We interviewed Keegan Kuhn Co-Director of the award-winning documentary, Cowspiracy and What the Health.
Have a look at the interview below or watch the video.
TAMMY FRY: So I’m here with Keegan Kuhn, one of the co-directors of Cowspiracy and What the Health. And I thought I would take this opportunity to get a little more insight into the making of the films and to share some of that with the people watching today. So Keegan, thank you…
KEEGAN KUHN: Thank you.
TAMMY FRY: …for taking some time. I wanted to ask you, how long did it actually take you to put together this film? You know, how many years it was in the making?
KEEGAN KUHN: What The Health took two and a half years to make from start to completion. We thought we were going to do the film really fast. Kip Anderson, my co-director and I did Cowspiracy in ten months which was really, really short. So we thought well, “we would be able to bust this out in a year”, and it took us a lot longer because there’s so much more information, there’s so much more research that went into the film, and it’s an even more detailed film than Cowspiracy. So it was about a year of shooting and a good year of editing non-stop, but close to two years of editing.
TAMMY FRY: And speaking of editing is there any part you felt would be best to leave out of the film that you would like to tell us about?
KEEGAN KUHN: There’s so much we had to leave out of the film. We shot over 100 hours’ worth of footage, and we cut it down to a 90-minute film. There was an entire section that we have that dealt more with racial injustice that exists in the food system, and that’s a big subject that we just felt we couldn’t really fit into the film to do it justice. I’m actually working on another film with John Lewis, aka, “BadassVegan”, that is going to deal with that issue almost exclusively. But there is just so much information, and actually our website, whatthehealthfilm.com is going to be a resource and we are going to be constantly updating information on things that we couldn’t fit into the film, and extended information on what we did include in the film.
TAMMY FRY: Thank you. And what do you think was the most challenging moment for you making the film?
KEEGAN KUHN: The hardest part about making this film was definitely filming in North Carolina. When we went to North Carolina and we saw families who are affected by living next to pig farms and living near this pollution. It put a real human face to the impacts of this industry. To see, you know, hundreds and thousands of fish floating to the surface of the water because they are suffocating from the pollution from the rivers there, so again, very disturbing and it brought it very much home that this is not an abstract issue that humans, animals and non-human animals are dying and are suffering because of this industry. And that’s a real motivator.
TAMMY FRY: I can imagine it must be very difficult. Watching it on screen and actually being there must be two very different things. So that brings me to my next question, you and Kip seem very calm when you’re dealing with sometimes very difficult situations – how do you stay calm, because I mean, have you ever thrown your camera at anyone?
KEEGAN KUHN: Kip and I definitely try to stay calm. Some of these interviews we go into are very stressful, or at least, very awkward. Kip’s a really calm guy so that helps a lot – he tends to keep his cool very well – especially in these interview situations. For me, because I’m behind the camera, I tend to kind of just shrink into the job that I’m doing and just focus on what I’m there to do but sometimes they are definitely stressful, they’re definitely awkward, really uncomfortable. But really what it comes down to is that we’re creating films with a mission. We want to inform and educate people and so that’s what we always keep coming back to is, how do we get this information out to as many people as possible, and we need to do whatever we can do to make it as effective as possible. And so staying calm, staying focused is what we always do.
TAMMY FRY: Well, and a little bit of meditation.
KEEGAN KUHN: Something like that.
TAMMY FRY: So my surname is “Fry”, so this interview wouldn’t be complete without asking you what do you think about the future of plant-based meats?
KEEGAN KUHN: I think plant-based meats changed the whole game. When people first hear about a plant-based diet or move towards a vegan diet, they think they have to give up everything. They think it’s a totally new foreign diet but the truth is because of Fry’s, people don’t have to give up their lifestyle and can continue to eat the exact same diet as they have ever eaten – just change it to plant-based. And so they can exclude all the cruelty, you know, the unsustainable aspects of animal agriculture, and so many of the really horrible, negative side effects on their health by eating plant-based meats. So I think they are phenomenal, I think they are absolutely pivotal in the transition of moving away from animal-based foods towards plant-based foods. Plant-based meats are the way to go.
TAMMY FRY: That was a good answer!
TAMMY FRY: What’s next for you and Kip, or for you?
KEEGAN KUHN: I have a new film that I’m working on called, Running For Good, which is following the incredible three-time world record marathon runner, Fiona Oakes, and is a film which is in production right now. Kip Anderson is working on another feature film as well, and he tends to keep things really under wraps while he is working on them so I can’t really mention much more right now, but that’s an exciting film. His non-profit, A.U.M Films that produced What The Health and Cowspiracy, is producing a number of incredible documentaries that are coming out, so I really recommend people to check out aumfilms.org or go to the whatthehealthfilm.com website and the cowspiracy.com website and to stay up to date with everything that we are working on.
TAMMY FRY: Well that’s incredibly exciting – maybe we will have another interview with Kip soon.
KEEGAN KUHN: That’s right.
TAMMY FRY: So have you, just to finish off, have you got a message for vegan advocates that are out there fighting the fight? Have you got anything you would like to say to them?
KEEGAN KUHN: It can be really frustrating advocating for veganism because we’re in a non-vegan world. I think it’s important to be compassionate – compassionate with other people and to remember that everyone is on a path and to remember that most of us weren’t born this way and someone had to take the time and energy to educate us, so be patient and compassionate – and to be patient and compassionate with ourselves as well. It can be frustrating, it can be draining, and to give yourself a break, and to be kind – always. Sometimes when it’s hard for you to find your voice, look at what you’re good at, what makes you feel good, what really inspires you and do that, and make that your activism. But to never forget that this is much bigger than us. It is much bigger than us as individuals. This about the planet, it is about the individuals who are suffering in this industry and all of the human beings who are suffering because of this industry. And that’s where I get my motivation – I think of the victims and I always think, “What would I want someone to do for me if I was in their place?” And so, that’s what keeps me going and where I really draw inspiration.
TAMMY FRY: Well thank you for your time.
KEEGAN KUHN: Thank you.
Follow Tammy and Keegan on Instagram:
Tammy – @tammyfry_269
Keegan – @firstsparkmedia