“Kiss the Ground,” is a beautiful and fascinating film produced and directed by Josh and Rebecca Tickell. Detailing methods of soil regeneration as a solution to the worldwide climate crisis, the film is narrated by Woody Harrelson and premieres on Netflix Global on September 22, 2020.
Tickell talks with our host, Cirina Catania, about regeneration, regenerative farming/ranching, and how we can put a huge dent in global warming if we learn how to harness carbon, something that Josh and other experts say is absolutely possible.
Josh Tickell is a keynote speaker, best selling author, and film director who specializes in connecting with the Millennial Generation (those born between 1980-2000). Tickell grew up in Louisiana next to waterways polluted by petroleum refineries. In 1997 he captured national attention by driving a van powered by used French Fry oil, “The Veggie Van,” across the United States. By 1998 Tickell published his first book and was touring colleges giving talks to the first members The Millennial Generation. His journey culminated in 2008 with the release of his first feature film, FUEL.
FUEL won the Sundance Audience Award for Best Documentary and was released theatrically in the United States. The movie was screened in the White House for energy and environment staff working in the Obama Administration and was shortlisted for an Oscar. Josh Tickell directed the Cannes Film Festival movie, The Big Fix (2011). PUMP (2014) exposes a conspiracy to block fuel choice at the gas pump. His latest film, GOOD FORTUNE (2017), The Official Biography of John Paul DeJoria, Co-Founder of Patrón Tequila and Paul Mitchell Systems is being released by Paladin and Lionsgate – available worldwide in iTunes in August. He is currently in post-production on KISS THE GROUND, a film/book combo that illustrates how to reverse climate change through diet, agriculture, and soil.
The must-see controversial trailer for Kiss the Ground is finally live! Watch it and discover the cure for climate change. The full-length film is available on Netflix on September 22! Save the date and learn more at KissTheGroundMovie.com!
In This Episode
- 00:00 – Cirina introduces Josh Tickell, a keynote speaker, best selling author, and film director who specializes in connecting with the Millennial Generation.
- 06:13 – Josh explains how it is not the animals’ fault greenhouse gases cause climate change; rather, it is us, the people who are negatively affecting the natural ecosystem.
- 12:54 – Josh talks about Kiss the Ground’s narrator, Woody Harrelson’s initial reaction when he read the script and book.
- 18:41 – Josh tells us the making of the film, Kiss the Ground, with his wife, Rebecca Tickell.
- 24:50 – Watch Kiss the Ground Movie on Netflix and visit the website kissthegroundmovie.com to learn more about the film.
Josh Tickell is a filmmaker and author with an impressive track record and uncovering the truth behind environmental issues. And he does it in a very entertaining way. His first feature film, Fuel, won the Sundance Audience Award for Best Documentary and has been seen over a million times on Netflix, iTunes, Hulu, and CNBC. It also screened for the White House’s Energy and Environment staff during the Obama administration. His new film Kiss the Ground, which he directed with his wife, Rebecca, is the result of a nine-year journey. And it is raising awareness of the amazing possibilities of regeneration as a solution to our global climate crisis. It’s narrated by Woody Harrelson and features the musician Jason Mraz, who owns an organic avocado farm in San Diego, actually not too far away from where I am right now.
The actress and philanthropist Patricia Arquette makes an appearance. She runs a nonprofit givelove.com, and it highlights the benefits of composting. And there are numerous experts in the film, including Ray Archuleta, soil scientists and farmers, and ranchers practicing regeneration. It is beautifully shot and well written. And if you want to be entertained and learn more about how to solve the climate crisis, this is the film for you. And by the way, Josh’s book on the same subject, which I’m actually reading right now, is entitled Kiss the Ground, and it’s available on Amazon. It’s really a deep dive on the same subject. And it will take a while to get through, but trust me, it is worth it. And it’s actually the reason why Woody Harrelson decided he wanted to become involved with the film. So stay tuned. This film is about to change the way you think about mother Earth, your food, regeneration, and a solution to the climate crisis.If you want to be entertained and learn more about solving the climate crisis, Kiss the Ground is the film for you. Click To Tweet
Josh, good morning, thank you for coming on with me. I know that everyone listening is going to be really interested in your new film called Kiss the Ground. Will you tell us what it’s about and why you decided to make it at this point in time.
Kiss the Ground is really about restoring Planet Earth. And when I say restore Planet Earth, I mean fixing climate change, providing natural food and water. And the term we use is called regenerate, regenerating lost ecosystems. Turns out that about two-thirds of the plan has been turned into a desert, or the ecosystems have been damaged. This film shows us how we can repair, fix, regenerate, and make things beautiful again.
And you know what? We can. This is an issue that I’ve personally been following for a long time. I’m so grateful to you for bringing this to the forefront because it is fixable. But we have to start now. Can you tell people who are listening a little bit more about regenerative agriculture and what it does?
Sure. The idea of regeneration is very simple. It’s like if a lizard loses its tail, it can regrow that tail. Well, turns out most of Planet Earth has this same ability. Ecosystems have the ability to regrow themselves; deserts can turn into forests. And even in our cities, in our urban landscapes, we can regenerate. We can create beautiful, natural, green, verdant places where food grows, even along city streets, even along highways. And so regeneration is the process of repairing damage and making things better. Regenerative agriculture is a way of growing food, which actually leaves the soil and the Earth better than it was before. It rebuilds soil. And when you rebuild soil, you bring in more water and more carbon into that soil. Your food is more nutritious, and the Earth gets healthier, and so do you as a human being, which is that’s a good thing.
I’m very interested in explaining how the process of photosynthesis actually pulls that carbon dioxide out of the air and puts it into the ground so that it can nurture the roots of the plants. And it’s one of the ways we can really help climate change, right?
Well, most people don’t realize. But since the birth of the industrial revolution, humanity has put about 1000 Gigatons. That’s a tariff ton of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere for you. It is a big number. And there’s no real idea of how to get that out of the atmosphere screwing in light bulbs and driving electric cars, those are good things, but they don’t remove the carbon that’s already in the atmosphere. So how do we pull that carbon out of the atmosphere? Well, there are only a few places we can put it, we can put it in the sky–well, we already did that, so that’s not gonna work.
Not gonna work.
We can put it in the oceans–we tried that too, and the oceans got acidified. So the one place we can put it, where it will actually do some good, is in the soil. Okay, what kind of technological fix do we need for that? This isn’t a Bill Gates initiative with trillions of dollars, none of that. In fact, the soil has a natural way of doing that, which is a carbon pump. And the carbon pump is every living plant, plants put carbon dioxide into the soil, and they fix it in the soil as carbon. So if we can work with plants and work with microbes, 40% of the carbon dioxide the plant breathes in goes into the soil and stays there. That’s how we fix the climate crisis. And regeneration, regenerative agriculture, Kiss the Ground movie shows us exactly how to do that.
And you talk about the ecosystem and the different aspects of it. And I know, people are going to look at the picture of cows that you have up there, and they’re going to go wait a minute, cows are bad. But they’re really not, they have to be raised properly. Can you explain that?
Yeah. So there’s nowhere in nature where we don’t find animals, maybe on the moon, but that’s not Earth nature, right? So when we look at nature, animals and plants are always together. Well, if we look at the United States, before Europeans arrived, there were more four-legged animals than there are today. In fact, Buffalo was much more prevalent than the cattle of today. So what happened? Well, we kill all the Buffalo, we took the animals that we had, we stuffed them into feedlots, and then we took away the natural ecosystem, and we grew corn. That system that we built is less efficient, creates more carbon dioxide and more greenhouse gases, and it makes sick animals. Now it’s not the animal’s fault, that we’re making that animal sick, and we’re putting them in sick conditions. It’s our fault. And so we need to think about this from a system perspective versus just going well, cows are bad. No, the system we created for cows that replaced a very good functional natural system doesn’t work. So we can mimic that natural system, we can herd cows across pastures, we can keep them moving, they can cut grass with their teeth, they can build soil fertility with their hooves and their poop. And when they do that, the soil sequesters, it pulls out of the atmosphere, the carbon dioxide that is causing climate change. Now, that same animal that we just said was bad is good. We didn’t change the animal, we changed the system. And that’s what Kiss the Ground, it’s about changing how we do agriculture and how we make food, and how we take care of the planet.
I watched the scenes of Mr. Archuleta traveling around the country, meeting with farmers and ranchers about the system. And some of them were receptive, and others were sitting back with their arms crossed. How difficult has it been? You’ve been working on this now for how many years this film?
Oh, my gosh, this film, total from start to finish, it was a nine-year journey.
Yeah, I understand that. That’s amazing. So in those years, you’ve been following Mr. Archuleta, what does he say about perhaps how the perception of regenerative agriculture has changed? Or has it?
The perception has changed because more and more people understand what it is. And of course, it’s picking up, which is good. The larger issue is that we still got to affect the majority of agriculture. And how do we do that? Well, we start with what we eat, those of us who live in cities, those of us who live in urban and suburban communities, we have tremendous power, we vote three times a day with our forks. And so it’s a combination of working with farmers to get the kind of food we want, working with grocery stores, using our dollars to vote for restaurants and food where we can, and you don’t have to be rich to do this. This is not a yuppie thing, this is an everyone thing. This can be done at an extremely low food budget all the way up to your whole foods shopper. That’s the exciting thing, and there are ways to plug into the system at every level, no matter where you are. And what we’re seeing is a lot of urban gardens, a lot of urban composting, we’re seeing people in really dense cement jungles take this on and go, “You know what? That parking lot, I’m going to regenerate that parking lot. I’m going to turn that into something that’s going to feed 20 families.” And that’s where this movement really starts to get exciting because you can plug in anywhere. I really want people to go to kissthegroundmovie.com, get the trailer, share it, and you can share it on Facebook and Instagram @KisstheGroundMovie. Just sharing the trailer, just having to be part of the movement, getting part of that experience, everybody should be on board with that.
I agree. And it’s gone up from over 1 million hits. When I looked a couple of days ago, this morning, right before this interview, was way over 2 million. So it’s resonating with people. And I think in the time of COVID, there are millions of people who are building gardens now, like you say, in their backyards and parking lots. I have friends who are growing in pots on the wall. It’s amazing. And I think people, this is a perfect time for this film to be coming out because we have to turn the corner with climate change. And this is an amazing way to do it. So when is the film going to be released? And where will we be able to see it?
The film is coming out on Netflix globally, September 22. You can get on Facebook right now and join the Kiss the Ground global watch party. It’s an event on Facebook; everyone can sign up to join the watch party. And that puts you into our big watch party. We’re gonna do a live watch party, and everyone’s gonna watch it together. And then we’re gonna have a big Q&A with Gisele Bündchen and Woody Harrelson and all of these cool stars and some are in the movie, and really get down and get some of these cool questions from around the world and across the country answered that night.
I’m excited for that. Now, Woody Harrelson narrated the film, what did he say when you first sent him the script?
He was a little bit like, what? Soil? I don’t know. Soil, really? So we sent him the book, Kiss the Ground book. I got to write the Kiss the Ground book. That was fun. And he read it. He read the whole book. And when I showed up to do the recording, he said, “I read the book. It was good. I really am excited about this.” And then we did the voiceover. It was wonderful.
You make a good Woody impression. That’s funny. He really did look like he was totally into this. And for those of you listening, the book, by the way, I bought it on Amazon, and I thought, I didn’t know if it was before or after the movie, I just want to do my research for this interview. And I started reading it. It is not something you can read in a couple of hours. It really dives deep into these issues, and it’s incredibly well researched, which reflects in what you’ve done with the film. You have a history of doing environmentally empowering movies, your movie Fuel is still out after what? Ten years. People are still watching it. I think it rolled out in 150 cities in September of 2009. Is that the one that won the Sundance award, or was that a different one?
Yes. So Fuel won Sundance in 2008. You can still watch it on Amazon. It’s still on Amazon Prime, and watch it on there. iTunes it’s available. So Fuel was playing in theaters for five years. It was a real journey and played in the White House, shortlisted for an Oscar. So a lot of good stuff with that movie. Kiss the Ground is going to be bigger and more fun, even though we’re releasing in a pandemic. I think people need some hopeful news, and they need to know what to do. They need to know how to compost, they need to know how to plant seeds. These are things that people are doing right now because we have time even if you live in a high rise and you’ve got an apartment building, you can plant it in the window, you can do planter boxes, you can do kitchen composting. So lots of things you can do during the pandemic to make your life healthier, get some oxygen, get some greenery into your life. And Kiss the Ground, kissthegroundmovie.com is really the start for you to get to do all that stuff.When we talk about restoring Planet Earth, it means fixing climate change, providing natural food and water, most importantly, regenerating lost ecosystems. Click To Tweet
And you also went to San Diego to film Jason Mraz on his farm, and I saw Patricia Arquette in the film, you’ve got some great people behind this supporting you and giving you the thumbs up. So how is it on Jason’s farm?
Oh, Jason’s farm is beautiful, beautiful. Jason Mraz, he’s the singer, songwriter. You may not know him by name, but you definitely know his song. You’ve heard Jason Mraz’s I’m Yours.
He’s a real organic farmer. He’s got a little ranch where he’s growing avocados. And what he’s done is he’s planted a lot of different types of trees, so he can grow stuff year-round, he’s producing food. And his section of the movie is really about what you can do if you’ve got a backyard, you’ve got a few hundred square feet, and you want to create a food forest. He gives some great examples of that. Jason just figured it out, and that’s what we’re really excited for people to do after they see the movie is figuring out how to grow food.
I loved when he said, “Just plant a tree, just plant one tree,” “If you can’t do anything else, just plant a tree.” I love it. And then Patricia Arquette, I believe she was in Africa, right? I saw this in the middle of the night last night so forgive me if I do not remember all the details. But she was talking about poop, and how important it is and building bathrooms for people that don’t have it and then taking that and turning it into compost. It’s wonderful.
Well, Patricia has been an advocate of compost for many, many years long before this movie. She’s got a wonderful organization called givelove.org, and what she does is she travels with a team of people into very impoverished places in the world and sets up what’s called Thermophilic–which is heat-loving, thermophilic composting systems for toilets. Because most people don’t realize, but in a lot of parts of the world, there is no running water. And so people are using dugout latrines and that that goes into their food supply and their water supply and makes people sick. Well, you can compost poop. And when you compost poop, guess what you make? Soil. So that soil, that good rich soil can then be used to plant things, and you create food, and the cycle goes around and around and around. So Patricia’s organization teaches people how to build composting toilets, low cost, low tech, high yield, wonderful, clean, sanitary, and full of human dignity and respect. So kudos to Patricia, I’m glad she’s in the movie. I love her, and I love, love, love her organization.
So tell us about some of the other people that you interviewed for the film.
Well, one of the most amazing interviews that we did on the film is this farmer in the Midwest, his name is Gabe Brown. You wouldn’t be able to pick them out in the lineup of farmers’ areas in North Dakota. He’s farming 5000 acres, which is twice the scale of the average farm in the US. And he’s making 100 bucks an acre through regeneration. He grows soy and corn and all that stuff, but he also does pigs and chickens and all that stuff. And what’s interesting is most farms in the US, they’re only making like two to $3 an acre. Gabe’s making 100 bucks an acre per year. So most farmers are going out of business, Gabe put his son through college, paid off the farm, paid off the tractors, and paid off everything. And now he’s like, “What do I do?” Because he’s profitable. So he’s running around teaching other farmers how to do it, but his insights and his knowledge go back to Thomas Jefferson, which is interesting to see that Jefferson knew some of these techniques, but we forgot how to do it.
Well, the almighty dollar got involved, and everyone started tilling. And he talks to the farmers about don’t till, and you can see the surprise in their face. But it absolutely makes sense because all the microorganisms are in those first few inches, though not all, a lot of the very important ones are in the first few inches of that soil, which are basically killing when you till. So I really love to see you guys doing this. Ray Archuleta also was sprinkled throughout the film. He’s really a specialist in this area, right?
He is. Ray has been working with the US government for 35 years. You’ve been on just about every type of farm you can imagine in the United States, and he is what you would call probably the quintessential soil expert in this country.
Let’s talk about the making of the film. You directed with your wife, Rebecca, right?
That is correct. Yes.
Congratulations. I think anytime a couple can work together and make it work, it’s wonderful. And you have children to choose from. This is great. I’m sure this has been a big adventure for you. So how many states did you visit making the film?
Ooh, that’s tough. Nine-year journey, 300 hours of footage, we’ve crisscrossed the country left, right, up, down, south, north, couldn’t even count. But I tell you what the film is global. We go to China, and we go to Africa, Nairobi, Haiti, France, all over the world to sort of showing different examples of how this incredible process works. One of my favorite examples in China. They took an area of the size of Belgium. It was dried desert rock, there was no soil. It was dust and rock, and they turned it into a green paradise. That’s exciting. That’s a cool part of the movie.Ecosystems can regrow. They can regenerate even in our urban cities. We can create beautiful, natural, green, verdant places where food can grow, even along city streets. Click To Tweet
It is. You had several people helping you shoot, and you had a big crew. A lot of people pitched in to help with this. I thought that was wonderful. What kind of cameras were you using, and what did you edit on? What was your technical side of the production and post?
Sure. The technical evolved over the past, almost decade, that we’ve been working on it. We’ve pretty much been consistent. 4K RED is what we shot most of the film on, and then we edited on Avid. But what was tricky was upgrading the server, especially at the very end, to keep those discs running and keep that 4K footage. We ended up with an OWC Jupiter System. And I’ll tell you what, it is by far the best bang for the buck on the market. It’s fast, and it will allow us to cut in 4K, which is very difficult. Most people are like, “Oh yeah, we’re shooting 4K,” try cutting a feature in 4K. It’s tough. I mean, we have the fastest computers, the fastest connections, and you’ll just clog the server down. So we were able to do that. We were able to do multiple streams of 4K video from the Jupiter and finish the film and color it. And it’s really a masterpiece. It’s a gorgeous 4K documentary. You don’t see too many documentaries shot and colored and finished in 4K. And I think the film is pretty spectacular to watch it. It’s pretty fun.
It’s beautiful. It’s a beautiful film. So the Jupiter System is huge. How many terabytes were you managing on the system? Do you know?
Oh my gosh, at least 120 TB. We upgraded it again, and we keep upgrading as we need to.
That’s awesome. I’m glad to hear you’re using OWC equipment. Larry O’Connor is also one of the executive producers of the film, and he’s the one that introduced us. So I’m grateful to them for two things. Number one, sponsoring OWC Radio and also sponsoring my films and introducing us because I will do whatever I can to help you get the word out on this. Is there any other OWC equipment that you use, like any of their docks, hard drives, smaller RAIDs, anything like that?
Yeah, we used a couple of smaller RAIDs. I knew OWC long before I met Larry, and we’ve been upgrading our computers for a long time. I’ve been a Mac guy for many years, used to build my own machines in my garage kind of thing. So I’ve been putting in new memory, and new screens and new bits and pieces, new hard drives into these older Macs for quite a while. My wife and I, for instance, we just have a couple of Macbooks, these were made in 2015, they were made five years ago, we’ve upgraded the RAM, we’ve upgraded the hard drive, these computers are rock solid. In some ways, they’re better than the newer computers, all of that through OWC. So every iMac now in our edit studio, every single one of those iMacs is running OWC memory. And I think we’ve got one of those iMacs up at 512 GB of memory. I mean, that’s a lot of memory to squeeze into an iMac. Macintosh can’t even sell you that. You have to get through OWC. So we’ve had a lot of success with their products, and when I got to meet Larry, he got involved with film. I was like, “This is great. I’m already using your stuff, man.”
It’s a marriage made in technology heaven, right? That’s awesome. I also like their customer service, too, because very rarely do things go wrong with the OWC equipment. But like any technology, every once in awhile, you’re gonna have a question, and they’re always there for me. I’m sure they would be for you guys too. And that’s really pretty precious when you’re on a deadline. This is amazing. So Netflix worldwide 22nd of September, go to kissthegroundmovie.com, and you can host a screening in your community, you can sign up for that, you can put yourself on the mailing list, watch the trailer, make donations. This is all wonderful, and I am so excited about this film and so proud of everything that you’re doing. You’re doing something very positive in the world, which I think is so important now on many, many levels. And I do urge people to really take the contents of this film and also to get your book on Amazon and take it seriously because if you’re worried about climate change if you’re worried about the quality of your food, and you want to see a great film with great visuals and good music go to kissthegroundmovie.com. Thank you so much for taking the time out of a really busy day. I know you’re preparing for the release. Is there anything I didn’t ask you that you might want to mention?
No, I think we’ve covered it folks can get the book as you said, Kiss the Ground, the book. It’s available as a Kindle as an actual physical book, and also I read the audiobook. Yes, you can download the audiobook on amazon.com. And it’s a fun journey. It’s a great ride. That’s a deeper dive. The quick dive is the Kiss the Ground movie, available on Netflix, September 22nd, narrated by Woody Harrelson. Go to kissthegroundmovie.com today, get that trailer, and you can share it on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube. Get your friends and family ready to watch it, join the watch party event on Facebook. We’ll see you, and we won’t see you at the cinema, that’s what we used to say but certainly look forward to hearing all the comments and feedback after folks watch that on Netflix.
And that was Josh Tickell, who is the director and filmmaker behind kissthegroundmovie.com and Kiss the Ground, the book and remember what I tell you guys every time get up off your chairs and go do something absolutely wonderful today. Go change the climate. This is Cirina Catania with OWC Radio. I’m signing out.
- Josh Tickell
- Rebecca Tickell
- Kiss the Ground – Website
- Kiss the Ground – Stream on Netflix
- Kiss the Ground – Book
- Kiss the Ground – Movie Trailer
- Kiss the Ground – Facebook
- Kiss the Ground – Instagram
- 4K RED
- Barack Obama
- Gabe Brown
- Gisele Bündchen
- Jason Mraz
- Larry O’Connor
- OWC Jupiter System
- Patricia Arquette
- Ray Archuleta
- Sundance Film Festival
- Thomas Jefferson
- White House’s Energy and Environment
- Woody Harrelson
- Cover crucial topics about society by entertainingly presenting them through film. These projects help spread the message of what’s going on worldwide and why people should learn more about them.
- Don’t turn a blind eye to the climate crisis. Spread awareness by sharing the truth about what’s happening to Mother Earth while, at the same time, setting an example for others.
- Take part in saving the planet. Find out what you can do in your own way to diminish carbon emissions.
- Compost kitchen waste. It’s beneficial to soil health, plant growth, and the environment.
- Plant more trees. If you have free time, join events and drives that plant trees or just plant a tree in your backyard. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.
- Lessen your carbon footprint as much as you can. Drive less, don’t but fast fashion, unplug your device chargers, etc.
- Produce your own food. If you reside in the city, there are plenty of ways to create an urban garden. Not only are you saving money, you’re also saving the environment.
- Be mindful of where your food and other merchandise comes from. Make sure they are ethically sourced.
- Eat and buy organic. Food, clothing, and other products that are organically made have a smaller impact on the environment.
- Watch Kiss the Ground on Netflix and share it with others to help spread the message.