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  • Hey, it’s Marie Forleo and you are watching MarieTV, the place to be to create a business

  • and a life that you love. In our fast paced world, it’s really easy to miss the beauty

  • that’s often right in front of our face. And today my guest has devoted his entire

  • career to giving us a glimpse of the magic and the wonder that surrounds us each and

  • every day.

  • Louie Schwartzberg is an award-winning producer, director, and cinematographer who’s been

  • shooting time-lapse 24/7 continuously for nearly 4 decades. Schwartzberg is a visual

  • artist breaking barriers and telling stories that celebrate nature and life. Two of his

  • recent TEDx talks are regularly cited among the top watched of all time. A 15 episode

  • web series based on his viral video, Gratitude Revealed, is currently on Oprah.com and he

  • was a guest on Super Soul Sunday. His moving art series, which explores the beauty and

  • majesty of nature, is available on Netflix. His most recent films include Wings of Life,

  • narrated by Meryl Streep, and Mysteries of the Unseen World, an IMAX film narrated by

  • Forest Whitaker. Over his long trailblazing career, Schwartzberg has earned a myriad of

  • awards and honors and was recognized as one of the top 70 cinematographers for the on

  • film Kodak salute series.

  • Louie, thank you so much for taking the time to be here today.

  • Great to be here.

  • So youre a pioneer in the field of time-lapse photography. What inspired you to get into

  • this unique aspect of filmmaking?

  • Well, when I graduated from UCLA I wanted to shoot the highest quality resolution film

  • I could, but I didn't have any money. So I got involved with time lapse because I could

  • shoot one frame every 20 minutes and it would take me a month or two to shoot a roll of

  • film, which was four minutes, and that enabled me to kind of do high quality cinematography

  • but, at the same time, not spend a lot of money. But in addition to that, it really

  • filled my sense of wonder. I mean, being able to see the world from a different time and

  • space, it changes your worldview. It broadens your horizons. I mean, to see the world from

  • the point of view of a flower or the point of view of a mosquito or the point of view

  • of a redwood tree, makes you really understand that we have these narrow windows that we

  • look through and if we can begin to open up that portal, it opens up your heart and definitely

  • feeds your mind and your soul.

  • Did you ever have dreams to be a traditional filmmaker in the sense of, like, I want to

  • go to Hollywood and make those big movies? Or was this always something that you dreamed

  • of perhaps since you were little? I was curious about that trajectory.

  • Yeah, well, growing up in Brooklyn I had no idea I would ever be filming nature, let alone

  • filmmaking. My parents were Holocaust survivors and if they didn't experience, well, neither

  • did I. But when I went to UCLA I got involved in documenting the anti-war movement, which

  • was something that wasit was a way for me to fight back, a way to record the police

  • brutality against the demonstrators, especially against women. And that turned me onto photography

  • and filmmaking, which then turned me onto my greatest teacher. She taught me everything

  • about lighting, composition, and color. It was mother nature. And that was the path I’ve

  • been on because mother nature teaches you really how to live a creative and sustainable

  • life. So I followed my passion more than dreaming about being a Hollywood filmmaker and, interestingly

  • enough, Hollywood caught up to my vision because then we built a large company, they started

  • licensing time-lapse cinematography for commercials, music videos, feature films. And not just

  • time lapse but, you know, aerial, slice of life, contemporary imagery which did not exist

  • before. So basically I created the stockthe contemporary stock footage licensing business.

  • That’s incredible. And it’s something that I know in the beginning of my career

  • just beautiful stock photography and all those things, it made such a difference just to

  • have these beautiful images, so thank you for pioneering that.

  • Yeah.

  • One of the things that you say that I love, that beauty and seduction are nature’s tools

  • for survival. We protect what we fall in love with. Can you tell us more about that philosophy

  • and how youve seen that come to life over the course of your career?

  • Well, I’ve had a camera going 24 hours a day 7 days a week for over 3 decades shooting

  • time lapse flowers. Flowers are beautiful, right? You love them as well. And capturing

  • their beauty and the way they move to the light seduced me, and that was enough to keep

  • me going but I think there’s really a greater story, and that story was when I found out

  • that the bees were dying. Well, you can’t tell the story about the bees without telling

  • a story about flowers and how they co-evolved over 50 million years. I call it a love story

  • that feeds the earth. So that relationship between the animal world and the plant world,

  • gives us the most nutritious food we need to eat: fruits, nuts, vegetables, and seeds.

  • It’s the foundation of life on our planet. And that relationship of pollination is based

  • on beauty. I mean, this gorgeous flower and its color and its pattern is saying to the

  • pollinator, “Come over here, I need to reproduce. I’m ready to go, I need to be fertilized.”

  • You know? So the insect, the bee, gets, you know, nectar and pollen so that it can feed

  • its young. The flower gets its DNA moved from one partner to another because plants don't

  • have legs and they can’t walk. And they can’t mate and they can’t date without

  • a messenger. So life is all about, you know, DNA moving forward, and so beauty and seduction

  • is nature’s way for life to move forward. And we are hardwired, just like they are.

  • I mean, youve got a beautiful dress on today.

  • Thank you.

  • The pattern and the colors are designed for my eyes to notice it. Correct?

  • Yeah.

  • So were hardwired to respond to color, taste, touch, and smell. It’s… it’s

  • in ourwell, it’s just in our soul.

  • Yeah.

  • Now, advertisers use it all the time to manipulate people. There’s always a pretty girl next

  • to a car.

  • Yeah.

  • Right?

  • Hopefully not so many moving forward, but yeah.

  • No, butbut, you know, we, to be honest about it, they use sex all the time to sell

  • products.

  • Sure.

  • Andand theyve studied it really well because they know they can manipulate you

  • in a certain way. So nature has, you know, has kind of embedded our sensibility to respond

  • to vibrations of color, light, touch, and smell. And that is what motivates, I guess

  • itit truly makes the world go around.

  • Yeah. You know, I was actually thinking about that particularly for Wings of Life, which

  • is narrated by Meryl Streep, and it is a breathtaking feature from a decidedly feminine perspective.

  • Right.

  • And I thought that was fascinating and I was curious how you came to that choice, if you

  • started the project with that in mind or if that was something that evolved from starting

  • to look at the footage and what you were shooting.

  • It really evolved. You know, most nature programs are based on predator vs prey.

  • Yes.

  • Which is very manipulative and, well, it induces fear, fear and anxiety, but it gets good ratings.

  • Shark Week is always the most popular show on television. But if you really study nature,

  • if youre present and mindful and observant, it’s the little things that make the world

  • go round. It’s the billions of interactions, as I said earlier, between the pollinators

  • and the flowers, it’s the foundation of life. And that story is a feminine story cuz

  • it’s about relationships, cooperation, symbiosis, nurturing. That is the foundation of life.

  • So obviously I had to tell it from a feminine point of view and who would be thethe

  • best female voice in the world? Meryl Streep. Right?

  • I loved it. I mean, I keep going back to it. And I’m so thankful that there’s a portion

  • of your work on Netflix, which I’m a subscriber. So I was just sitting there and listening

  • to it and watching some things again and particularly, the other thing that got me curious was thinking

  • about you and your process in this, particularly with Wings of Life. And wondering, you know,

  • do you do so much research on these different flowers and the different insects and the

  • different birds and the animals before you actually go in to shoot? So I was thinking

  • about particularly the bucket orchid.

  • Yeah.

  • And the orchid bees.

  • Right.

  • And just how extraordinary it is that these bucket bees come in, they get seduced by the

  • nectar, and there’s one escape route and she holds onto that bee until she can glue

  • down those pollen sacs. So I was just curious to hear from you how much research you do

  • before and what isor, versus, what is the process? Like, woah, that actually happens.

  • As a documentary filmmaker I’m always on the voyage of discovery.

  • Yeah.

  • So I’m not an expert about insects or flowers, but what I do is I work with scientists and

  • I hear all the, you know, research and the stories and I pick the most seductive story

  • that I think will help me tell the grander story of what were trying to, you know,

  • show. So the orchid bee, I loved itcause it reminded me of a guy going from one bar

  • to the other trying to score some perfume so he can get a date. Right?

  • Yeah.

  • But every time he does, he almost dies.

  • And that’s what got me so scared with that scene. I was like oh my goodness, is this

  • orchid just gonna kill the bee?

  • Yeah. So the typical male is going from bar to bar trying to pick up a girl and, you know,

  • and every time he does he almost dies. But after that experience he does it all over

  • again. The drive for life to go forward is so strong, it’s unstoppable. And in most

  • species, I mean, theyll give up food and water in order to mate. You know, and it’s

  • pretty amazing and powerful. So when I… so rather than just doing a story about a

  • bee, you know, I hear, well, there’s a bumblebee and there’s a honeybee and then there’s

  • the orchid bee. What a rare experience it was to shoot that in Panama. As a matter of

  • fact, it really had never been recorded on film before. But when the scientists told

  • me about that story I thought it was a great opener because it’s not lovey dovey, it’s

  • not a Pollyanna story. Right?

  • Right.

  • I mean, it engages you because the bee almost dies.

  • Yes.

  • You know.

  • Which that’s exactly what I thought was going to happen.

  • Yeah.

  • I thought he was out.

  • And it’s remarkable and it’s incredible and he looks like a martian.

  • Yup.

  • He’s like flourescent blue and turquoise. So that was a good way to kind of, you know,

  • grab an audience.

  • That’s awesome. And the other thing that I love, I happen to have a real affection

  • for hummingbirds.

  • Yeah.

  • Like I know a lot of people do. And seeing them do those acrobatics and how youre

  • able to capture something that moves so fast that we wouldn’t be able to see if you haven’t

  • captured it and showed it to us in this new framework.

  • Well, that’s the beauty of slow motion again. We live in this narrow world, were recording

  • right now at 24 frames per second. That’s the human POV. There’s a lot ofwhen

  • I say POV, point of view.

  • Yeah.

  • For the audience.

  • Yeah.

  • And what a wonderful way to expand your mind and your consciousness to realize that there

  • are so many different ways of looking at life that is real. And slow motion, with the hummingbirds,

  • it puts you into their world of, you know, youre seeing the combat, youre seeing

  • the twirls and all those acrobatics but to our eyes it’s just a blur.

  • Yes.

  • You see a hummingbird go by go [woosh]. There it went. And so to be in their world, to see

  • it from their point of view, it opens your heart and I think it makes you appreciate

  • life, it makes you appreciate hummingbirds, maybe itll make you put up a feeder in

  • your backyard.

  • Yes, I have them.

  • Do you?

  • Yeah.

  • Andand that’s good because I think it generates compassion.

  • Yes.

  • By being present and mindful, and gratitude.

  • Let’s talk about the power of focus. You know, in this world, especially with technology,

  • which I think can be such an asset and then sometimes it can be a hindrance, I hear so

  • many people struggling with what to focus on. They have so many choices from what foods

  • to buy, from what to do with their businesses and their careers and what to watch and what

  • to read, and I know for you, you really have to choose your focus. There’s so many things

  • that you could put your camera on. And even within the frame of what you want to shoot,

  • there’s so many different angles. So I’m curious if you can speak to how choosing where

  • to focus both in your work and your life has evolved through what you do.

  • Well, I think it’s a wonderful metaphor if you look at it from a cinematographer’s

  • point of view. You have to choose the right lens, the right F-stop in order to tell a

  • good story. And it means you can focus on the object that’s important and a lot of

  • times you want that background to go out of focus because it’s a distraction. It’s

  • really true in life, right? We have to choose what’s most important because there is a

  • lot of distraction. So, you know, rather than just, you know, shooting wide open and making

  • it be out of focus, we need to choose really what our life’s journey is about and our

  • path. And it’s a beautiful metaphor to kinda see the parallel between the two. I think

  • when you find what inspires you and what your passion is, then you can find that path. And

  • once you find your path youll never use your way.

  • Mm. Speaking of finding what’s important, I know something that we share in common is

  • a deep love and a practice for gratitude and being grateful for our lives. And there is

  • a quote in the beginning of one of your talks from Neale Donald Walsch and it really speaks

  • to what I feel like is the heart is gratitude isthe struggle ends when gratitude begins.”

  • Tell us about gratitude, because I know it’s so important for your work and it’s helped

  • me in watching your films want to slow down as I’m walking down the street here in New

  • York and everything I’m doing. Even today I was thinking about this interview and coming

  • here and I particularly chose not to listen to a podcast or do anything and to take in

  • the beautiful scenery, even the concrete, and the people around me.

  • Right. Well, when youre grateful and you have a lot of good things going on in your

  • head, as you described, walking here to work for this interview, there’s not a lot of

  • room for negativity.

  • Yeah.

  • I mean, that’s just a really simple idea and there’s always something you can be

  • grateful for. You know, you have your health, the fact you were walking, the fact that youve

  • got, like, 5 fingers.

  • Yeah.

  • The fact that youve got food on the table. I mean, those are the values I think you can

  • always go to and avoid that feeling of problem solving, my to do list, the negative energy

  • of things that need to be fixed. I think naturally the brain goes in that direction because of

  • its survival mode.

  • Absolutely.

  • Of always thinking, “I need to survive, I need this, I need that.” But I think what

  • we need to do is nurture the good things. When something good happens we tend to kind

  • of let it go in our head and out in about a moment, as opposed to nurturing it, savoring

  • it, kind of sponging in it, right? And, again, by filling your bucket with gratitude there

  • isn’t room for the negative energy to come in. And once you change your world view then,

  • you know, things start to flow. Instead of forcing that job opportunity to occur, if

  • you kind of just let back and be patient about it, itthe universe will probably allow,

  • you know, the opportunities to come into your life that you really want to have happen.

  • Mm. For me gratitude is, like, a spiritual power tool that can instantly shift it all.

  • Like, when things are just going down the tank, if you can take that pause and recognize

  • what is going right. It’s the most powerful thing I’ve ever used in my life and I was

  • excited to talk to you about it today.