We never thought we’d get this far, meeting and filming the elusive genius, Dr. Raymond Peat. Our original idea was to make a documentary focusing solely on him, but he inspired us to widen our scope, ultimately starting the journey that led us here.
It’s extremely difficult summing up Dr. Peat: he has a Phd in biology, written endlessly fascinating books and newsletters on every conceivable topic, and helped scores of people with their nutrition and ailments. He’s inspired a cult-like following on the internet (which we later learned he’s completely unaware of).
At 77, he’s appeared on video only twice, and never in a formal interview. From the start, we knew it wouldn’t be easy, we’d have to gain his trust. And after nearly a year of trying to schedule a shoot, we were ready to give it up. Then, in October we were on the west coast filming Danny Roddy, so we thought to ask Dr. Peat one last time. To our amazement, he agreed.
Giddy with excitement, we rented a van and began the long drive north, from San Francisco to Eugene, OR, a pleasant University town. We checked into our Airbnb, a little mid-century modern bungalow, where we decided to shoot the interview.
Ray came by the next day. We sat in the backyard in the late-morning sun and chatted for a while (he was particularly interested in the activities of a little squirrel). It was a surreal experience to be casually conversing with someone we’ve read so much about, learned from, and have been inspired by. But the conversation flowed easily.
We moved inside for the interview, and over the next two days logged about 10 hours of dialogue. His stamina for speaking impressed us. When we asked about it Ray related a saying, that only Fidel Castro and Buckminster Fuller could speak for longer than he could. We heard about his own journey to health, including an ill-fated nutritional experiment that destroyed his teeth back in the 50s (short story: don’t try to live off wheat germ). Other topics included the nature of biological energy, nutrition, hormones, dogmatism and authoritarianism in the scientific and medical establishment, his influences (including Ling, Ho, Hillman, Pollack), and how seemingly “new” ideas and discoveries are rooted in very old research.
Ray made the point that he considers himself a painter more than a scientist, and in fact, drew our portraits the evening of the 2nd day. They were his first portraits in 30 years. Coincidentally, it was my Birthday, and I couldn't think of a better way to spend the day.