by micha thomas
Andrew Morgan's skills as a director and storyteller have been put to GOOD use his entire career. He believes that storytelling can and will lead to a better tomorrow, so he co-founded Untold Creative, a hybrid film-making studio, and regularly espouses the power of narrative as a tool for fighting human rights injustices. In The True Cost, he and his co-producers, including Livia Firth, an Oxfam Global Ambassador and wife of Colin Firth, truly bit off a massive humanitarian and environmental issue - the consumption patterns of the world and the despair of fast fashion. We won't give too much away, as this is one documentary we truly believe you should watch and you can - via Netflix, iTunes and Amazon. Following is the conversation we had with Andrew this summer, an excellent dialogue to revisit as our heaviest consumption period is upon us - the holidays.
How long did it take to make this movie? Both filming and pulling the pieces together?
It was a little over two years.
Were you more concerned with the root cause, the outcome, or both when entering into making this film?
Well, I first entered the story concerned about the outcome. I read a NYT article about the clothing factory collapse outside of Dhaka, Bangladesh that broke my heart. Once I began researching, it led me and the film to a place of questioning the root cause of a system that is producing such negative impacts.
What groups have responded the strongest so far (countries, business sectors, etc.)?
The release has been an incredible experience, and the feedback has been overwhelming. We opened in more than 100 countries translated into 19 languages and counting, so the reaction has been diverse but also unified. There is a common sentiment of people having an eye-opening experience and wanting to bring about true change in their own lives.
Is your hope to eliminate some of these factories altogether or better them?
I am first and foremost a story teller. My focus from day one was to make a film that sparked a new and needed conversation around these issues. These are gravely serious and immensely complex problems that must be addressed with very purposeful measures. That said, I believe all change begins with awareness, and we are standing in the midst of a major awareness shift on these issues which is thrilling to witness.
Have you been met with any resistance from some prominent people in fashion to have these stories told?
Absolutely. These are hugely profitable businesses built on the notion that you and I will not care enough to ask questions. They have gone out of their way to conceal this story because the model itself needs a large amount of unawareness in order to thrive. There are also those working in fashion who have come forward to pledge their support and bring about true change in their models.
Do you think the made in America movement is gaining enough steam to topple some of the fast fashion problems and the reasons they began?
Change usually comes from the outside, the edges or the fringe of an industry. That is what we are beginning to see take place right now in fashion. New companies are coming to the table with better systems in place for more mindful results and they are starting to see real traction. As this grows, the larger companies will shift in order to avoid missing out on market share. We are not going to see these large brands transform overnight or close up shop, but we can drive things forward and they will hurry to catch up in a similar way we have seen the food industry evolve in recent years.
What can consumers do after they watch this film?
We can start by examining the choices we make. I began by simply slowing down the amount of clothes I brought into my life and instead have begun investing in very few pieces that I love and will hold onto for a long time. Fashion is a beautiful, needed part of our world and should be celebrated, I just want to see us open our eyes to the lie of endless consumption and get off the treadmill of buying a lot of cheap throw away stuff.
Firth to Vogue this summer: