Sandbox Films

Sandbox Films is a mission-driven documentary studio that champions excellence in science storytelling. The initiative was born from Science Sandbox, a strategic portfolio of grantmaking at the Simons Foundation focused on outreach and engaging new audiences with science.


Sandbox Films supports and collaborates with production partners and visionary filmmakers to tell new stories about science. Our films communicate complex science in compelling ways that resonate with people who don’t typically seek out science content.

We prioritize projects that incorporate innovative storytelling techniques while highlighting diversity in science — featuring topics and disciplines that aren’t typically featured in science media. Similarly, we value inclusive heroes of science that represent the vast potential of scientific role models and valued perspectives. Our goal is to broaden what it means to be scientist. We seek to tell stories that inspire viewers and reveal an authentic portrait of the actual process of science. By emphasizing the pursuit of discovery, in all its beauty and sometimes messiness, these stories humanize science in relatable ways for diverse points of view.

Most of our coproductions include a feature-length film intended for festival consideration, a theatrical release, and wide television and digital distribution in a variety of lengths and formats, intended for a broad general audience.

Beyond reaching large audiences, we also hope to build key partnerships with distributors, policymakers, educators and project ambassadors that leverage our films to spark global conversations about important scientific issues that intersect people’s lives. The goal is to inspire curiosity, engage communities and empower citizenry. These impact campaigns include community screenings, educational resources, social media campaigns and strategic alliances. Interested in partnering? Drop us a line.

Note: Sandbox Films does not accept unsolicited proposals. For information about our open-call fund administered in partnership with Sundance Institute, which is focused on elevating emerging voices in science documentary, see the Science Sandbox Nonfiction Project.

Current and upcoming co-productions

The Most Unknown (2018)

The Most Unknown is a documentary film and digital series that sends nine scientists across the world to explore some of humanity’s biggest questions. How did life begin? What is time? What is consciousness? How much do we really know? Directed by Emmy-nominated and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Ian Cheney (The Search for General Tso, The City Dark), the film was produced by VICE Media’s Motherboard in association with Sandbox Films. The Most Unknown had its world premiere at the 2018 Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival. The film was released in cinemas across 20 U.S. cities through Abramorama and is now available on Netflix. More info →

Human Nature (2019)

From executive producer Dan Rather and director Adam Bolt, the co-writer and editor of the Oscar-winning film Inside Job, comes the story of the biggest scientific revolution of the 21st century. A breakthrough called CRISPR has given us unprecedented control over the basic building blocks of life. It opens the door to curing diseases, reshaping the biosphere and designing our own children. Human Nature is a provocative exploration of CRISPR’s far-reaching implications, through the eyes of the scientists who discovered it, the families it’s affecting and the bioengineers who are testing its limits. The film was produced by the Wonder Collaborative, in association with Sandbox Films and Dan Rather’s News & Guts Films. Human Nature was selected by the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, CPH:DOX in Copenhagen and Hot Docs in Toronto and will be released for broad distribution later in 2019. More info →

In addition to our coproductions, we support other innovative film projects with a mix of financial and creative support.

  • Oliver Sacks: His Own Life (expected 2019): In-production documentary feature about the life of a “humanistic scientist” who redefined our understanding of the mind. Produced by Vulcan Productions and PBS in association with HHMI Tangled Bank Studios, with support from Sandbox Films.
  • The Serengeti Rules (2018): Documentary feature about how understanding “keystone species” could unlock our ability to repair the planet. Produced by Passion Pictures and HHMI Tangled Bank Studios in association with Sandbox Films.
  • A Brief History of Fat (2017): Documentary short about the science of fat. Produced by the Wonder Collaborative in association with Sandbox Films. Distributed by Slate.
  • Banting’s Miracle Drug (2017): Documentary short about the discovery of insulin. Produced by the Wonder Collaborative in association with Sandbox Films. Distributed by Slate.
  • The New Face of Diabetes (2017): Documentary short about a perplexing epidemic in India. Produced by the Wonder Collaborative in association with Sandbox Films. Distributed by VICE Media.

The Science Sandbox Nonfiction Project is a fund administered by Sundance Institute, in partnership with Sandbox Films, focused on emerging independent voices in science storytelling. More information at

  • Untitled Artificial Intelligence Documentary (Development support, 2018): In-production documentary feature about data scientists who uncover bias encoded in computer algorithms. Director: Shalini Kantayya.
  • The Quiet Zone (Development support, 2018): In-production documentary feature about the only town in America where the use of all wireless technology is banned. Director: Katie Dellamaggiore.
  • Inventing Tomorrow (Postproduction support, 2018): Documentary feature that follows inspiring teens as they prepare for the largest science fair competition in the world. Director: Laura Nix.
  • Theo Anthony (Artist support, 2018): Named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film,” the director of the critically acclaimed Rat Film will receive general artist support during the production of his second documentary feature, All Light, Everywhere.

Sandbox Films, LLC is a registered affiliate of the Simons Foundation.

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