your home to energy-saving bulbs, I think that the message is a good one.”
Max Bean of Venice, who is responsible for marketing the video online, believes that the public can do much to improve things like greening their neighborhoods or protecting beaches from pollutants and trash.
“We as people have the ability to clean up the air quality, regardless of who made it the way that it is,” Bean asserted. “Growing up in Los Angeles, we can all agree that the air gets pretty dirty here and we have it within our ability to drive more fuel efficient cars and use energy efficient light bulbs.”
Laura Alice, who runs an artist services firm in Venice, says that powerful images can often create a more profound and lasting message than the spoken word, especially in today’s visually-conscious world.
“Intense imagery has more of an impact on people than words often do,” said Alice, who has worked as a music producer. “If you can get someone to feel something powerful on a sensory level, it can often make people react to it.”
Bean said that the video has been uploaded on Facebook, You Tube and Twitter, and he and Donaldson have focused on using terminology that Internet-savvy users understand.
“We’re using terms that people would search for,” he explained. “Andy Fraser’s fans will recognize his name, and we’re also using things like ‘Copenhagen climate change.’”
Proponents of battling climate change often use a series of techniques to inform the public and spotlight what they see as one of the planet’s most pressing matters, including films, public service announcements and advertising campaigns. Video messages can now be included on the list of tools that are used as well, said Alice.
“We live in a very image-conscious world,” Alice, who studied psychology at Loyola Marymount University, noted. “If an image comes from an emotive place, it can be very powerful.”
“The Big One” is an anthem to the perils of ignoring global warming as well as a statement about the planet’s beauty. It features striking images of sandy beaches, sunsets and cascading waterfalls, juxtaposed with power plants belching flames toward the sky, melting icecaps and rising ocean levels.
Fraser agrees with Alice regarding imagery, and credited Donaldson with interweaving sharp graphics with his lyrics.
“Visuals can make a message even stronger, because now all of your senses can be impacted,” Fraser said. “Eric’s visuals really brought that out. He was able to incorporate that with the song.”
Bean says that as the conference goes on, the opportunity for more people worldwide to see the video could increase.
“The awareness among the mass population is going to grow during the conference, because that’s when it will be in the news every day,” Bean said. “So that’s when people might start actually Googling it or looking it up on Facebook, and that’s when we expect more people to see the video.”
Lisa Jackson, head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, told the Associated Press on the first day of the conference that her agency is obligated to make efforts to reduce greenhouse pollutants under the Clean Water Act.
“These long-overdue findings cement 2009’s place in history as the year when the United States government began addressing the challenge of greenhouse gas pollution,” Jackson said.
Jackson’s statement was music to Fraser’s ears.
“That is very welcome news,” he said.
Both Bean and Donaldson say that as Venice residents, there is an added awareness to the plight of the environment due to the proximity of the ocean and the community’s history of environmental activism, which has spanned several decades.
“I think that generally speaking most of the people on the Westside, including Venice, are probably more open to this kind of message,” Donaldson said. “I think that in communities where the environment and the community meets, there’s probably a greater awareness.”
Bean says that growing up in California has made things like recycling almost second-hand to him.
“(Recycling) also keeps the cost of aluminum down,” he said.
“You can’t live near the ocean without being affected,” she said.
Donaldson said while he has his own personal beliefs on global warming, he is not trying to sway anyone with the music video.
“As a filmmaker, my job is to put this out there and let you make the decision,” he stressed. “I’m not trying to sell anything to you. I’m taking someone else’s words and putting music to it.”
The filmmaker says that learning how Fraser overcame a number of tragedies in his life and is now a full-fledged activist was a key factor in his participation in the video project.
“He’s a very kind man who has had to overcome a lot, and he’s doing it,” Donaldson said. “It’s been very inspirational for me.”
The video can be viewed at “This Is the Big One” Youtube link at www.youtube.com/watch? v=63qIoGpnr18/.