Real to Reel Productions
In association with CuriosityStream, The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation,
Available for Ticketed & Free screenings approved on an individual basis
This is the incredible story of how fungi made life on land possible. Neither plants nor animals - fungi represent a third mode of life and belong to their own kingdom. By looking at fungi in the context of evolution and natural history, scientists are making discoveries that will change our lives. Some fungi will save us, others will threaten us and we are just beginning to understand which is which.
● What inspired this story?
Like most people, I didn't pay much attention to fungi, let alone thinking of making a film about them. But once I saw Australian photographer's, Steve Axford's amazing mushroom time-lapse images I became spellbound by their enigmatic beauty. Their diversity, vibrant colors, bizarre shapes made me curious. What was going on here? And as I started to dig into Google Scholar I became 'curiouser and curiouser'.
● Describe some of the challenges faced while making this film.When I began investigating this strange realm, it soon became apparent that there was a lot to reveal, as there was a huge gap in knowledge. Little did I realize that I'd chosen such a fast-evolving field of research that I would need to rewrite the script several times before the shoot. Fungi are weird, largely overlooked, and still little studied, without institutes dedicated to fungal research and few scientists willing to devote their careers to revealing their many secrets. But slowly the story is being revealed.
● How do you approach science storytelling?
As with my previous films, it became a matter of bringing together different lines of research into a compelling narrative. I firmly believe that context and story-telling are essential to understanding. By unfolding the story over a billion years of evolution, I focused on the fundamental role fungi have played in life on land.
● What impact do you hope this film will have?
A one hour documentary is barely enough to go beyond the highlights but our hope is that this film puts fungi on our horizon and from now on, every time viewers look at a button mushroom in a grocery store they’ll see them in a very different way: they are the unlikely conductors of the symphony of life on land. I also hope, the evolutionary and ecological context illuminates just how carefully life on Earth is balanced and makes the audience aware of the dangers of human induced changes. It's more important than ever to understand fungi.
● Were there any surprising or meaningful moments/experiences you want to share?
The incredible realization that without fungi, we wouldn't be here. The notion that in our increasingly warming world our mostly beneficial relationship with these organisms could change, turning them from friends into foes. The idea that fungi represent a third mode of life: organisms that are networks.
● Anything else you would like people to know?
As we say in the film, fungi represent both a dire threat and a tremendous opportunity to humanity. So, it’s well and truly time to get to know them.
● What next?
My next documentary is a deep dive into computational sociology that reveals how does success emerge. Why is it that no matter how hard you work, perfect your performance, accomplish amazing things, you can still fail? We’ll show that performance and success are governed by different mathematical laws and we’ll reveal the invisible forces that drive our chances of success day after day. Our aim is to demystify success and offer guidance, rooted in science to navigate our individual journeys to success.