Stirring the Pot with the Filmmaker of “How To Boil a Frog”

101205_jonj_350.jpgDecember 5, 2010. The conversation I had with Jon Cooksey, the writer-director of “How to Boil A Frog,” was a torrent of serious content, humorous side notes, and laughter spilling over the edges.

In his film Jon dares to cover the biggest, hardest stuff: overshoot, global warming, peak oil, the growing gap between rich and poor, our war on nature. But when you see the tag line — Make Friends. Make Fun. Make Trouble — you know there’s  more.

As the sole actor, Jon provides the narrative thread connecting interviews, animations, historic film footage, and his own story. He adopts different comedic personnas who deliver (or receive) the story of the Big Five problems, his personal feelings in response (all over the map), and his Big Five solutions. He even tapdances lightly on taboos.

I loved his evangelist preaching to boycott the world’s biggest oil company, the French-accented lover whipping out the condom persuading us to have only one child, and the kick-ass activist rocker advocating that we push back the corporations and reclaim the commons.

Along with the big problems, Jon suggests some responses as well as visions for a better future. One of the gifts of meeting this challenge, he said, is that we’ll break out of the loneliness perpetuated by this consumerist culture. When he became an activist, he began making a lot of new friends.

One of Jon’s five solutions is Relocalizing, shrinking our economies and activities back to where we live. In a computer animation he offers a visualization of what a small city might look like as it transitions towards relocalizing. The buildings get smaller and sprout photovoltaic panels and wind turbines; the cars are replaced by a trolley; people are out walking and biking; gathering in a town square and working in community gardens. By imagining it for us, he helps those ideas become a reality.

After we whipped through our half-hour conversation, I asked Jon if he could give us a little nugget, about a minute long, something short and sweet as a possible “teaser” to use before the Peak Moment video introduction. He launched in, and it was so engaging that he couldn’t stop. I joined in. We couldn’t stop. Forty-five minutes later, we wrapped it up with a big hug.

Afterward, we widened the conversation to include Robyn and our hosts Rick Flug and Gary Koch, who said it was like watching “My Dinner with Andre”, a movie entirely comprised of a single fascinating conversation. (Don’t feel left out — we’ll probably produce TWO Peak Moment shows with Jon, so you get in on most of it!).

Jon Cooksey has a very big heart. That heart greets you at the beginning of the film, lifts you in the middle, and empowers you at the end. Watch this film.  Share it with friends and neighbors. Talk about it afterwards. Then join the party and make it a movement: Make Fun, Make Friends, Make Trouble. I think you’ll be glad you did.

You can order DVDs of the film at

View video stills of Jon’s expressive self at The Many Faces of Jon Cooksey, Star of “How to Boil a Frog.”

Watch the final program How to Boil a Frog – Meet the Filmmaker (Peak Moment episode 187).

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