Burt’s Buzz at the Gibraltar Room Saturday afternoon.

Burt’s Buzz at the Gibraltar Room Saturday afternoon.

Burt’s Buzz wraps film club matinees

The film club screens Burt's Buzz Saturday at the Gibraltar Room.

We will be showing our last matinée for this season on Saturday, April 12.

Burt’s Buzz will be shown at the Gibraltar Room at 2 p.m. Back doors open at 1:30 p.m. Admission is $5 each, kids under 12 are free.

I have not had a chance to see this documentary as it is very hard to get.

So I have to rely on what I have been sent by the Toronto International Film Festival. Director Jody Shapiro and Burt Shavitz sat down with Marlow Stern at TIFF to discuss Burt’s journey, and how he was screwed out of the company fortune.

You have seen Burt Shavitz before. The bounteous beard, the tilted cap, the soulful eyes.

Products bearing his iconic image have graced the lips, hair, and faces of millions of men and women across the world.

But the septuagenarian co-founder of Burt’s Bees, the eco-friendly personal care products company, isn’t too keen on seeing you.

“A good day is when no one shows up and you don’t have to go anywhere,” he says.

Burt is a paragon of rustic. He spends his days shacked up in a 400-square-foot converted turkey coop in the backwoods of Maine.

He doesn’t own a television and, ever since his water heater broke years ago, heats water on a wood stove.

Now, the accidental entrepreneur is getting the documentary treatment in Jody Shapiro’s film Burt’s Buzz, which made its world premiere at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.

The film traces Burt’s journey from wayward hippie-news photographer in the 60s to co-founder of a multimillion dollar company, and his current gig as brand ambassador for the company he was forced out of.

“He’s like Colonel Sanders, you know?” says his assistant, Trevor, in the film. “And to him, he just does not understand that.”

Burt was born in Great Neck, New York. Since following in his father’s footsteps as a factory worker was of no interest to him, Burt took to photography, snapping pictures of “bums on the Bowery,” as he puts it. He was eventually hired as a staff photographer for a Jewish weekly and then, after they purchased some of his photographs, acquired a press pass for Time.

He worked as a freelancer for publications like The New York Times and Life, photographing anti-war rallies, pollution, and popular figures of the period like Malcolm X, John F. Kennedy, and Allen Ginsberg.

But when the television started to become popular, Burt realized that there was no longer much of a market for his photos.

“I saw the handwriting on the wall and decided it was the right time to leave,” he says. “Don’t get me wrong, it was a good time to be in New York back then. Anything went. Anything. But the good time was over.”

In 1970, Burt threw his mattress in his Volkswagen van and, along with a few buddies, drove upstate to the High Falls, New York, area. After a series of heavy rainstorms, Burt decided to drive around and survey the damage. He stumbled upon a swarm of bees on a fencepost.

The year before, a guy that I’d been buying honey fro, who was a beekeeper, had given me everything I needed to be a beekeeper except the bees—a hive, a mask, gloves, a smoker, a hive tool, everything,” Burt recalls. “So, there was this fencepost, and I said, ‘My lord, this is an act of God! I can’t turn this down.’”

Burt called on his beekeeper pal, who scooped up the bees from the fencepost with his bare hands, and dumped them into a hive. They plugged all the openings with torn underwear, and took the booty back to his home in Alligerville, New York. Before long, he had amassed 26 beehives, dripping with honey.

The rest of the story is history, as you might say and this you just have to see for yourself. This Saturday, at the Gibraltar Room, 2 p.m.

Remember, proceeds from our film screenings help to support the LDA, the Williams Lake Chapter of the Association for Students with Learning Disabilities for one-on-one tutoring. The LDA has now partnered with the WL Child Development Centre. Your support is greatly appreciated!

You have fun, you learn something new, you help your community – it cannot get much better.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Habitat Remediation Working Group takes a tour in 2020 of what was then the newly-constructed confluence of Edney and Hazeltine Creek channels. Mount Polley Mine is expected to reopen by September, 2021. (Photo submitted)
Mount Polley mine expected to open by fall 2021: Imperial Metals

The reopening will create about 300 full-time mining jobs

The red rock garden in Williams Lake was filled with new rocks in recognition of the National Day of Awareness of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Wednesday, May 5, 2021. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Red rocks left as reminder of missing and murdered local women in Williams Lake

May 5 marked the National Day for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
57 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

Thirty people in the region are in hospital, 16 of whom are in intensive care

Kari, a 12-year-old Belted Galloway, produced triplets Wednesday, April 27. Mother and babies are doing fine. (Kelly Sinoski photo -100 Mile Free Press).
Holy cow: triplets born in 100 Mile House

Linda and Don Savjord witnessed a rare experience last week at Bridge Creek Ranch.

Fireman’s Fairways between Chimney and Felker lakes is slated to open soon, following a clean up work bee this Sunday, May 9 starting at 10 a.m. (Photo submitted)
Cleanup slated for Sunday, May 9 at Fireman’s Fairways Golf Course

Fireman’s Fairway is an 11-hole, par 3 course, opened in 1994

Jose Marchand prepares Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination doses at a mobile clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, in Montreal, Friday, April 30, 2021. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is coming under fire after contradicting the advice Canadians have been receiving for weeks to take the first vaccine against COVID-19 that they’re offered. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Trudeau says he is glad he got AstraZeneca, vaccines are only way out of pandemic

‘The most important thing is to get vaccinated with the first vaccine offered to you’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Dip in COVID-19 cases with 572 newly announced in B.C.

No new deaths have been reported but hospitalized patients are up to 481, with 161 being treated in intensive care

Solar panels on a parking garage at the University of B.C. will be used to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen, the latter captured to supply a vehicle filling station. (UBC video)
UBC parkade project to use solar energy for hydrogen vehicles

Demonstration project gets $5.6M in low-carbon fuel credits

FILE – A student arrives at school as teachers dressed in red participate in a solidarity march to raise awareness about cases of COVID-19 at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. ‘should be able to’ offer 1st dose of COVID vaccine to kids 12+ by end of June: Henry

Health Canada authorized the vaccine for younger teens this morning

A woman in the Harrison Mills area was attacked by a cougar on Tuesday, May 4. B.C. Conservation Officers killed two male cougars in the area; the attack was determined to be predatory in nature. (File photo)
2 cougars killed following attack on woman in Agassiz area

Attack victim remains in hospital in stable condition

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. CDC updates info, acknowledging small respiratory droplets can spread COVID-19

Large droplets, not aerosols had been fixture of public health messaging for many months

A picture of Shirley Ann Soosay was rendered from a postmortem photographer and circulated on social media. (DDP graphic)
B.C. genealogist key to naming murder victim in decades-old California cold case

In July 1980, Shirley Ann Soosay was raped and stabbed to death

Most Read