The Greener Grass

a new series by Peter Mettler / Canada/Switzerland / in progress


"The grass is always greener on the other side" suggests both our better nature and our darker impulses.

Inspired by a chain of characters seeking ever-greater horizons, we plunge into a flow of human yearning and aspiration.

What is this human desire to want more? Why do we always strive and need? And what does the striving, wanting, needing have to do with the conditions that we live in, our desire to conquer, our capacity for dreaming, creation and invention – or our inevitable death? These questions are the foundation for a project that will culminate in a six-part TV and web series which connects the lives of disparate characters into an exploration of human yearning and aspiration.

"The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence" is a proverb we rarely consider deeply. But a version of it exists in languages and cultures all around the world, testifying to the universality of the principle it expresses.

The proverb describes several fundamentals aspects of Nature: nourishment, growth and survival. As powerful as these drives are, they can also be equally destructive. “The grass is always greener” suggests both our better nature and our darker impulses. We are highly social creatures, but also susceptible to envy, greed, and blindness to what we already have.

The series mechanism of The Greener Grass is simple: a daisy-chain. Each episode will explore the particular world and characteristics of two intriguing individuals. During each portrait, we will ask the subjects, “What other life would you like to live?” Or, “Where would you like to be?” Or, “What does ‘the grass is always greener’ suggest to you?”

If they describe a wish to know what it is like to be an African hunter-gatherer living in a society without violence, an astrophysicist exploring interstellar space, a Buddhist monk meditating in a mountain cave, even a member of the opposite sex, or (in the case of Peter Mettler’s 90 year-old mother) a California surfer, we will travel to visit that surfer or monk, explore their life, and ask them the same questions, continuing onwards in a spiralling progression. As this chain of interaction grows, an associative network evoking the human condition will begin to emerge.

Currently in development, we are establishing themes, teams, strategies and possible trajectories. The production will be strategized but not scripted. It will be shot in cinema verité style, catching people’s lives as they unfold, graced with insightful observation and deft, poetic qualities.

It is our goal that this chain of yearning and aspiration will generate an awareness of human commonality. The question – “is the grass really greener on the other side?” – will never be far from the viewer’s mind, along with the possibility that while dreams power the human imagination, we also flourish when we open our eyes to the present moment.



Peter Mettler

Peter Mettler

From the beginning of his career, Peter Mettler has created films deemed impossible to make, yet readily appreciated once they exist. A key figure in the critical wave of 1980s Canadian cinema, Mettler produces works which elude categorization. Melding intuitive processes with drama, essay, experiment, and documentary, his films hold a unique and influential position in creative expression in the cinema as well as in new art forms where film and other disciplines merge. Mettler has collaborated with Atom Egoyan, Robert Lepage, Jim O’Rourke, Edward Burtynsky, Jennifer Baichwal, Peter Liechti, Jeremy Narby, and Emma Davie. Mettler’s films have been the focus of multiple retrospectives, including at TIFF, BAFICI, Lincoln Centre, Jeu de Paume Paris, and Cinematheque Suisse. His awards include a Genie for Best Documentary, Locarno Film Festival’s La Sarraz Prize, Grand Prix and Prix du Jeune Publique at Vision Du Reel, and Best Film, Best Cinematography, and Best Writing at Hot Docs Toronto. His work has been the subject of two books, Making The Invisible Visible (1995), and Of This Place and Elsewhere: The Films and Photography of Peter Mettler (2006). In 2017, Picture Of Light was selected by TIFF as one of Canada’s Essential 150 Canadian Films. Meditations on our world, rooted in personal experience, his works reflect the visions and wonder of their characters and audiences alike.

Stéphanie Barbey

Stéphanie Barbey

After training at the Ateliers Varan in Paris (the documentary school of Jean Rouch), Stéphanie Barbey has directed many documentary films, including two features and several television shorts. She joined the production company Intermezzo Films in 2004 with whom she collaborates as a producer, consultant, and editor. Before turning to documentaries, Stéphanie obtained a BA in International Relations from the Graduate Institute of International Studies (IUHEI) in Geneva, and a MA in Political Science from the London School of Economics and Political Sciences. She has worked as a writer for international and non-governmental organizations, including the World Economic Forum (Geneva, 1996–98), Soho Partnership (New York, 1998–2000), and World Bank (Washington and Paris, 2000–02). Her most recent feature, Broken Land (2014), was co-directed by Luc Peter with cinematography and creative consulting by Peter Mettler, and screened at Locarno and Rotterdam.

Isabella Salas

Isabella Salas

Born and raised in Mexico City, Isabella Salas moved to Montreal, Canada in 2001. Her curiosity and method has developed an organic relationship between storytelling, philanthropy, filmmaking and technology in her work. As one of 18 candidates for the New Canadian Media Production Association, she received a Producer Mentorship Award twice, in 2008 & 2011. As part of this organization, Isabella was alligned with visionary creators to develop grand scale multimedia and multiplatform projects within the entertainment and technology industries, including productions with Vice, Cirque du Soleil, Moment Factory, and Hexagram research facility. She is currently developing the series The Greener Grass with Pater Mettler and developing a 360-degree immersive live show, Human Instrument, as an artist in residence for the Labodome at the Societe des Arts et Technologies in Montreal.

For more information contact info {at} petermettler {dot} com