Film & Video Projects

Science Sandbox supports a number of different film and video projects. From feature-length documentary films to short videos profiling the work of our awardees, these projects aim to broaden and rebrand what it means to be a scientist. We support nonfiction filmmakers who connect sophisticated science to broad audiences with interdisciplinary artistry and storytelling.

Let’s Go Tardigrading

Status: Released
Distribution: VOD
Production: Pavlus Office

“Let’s Go Tardigrading,” a playful, 2-minute video, tells the story of the tardigrade, or ‘water bear’ — microscopic creatures that live in the soil and puddles we step over every day. These tiny, resilient creatures are the perfect mascot for ‘natural curiosity’ and ‘fearless exploration,’ as they’ve thrived for more than 500 million years — in places as hot as 300 degrees Fahrenheit and as cold as minus 450 degrees Fahrenheit — simply by exploring new places. They show us that anyone can ‘do’ science, because we’re all born with the ability to ask questions about the world around us — to be explorers.

NOVA: The Great Math Mystery

Status: Released
Distribution: Broadcast Television; VOD
Production: NOVA/PBS

“The Great Math Mystery” is an Emmy Award-nominated film that takes viewers on a mathematical mystery tour — a provocative exploration of math's astonishing power across the centuries. We discover math's signature in the swirl of a nautilus shell, the whirlpool of a galaxy, and the spiral in the center of a sunflower. Math was essential to everything from the first wireless radio transmissions to the prediction and discovery of the Higgs boson and the successful landing of rovers on Mars. Astrophysicist and writer Mario Livio, along with a colorful cast of mathematicians, physicists and engineers, follow math from Pythagoras to Einstein and beyond. It all leads to the ultimate riddle: Is math a human invention or the discovery of the language of the universe? Originally aired on April 15, 2015.

NOVA: “The Mathematics of Prediction”

Status: Released
Distribution: Broadcast Television; VOD
Production: NOVA/PBS

“The Mathematics of Prediction” will take viewers on a new mathematical odyssey, using graphics to bring numbers to life and exploring real-world examples that illustrate both the power and the challenges of mathematical analysis. Complexity and uncertainty are evident everywhere in the world around us, in natural systems like the weather and in human constructs like the economy. But scientists and mathematicians are constantly working to find meaningful patterns and build better predictive models using old methods like Bayesian probability and new ones like machine-learning algorithms. “The Mathematics of Prediction” aims to show Nova viewers the value of deploying the right math when we make predictions that materially affect our lives.

Oliver Sacks: The Life of the Mind

Status: Post-Production
Distribution: Theatrical; Broadcast Television; VOD
Production: Steeplechase Films

Not available yet
A feature-length documentary film by Ric Burns for theatrical release and international broadcast in 2018. The film explores the riveting and profoundly moving life and work of the world-renowned neurologist, clinician, and writer — based on unique footage shot in the months before his death, including over 80 hours with Sacks himself, his partner Billy Hayes, and some of his closet friends and family. In partnership with the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Simon Foundation’s Science Sandbox, and Vulcan Productions.

Amazon Adventure

Status: In theaters
Distribution: Theatrical; VOD
Production: SK Films

“Amazon Adventure” is a science adventure film for the giant screen. From the team that made the award-winning “Flight of the Butterflies,” this film tells the dramatic story of the largely unknown 19th century naturalist, explorer and Darwin contemporary Henry Walter Bates, who spent 11 years in the Amazon. Fascinated by animals that survive by imitating others, he discovered the phenomenon of Batesian mimicry, in which a harmless animal mimics a dangerous one to deceive its predators, and collected specimens, as a self-taught researcher. Darwin called Bates’ evidence the “beautiful proof” of evolution and included Bates' discoveries in all subsequent editions of “On the Origin of Species.” The film is a collaboration between the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Tangled Bank Studios and IMAX-industry leader SK Films, with major funding from the National Science Foundation, the Simon Foundation’s Science Sandbox, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Experiments in Science Storytelling

Status: Released
Distribution: VOD
Production: Two Turtle Productions

Science Sandbox teamed up with Elliot Kirschner’s Two Turtle Productions and a group of documentary filmmakers for “Experiments in Science Storytelling.” Focusing on diabetes — a condition that affects 415 million people worldwide — the team explored how film can communicate the complicated science behind relatable issues. The result was three boundary-pushing short films: “A Brief History of Fat,” a look at the science of fat that uses animation and interviews to tell a surprising story; “Dr. Banting's Miracle Drug,” which contrasts the Hollywood version of the discovery of insulin with a more nuanced narrative; and “The New Face of Diabetes,” which follows the diabetes crisis in India, and was distributed by Motherboard.
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