Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Lotsa press

Monica, my co-director, is originally a playwright. She's had quite a bit of success in the world of theatre. Being a fiction filmmaker myself as well as a documentary filmmaker, I've had plenty of time interacting with actors, many of whom do double duty in the theatrical environment and on the big screen. I learned something interesting about how the role of a theatrical director differs from that of a film director when I saw a play with one of my favorite actors. She pointed out to me something that was clearly going wrong on stage that night: one actor was badly overshadowing another. I whispered something along the lines of "I guess the director is going to have some work to do tonight." She told me, in fact, nope, the director was done. When the curtain rises on opening night, the play, and the actors, are on their own. Hopefully, it's got legs to walk on.

That's a little how Monica, Andrew and I feel about our film. We've set it out there, and it's walking around on its own. We're watching, a little nervously, how it's making its way in the world. We've been gratified to see some positive indications so far: an review on MSNBC says the film "packs a lot of real life into its saga about the world's biggest subatomic quest." A review in Seed magazine says the film "splits open the US's problematic relationship with scientific research... a roller-coaster ride of near breakthroughs, complex research, and dashed hopes." And a review on "Popmatters" does a nice job of communicating many of the themes we were after.

But perhaps my favorite endorsement of the film comes from someone who hasn't seen it yet: a physicist who must have been hearing about it from his peers or reading about it. He even linked to this blog, which was nice. On his own blog, he describes some of the trouble the LHC is having after its major breakdown a couple of month ago. He then wraps up the post by stating

On a more cheerful note, tonight PBS will be broadcasting a documentary about the search for the Higgs at Fermilab called The Atom Smashers. It looks like this program should be about 10^(10^5) times better than a recent one featuring theorists. One of the filmmakers has a blog here. With the LHC out of commission for a while, the Higgs search at the Tevatron is where the action is, and the experimenters there may be the ones to find the Higgs or rule it out.

Now, 10^(10^5) would be 1,000,000, if I'm not mistaken. I've never seen the other film he's referencing, but I certainly can't guarantee that our film is a million times better than that one. But it's nice that a physicist has such high hopes!

[editor's note: I've just been gently corrected. I was, in fact, mistaken, and Mr. Woit of the aforementioned blog is confident that our film is not just a million times better, but rather ... ahem, 10 quadrupa-gazillion times better. In other words, a 10 with one hundred-thousand zeroes after it. The pressure is on!!]

Like the theatre director, though, all I can do at this point is sit back and watch...

(And watch I will --- it's on tonight, Nov. 25, at 10:30 on most PBS stations. But check your local listings.)


Eirik said...

Check the parenthesis, Woit likes your film a lot more than you realize. ;-)

Clayton said...

Hmmm... ashamedly I'm a bit rusty on my scientific notation. I assumed that was 10 to the 100,000th power, which would be 10 x 100,000 or 1,000,000? No?

Ohhh.... now I see! 1 million is only 10^6!

Ah, ha. A correction is in order...!


Harbles said...

Sadly the local PBS outlet (WNED) has decided to only make Atom Smashers available on their HD channel.

If I can ask a tech question , what kind of camera was Atom Smashers shot on?

I wish you much success with this and future projects

Clayton said...

Rats! If nothing else, you can buy a copy! :) We shot this on a Panasonic DVX-100. A great little camera.

Thanks, and I hope you get to see the film one way or another!