‘THE GAME CHANGERS’ Film Exclusive Interview

‘THE GAME CHANGERS’ Film Exclusive Interview

October 31, 2019 100 By William Morgan


– [Arnold Schwarzenegger]
I ate a lot of meat. They show these commercials. – [Narrator] Steak, it’s what a man eats. – Selling that idea
that real men eat meat. But you’ve got to
understand that’s marketing. (energetic music) – When I made the switch
to a plant-based diet, I qualified for my third Olympic team. (men cheering) I broke two American records. I was like man, I should’ve
done this a long while ago. (energetic music) – [Dotsie Bausch] When I went plant-based, I wasn’t sure if I was going to survive, and I actually became like a machine. – I think this is going to
wake a lot of people up. Today’s blood, and yesterday’s blood. – Damn. – We all want to feel
great, have more energy. – Most guys my age can’t keep
up with their grandchildren. My grandchildren can’t keep up with me. (crashing) – [Patrick Baboumian] Someone asked me, “How could you get as strong as an ox “without eating any meat?” And my answer was, “Have you
ever seen an ox eating meat?” (cheering) Hey everybody, this is
Klaus from Plant Based News so we’ve got a very
special interview today, we’re in conversation with the producer of “The Game Changers”, James Wilks thank you very much for being here. First up, when did the Game
Changers journey first start, when you first thought about
making this documentary? – The film actually tells the
story of how I got into it. Essentially, I was training for a fight and I got injured sparring with one of the future heavyweight champions, tore ligaments in both of my knees and I had this six months
where I can’t even train, I can’t do anything except
for improve my body. So I thought, “I should
really look into nutrition “and how that might help
optimize and improve “my recovery and my performance,” and that’s when I came across a study about the Roman gladiators. There was research showing that, the only known burial
site is in Ephesus, Turkey of the gladiators, it was 68
full gladiator skeletons found. They analyzed it, did a
strontium calcium analysis and also a radio isotope analysis, and they could tell they were
eating almost exclusively, if not exclusively, plants. And I thought, “Well this can’t be true. “You’ve got to have meat and
animal products for protein, “to build and maintain muscle.” And sure enough, I started
digging into the research and I was doing that, I thought, “I feel like I’ve been lied to,” you know? Basically I always used to get my research from magazines, from websites, and I thought I knew quite
a lot about nutrition, but once I started digging into
the peer reviewed research, I realized I’d been fed a lie essentially. All this marketing that we believe in, and so I though, “I’ve got
to tell everyone about this.” So I then partnered up with Joseph Pace who was a script writer previously, and we basically started
working on these ideas for the documentary, and I just wanted to get my story out to the world, and dispel some myths and show some facts. – And how did it just
go from you and Joseph to this Hollywood A-list, lab endorsed mainstream production with
a huge amount of appeal? – It was around 2011, 2012, we really started getting working on it and in 2013, so it’s been a long time. In 2013 we did some preliminary filming, started raising some funds for it, and as we started getting into it, we realized there’s some
really powerful stories, and some really key information that we needed to get out. And also, some of the demographic that we think should see this film is sort of younger, more into sports. They’re used to a high quality production. They’re used to watching
the NFL, the UFC, or ESPN. So we felt like we needed
a really world-class team in order to put this film together. So in 2014 we put it on hold, and that’s when we met Louie Psihoyos, who’s got the most award-winning
documentary of all time. His first documentary won the Oscar, it won two major Sundance awards, it won about seven of the other awards, and fortunately we got to meet him. We were actually at a
race with Leilani Munter, another plant-based athlete,
and Louie happened to be there and we told him about
the film, and he said, “Yeah, I want to help you guys.” And we thought, “Well, I
don’t know what that means.” So a couple weeks later
we called him up and said, “What do you mean by help us?” He’s like, “No, I want to direct it.” And at the time he had a
lot of films being offered, but he thought this was one of the most important films that he could make. So Louie came on board and we were also put in touch with James
Cameron and working with his COO of the Cameron
Companies, Maria Wilhelm. Basically that’s when we started formulating the team in 2014,
and it really started again with a much higher quality team. You could argue it’s the most powerful documentary team ever assembled, with Louie Psihoyos as the Director, James Cameron as an Executive Producer, our editor has two Eddies, which is the best awards
you can get for an editor. We have the music supervisor from ESPN, we have the top documentary
writer in Hollywood, so I feel really fortunate
to put this team together. So that was 2015 and, you
know, it takes a while to film and then to edit as well, so
we’re finally getting it out. – I believe at the end of 2017, it was some time around then, Lewis Hamilton approached you guys, or was receptive at least to being filmed and being in the documentary, how was that, and I think you re-did it, didn’t you, after that? How’s it been with the
other Executive Producers? Are they in the documentary or are they just kind of endorsing it? – So basically we were
actually in Sundance in 2018. We kind of rushed that, the
film wasn’t really ready, but we got invited, and we thought, “Well, we’d better do it.” So we actually rushed the third act. Films are typically built in three acts, so basically the last third of the film we sort of rushed in a couple of weeks and it really wasn’t ready, so we put it in Sundance
and it got great reviews and it did really well, and all the screenings were sold out, but we really felt like
we’d rushed the end, so we re-did the ending,
we improved the music, the pacing of the film improved, and then we got the
opportunity like you said to interview Lewis Hamilton, and then also the story
of the Tennessee Titans also was added after that, which was a really powerful
story line I think. And that’s when Lewis came on
board as an Executive Producer and later obviously Arnold
came on board and Jackie Chan. It’s actually the quality of the film. And those people are there
to help make the film or help get it made, or
help get it promoted. And then Lewis Hamilton, and then also Novak Djokovic who just won Wimbledon obviously, and Chris Paul who’s a nine
time all-star NBA player. So Lewis is interviewed in the film, Chris Paul and Novak are highlighted just as some of these high level plant-based athletes who are existing. And there’s a lot now, obviously. And then Arnold is also
in the film as well. So Jackie Chan and James Cameron
are not in the film itself, but they’re on board
as Executive Producers. – As more and more people came forward, like for example Novak Djokovic
who you just mentioned, was the temptation to
re-do the film again? And if not, that would beg the question, “Why don’t we do perhaps “Game
Changers 2″ in a few years?” What’s the situation with that, with having these huge names come forward and making that insertion
if they want to be involved. Do we do it again, which
is going to be a nightmare from an editing point of view. You obviously started in 2013, what is the thought process
and what’s the trajectory going to look like in terms
of involving those people? – [James] Yeah, it’s
really difficult, right, because elite athletes are
really starting to switch over to a plant-based diet, and
as they start switching over, it’s tempting to include them in the film. But at some point you’ve
just got to have a cut-off and say that’s it. I don’t think there’s going
to be a “Game Changers 2”, but certainly we could do other media like maybe a series or
something like that, or even just stuff on the web, and also we have 600 hours
of footage that we recorded, which we worked down
into an 86-minute film, so we’ve got a lot of footage, we actually built out a
22-minute bonus content piece which is on September
16th, when we have the global theatrical release around the world in about 2000 theaters. There’s also an exclusive after show with this 22-minute bonus content and that’s actually got deleted scenes and extended footage and
surprise appearances as well. So we got to put some athletes
that didn’t make the film, and then we got to show some great stories like the Forest Green Rovers or the plant-based night that they had at the Pittsburgh Pirates, the PNC Park. So we got to put some other
great stories in there. So we’ll continue to do media, but I don’t think we’d
do another full-length, you know, it wouldn’t
be a “Game Changers 2” as a full-length documentary feature. – [Klaus] That makes sense, yeah. And I’ll link that
September world-wide premier down below if anybody’s
interested in checking out. I know there’ll be a lot
of people interested. So, I think it’s fair to say that people already having seen the trailer think that this is
going to be a bigger hit than, say, “What The Health?” which I know we can both
say is a great production. There’s not really much controversy there, and I think you guys take
it to the next level. The question is, do
you think that’s due to the editing and the camera work, or more the people that
you’ve got involved. What is is about this film that takes it a level up, do you think? Or is it a combination of things perhaps? – [James] I think it’s just
that every step of the way, we tried to do everything at
the highest possible quality. So that was from deciding what was going to go into the film, the footage the shot with
the cameras that we used with the editors that we used, with the graphics people that we used, to the sound design and the sound mixing that we did at Skywalker Ranch, one of the top places in the world, to the color correction. Everything was just done
at the highest level, and especially I think was
important is the research. So we spent a lot of time
on the scientific research with our Chief Science
Advisor David Goldman and because of that science, the film has been accredited not only by the American
College of Lifestyle Medicine, which means that every doctor
and nurse and dietician in the United States can get required ongoing medical education credits by watching the film and taking
the quiz that we developed. They’re also working with our 16 partner international organizations. But on top of that, the
Defense Health Agency for the United States, which is the Department of Defense that
oversees their nutrition, they’ve also accredited the film. So the first time ever a
film has been accredited. So I think the people, the scientists, and these scientific
bodies are recognizing the authenticity and the credibility of the science in the film, so I think that has really
added value to the film. And then also the
production quality as well. – So you’re saying the
research that you did before in the beginning of the journey, of the Game Changers journey, was research into what
physiological effects of meat and things like that, or
what kind of research was it? The film heavily looks at
performance and recovery, but it also looks at health. So I think it terms of
the performance aspect, that hasn’t really been
covered well before, so we really dug into that research and that lies primarily around
inflammation and blood flow. There’s this myth that you
can’t get enough protein. Of course, all protein
originates in plants. Animals are just the middle man, right? And those animals are doing you a disservice if you’re eating them. They’re eating the plant-based food, they’re robbing it of the
fiber and the phytonutrients. They’re concentrating the
pesticides and the heavy metals. And they’re also adding in
inflammatory components, and so that can really affect
your athletic performance. Then, in the longer term,
those same mechanisms that affect your performance are also going to affect your health. So we really dug into the science. We also made sure that we
were only mentioning studies that were reflective of the
preponderance of evidence, so we’re either using meta
analysis, and we made sure, anyone can cherry pick
data here and there, so we were very insistent that we were reflecting the science, and that’s why the film
has been accredited by these scientific bodies. I think that was really important. – Do you expect to face criticism, I mean people are typically
anti plant-based, anti-vegan, like Joe Rogan for example
said James Cameron, who’s the Executive Producer,
is on some weird vegan kick. This is kind of interesting, isn’t it? Do you expect to face a lot of criticism when the film comes out? – Yeah, it’s interesting
how emotional people get about the food that they eat, right? So I think we’re bound to, any position that you take, you’re bound to get some
feedback and some pushback. I think from the carnivore folks where they’re eating only meat, which seems absolutely ludicrous to me, and then also paleo folks, they tend to push back a bit as well. The interesting thing is
that the longest research ever done on the paleo diet,
there was a two year follow-up showed that they certainly
did get improved weight loss in the short term, they also
got improved blood markers. But the interesting thing
was, they cut out dairy, they increased their
fruits and vegetables, and the one thing that they
did not follow the advice of was the protein recommendations. So they didn’t actually increase their meat consumption in the long run, in the short run they did
but they didn’t stick to it. So the funny thing is about people that actually think
they’re on the paleo diet, they’re increasing their fruits and vegetables which is plants. They’re reducing their dairy
intake, or eliminating it, which we would agree with as well, and then they’re not
increasing their meat intake, so they’re basically going, and they’re also reducing or eliminating heavily refined foods like
white sugar and white flour and that sort of thing, so what they’re effectively doing is going from a standard western diet and reducing refined intake, keeping meat the same, dropping dairy down, and increasing their plant intake. So actually people that think they’re on a paleo diet, they’re actually shifting more
in a plant-based direction. Look, we’re not trying to say
go vegan or go vegetarian. If you want to do that, great. We’re going to just dispel some
myths and prove some facts, and hopefully that causes a shift towards more plant-based eating and preferably more whole plants, because that’s going to
be better for your health and better for your performance. But certainly people that
are going on a paleo diet are actually doing that anyway. They’re shifting more
towards plant-based eating. It would be great if they
would shift even more, but it’s funny for anyone
from the paleo movement to try and say, “Well, this plant-based.” Well, that’s what you’re doing when you switch from a
standard western diet, which I think most people
would agree is not healthy and not great for performance, that’s what they’re doing anyway. – Do you touch on that in the documentary? Obviously the paleo keto
things would be popular in a sort of lifestyle health space. Then you talk about the carnivore diet which is a new form of
ketogenic diet I guess which is trending at the moment. – We interviewed some of the world’s leading paleoanthropologists, including the head of anthropology at
Harvard, Richard Wrangham, and we really addressed this myth that our ancestors were eating mostly animal foods, which they weren’t. So that’s addressed from many perspectives based on something called
differential preservation, where we used the, plants basically biodegrade, and animal bones and the tools
to chop up those animals, they don’t biodegrade, so there’s
differential preservation, which basically means that
those things still exist in the archeological record and
the plants have biodegraded. That shifts people’s views to think, “Well, we were obviously
eating mostly animals.” But in the last 10 years,
they’re using new methods to look at microscopic
plants, and they’re finding that we were eating a lot more plants than they once thought. Then scientists talk about the teeth and many other things in the film as well, the length of the digestive tract and these things that
you’ve probably heard of. So we addressed that, we don’t
look at the carnivore diet, because as we were filming it, it wasn’t that prevalent
until more recently. We’re not going after paleo
diet or keto diet per se, but for example we do highlight
one study in the film, there was an eight week
randomized control trial where there was people eating a normal amount of carbohydrates, which is obviously coming from plants versus a ketogenic low carbohydrate diet and the people in the normal carb diet actually gained 2.6 pounds
of muscle over eight weeks and during the same, it was isocaloric, which means they’re eating
the same amount of calories, they were both getting the
same amount of protein. The folks on the keto diet actually lost .2 pounds
of muscle in that period, given the same amount of
calories and same protein, so we show that briefly, but we don’t really address
the keto diet per se. – I’ve asked you what you think the main criticisms will
be when the film comes out, have you had any criticisms so far, and what’s it been around? What’s it been about? – Overall, we’ve been surprised. Even the demographic that we thought would be very resistant, gym rats and those types, you know, young guys in their 20s that are hitting the
gym, that are all about, “Get my protein, get my meat.” They’ve been actually, we thought they’d be pushing back, and they’ve actually
been the most responsive. So it’s incredible at these pre-screenings that we’ve been doing, some of the festivals and then we’ve done some other screenings as well. It’s amazing how from
just the single film, the shift that people are making. It’s a high percentage of people that have watched the
film that have told us, “Look, I’ve gone all the way, I’m all in. “I’m recovering better, I’m feeling good.” And they’re sticking with it. So it’s pretty amazing, and I’m surprised there hasn’t been as much push back. – And what’s the distribution plan after the worldwide premier in September, which again, go link down below. – So September 16th is
a one night only event, and that’s just to take
it out to the world, and again that includes the 22-minute after show bonus content
that’s never been seen before. Unfortunately, contractually, I’m not able to say where it’s going next, so I definitely encourage people to go watch the theatrical
if they’re able to, but they should also rest assured that it will be available in
lots of other ways after that. – I get that, no, it’s no worries. Obviously coming to the end now, really appreciate your time. You’ve met some amazing sports stars over the last couple of
years, five years actually. Have you got any inside scoop about any of those experiences? What it was like filming with them, who you connected with,
who really inspired you? – People that have inspired me the most honestly aren’t the ones
with the biggest names, like Patrik Baboumian
has an incredible story, becoming one of the
strongest men in the world. He has a Guinness world record in the film for the heaviest weight ever
carried by a human being, which is just incredible. – And Arnold Schwarzenegger,
what was it like securing that kind of interview and did Executive Producer James Cameron who’s close with Arnold Schwarzenegger, did he help get that interview? – Yeah, and it was really incredible from the very first moment we met him at his house
throughout with Joseph Pace, the other writer, and also Rip Esselstyn, one of the other Executive
Producers, from Engine 2. James Cameron could not
have been more supportive and helpful the whole journey, I mean from the story line,
the favorite theme in the film is regarding erectile function, it seems like the most favorite of all the screenings that we’ve done, and that was really, we mentioned it to James Cameron, and we thought, “Mm, I don’t know “if we should really do this, “because it’s a little bit over the top, “a bit controversial.” And he said, “No, I absolutely think “if you’re going after this
real men eat meat myth, “I really think you should put it in.” So we’ve had a number of
one, two hour calls at a time with him helping with story line and in terms of connecting
us for example to Arnold. I mean, Arnold’s really
passionate about it, especially in terms of
environmental footprint. Dispelling this myth, showing people that it’s all about marketing and
it’s not based in reality. So Arnold is very
passionate about it anyway, but certainly having James Cameron make those connections
obviously is just invaluable. – Last question. People have been waiting a long time for “The Game Changers”. Will it be worth the wait for them? And if you’ve got any
other closing remarks, anything you haven’t
mentioned in this interview that’s worth highlighting. – I’m really proud of it. It’s taken a lot longer than I thought. If you’d have told me in the beginning how long it would have taken,
I wouldn’t have done it. Because it’s just been an
incredible amount of work and stress for myself and the whole team, including Joseph Pace, the
other Producer and co-writer. So it’s been a lot of work, but we’re really proud of where it is now, and we really think people are going to, from the screenings
that we’ve done so far, these pre-screenings before
the global theatrical premier, the shift that it’s
making in people’s lives I think is just really inspiring. So, whether people’s
motivation is the environment, or whether it’s animals, or whether it’s their
health or their performance, we really think everyone’s
going to get something from it, and it’s surprising the demographics which have been interested. You know, we thought it would
be younger, mostly male, but it’s been male, female, young, old. Just people coming up to me afterwards after they saw it at one of
these pre-screenings are like, “I’ve switched, I’m doing better.” From the 18 year olds at the gym to the 80 year old that’s had relatives that have died of heart disease come up to me and say, “I’m just feeling better.” So I really think people
are going to enjoy it. In terms of getting tickets, it’s easiest just to go through our website which is: gamechangersmovie.com and obviously if you want to follow us on Instagram, we’re @gamechangersmovie, and gcmovie on Twitter and
gamechangersmovie on Facebook. Again, it’s one night only, so people should definitely
get their tickets because they are selling pretty fast. – Thank you so much for your time, I really, really appreciate it. Don’t forget everybody,
a link will be down below for the theatrical release, thank you James, and please subscribe for
more plant based news. Thank you everybody for watching, I’ll see you guys very, very soon. (whooshing)