What started with the question, “Is there a spiritual way to kill an animal?” has become the newest investigative documentary from Kip Anderson, of Cowspiracy fame, and Kam Waters. Join the journey to discover why so many religions who hold compassion as a sacred tenet turn a blind eye to animal suffering.
ABOUT OUR GUESTS
Kip Andersen has changed the way the world looks at eating animals. After producing some of Netflix’s most-watched documentaries, Cowspiracy, What The Health, and Seaspiracy, working alongside the likes of Joaquin Phoenix and Leonardo DiCaprio as executive producers, Christspiracy is his biggest chapter yet.
Kam Waters is a former gospel songwriter and musician for Sony and Interscope Records turned filmmaker. After growing up in the bible belt with a family lineage of gospel singers and a minister, Kam was entrenched in the church from the day he was born. It wasn’t until he realized how people use Christianity to justify animal abuse that he started this journey and, eventually, co-created this revolutionary documentary.
Mariann Sullivan: Welcome to Our Hen House, Kip and Kam. I'm so excited about this interview.
Kip Andersen: So are we. Thank you so much for having us on.
Mariann Sullivan: I am lucky enough to have seen this movie, and I was saying before we started recording, I don't think of myself as religious, but I find religion so fascinating, and one of the things that has always driven me crazy is how religions just take a pass on the whole question of the ethics around animals.
It's unbelievable. And you actually went there and you sort of got other people to go there too. So, Kip, let me start with you. You've done the environment, you've done the health issue, and of course, animal care and ethics and lives have been woven throughout all of your movies, all of those issues.
And I got the feeling that you were done, and then you decided to approach the issue of eating animals from the viewpoint of faith. So what compelled this to happen?
Kip Andersen: Well, interestingly I always knew there was going to be a film on animal ethics. It was never going to be finished until that was done. And Cowspiracy was originally environment, health, and ethics. That's why you see at the very end we have Dr. Klaper in there. We actually had some yogis in there and a Buddhist in there before. We tried to cram everything all in one and it was too much. So it was always the plan to do a film on animal ethics. It's just how exactly, never really knew, to make it entertaining.
Mariann Sullivan: Yeah, it's a tough issue.
Kip Andersen: Yeah, it's a tough... you know, we have Earthlings, which is like, oh god, so dear to me, and I love Sean.
To make something really mainstream where you're talking about killing the equivalent of the entire human population ten times over every single year.
How do you even have a conversation around this or exploration? And so there were some inklings of how this would be done, but yeah, not really until I met Kam at a divine encounter at a Cowspiracy screening at LA Greenfest years ago. Once we met it was really special. Just right away we clicked and the whole thing took off from there.
Mariann Sullivan: Do you think this is a religious movie? Is it anti religious movie? Is it just an ethics movie? How would you characterize it?
Kip Andersen: I like to say it's not a religious movie. It's a film on religion. It's on animal ethics, it's on religion, it's on spirituality, and it's how they all relate to animals historically and now, and it's how have we gotten to where we're at today, you know? I think that's a big thing of the exploration of this film.
So yes, we have a thread line, you know, it's called Christspiracy, and it's a massive, massive reveal. But as you see in the film, it's so much more than that. Without giving too much away, there's a few big reveals. One of the big reveals is how it ties all religions and all spiritualities together.
It's definitely not a Christian film, but it's a film that covers early Christianity, the origins of it. So I'd start off with that.
Mariann Sullivan: Yeah, I think that characterizes it well without, I promise I won't give anything away, but honestly, there's just so much here. I'm not sure that's even a problem because there's so much to talk about. And the whole conversation seems to have started between you two. And I love that story that you immediately, like it just happened kind of.
You have film of that encounter, and Kam, I think you were in the audience, and you asked the question, is there a spiritual way to kill an animal? And that question ends up resonating throughout the whole movie. Can you talk a little bit about why you asked that question in the first place, and why you guys keep asking it?
Kameron Waters: Yeah, well, my backstory is that I was raised in the Bible Belt as a Southern Baptist. And very much a part of my upbringing was consuming animals, through backyard barbecues, Church barbecues. I was a part of a Christian youth hunting club and fishing club. So it was something that was very, very common within my lifestyle growing up.
But, when I became a teenager, I started experimenting with this Daniel Fast, which we talk about in the film. I don't want to give too much away, but it's a scripture based fast where you actually remove animal products from your diet for a period of drawing closer to God and prayer and all of this.
And, Daniel was kind of one of my superheroes when I was growing up because he's this Bible character that's really strong and survives the lion's den and is really smart and all of these things. But as a kid, I had never heard that side of it. You know, the part where he removed animal products from his diet.
So when I started practicing that as a teenager, it just opened up a whole new world and thought path for me around what I was consuming. And a few things, one led to the next to where I just decided after doing it the third time that I did it, I just decided to keep doing it with my mom at the time because she was feeling really great about it too.
But again, it was a really slow process. You know, I had cut out just regular meat, I guess is what I called it then, except for fish, which we know they're all animals. But, I ate fish because Jesus ate fish for a long time. And then after that, it was a slow, slow process. But, it was still always in conflict with my faith and my community, because as I went into my early twenties, I started a career in gospel music and all of my peers and people that I spent time with, this question would come up or this conversation would come up based on what I was experimenting with and it always seemed to be a little bit at odds with my faith in some ways, based off of what people were reflecting back to me. Like, oh, I know Daniel did it, but this and that, and you don't... yeah, it was like I was believing something different. So, by the time I met Kip, I was actually pretty deep on this question because, at a certain point, I started to ask myself, well, if Christianity is based on Christ, then what would Jesus do when it comes to eating animals? And I assumed he ate fish, like I said, as well as lamb at the Passover. But then at a certain point, that ethical side comes in because when we think of Jesus, or when I think of Jesus, as a Christ follower, it's always framed in like how to live a more ethical, compassionate, loving life.
And those words are kind of challenging to think about when you're thinking about taking the life of an animal. So what is the way to do that? So that's kind of how that question or that concern was framed over time for me. And then when Kip and I met, he obviously has been thinking about that for a long time.
And it was much easier to talk to him about it than it was any of my peers at church. So one thing led to the next and we decided to make the movie together.
Mariann Sullivan: Wow, that's an amazing story. How many people struggle so much with faith issues and don't ask that question? And then once you ask that question, and you really ask the question, which is what you did, it's really hard to answer it. And, at the same time, we were talking a little bit before we started recording.
I was talking to you, Kip, and you were talking about that your relationship to faith is very, very different. And that comes through in the movie as well. I feel like the movie, maybe because you guys made it together, you don't feel like it has a goal of changing people's faith or relationship to God, or gods, since we cover a bunch of religions.
But maybe it has the goal of changing people's attitudes regarding what they've been taught, which has a lot to do with what happened with you, Kam, and what God wants them to understand about animals. I didn't feel like it was proselytizing me to become more religious or anything. But I felt like also somebody like you, Kam, who's very religious and has a deep belief, wouldn't feel that it was trying to talk them out of it.
Was that kind of the goal? Because If it was the goal, you pulled it off. And if it wasn't the goal, maybe it was a subconscious goal.
Kameron Waters: Yeah, coming from my background and my peers, I guess in some ways I was always thinking about myself first and how uncomfortable it naturally was for me to ask myself some of these questions. And knowing that it's a deep conversation and it's one that you want to tread lightly and not pressure anyone into a particular belief, but more so use the power of asking questions to raise one's own conscious awareness around it. And similarly, you know, I was thinking about my friends and my peers and how they would receive certain information as we were making the film.
And so we definitely wanted it to be palatable for anyone who's religious, but also equally palatable and entertaining for people who aren't religious because it's still a very important conversation.
Mariann Sullivan: Yeah, I can't even imagine starting off trying to pull that off, but you actually did manage to pull that off. Speaking of asking questions, which is a great approach to advocacy as we all know, but you, Kip, kind of have a trademark of asking questions. I mean, that's like what you do. You go in to these people, I don't know how you get in there, and you start asking questions.
And it doesn't take very long before you put them on the spot, and the questions become impossible for them to answer. You've done it in all of your movies, it's totally brilliant. I'm just wondering, was it harder in this particular area, either because of the subject matter or because people could watch your old movies and see what you do, was it harder to get interviews?
Because you did get interviews, but I imagine you got turned down too. You talk about a couple of them where you got turned down.
Kip Andersen: Yeah, sometimes we don't say, oh, Kip Anderson's gonna come interview you.
We'll put it that way. We don't say that anyway. I mean, we always have a working title. People ask that question for all the films, like, how on earth do you do that? It's very important that when we frame proposing someone to do an interview, we have to say what it's gonna be about.
So it's like, how is eating, in relationship to spirituality. So we have some generalities that we use. So it wasn't necessarily any harder. The one part was harder with this film. Not gonna say harder, but it was interesting is that with all the previous films I've worked on, is that we knew going into the interview, they knew. Like when I'm interviewing Sierra Club or interviewing Oceania, they know.
They know, and it's just like when you know and you're trying to ask these questions to get around it, and they're doing all their little tricks. What was interesting about this one is having compassion that when we ask these questions, I don't want to give too much away in the film, they genuinely just have never been asked these questions.
You know, it's not like they're covering it up or they know but they don't want us to tell it. This was a very genuine, like, I have never been asked this question. I have no idea, what an incredible question. And so it was working with being compassionate in that respect. It was not like we're trying to get you in any way. That being said, it kind of maybe looks like that, because just by the sheer nature of what questions we're asking, it's like, oh, gotcha. But I feel if you're not aligned with what your beliefs are and what you're preaching, and you know, speaking for myself too, and you're asked some of these questions, they're very, very difficult. And sometimes it's hard, because I see they're being challenged by these questions they've never even thought of. So that was a little bit more difficult in this one, where the other one I'm like, Greenpeace, I'm going to get you, you know, I know you now.
So that was interesting with this one.
Mariann Sullivan: I hear you. I mean, and these people have been generous enough to give you the interview, and you feel like they're starting out the conversations feeling that they're on solid ground, and these are things that they talk about and they're proud to talk about them, and then, deliberately or not, you just kind of pull the rug out from under them and ask them these questions. And it's the thing that drives me so crazy.
And you make the point in the film, without giving anything away, that the history of these religions doesn't necessarily comport with current attitudes towards animals. It's not like nobody's ever thought of these things before. Having done all of this and had all of these conversations, do you have a theory as to why people just don't go there, even in their own minds, even people who have devoted their lives to thinking about what's right and wrong?
Kip Andersen: I feel who really summarized this, and does a good job is Will Tuttle with his books and stuff, you know, the World Peace Diet, and he goes into just generations of generations and what it means to, you know, even us as vegans, like when Thanksgiving's coming up.
I remember when I was first vegan and it's like not only you're not eating animals, but you're breaking tradition. It's like you're telling your mother and father, you didn't raise me right, you know, and you're telling that their father's mother's didn't raise you right. So this whole lineage thing of honoring that lineage, it's like a systemic thing, you know, and so when this carries on for hundreds and thousands of years, it's tough to break out of, and you've literally, like we mentioned in the film, you're in the matrix.
We call it the matrix. And so, it's just a place you don't want to go. Once you go there, you realize, oh yeah, I'm not really aligned with that. This is one aspect that, it's easy to pray and do these other things. But for me to completely transform my diet three days a week, and, then I'm going against my family members, and da da da, and what does that lead to, my friends, and there's just so many ramifications about what you eat, which is really interesting.
So there's just a lot of factors come into play that it's just easier not to talk about it and not to go there, because if you do, it shakes up a lot of stuff.
Mariann Sullivan: What about you, Kam? Why do you think you went there, when... having grown up in your faith and it was important to you. I'm sure there were many people whom you respected and cared about. Like, why do you think that you went there and they didn't?
Kameron Waters: Well, funny enough, a big part of it is because my mom is relentless. And when we did the Daniel fast together towards the end of my third fast, it's like a 21 day thing, and so week three. She's an insurance sales lady and she, that same week, had to go audit a chicken farm close to my hometown.
And she came back home, and was telling me and my stepdad, who was a barbecue restaurant owner at the time, and I worked for the barbecue restaurant... yeah, she started telling us about the battery cages with tears in her eyes and started throwing all the chicken in the refrigerator into the trash.
And then a day later or two days later, she kind of went down the rabbit hole on the rest of the industry in terms of the meat side. And so she says, you know, I'm not, doing this anymore. And at the same time, I had my own thoughts about it, that I was beginning to open up to more than ever based on looking at the scripture.
And honestly, going back in time, one of the funny stories is this concept for me was plugged into my mind really early because my family is so religious and zealous and taught me at such a young age. One of my earliest memories is learning the 10 commandments. And thou shalt not kill and everything.
And around that same time, my grandfather, who's a minister, took me to a conference at my church. I was eight years old and this guy named Ken Ham, who we actually did an interview at his facility, the big Noah's Ark facility.
Mariann Sullivan: Yeah. I've listened to some podcasts about that facility, but that's a totally other topic. It seems fascinating. Yeah.
Kameron Waters: Yeah, super fascinating. And what's really fascinating is that Ken Ham, the guy who built that ark and that facility, he came to my local church and he was rallying for creationism, which is the kind of somewhat science based approach to proving that God created the world in the way the Bible says.
And part of that argument is that the entire world was vegetarian, even animals at that time. And at eight years old, I remember a guy in the crowd standing up and raising his hand and having a rebuttal to Ken and saying, Hey, you're saying that the whole world was vegetarian and you're also saying dinosaurs lived at the same times as humans.
So are you saying dinosaurs are vegetarian? That doesn't make sense because of their teeth. And then Ken said, well, have you ever tried to crack a coconut with your teeth? Inferring that the dinosaurs were picking coconuts. And regardless of the belief system around that, for me as an eight year old, it just seared into my brain, deeply. This concept of the vegetarian kind of Garden of Eden type scenario.
But again, I never followed it, but the seed was planted, I guess. So when I was a teenager and started asking these questions, I guess maybe in some ways I was a little bit more open. And luckily my family, though they're very religious, they're also very much open and they're kind of rebels in their own way, and question things, and want to know the truth.
So that made it easier, I guess, in some ways, but to answer your point before, I totally agree with what Kip's saying.. It's just such a deep cultural, traditional thing that when you start to ask some of these questions, it's like you're beginning to believe a different religion altogether.
I think that's the big barrier, especially on the faith based side, from my experience.
Mariann Sullivan: Yeah, that's really deep. I mean, we all know that there are a million barriers, especially as you were saying, Kip, like family barriers, and not offending people, not standing out, not being different. But adding the religious one, if people really think that, you know, you're leaving the religion by doing this, which seems crazy to me, but everything about this topic is crazy.
I think we can all agree on that. All right, so this isn't just about Christianity, and you mentioned that, and I just want to make clear. You took this worldwide tour, and it was really pretty incredible. You went through so many different places and examined so many different religions. Can you tell us a little bit about why you chose where to go, and what you wanted to highlight in talking about, I guess, the five major religions, is that right?
Kip Andersen: Yeah, and even beyond that, it's really, is there a spiritual way to kill and eat animals? So it goes beyond just, is there an ethical way to do this? So, we just started checking off the boxes of who we need to interview, and what categories per se, or what's religion, spiritualities, we can go into yoga.
And so, we traveled around the world to talk to the leading experts on this topic, and obviously, in particular, with the Jesus thread line. But one thing that's interesting is that we went to Nepal, and it so happened to be the Gadhimai Animal Sacrifice Festival.
Have you heard of that?
Mariann Sullivan: I have heard of it, yeah. I've never seen film of it until I watched the movie. But, I have heard of it, and it's hard to believe.
Kip Andersen: Yeah, it's every five years, and which is interesting, it's next year. And so that's why we went there, is because, okay, it's a spiritual sacrifice festival, held at a temple. That seemed serendipitous of us actually being there at that time, making the film, which was really powerful, and it was the closest we felt, because you kind of feel like you're transported back in time, without giving too much away.
It was a trip. Kam and I were really like, wow. This could be as close as what it felt like to being at the Temple of Jerusalem, in a way, thousands of years ago, and it was very spiritual, but at the same time very bizarre.
Mariann Sullivan: It actually seemed like there were some scenes there and other scenes perhaps in India where you seem to be in danger. Is that right? That was the feeling I was getting that there was a somewhat violent atmosphere.
Kip Andersen: Oh yeah, I mean that car chase you see, we were definitely in a car chase, that was a real deal. It's scary, there's this cow mafia and they've been known, you know, we had a section in the film, we just had to take it out. But many people get killed in this battle over protecting cows, you know, one smuggling cows and one protecting cows, it's a whole other side story.
But it's dangerous, we did a lot of dangerous stuff in there and that was definitely one of them. Going undercover to a leather factory. That was kind of scary. It's one of those when you're in it, you know, what if someone finds out what we're doing? So you just kind of have to keep your cool and just keep on trusting that we're all protected and just keep on going.
Mariann Sullivan: So, the movie's about all of these religions, but there is this sort of Christian through line. Is that fair to say that it's a really important part of the movie, and I'm not gonna give away any spoilers. Don't worry. But can you just kind of give us a hint of what you mean in the promo stuff? That you're going to reveal the biggest cover up in the last 2, 000 years, one that will transform history forever, and I am not denying that that's true. I've seen the movie and I'm not denying that's true, and I don't want to give it away, obviously, but can you just like talk a little bit around that question? Like, what topics you're examining within Christianity that lead you to think that something has been covered up?
Kameron Waters: Well, yeah, the Christian through line, obviously a couple of reasons is number one, I think Christianity is the largest religion in the world. Funny enough, if you Google, who's the most famous person, it's Jesus on every list. The level of impact and the level of influence that I think Christianity has is huge.
And so really understanding the moral and ethical framework around animals through the perspective of Christianity is huge because of the level of influence that it has around the world. Even if you're not Christian, you know, like that's one of the things we say in the film is if you grow up in the Western world, even if you're not Christian, you're living in a society that has steeped in Judeo Christian morals and ethics.
So that's a big reason why we kind of launched into it. But yeah, once we got into it, that particular thread just went so deep because, to start off with without giving too much away, in Christianity, especially, but really all religions, there's a deep tie to the temples.
And animal sacrifice and the formation of the kind of animal agriculture system. And simultaneously and in parallel, some of these early groups have, I guess... the cover up is how they responded to that system. How they viewed that system that's maybe been lost to history. And it's something that we didn't necessarily fully have a grasp on going into it, but the deeper that we went, actually going to Israel and being boots on the ground with other people there, talking with historians, archaeologists, theologians. Literally going to the temple itself, this picture started to come together of this piece of the early history of Christianity or Judeo Christianity. Because they were really Jewish people that just kind of started taking a different path than the predominant kind of pharisaical priesthood type Judaism that was happening. And there's just this really core incident around Christ, around his crucifixion, what was really happening during that time, that has a lot more to do with animals than I ever knew.
So again, I don't want to give too much away, but maybe that's a good taste.
Mariann Sullivan: Yeah, no, I think that really says it and though the Christian through line is probably the strongest one. It really is something that you found about other religions as well, isn't it? That it's so interesting that religions so often just totally give a pass on thinking about the ethics regarding animals.
I was brought up Catholic and I went to CCD, which is what it was called, like every week of my life until I was out of high school. I don't think animals were ever mentioned once. I mean, this huge ethical question just never, ever comes up. But that's not true just of Christianity, is it?
It's such a hugely important issue that just seems to be avoided. Is that what you found?
Kip Andersen: Yeah, and what's interesting, without giving too much away, is that the core root of Buddhism, Christianity and Hinduism, animals are a very, very core part of it. One of my favorite books in our interviews that we had, Jim Mason, he wrote The Unnatural Order.
Mariann Sullivan: One of my favorite people.
Kip Andersen: Yeah, he's amazing.
I was talking to someone the other day and I said, yeah, you know, animal rights includes humans. Humans are animals. They're like, humans aren't animals. Literally not thinking that a human was an animal, thinking it was like a different definition. I had to actually Google it to show, like, humans are animals.
And Unnatural Order shows that when we started to separate ourselves from who we are as an animal and we became a human, that's when everything started shifting. So yeah, the history of it is super interesting, that we go into as well.
Kameron Waters: Yeah, I would say too what's interesting about the avoidance and just the impact that's kind of under the radar. When I first met Kip, I on my journey had come across Cowspiracy, was the film that was out at that point, What the Health hadn't come out, but that film impacted me greatly, especially as you mentioned before, Kip's ability to ask these tough questions.
I felt I could relate to his experience going up against these organizations. But what I saw is this ethical question, in Cowspiracy and then eventually What the Health and Seaspiracy, these different elements of environmentalism and health are being put into question with how animal agriculture impacts that.
But really it's these nonprofit organizations that aren't disclosing that information and they're supposed to be the people that we look to for that information. And so similarly, when it comes to ethics, our moral framework is really given to us culturally through that religious tradition ultimately.
And so it is important to look to these traditions and what's very, very interesting is again, like Kip said earlier, 90 billion, just land animals every year, lives lost. When you think about 90 billion lives being lost every year, but it's not being touched on or discussed as like a primary topic of conversation within the organizations that are talking about ethical dilemmas.
It's like, what's happening? Why are we not talking about this? And I think there's never been a better time to talk about it, especially again, coming from my background with Christianity, because there's like a big conversation that started recently. I don't know if you've seen or heard about the film Sound of Freedom that recently came out, went worldwide. Independent, similar to how we're planning to release this film, but all on human trafficking, and it's so close to the heart of people of faith because they see how corrupt this is and they want to protect the children and everything. But it's like, number one, you know, the animal agriculture industry is one of the prime places that this industry operates, human trafficking.
We saw that in Seaspiracy as well, right? With the slavery and everything that was happening. But number two, it's still lives, you know, it's 90 billion lives lost every year. And so what hasn't clicked yet, and it took it a long time for it to click for me.
But that ethical dilemma is corroding and corrupting our religions from within. And so yeah, there may be resistance at first to having this conversation, but I feel if we can get through a few hurdles, many religious people, especially I know how my peers operate, when they experience something culturally that's corrupting the religion from within, that's like very alarming. And I just don't think that people see it that way yet, but it really is demoralizing our ethics to the core.
And so, once that conversation starts, I think it'll be a powerful way for religious people to realize, Oh, we have to have this conversation.
Mariann Sullivan: God, I hope so. I couldn't agree with you more. I mean, most people who are religious, are the people who've decided that doing the right thing is important. That that's what your life should be about is doing the right thing.
It just seems completely obvious that anybody who has any belief in God knows that these are God's creatures and looking around that this would not be a good thing to do. So, even in the most simplistic way, just getting people to think about it is the job. I mean, once they think about it, it's hard to believe they can come to any other conclusions.
And of course, I'm just saying it in a very simplistic way. What you've said in this film is you know, the question is still simple, but you have gone back in history and shown that these religions, it's not just that these religions have grown up ignoring animals. People have tainted the faith that was founded by these religious founders to say something different about animals.
Is that how you see what you've done here?
Kameron Waters: Absolutely. Yeah, that's the thing is similarly again to what Kip was saying earlier about the nonprofit organizations of environment and health. This is much different because these religions, you know, I see it as an innocent circumstance where it's not so much them. It's the industry behind it that's producing the animals and the cultural phenomenon that's happened for thousands of years that these traditions, that had such a core root of compassion for all, slowly and subtly shifts out of that based off of the cultural pressure to do so because the dynamic of the economics and everything that's happening. So that's what I mean when I say this industry has actually corrupted religions. And so if anything with this film, we're not at all trying to dismiss religions or toss them to the side or call them invalid. If anything, we're really trying to explore and show the core of what they really are, which ideally I hope empowers everyone who is religious to be even that much more tied to their personal faith, but through this understanding and clarity of really where it all started and how it views the most vulnerable of all beings.
Mariann Sullivan: Exactly. Exactly. I mean, I just feel like this issue is the one that could change the world. Cause people are not living in accordance with what they believe. You have made that real on the screen.
Kip Andersen: I was gonna add that I was with a family member recently, they're very religious, and we had this conversation, and it got to the point we're kind of talking about Bible verses and this and that. And they have their own pig they rescued... because they're ranchers and they're big time hunters... and they have their own cow that they love. And I said, how does it feel to you? How does it feel to connect to your spiritual connection with God? When you have this animal that you're gonna rescue, you're gonna love, and you're gonna connect with, and look in the eye, and you love. Versus, you have another animal over there that you're gonna kill. What brings you closer to your God, whatever that may be?
What do you feel? Because they're very heavily Christ followers. What do you feel Jesus would be on the path? What will make you feel closer to your faith? And then the conversation became without an argument. It just, it was silence. You know, you could see things fluttering in their eye, and the love of their pig and their cow.
That's what's beautiful about this film. Where as like, What the Health and Cowspiracy and Seaspiracy, you can debate all day about health. Like, oh my god, it was a carnivore diet or this diet, da, da, da, da, environment. Well, it's regeneration farming. This one, we get to the point of like, how does it make you feel?
Do you align with it? It becomes more philosophical and more personal. And it becomes a point where you can't really argue it in a logical way like the other films. So that's the beautiful thing about this film. And it's probably going to cause a lot of discussion.
Mariann Sullivan: Yeah. I mean, I could talk about it all day, but you know, I just think it's fascinating. I mean, how you feel about yourself, how you feel personally, but also who you think God is, and what is your relationship to God? I mean, how you treat His creatures must relate to that in some way, which I'm not sure people think about that much. I don't really understand how people think about it.
Kip Andersen: And the do unto others, I actually said that to her, I said do unto others, it doesn't say do unto other humans, it says do unto others. So the golden rule, you know, do you feel that applies to all others, or is it just human others, and if it's all others, where does it stop, does it stop at dogs, cats, and then it stops? Or does it just go all the way?
Mariann Sullivan: You know, you mentioned that your relationship to the people you were interviewing was kind of different because it wasn't really that you both kind of knew that they were covering something up. It was really that in some ways, a lot of them had not thought this through before in the same way that you were asking the questions.
Do any of those interviews in particular stand out as something that was a particularly poignant moment?
Kip Andersen: Well, yeah, the biggest reveal that we can't really share, um, it's the biggest reveal in the film, the climactic scene where it's like the aha moment, and that was one of those, it was just incredible. Again, I don't want to give too much away, but there was someone who's highly intellectual, knows the history of the Bible and all these things, and when we had this interview that took place and we finally lead to the moment where she finds something out and she's just blown away and it's not like she's covering it up.
She's just shocked and then it's like, oh, this is right. This is validation and this is something that's going to really spark something. So that was definitely the most memorable interview. Speak for Kam, too, because we talk about this a lot. But maybe Kam, you want to share a little bit more about that without giving too much away, or any other ones, too?
Kameron Waters: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, essentially without giving too much away, she is a translator of the Hebrew Bible. And so we were looking into a particular instance in the scripture that would be very defining in this conversation to understand what the original scripture said. And so we prompted her, in the interview, to look into that and what was discovered in that moment in real time was shocking to this woman who has spent her entire life studying this and had never picked that part up. Which is just a testament to what we've been saying that there's a bit of innocent ignorance here around this because it's just not talked about enough or focused on enough. And there's many layers to that, that I believe cause that one big one is just the kind of pillar of dominion and what people understand that to mean within religious tradition, not just Christianity, but Islam and Judaism and every kind of culture has their framework of that.
And it's seen as this power dynamic in our superiority over animals and how that's used that's kind of, I think, created a lot of these dynamics, but we go into that in the film as well and really question what's the real meaning behind that. But similarly, the interview with that woman is definitely the standout of all, but another one that I think is worth discussing is, we went on a number of interviews with Buddhists and I don't have that much of a background at all in Buddhism, but I've learned a lot over time. And it was really wild to talk to them because they have such a core, blatant kind of tenet around non- harm to every creature, including animals, in a much more obvious way than I think Judeo Christianity does.
But at the same time, not giving too much away, the ones that we interviewed, and we went through many, many trying to find different angles and we kept coming across this same kind of loophole. That they would kind of espouse around consuming animals within Buddhism that was just bizarre and kind of hard to understand.
And really what I understood about that was, you know, when we talk about a coverup, it's not like they were covering up some big, large agenda with money being tied to X, Y, Z. Really, they were just covering up their own consciousness because you could see their heart. You could see it coming through what they really believe in their heart.
But then there was like, you could just almost see this blockage. And that's such a testament again to Kip and what you were bringing up earlier with his stoic kind of nature with questions and everything. Because I was really new to the interview process at that time and so Kip was really charging forward in those interviews.
And what we show in the film is just a fraction of what really went down in the interview, which we'll release in extra content, but he just had this way of bringing about this question over and over again and trying to frame in different ways and understand this loophole that these Buddhists were talking about.
And that was fascinating to me because I was like, wow, I just would have never expected this to be so resistant in this way, but it is, and it's a part of that traditional cultural thing, probably.
Mariann Sullivan: Yeah, it was an extraordinary moment, really. And I know exactly that was one of the interviews I was thinking of when I asked the question, the Buddhist one. And it is true, Kip, like, you can keep going past the point where it has become so uncomfortable that the rest of us would have trouble.
But you're always kind, your relentlessness is very gentle. It is your superpower.
Kip Andersen: Yeah, it's kind of taken a while to develop, but yeah, it's definitely super uncomfortable for people in the room.
Mariann Sullivan: Just watching it is uncomfortable. Even though I'm on your side, and even though I'm annoyed with them, it's uncomfortable to see people, especially in this instance, as you say, where people are not, you know, they're not evil, they just like never thought about these central questions in some crazy way.
Kip Andersen: Yeah, there's a lot of awkward silences that you don't even see in the film that everybody is just like what is going on? But that's where the truth comes out a lot of like on the film side a lot of times people ask questions and whatever the answer is that's just what the answer. And then if you just don't acknowledge anything and just silence, then that next thing is just something that comes from a very pure state, so it's very awkward, but it's fun.
Mariann Sullivan: Well, it's brilliant and it's brilliant activism and it's something we should all learn from. I think you said in the beginning, Kam, like asking questions is really the most powerful thing you can do. We don't have to tell people things. People don't listen when you tell them things. You have to get through that excruciatingly painful silence and you do that so well. All right. I know I have to let you go. I could talk about this movie all day. But, the really big, important thing is, tell us about the financing and the distribution and the Kickstarter.
Kip Andersen: Yeah, without going too deep into it, this film was a Netflix original. It was originally called Cow Spiritual. you know, it's a film on animal ethics. And as we got deeper into the story, the Jesus story got deeper for us, and we started going deeper into that, and Netflix, they didn't really see where we're going with this or I'll just say they wanted to take it another direction, wanted to redact, take things out, certain things out and we felt very strongly we had to keep going in the direction we were going. Going even deeper and keep certain parts in and it got to a point where both sides weren't budging and normally Netflix has its way because at the end of the day they have final say. They have final say in the rights of the film.
Mariann Sullivan: Cause they originally financed the filming, right?
Kip Andersen: They originally financed it, yeah, I remember signing the... Seaspiracy and this film was signed the same day and it was the first time it was a Netflix original, the other ones I licensed. And they're like, they get final say and I was like, Oh, I don't know about that. And tried to go back and forth and like, that's how it's going to be.
And it got to the point where they saw we weren't going to budge, they weren't going to budge. And so, we made the very, very challenging decision of saying, okay, we don't know how, we're going to trust in the animals, trust in the higher spirits. This film has to be said in the most impactful way, and we're going to do it on our own. And another inspiring thing that happened of what led us to that decision is we realized when we're traveling to India, and the biggest cover up in India, I'll give a little bit away.
The biggest cover up in India is they kill all of their dairy cows. When you go in India, no one knows this. And so when we're in India, like, oh my god, this movie's gonna be massive, and we're like, oh man, Netflix isn't in India. Especially for, you know, if it is just a small percentage of the people.
Seeing Seaspiracy come out massive. But no one in India. I live in Mexico. It's not that big in Mexico. I mean, it's huge, but for a certain demographic. So we realized not only can we possibly tell the story the way we feel it needs to be told, but maybe there's a way we can do it where everybody in the world can see it.
We can somehow revolutionize a way where independent filmmakers can do something where we don't rely on a centralized streaming platform. Where we can gather the community together, gather our fans, our activists together and somehow all group up together and collaborate so we can release this film, raise enough money so we can replace the marketing machine of Netflix and release it to everyone.
So that's what we're doing. We're releasing to everyone. No subscription status necessary. We're doing it through a pay it forward method. So if you can't afford it, someone's going to pay it forward to you. And if you can, please pay it forward to someone else. And then our goal is also to do a theatrical premiere for this, to make this a really big, blockbuster film so that the entire world talks about this story.
So that's our very ambitious goals and then after theatrical premiere is to release it online for everyone. So we're doing a Kickstarter campaign to raise as much funds as we possibly can since we did buy the film rights back to finish the film, and to release this in the most professional and impactful way possible.
So we're really looking for everyone's support. Everyone supported Cowspiracy and What The Health. The only way that those films could be made is by everyone's support. This one, we really, really need everyone's support. And already it's gone phenomenally well. And thousands of people have joined.
We already reached our goal within two weeks. But we need a lot more, so.
Mariann Sullivan: So the Kickstarter is to get the movie out there, and then the pay it forward is after the movie is out there, that's to help more people see it. So it's really two separate funding mechanisms that people can participate in? But the one that you're working on now is the Kickstarter, is that right?
Kip Andersen: The Kickstarter campaign goes until December 1st. But after that we're figuring a way to still be able to support and still be able to do it. But yes, first is the Kickstarter campaign.
Mariann Sullivan: And where can people find that? What should they search for on Kickstarter? Just the name of the film?
Kameron Waters: Yeah, it's Christspiracy, the spirituality secret documentary on Kickstarter, but also our website, Christspiracy. com, and that's Christ Spiracy, not Christ Piracy, as we like to say, because a lot of people... A lot of people get that confused but yeah, Christspiracy.com has a link there as well.
Mariann Sullivan: We very seldom do Kickstarters for those who are listening that we've turned down your, I mean, this is a very special situation because the movie is complete. I think it's basically complete. You have a tiny bit of editing to do. And, it's really just a matter of the distribution methods having shifted so much right at the end.
And this movie really does have to get out there.
Kip Andersen: It does. Well, the way we're doing it is really a collaborative effort, too. After you watch the film, we're going to have a call to action, very community based, where our call to action is action. So it's going to be a really fun release, where we're going to really join forces together. We say this movie is going to turn into a movement of compassion.
Kameron Waters: And the cool thing about the Kickstarter is in a way, the Kickstarter is the beginnings of the pay it forward process, because if you go to the page and you see the different tiers that you can support, all of them include paying it forward to X number of people as a part of that.
And so essentially the Kickstarter is just a way that we're giving early access, digitally online for everyone who supports, plus some theatrical stuff that we're beginning to plan and everything. But it's just that first part of the process to kind of get the snowball rolling that we'll pick up in the new year around the release and try to make it as big as possible.
And what's really exciting, I know for a lot of people, it's like. Wow, I I do wish it could be on Netflix because Netflix is so powerful and it is. Netflix does a great job with all these other opportunities that we get with the call to action and the grassroots nature of being able to release in that way.
There's many other films that are doing it this way that have come just before us that like, again, I mentioned earlier, Sound of Freedom. They did it. It's the perfect time right now, more than ever for a film that has a substantial impact and purpose coming into the world to do something differently and make a big difference because mainly the call to action, as Kip mentioned. You know, when it's on one of these streaming platforms, as soon as the credits roll, you're getting promoted to watch Love Island or some other show. When you have this moment of emotions around the cause and you want to do something.
And so with this film, even beyond, you know, the previous many, many films in this genre, the actionable things that you can do are going to be really, really engaging. So we're excited about that.
Mariann Sullivan: It's really exciting. I mean, I guess the risks are higher, you know, Netflix is sort of a guarantee, but the potential is also much greater in so many ways. So it's very exciting. I just hope it really is a huge success and I hope that lots of people in all these religions make a big deal about it and maybe they'll get mad at you and maybe there'll be a lot of controversy and it's all good.
People have got to start talking about it. Thank you so much for talking about it today on Our Hen House. It's really been fascinating.
Kip Andersen: Thank you so much for having us on. We really appreciate it. Thank you to everyone who's supporting and we'll see you all on the journey. Thank
Kameron Waters: Yeah. Many blessings. Can't wait for you to see it.
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