The word “Zeitgeist” means the “intellectual, spiritual, cultural awareness of the time” and the goal of this project was to explore what makes us who we are, how we relate, what we are doing and what we should be doing if we wish to live in a peaceful, humane, sustainable and healthy global society.

The idea of “Zeitgeist: The Movie” is not what many assume. The original Zeitgeist was not a film, but a performance piece, which consisted of a vaudevillian style multi-media event using recorded music, live instruments and video. The only known (camera phone) recording is posted here.

The work was performed for free over a 6-night period in New York City and was then shelved. At that time, Peter Joseph had no interest in being a “filmmaker” and was working on his percussion and music composition career.

However, upon the suggestion of a friend, the digital audio/visual was “tossed” up on what was known as Google Video at the time.

Above: Photo from the original 2007 percussion performance set up

Once online, an unexpected flood of interest began to generate. Within 6 months over 50 Million views were recorded on Google Video’s counters. Suddenly “Zeitgeist” the stage event, became “Zeitgeist: The Movie”.

The current combined estimates put the number of Internet views at over 500 million as of 2020, with tens of thousands of uploads in dozens of languages. Considered by some as the most watched Internet movie in history, all three of the Zeitgeist films, while copyright, allow free, non-profit distribution online.

Given the public reaction to Zeitgeist, the decision was then made to make a follow up in 2008 entitled “Zeitgeist: Addendum”. Originally this was going to conclude the series, introducing ideas of resolve for some of our ongoing social problems. Yet, this work also succeeded in sparking a mass attention, inspiring the development of an activist organization now called The Zeitgeist Movement.

This Movement, founded by Peter Joseph, works to spread information about a new social reform ideas. However, this is an aside for the Zeitgeist Film Series, while an inspiration for The Movement, which shares the term “Zeitgeist”, is not to be confused with the content of the films in detail, which are personal to Peter Joseph alone. The Zeitgeist Movement is an economic/sustainability movement at its core and its relationship to the Film Series content is not in tandem.

On January 15, 2011, the third of the series, “Zeitgeist: Moving Forward”, was released independently in over 60 countries and in over 30 languages with over 340 screenings worldwide. Likely the largest independent documentary release of it kind in history. This more traditional, interview based documentary focuses on the very fabric of the social order: Monetary-Market Economics.

Above: From 2009 New York Times Article

About the Director:

In 2009, he founded “The Zeitgeist Movement”, a global, nonprofit sustainability advocacy group and has been on the Advisory Board/Steering Committee for “Project-Peace on Earth“ since 2013. He also founded and curates the Annual Zeitgeist Media Festival for the arts and periodically works with UN working groups including UNFUCA and The World Academy.

Joseph has given talks around the world, including the UK, Canada, GermanyAmerica, Brazil & Israel. He was a featured speaker at the 2011 Leaders Causing Leaders Conference [Lecture Here] and his work has been profiled in the New York Times, Vice, The Huffington Post, The Marker, Free Speech TV, The Young TurksThe Examiner and many other media outlets. He has participated in multiple TEDx Events, has worked with The Global Summit and is also a frequent social critic on the news network Russia Today. He has appeared on the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast, Thom Hartmann’s The Big Picture, Watching The Hawks, BoomBust, Redacted Tonight with Lee Camp, The David Pakman show, Christopher Ryans “Tangentially Speaking” podcast, Telesur’s Empire Files with Abby Martin, The Jimmy Dore Show and others.

In 2013, Peter Joseph was hired to direct the Official Music Video “God is Dead?” by Rock Hall of Fame artist Black Sabbath. The nearly 9 min. video was composed of segments from The Zeitgeist Film Series, at Ozzy Osborne’s and the band’s request.

As a classical musician, predating his film and activist work, in 2002, Joseph released an album of J.S. Bach transcriptions for Marimba entitled “The Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue”. This album has now been re-released and can be listened to free online.

Joseph’s work is produced, published and (mostly) distributed directly through his company, Gentle Machine Productions LLC.