“Be gentle, especially with yourself.” Self-care is important, especially working in an industry that can easily devour you if you are not careful with your work/life balance.
As a part of our series about “Filmmakers Making A Social Impact” I had the pleasure of interviewing Kim Saltarski.
Kim Saltarski has spearheaded the production of over 400 hours of inspired, original animated and live action family, comedy, and documentary content. His latest film documenting the world of patients helping patients with medical cannabis “MEND with Dignity” is the fifth installment of Kim’s “human beacons” documentary series. The others are “IF The Poet”, “Andre The Anti-Giant”, “Reimagining Humanity” and “Jack’s Garage”.
Thank you so much for doing this interview with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit. Can you share your “backstory” that brought you to this career?
As a teenager, I loved making movies on my parents’ Super 8 camera. That lead me to studying Film & TV in college then working in the industry in Toronto and Los Angeles. First with commercials, feature films, kids’ animation, comedy and docu-reality series. The last decade I’ve primarily focused on creating documentaries, which I have found deeply fulfilling.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your filmmaking career?
I vividly remember shooting a fund-raising documentary for Plan Canada in a very remote village in Benin Africa. The first morning of the shoot, I was called aside by one of the villagers who had been watching me direct a family who were sharing their story of trying to survive a devasting flood. He told me I was being “too nice” to the family which was confusing them. He explained that the family perceived me as being sent by God. Why else would these alien-like strangers with cameras suddenly appear in their village? He explained that their God didn’t say please or thank you. After that I was more direct in my direction, and it seemed to flow better for the family. It made me realize the delicate and diverse balance of the director/subject relationship to get the most authentic story possible.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
Honestly, I am most impressed with the subjects of my documentaries who are willing to share the most intimate details of their emotional and healing journeys. It’s a privilege to have them entrust me with the telling of their stories. Celebrity-wise, I had a funny interaction with Bob Dylan when I was working with him on a movie called Hearts of Fire. By the end of the shoot word had spread to Bob that I was an aspiring songwriter, so one day he asked to sing one of my songs for him in front of the crew. I ended up awkwardly speaking a few lyric lines and he replied, “Yeah, but does it have a melody?”. So if Bob ever asks you that question, be sure to the sing the melody. Needless to say, I didn’t join Bob’s band and wisely focused on my film/TV career. That said, I have gone on to release a number of original albums in my various musical incarnations: Controlled Breeding In Sheep, The Bliss Monkeys and The Ungrateful Dead Beatles. So if Bob is reading this article, have a listen to the melodies.
Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?
Those who overcame great obstacles in their life to become the best version of themselves: The Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Malala to name a few. I call them “human beacons” because their resilience and actions serve as shining examples for us to follow. That’s one of the reasons my documentaries all have the main theme of profiling unsung “human beacons” whose stories deserve recognition.
Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview, how are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting social impact causes you are working on right now?
My focus now is telling “patients helping patients” healing stories using plant-based medicine primarily through cannabis and diet. In the past year, I’ve released two documentaries “Jack’s Garage” and “MEND with Dignity” to humanize and help destigmatize the decades of misinformation around cannabis and other natural healing modalities primarily ignored by western medicine. But more importantly, they profile courageous people of all ages who have overcome devastating illnesses despite the legal and societal challenges that come with following this path.
Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and take action for this cause? What was that final trigger?
For me it was being diagnosed with Melanoma Stage 3B skin cancer 8 years ago. I used Full Extract Cannabis Oil (FECO) as one of my main healing protocols and have been cancer free without the need of traditional western medicine treatments of chemo or radiation. It was my very personal intro into the world of DIY healing with cannabis and a plant-based diet. I encountered an incredibly generous and caring community of self-healers. I knew I had to find a way to share the power of this knowledge to benefit anyone facing an illness, life threatening or otherwise.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
One of my dear friends was diagnosed with breast cancer just over a year ago. After exploring all the options available to her, she chose a similar route to mine and put her cancer in full remission. That’s just one very close to my heart. I’ve heard of many others who saw my documentaries and used the information and inspiration to heal themselves, which is very gratifying.
Are there three things that individuals, society or the government can do to support you in this effort?
One, governments and medical teaching institutions should accelerate and fund research and promote the implementation of cannabis and plant-based healing in all aspects of the medical system. Two, educate ourselves on the many benefits on how to nurture our endocannabinoid system with cannabis and a low carb/sugar free plant-based diet. Three, demand our politicians and doctors acknowledge the truth about it and not rely solely on pharmaceutical-based medicines.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. “A career in film/TV is a rollercoaster ride.” There will be many thrilling highs and lows as I have experienced.
2. “You need rhino skin to survive.” A LA producer once told me that as a way to manage the above point number 1. And it’s true, you need thick skin and can’t take things too personally even though that’s hard when investing so much of oneself in each creative endeavor.
3. “Be open to different creative paths”. When I first started, I was obsessed with writing feature film screenplays for the adult audience. But it wasn’t until I started writing and creating for kids’ TV that my “above the line” career took off. And I’ve since gone on to enjoying making factual projects as much as scripted ones.
4. “There’s more to life than just making movies”. I certainly have learned this from travelling the world and most importantly, the joys of being a husband and father.
5. “Be gentle, especially with yourself.” Self-care is important, especially working in an industry that can easily devour you if you are not careful with your work/life balance.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
Now more than ever, we all need to do the most we can realistically do to help heal the environment and support the most vulnerable in society and bring equality to the world. Not only from a global and individual preservation perspective, but to make use of this precious time we have on the planet. I’ve found it to be very true that the more you give, the more you get which is a great karmic bonus.
We are very blessed that many other Social Impact Heroes read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would like to collaborate with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
I would love to collaborate with the amazing Musician/Activist Michael Franti. His music, documentaries and work with his wish-granting non-profit organization “Do It For The Love” provides immense inspiration in my life. He truly is a “human beacon”. So my dream is to do a documentary on him or even change his guitar strings.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Shine Your Light”. We all should use our talents/gifts/strengths to our maximin potential in making our world a better place. It can be as simple as sharing a smile with a stranger. We mustn’t be afraid to share them. So go out and shine your light as much as possible today!
How can our readers follow you online?
This was great, thank you so much for sharing your story and doing this with us. We wish you continued success!
Thank you so much for letting me shine my light.
Filmmakers Making A Social Impact: Why & How Filmmaker Kim Saltarski Is Helping To Change Our World was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.