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John Paul DeJoria Picks Projects to Entertain and Make a Difference

John Paul DeJoria applies the same set of principles to his filmmaking endeavors as he does with his business opportunities. He chooses projects that are fun — note breezy cameos in “You Don’t Mess With the Zohan” and “Weeds” — but also meaningful and important, executive producing documentary films for big and small screens that will make a lasting impact for the greater good of the planet.
The 2015 documentary “Racing Extinction,” Louie Psihoyos’ sobering and terrifying look at activists trying to save the world from a man-made mass extinction, is one such project.

“The way we in which we can educate people is through film,” says DeJoria. “You’ve got to show people what’s going on. You’ve to take action. You can’t just sit back and say, ‘this is bad.’ You’ve got to do something.”

Even on “Shark Tank,” the ABC reality series in which aspiring entrepreneurs seek investors, DeJoria opted to invest in a farmer whose invention, the Tree T-Pee, would help fellow farmers conserve water, and do it at a price that was affordable. It’s not profit that drives DeJoria, but the opportunity to use media as a catalyst to improve the world. But DeJoria also points out that films with a conscience tend to reap big bucks at the box office.

“Look at the films to that make the most money, look at ‘Avatar’ from James Cameron,” he says. “It’s an environmental movie: don’t cut down those trees, they are sacred. That film was one of the biggest influencers. Look at ‘The Cove.’ That movie changed lives. We need more of these films. Instead of having movies where people smoke and do drugs and get shot up and kill one another, let’s make movies that are a little more ambitious.”

But DeJoria is not above exec producing the occasional black comedy, like “Bernie,” Richard Linklater’s 2011 indie with Jack Black and Matthew McConaughey.

“It was shot in Austin, where I live, and Matthew and Richard are both good friends of mine,” he says. “They’re just good people, and it was a lot of fun.”

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