Standing in contrast to documentaries like Planet Earth, whose beautiful shots inspire plenty of oohs and ahhs but not much else, Louie Psihoyos’ new film The Heist is an environmental film designed to inspire action. But that’s not to say that The Heist, like The Cove before it, won’t look stellar. Psihoyos has serious artistic chops; his passion for photography at a young age caught the attention of the National Geographic, and the magazine sent him around the world for 17 years.
In the early nineties, Louie travelled the all over to document paleontologists for his book on dinosaur bones, toting with him the skull of Edward Drinker Cope as inspiration. He’s also been named by Fortune to be one of the top ten photographers in the world.
When I first encountered The Cove, I was truly struck by the audacity of it (enough so, that I made some fan art). With The Heist, Psihoyos’ ambitions have escalated, his subject has opened up, and he’s taking consultation left and right from greeny showbiz vets. So needless to say, I was pretty stoked to get on the line with him and chat about the upcoming film, mercury-soaked fish, the stunning rate of global extinctions, and just how one makes plankton cute and cuddly.
MOTHERBOARD: Hi Louie, I wanted to check in and see what you’re up to with this film.
We’re about 60% done with the new movie. You do your best to try to budget a documentary, but you zig and zag so much because — if you’re doing a good job, you’re not on script – (laughs) there really is no script. We just came up with this, we thought it was a really good idea for the ending of the movie. It’s a pretty audacious plan. I don’t want to reveal too much, but it’s the kind of thing that I think – ya know – it’s gonna get a billion hits when we pull it off. We want it to be sort of more dramatic than the last film. Not in sort of the dark way that The Cove had that one scene of the bloody cove, but… hmm — The movie is about massive extinction of species caused by mankind. There have been five mass extinctions in the history of the planet. I’ve done four stories on the Mesozoic, the mid-life of the planet, for National Geographic. My friends who are paleontologists tell me that we’re going through a mass extinction right now, and I think it’s the biggest story that there is.