Exclusive Interview: Edward James Olmos for Documentary ‘Energizing Our World’

Our precious resources are being wasted.

Earlier this month during the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, the thought-provoking documentary “Energizing Our World” premiered to the environmentally-conscious audiences. The film looks at the environmental entrepreneurial innovations in several countries including Costa Rica, Spain, Netherlands and United States. The global movement looks into new technology that will promote the sustainability of water, energy and agriculture in cities, farming, rain forests and ranches.

The film is directed by Susan Sember and narrated by Edward James Olmos.

Latino-Review had an exclusive interview with Olmos earlier this month as we discussed about the world’s environment and the documentary.

Click here to view the trailer.

Read the transcript below.

Latino-Review: Why are you attracted to this documentary called, “Energizing Our World?”

Edwards James Olmos: I think it’s a matter basically of allowing the medium of audio/visual events we used in the positive ways as much as possible. There are all these kinds of ways to [present] it, but I really appreciate the way on how people use it like this. It just allows people to experience the simple things on how the land works, life of farms, the struggles we’re having and what the future may bring.

Latino-Review: There are many documentaries that touch upon the subject so what makes this one different from the others?

Edwards James Olmos: Nothing. There’s no different in any of them. They all have the same understanding. The more of these we have and then the more people that will see that. That’s really the issue. It’s not really the “Oh, my God! We have to make it better than that one.” It’s really about making as many as humanly possible so that people will see them. We need this. There’s not enough of them being made.

Everybody’s intention when they make this movie is exactly the same—to advance humanity to the highest levels of understanding and to make them become even better people on this planet.

Latino-Review: Now how were you approached for you to join this project in the first place?

Edward James Olmos: They called me up. It had a lot to do with my voice. They want to bring attention to it not only by [film], but my voice also connected to the people. It was definitely my honor. I was very, very lucky.

Latino-Review: You’ve done several documentaries before. How do you choose in which documentaries to lend your voice or person for them?

Edward James Olmos: It’s all due to the intent of and the materials being discussed. So with anybody, it’s all about bringing the attention to the future. It’s what we’re going to leave for our children’s children. I choose based on the material like on how I choose the food that I eat. It’s all for the betterment of my soul, my life and my body. I do this kind of work, because it helps every children and every life. I’ve been here a while and I’m pretty old. [Laughter] It’s a good way to use God’s given gift.

Latino-Review: On this project, what are you hoping we would learn by viewing this documentary?

Edward James Olmos: A little bit more sensitivity on to the abilities of what we have on this planet and on how we could use it. It talks about natural situations of growers’ growing food and energizing power on this planet. It’s really basic. It’s nothing really mind blowing. It’s not about you going “Oh, my God. I didn’t know that.” It’s more like “That’s right. Thank you!” That’s what happens to people who should view the movie. It should make them feel good.

It’s a feel good movie. The length [of the film] is around fifty-six minutes of feeling good in the right way. It’s hopefully preferable to watching, not saying anything wrong with it, to some horror or slasher movie. [Laughter]

Latino-Review: Yeah, I noticed a lot of positive good feelings out of the film. The message of hope.

Edward James Olmos: So you got those same feelings out of it?

Latino-Review: I did! I did! It wasn’t political at all.

Edward James Olmos: At all. She’s very, very good it. The director, Susan Sember, is good at it. She really made it more human.

Latino-Review: Do you consider yourself as an environmentalist?

Edward James Olmos: Sure, I do. I’ve been working with the environment my whole life. I used to pick in the fields and work in the home gardens in Los Angeles. [Chuckles] We picked chiles, tomatoes, cucumbers and had this avocado tree. We were farmers, but not the farmers who had great amounts of land. We were the farmers who had that ten feet by thirty feet of land to be used for farming. [Laughing]

And that’s since the beginning since I was born. I was raised in that environment. As I grew older, I tried to figure out what’s going on around me in my life. There was the stuff that is released in the air in which we used to call it haze and finally they called it smog. It was just smoke and fog—smog. It was just ridiculous due to the part of all the industrialization. They knew it’s toxic waste in the air and made it very difficult to breathe as a young kid.

It was amazing since on how it was. It had cleaned up a lot. We used to have these home incinerators. Did you know that?

Latino-Review: No, I didn’t know that.

Edward James Olmos: Yeah, we used to have [these incinerators] where you would burn your garbage. They were right in your home and not in your yard. People would burn their garbage. There was no trash collected. People would just burn their garbage back in the 40s. Everybody was burning [their garbage] and was very difficult on the environment.

I became an environmentalist right from the beginning. My great grandparents will tell me about the Earth. They were first nation people so they were pretty much in tune with the Earth. They talked to me about it and the difficulties they saw coming. They couldn’t be more right on about this. I have to tell you—they were so right on. They predicted everything that happened.

Including the water. I was born in 1947 and by 1950 when I was three years old—they would tell me that water is very important. We won’t have enough of it. In the future, there will even be less. [Laughter] There won’t be enough of it. I was raised with that [value].

When I take showers, I take on what I call a boatman’s shower. When you’re on a boat, you would turn it on, get in the shower and then turn it off right away. You would grab the soap, lather up, turn it on and wash the soap off right away. You do not turn it on and leave it on while soaping and doing all your other things. [Laughter] Water is too precious to waste.

And here today, it’s the same thing on how I take my shower. Thirty seconds of water is what I used on my body. Then I turn it off and soap up/lather pretty well from the top of my head to the bottom of my toes. So then I turn it on and I count…..one, two, three…..all the way to thirty and turn it off. That’s it. One minute of water is all I use in the shower.

It’s my nature. I don’t know if you ever seen my Twitter or Facebook—that’s what I like to talk about is water. Water is key to the future. It’s a very big issue. It’s going to become a bigger issue in twenty-five years. Now in the State of California, we’re in a lot of trouble. You can’t believe on how much trouble there is.

I don’t pour any water on to the ground. All of plants, except for a couple, are indigenous plants to the area. I put a real simple, defensive turf. I don’t put an ounce of water on that turf. Nothing. They stay green all year around and it’s comfortable to the feet that kids will play on it. It would last me for ten or fifteen years. And then I would do it again.

Latino-Review: Many people would struggle to get into that same mindset just like yourself. How are we going to change all that?

Edward James Olmos: I don’t know. [Laughter] I don’t have to change their minds. I could only lead by example and not by “Hey, everybody. You have to do what I tell you to do.” That’s impossible. I’m not going to sit here and tell you on what you should do. I’m not. Ever!You will have to do on what you can do.

So if you look on what I’m doing and you’ll say, “Wow. That’s interesting.” Then you’ll go off and do whatever you’re going to do. I don’t know what exactly you’re going to do. You may watch every documentary under the sun, environmentally it’ll be strong and helpful, but you may be littering on the streets afterwards.

I hike every morning up in the mountains. Every morning I’ll take a bag with me. A plastic bag is desolate to the environment. What do I do with them? I put trash that I find [along the hike] in which people throw away a candy wrapper here and a bottle water cap there. I find all kinds of junk on the trails. Lots of these plastic bags will never go away and head straight towards the landfill. I use them.

It’s very difficult on what we have done to ourselves. On what we’ve done are creative ways to make lives easier, but we actually started to destroy the environment. I’m most feared of is over the food chain and the water chain. It’s been completely industrialized and capitalized to the point on pushing to feed more people like Monsanto. They try to feed more people on the guise of a product, but at the expense of the future. It’s not organic and it’s not good for you. They’re making a lot of money off of their product with larger fields of their food and their corn. They have pesticides in the genetic structure of the plants. In turn, it helps the crops, but when you eat it—you’re eating the pesticide genetic structure built into [the plants]. That’s definitely bad for you. Farmers love it. Not the old-time traditional farmers, but those big, big [agribusiness farms].

Latino-Review: Do you suppose the world today is a better place or has it gotten worse?

Edward James Olmos: It’s definitely a better place. It’s always getting better in the same realm. I’m very optimistic, but pragmatic. [Laughter] We have to realize there are too many people with many, many more coming. We have the biggest problems with the overpopulation aslong as I remember. Overpopulation will lead us into war and pestilence. There are even some people out there who believe the solution is to knock the number of people down.

We can make this a better world by taking better care of ourselves. We just can’t eliminate people, but to only have a better understanding of everything. We have to work together. It will be the most important aspect to our solutions rather than eliminate [some in our population]. It will give us a better world.

Latino-Review: Absolutely. I’m very glad you lead by example.

Edward James Olmos: Thank you.

Latino-Review: Let me start to wrap this up. Can you talk about your other upcoming projects?

Edward James Olmos: Right now, I just finished a little film called, “Monday Nights at Seven.” It’s a very, very low budget film. I also have an animation project in production between the United States and Mexico called, “Americano.” It’s probably be coming out in September this year. It’ll be a movie that everyone will appreciate. It’s a kids movie targeting children from 3 to 12 [years of age]. It’s a movie like “Big Hero 6,” which is made for kids and adults could watch with them.

Source: Latino-Review

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Joseph Jammer Medina

Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and contributor at LRM Online. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.

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