Bubble bursting: Short film on conservatives & climate
By Breene Murphy
Traditional media rarely shows the conservative view on the environment. Anna Sagatov, a film student at Montana State University in Bozeman wanted to capture that view outside of her university, starting with the conservatives in the Montana countryside who have their own stories, often bound by a closeness to the earth. The film expands to a broader conservative demand for climate action.
“I wanted to get out of the bubble,” Anna said. “Conservatives who care about climate change is a gray area, and I wanted to better understand it. It wasn’t just a school project for me. I wanted to learn about people. I wanted to show a new perspective.”
This desire led to her create “Red, Green, and Blue,” a story about the viewpoints of three conservatives and their views on environmentalism. It features Patrick Hackley, a Montana rancher; Chas Vincent, Republican State Senator representing District 1 in Montana’s state legislature; and Alex Bozmoski, Managing Director of RepublicEn.org.
Listening and relationships
“I felt like the best way to make an impact was through film. Science itself wasn’t reaching enough eyes,” Anna said.
Anna met the stars of the film through friends of friends and colleagues. The Montana state Film commissioner introduced her to farmer and rancher Patrick Hackley. She had a friend who knew Chas Vincent. Alex Bozmoski responded to a query email. And she traveled to different parts to interview them.
What struck me as being very CCL about her project was the actual interviewing process.
“I love conducting interviews because it gives you an excuse to ask these really deep questions. When you put people in an environment to ask really in-depth questions, it can create a safe space where people feel comfortable… people are so often on guard,” she said. “Patrick welcomed us into his home and talked about everything. He was honest and enthusiastic. Some of his cows were out, and the changing weather patterns were affecting his calves survival rate. [The interview is] temporary, but I see it as a very positive thing.”
A tough bubble to burst
Because “Red, Green, and Blue” was part of her master’s program in Science and Natural History Filmmaking, her first audience was her professor.
“My professor was uncomfortable with the idea that conservatives care about the environment and want to do the right thing. He said, ‘It’s too much of a gray area. People aren’t going to like this,’” Anna said.
“It’s hard to put something out in the world when the first voice is negative. I want to be a filmmaker for reasons beyond academic or professional approval,” Anna said.
But then she shared it with the stars of the film, who loved it. Then she showed the film to her CCL chapter, and they immediately wanted to help get the word out for the film. Kristen Walser and Bill Barron worked toward sharing it at upcoming conferences. Alex Bozmoski of RepublicEn praised her project and retweeted the video on Twitter to thousands of followers.
Anna’s mentor told her, ‘If I didn’t know you, I wouldn’t know what your politics were.’”
A story you won’t see
“On my way up to Sidney, Montana, to interview Patrick the rancher, we stopped at a mining town to get something to eat. We were in this tiny little bar on mainstreet. The only other people in the bar worked in a coal mine. They came over and they sat down. We asked them about their lives before diving into, ‘Oh, we’re making a film about climate change.’”
But the conversation did eventually lead to Anna’s project.
“‘It’s not that we don’t want renewable energy, we just see that it’s going to take a long time to transition,’ the coal miner told me. ‘Liberals are expecting it’s going to happen in a couple days.’ He came out with counterstatistics about the carbon footprint of making hybrids or windmills. He wanted to do the right thing,” Anna said.
“There are many sides to the story, it’s so multifaceted. I wish I would have been able to add that to my project because it captures the bubbles we’re all in. He’s in a bubble, I’m in a bubble,” she said.
Leveraging the film
“We do have the same goals, but different ideas and methods for getting there,” Anna shared. “CCL achieves goals of left and right, and that’s why I wanted to do this.”
If you want to see the film and/or host a watch party to better understand conservative perspectives on climate change, the film is free to watch here.
“The film is great to share within each of our own circles of friends,” said Jim Tolbert, CCL’s Conservative Outreach Director. “Sharing with right of center audiences reinforces the message from conservatives that we need to conservative policy created on climate and energy policy. Sharing with left of center audiences encourages more dialogue toward the center. The film helps build bridges and breaks down people’s perceptions of the people they consider on the other side.”
Anna also noted that CCL’s approach of developing relationships and listening intently are great traits for a documentary filmmaker. She also said that even the process of making the film was valuable. So maybe you should make your own documentary too.