As a film director, writer and the founder of Tree Media, Leila Conners’ environmentally astute documentary collaborations with actor Leonardo DiCaprio – including, most recently, 2019’s ‘Ice On Fire’ – have earned her movies the status of household names. She believes that storytelling is an effective way of progressing towards a more sustainable future.
What does progress mean to you?
We focus on the idea of humans being able to live with freedom and in balance with the environment. Progress is anything that can support that. It also means creation and invention – but not at the expense of life on earth. It should take all factors into account.
How do you embody that in your own work?
Media and entertainment is run as a business. Of course, we understand that this is necessary – but sometimes the stories we need to tell aren’t the ones that make the most money. We might be more financially successful by making other movies.
What role does the media play in achieving positive change?
Media is just a medium for telling stories. And stories are a way for us to collaborate and share discoveries. There are plenty of amazing technologies that are going to be important for saving our planet but their stories are never told – that’s what we’re trying to do.
“Sometimes the stories we need to tell aren’t the ones that make the most money”
What is your vision for mobility?
It’s about innovating quickly and becoming more efficient over time. For mobility, I’ve heard that there is already technology in its early stages that pulls carbon out of the sky and turns it into fuel – it’s called Direct Air Capture. That can be used for existing engines for planes and shipping. And electric cars will be important as the world begins to gain more of its energy from renewable sources; here in Los Angeles I think that the grid has about 30 per cent renewable energy. If you can do it in LA, you can do it anywhere.
How do you want the world to look in 100 years?
Let’s say that we’re able to stabilize our atmosphere; the next thing we have to do is to understand how human beings function. And I don’t believe that we are a competitive species; I believe people want to work together. Together we need to learn how to recycle our materials, recycle our carbon, our water. We need to realise that there is no such thing as waste.