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Life Rewired Shorts - Meet Meat by Helen Plumb

5 Jul 2019
6 min watch

Is meat grown in a lab vegetarian? 'Meet Meat' puts the idea of meat under the microscope to hear both sides of the argument as we look ahead to the future of food production. 

Meet Meat is a microscopic view of how we feel about meat and how we might change our attitudes in the future with the invention of ‘cultured meat’ (animal meat grown separately from the animal using cell based technology). It is a stream of consciousness which represents conflicting views and collective concerns surrounding the consumption of meat, which invites the audience to think about their own relationship with meat. 
Paul Shapiro, author of Clean Meat: How Growing Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner and the World, leads the film, providing insight into the production of one of the latest food technologies we will encounter in the near future.

How does your film respond to the ideas behind Life Rewired?

Meat is a subject that divides us all in many ways. We encounter it every day and each person has their own reasons why they do or do not eat it. With environmental concerns and intensive farming prominent in the social arena, we are increasingly questioning whether the way we eat meat is sustainable.

New technologies are responding and cultured meat could change the way we grow meat…outside the animal's body. This raises many questions about our relationship with meat and animals. Many of us eat meat, yet have a conflicting moral response to animal cruelty. Will cultured meat render this moral paradox obsolete? Do we need a replacement or should we just stop eating meat? Will we be separated further from the animals which produce our meat? Will we eat it?

We are increasingly questioning whether the way we eat meat is sustainable.

Can you explain the process behind the making of your film?

The intention behind the film was to highlight the complexities surrounding meat. Many people are starting to question their decisions, especially in the light of the growing number of plant-based alternatives and the prospect of cultured meat. I wanted to capture the personal and difficult choices people make before every meal. To present balanced views, I decided to ask a range of people living in the UK with different backgrounds and diets.  

We collected many interviews and selected short soundbites from each to reflect the spectrum of opinions. There are obviously many more viewpoints outside of this film. 

I contacted Paul Shapiro because Cultured Meat is still relatively new and as an expert in the field I felt that he would put this debate into context.

The idea of the film was to put the issue under a microscope aurally and visually, so the footage is presented as a 'microscopic view’. Most of the meat is shot close up to give the audience the space to attach their own cultural references. The animals are mostly shot from above the fields to give a different perspective from the one we would normally see. I chose not to use gratuitous images, which gives the audience the chance to reach to their own conclusions within the widest possible context.

Do we need a replacement or should we just stop eating meat?

What does the filmmaker of the future look like?

Filmmakers will always need to be storytellers first and foremost. However, the narratives will change. The future for filmmakers is to keep adapting to new stories. 

About the filmmaker

Helen Plumb is a filmmaker based in London. Her work is visually playful with strong design sensibilities mixing abstract imagery with human intimacy. Her work often explores art, science, anthropology and music and the idiosyncrasies of the human mind.

See more of Helen’s work here: including her short film, A Prickly Subject, commissioned as part of The Art of Change Shorts in 2018. 

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