Funding an experienced team of documentary filmmakers, the Simons Foundation is exploring how to use the vast array of video production tools to bring science to life in a way that highlights the wonders of discovery and the pursuit of knowledge. Films produced from the funding include an innovative look at the science of fat that uses animation and interviews to stitch together a surprising story, an examination of the discovery of insulin that contrasts the Hollywood version of the story with a more nuanced narrative arc, and an exploration of the diabetes crisis in India that follows a researcher who is using a long-term epidemiological study to gain insights into the disease.
The films were vetted by scientists and produced to appeal to an audience with a wide range of backgrounds in science. The positive reception of the films challenges the conventional wisdom that creating content for a general audience requires stripping science of its sophistication. The goal now is to use these films to determine the market for science content so that producers and funders will come to see the worth of this approach to science storytelling.