An interview with Zach Thomson | Finite Water | VMA19 BEST PRODUCER | October Edition
At the dawn of 2020, clean water for everyone is still a utopian dream, given how fast we human beings are impoverishing our planet beyond measure. Although we have the knowledge and the resources today to choose the future we want, most of us seem to not understand how urgent it is to make a radical change in our habits.
The documentary Finite Water tries a new narrative approach, by showing this global issue from an average person's viewpoint, to make people realize how they can reverse the effects of water shortages with simple daily gestures starting today, and playing their part in tackling climate change.
We had the opportunity to discuss this highly topical issue with Zach Thomson, Director of Finite Water. We hope that this interview will inspire you to do a little more for the planet we all share.
• Hello Zach! First of all, congratulations on your multiple wins at the October edition of the Vegas Movie Awards. Before producing and directing 'Finite Water' you worked for decades in the film and advertising industries. What are some of the most important milestones in your career you are most proud of?
I am most grateful for the opportunity to have worked with James Cameron on the set of Avatar. As one can imagine, it was an incredible moment in my career to work with one of the greatest Directors of all time. I was able to learn from him first hand when holding his virtual camera or tracking complex information during production. Also, one of my personal dreams came true when I was able to work with my incredible brother Ty Thomson who is one of the best film animators and storytellers. Another highlight in my career was learning about feature film distribution while I worked at 20th Century Fox in Century City. And the most recent highlight has been working on a new project with Richard Taylor and the team at Weta Workshop in New Zealand. This has been one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Stay tuned on that project! In the end, it’s all the wonderful and talented people I’ve been able to work with.
• How did you approach such an important topic as the one described in 'Finite Water'? And when did you decide you wanted to make a document out of it?
For many years I have been concerned with the environment. My partner on Finite Water, Dianne Wennick, initially approached me with the idea of wanting to raise awareness of this important issue. I immediately said I’ll drop everything to do it. I knew it didn't need to have an enormous budget and that we just needed to start immediately. So we worked really hard for the better part of a year to get it done. This earth is our home. She takes care of us, and we need to show her the love she deserves.
We wanted to show a spectrum of ideas that any individual can accomplish. Mainly three things: raise global awareness, share simple ways to manage our water use, and encourage everyone to do just a little more.
• The ‘Ka Wai Ke Kumu Hola’ water hula dance is a true act of spirituality and deep connection with the environment. How much did living in Hawaii and having such profound contact with nature influenced your personal awareness?
My wife and I moved to Hawaii in 2008 and have been here ever since. Hawaii is a special place with a special people. Polynesians have a wonderful mindset of Aloha. Experiencing their spiritual paradigm of thinking towards the environment is enlightening. For this film, Dianne and I had really wanted to capture the beautiful essence of their perspective and responsibility to the Aina and Ohana (Land and Family). • In your documentary, you decided to show a simple family doing something 'ordinary’ to concretely change its habits in favor of the environment. Would you like to explain why did you decide to adopt this narrative approach to better convey your message?
We can get very overwhelmed nowadays with all that is expected of us so we wanted to distill it down to manageable and easy to implement suggestions. As simple as turning off the water while brushing your teeth, to encourage further generations, to dreaming up new solutions. Ultimately we wanted to show a spectrum of ideas that any individual can accomplish. Mainly three things: raise global awareness, share simple ways to manage our water use, and encourage everyone to do just a little more.
• 'Finite Water' has received the great endorsement of the award-winning actor Richard Chamberlein, known for his title role in the popular medical series Dr. Kildare as well as dozens of other successful films and series, which lent his voice and his popularity in support of your project. How did you get him on board, and how many other people of the film industry have given their contribution to such a worthwhile cause?
There are so many people that contributed to make this film possible. Richard Chamberlain was just a joy to work with. The talented Martin Rabbett did the original score, and it was so much fun to witness him perform his craft. Dianne Wennick is so driven and passionate. She kept us going until we finished. Anthony Celaya and Crichton Uale, my other producing partners, helped alleviate the burden of the countless tasks that needed to be completed. I could go on….
• How exciting was it for you to see so many people interpreting themselves in the documentary and collaborating together for a common and definitely higher good?
It was an incredible experience to have so many talented people come together and give their time to make this project come to fruition. What a testament to people’s sacrifice and willingness to be a part of something greater than themselves. It was so humbling and encouraging to see people wanting to make a difference. I hope to be a part of many more projects with the same love and passion that I witnessed come together for this project — from the children to the Hawaiian Hālau that treated us with an amazing love and embraced us with Aloha.
• 'Finite Water’ provides a very clear picture of the catastrophic consequences that the lack of water might cause from today to 2040. After making this documentary, what practical ideas would you share with today's young people to start a more conscious daily routine?
There are plenty of people using the tactic of fear and sensationalism to motivate people to wake up to the dire situation we currently face. It can be extremely overwhelming for people to digest the gravity of all that must be done. I wanted to take a different approach and found that if you give people simple tasks and encourage them, they too can do their part. We don’t have to have Elon Musk money to make a difference. Just start by making a conscious effort to use only the water you need. Our elected officials and public servants will do all they can, but so much more needs to be done. We cannot leave it up to someone else. In other words, be the change you wish to see in the world. Start with yourself. If we all just do a little we can accomplish a lot. This is our planet. Let’s leave it better than how we received it.
We cannot leave it up to someone else. In other words, be the change you wish to see in the world.
• What’s next for Zach Thomson, and what’s next for ‘Finite Water’?
We have extremely ambitious goals starting in 2020. We are lining up some major projects with some of the most talented people in Hollywood along with McKenzie Van Dorne-Rice (End of an Empire, Fighting for Honor) and much more. As for Finite Water we hope to get some more financing behind us and do a follow-up project in the near future.
• Where can our readers follow you and your work, and possibly become part of the important projects you are carrying out?
I’m listed on IMDB and we have Facebook pages for all the projects we are working on.
• Thank you for this interview, Zach. Is there anything you wish to add, or anyone you wish to thank?
This has been a wonderful experience to see so many people around the world receptive to our movie. Our hope is that everyone who sees this is inspired to do just a little more. And I hope everyone feels empowered to be a little bit better today than they were yesterday. For example, imagine if everyone just picked up 2 pieces of trash a day. Can you imagine what would happen? If we all did things like this, the world would be a little bit better.
Lastly, a big thank you to the Vegas Movie Awards Staff. You are an incredible team and so very supportive of other Filmmakers. Thanks for showcasing our project. You are a pure joy!! Aloha