MOVIES | By Matt Donnelly on November 17, 2015

TheWrap Screening Series: “The rules of the game fundamentally favor bad behavior,” Tesla founder says, joining documentary director Louie Psihoyos and composer J. Ralph

Entrepreneur, inventor and engineer Elon Musk has made a fortune raging against convention, but when it comes to a passion of his — environmental protection — he says we have to play by the rules.

Appearing in “Racing Extinction,” a documentary about the myriad ways the human race is diminishing the planet, Musk joined a Wrap panel after a screening of the film and said a crucial way to effect change is on the ballot.

“It’s really important that people demonstrate to governments around the world that they care about climate change,” Musk said at TheWrap’s Screening Series on Sunday at Paramount Pictures. Musk was joined by the film’s director Louie Psihoyos, an Oscar winner for his previous acclaimed documentary “The Cove,” along with composer J. Ralph.

“The issue we’re facing is that, even the vast majority of scientists, even those that don’t have a vested interest and aren’t crazy, even they think this is a serious issue,” Musk said of the film, which explores issues like carbon dioxide emissions, manta-ray hunting, methane gas production from livestock and various man-made strains on the planet.

Musk, founder of electric car company Tesla Motors, said he was looking forward to the 2015 Climate Change Convention to be held Nov. 30 in Paris, despite the recent terror attacks that crippled the city and shook the world.

“The rules of the game fundamentally favor bad behavior,” Musk noted, recognizing the challenge of confronting industries that are heavily subsidized by governments. “The oil and gas companies have basically infinite money. They’re using the same playbook as the tobacco industry did.”

For the filmmakers, the challenge is also to raise awareness beyond those who are already environmentally conscious. “It’s about scale. We can show this in theaters like this with like-minded people but it’s about scaling up,” said Psihoyos, who achieved the ambitious effort with financing from Musk and an emotional score by J. Ralph (Oscar-nominated composer on “Virunga” and “Finding Vivian Maier”).

“Discovery is showing this film, they’re releasing this in 220 countries and territories the world, across networks,” Psihoyos told TheWrap’s Awards Editor Steve Pond. “They reach about a billion people, and if we reach only a fraction of that we hope it’s a tipping point.”

Indeed, Discovery will roll out the film for the world the watch on December 2. It’s got a great shot at captivating a small-screen audience across platforms like Facebook and Twitter — J. Ralph recruited big-time talent for the film’s original music.

“All of the music of the film is in response to the animals, a sort of song back to them,” Ralph said of calls from endangered species like whales and birds featured on the soundtrack. “When Louis and I were thinking about how to get the message out further… we thought, ‘Who would be the best voices?'”

They decided on Sia, who sings the anthem “One Candle,” and soul singer Anthony for the chilling “Manta Ray,” who co-wrote the music in collaboration with Ralph.

“The wilingness is there, you just have to activate people with something that is familiar. People look to the Tesla as the future, as credibility and something that can change the world, just like artists they trust for emotional resonance,” Ralph said.