While electricity availability doesn’t guarantee wealth, its absence almost always means poverty. Juice tells the human story of electricity and explains why power equals power.
[NOTE: Due to copyrights, the full film has been removed on November 8.]
By Tyson Culver
What happens when you team up a left- leaning director with a right-leaning writer to talk about energy poverty and climate change? A lot.
Our story began over tacos.
I’ve known Robert Bryce for just under ten years. In March of 2015, he told me about a new book (which would be his 6th) that Public Affairs wanted to publish. It had an intriguing title – Juice: How Electricity Explains The World. He thought it would make a good movie. Robert rattled off statistics about the impact electricity has on women and girls. We talked climate, poverty, war, and believe it or not, marijuana.
“Did you know that the average weed dispensary in the US has the same power density of a data center owned by Amazon or Google,” he asked.
Well no, Robert, I didn’t know that – I didn’t know a lot of things.
The most alarming stat he shared was that 1 billion people in the world today have zero access to electricity. There are another two billion who’s access to electricity is inadequate – they use less electricity in a year than a typical American refrigerator.
I was hooked. How could so many people live that way in the 21st Century? What did their lives look like? Would they be willing to talk to us?
Those were the stories we wanted to tell – and that’s what we’ve managed to do.
We were chased by the “generator mafia” in Lebanon and learned about the “petrol cartel” in Puerto Rico. We found out that nearly 40% of the electricity generated in India is stolen by its citizens. We toured a nuclear facility targeted for closure in New York – as well as a black market weed dispensary in downtown Denver.
It’s been an amazing ride and we’ve captured the lion’s share of our footage with a skeleton crew. A DP from Deadliest Catch, a producer from Disgraced, and the composer from Chef ’s Table. All Emmy winners – all amazing at their craft.
Then there’s Robert. He wrote for the Austin Chronicle for a dozen years, one of the most liberal newspapers in the state of Texas. Later, he became a senior fellow at The Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank in New York. He’s a bird watcher with solar panels on his roof – oh, and he lived with the Navajo for two years.
Bryce doesn’t fit in a box – he’s like a hippy pragmatist, always in search of the truth, who gets along with everyone. So we made him our tour guide, and the citizens of the world became the stars of the film. We spoke with engineers and authors, experts and advocates, and of course, the people that grapple with energy poverty on a daily basis.
We traveled 60,000 miles to make an 80 minute documentary that features 40 on- camera interviews with people from seven countries on five continents.
We let them tell the human story of electricity and explain why power equals power.
Storyteller airs every Sunday at 1800 GMT. Live stream: https://bit.ly/2LDmffl