What the Health film

New Doc ‘What the Health’ Looks at Healthy Diet, Health Orgs

‘What the Health,’ took a surprising turn in filming process, says local associate producer

Bill Meade remembers the early days of filming a movie that would become What the Health, which has its Santa Cruz premiere at the Nick on Wednesday, May 17 at 7 p.m.

“When we started with it, we thought we were just going to get the latest thinking on health,” says Meade, an associate producer who lives in Santa Cruz County. The filmmakers spoke with more than a dozen doctors to pick their brains about healthy living, diet and new trends, he says, before then going to check in with some leaders in the healthcare industry. The filmmakers pretty much got the door slammed in their faces.

“If that’s where you want to go with this, I’m sorry—I can’t help you,” a white-haired man tells writer/director Kip Andersen, as the filmmaker confusedly looks down at his notes inside a corporate office in the movie’s trailer.

The filming process soon veered, and as much as anything, the documentary became one about the healthcare industry’s deep-pocketed, callous indifference to the problems that actually ail people, says Meade, who stimulated major fundraising and provided guidance for the project.

Among its many experts, What the Health—which currently has a 9/10 rating on IMDB—also features nutrition-based doctor Michael Klaper, who used to practice in Santa Cruz.

The film explores the rise of cancer, diabetes and other chronic diseases—as well as the roles of the pharmaceutical industry, major health organizations and big money.

“If there’s one concern I’ve heard about the film, it’s that it has so many facts in it, it can be overwhelming,” Meade says.

The film is being dubbed into three languages, as Anderson—co-director of 2014’s Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret—shops it around to independent film festivals. It’s currently streaming on Vimeo for $10, and the filmmakers’ goal is to get it on Netflix.

Meade, who’s been vegetarian for 40 years, says if ticket sales are strong enough, the May 17 showing could get moved to the Del Mar. The doc fits into Meade’s larger vision of getting people to see how their own health is connected to that of the planet.

“I try to help people understand the interconnectivity of life,” he says. “We tend to think that human beings are put on this earth just to live our lives. But we are connected to the earth, like tree roots going into the ground. There’s a boomerang effect and if we disrespect our world, it comes back to affect us with ocean pollution and pesticides. You really have to take care of everything jointly.”

“What the Health” will screen at the Nick at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 17. Tickets are $10. 

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