One of our first documentary films was ”Autonomous”. In that film we wanted to capture the blurriness between what’s real and what’s not - through human like robots and virtual worlds in comparison with our own. This work woke a desire to create films in the area where sci-fi meets reality and where technology and science helps ask philosophical questions and give a new perspective on ourself.

Trailer for our previous film Autonomous.

We came across SETI, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. We were thrilled! A cosmic investigation that are trying to answer one of the biggest questions for mankind, an exploration into the unknown where we look for another intelligent civilisation in the universe. A special group of scientist devoting their life to try to make contact, using the technology we have on Earth. It was such a thought-provoking theme, that combined so many things we were interested in.

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Jon Richards, Douglas Vakoch, Jill Tarter and Seth Shostak at the SETI Institute.

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Seth Shostak left the Drake Equation on the napkin after a nice filming at the diner.

Early on we decided to focus on the SETI Institutes search. When we arrived in California we met up with astronomer Seth Shostak at the SETI Institute who right away asked us where we wanted to do the interview. We tried to tell him about the project, that we want to avoid talking heads. He looked surprised. Normally filmteams stayed for about two hours to make their interview and to shoot some b-roll. We tried to explain that we wanted to have access for years to be able to do this film.

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Seth Shostak at the diner.

We have seen a lot of science documentaries that was just a bunch of talking heads spouting out words. We asked ourselves - what happens when the camera stops? Who are that person? What will she or he do next, and in this case how is the life of an actual alien hunter?

Every day the receptionist called for Seth, Jill or Douglas with the phrase - it’s the Swedes again… Day by day we got more and more access and they started to find it kind of interesting to be part in this film. Jill was maybe the most difficult one to get a hold of, but when we met her it was worth all the work and wait.

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We met Jill Tarter at her home and then filmed a lot at the Institute. Here she is preparing a nice cup of tea.

We spend a lot of time at Allen Telescope Array - SETI Institutes array where they search every night for an alien signal. The guy working there is Jon Richards. It was a six hour drive north from the Institute. The Array is seated on an old lava bed surrounded by mountains that shields it from radio interference. Here Jon work alone - something that we wanted to portray in the film, the person that can be the first one to see an alien signal. The whole setting is very cinematic and when you look at this place, how calm it is and Jon walking around there alone, you can’t stop imaging what would happen if they actually find a signal.

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 Late night filming at Allen Telescope Array.

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Two tired directors after a whole nights filming.

The first filming was a huge adventure and the beginning to this project. We were full of questions when we got back to Sweden and we looked at the night sky in a different way then before.

More about the process in next post, when it starts involving the controversial quest to start broadcasting messages from Earth.

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The champagne bottle at ATA that will be opened when a signal is detected.




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