Getting Personal With 94 Elements – from Hydrogen to Plutonium (Video)

film, culture, science, 94 Elements, CrowdfundingIf you’re anything like me, you never memorized the periodic table and probably never will, but understanding what its symbols represent is becoming increasingly important – because many of them are running out. Enter 94 Elements, a global filmmaking project which aims to create beautiful short films that depict the every day, personal uses of each element – from Hydrogen to Plutonium.

Remember Germanium? It is used as lens coating on surgical microscopes, so one film follows an elderly man in India who reminisces  about sight, lovers and childhood while waiting to undergo eye surgery. And that’s just one element. Although award-winning filmmakers are behind the project, there will also be opportunities for novices to pitch films about an element that speaks to them.

Link to 94 Elements’ vimeo trailer:

“I’m a great believer that you shouldn’t beat people over the head with a frying pan about an issue,” said producer and director Mike Paterson. “All you can do is open the door and let them decide if they want to go in.”

The soft-spoken filmmaker told us that he wants to gently get people thinking about whether the rate at which we are digging up naturally occurring elements such as Indium, which could be depleted in less than ten years, is sustainable.

“I believe the issue of production cycles and recycling waste will become one of the major geopolitical drivers of this century,” he said.

Although there is a serious undercurrent to the project, it is fundamentally designed to be playful. And its widespread uptake relies on engagement with the international community.

Through the recently-launched Indiegogo campaign, the crowd can vote for the films they believe should go into full-scale production. The majority of films will be produced by acclaimed filmmakers such as Sundance-winner Nino Kirtadze and BAFTA-winner Marc Isaacs, and then winners of pitch competitions can throw their best work into the mix as well.

The campaign target of $62,000 will fund three new films, which leaves behind a slew of other elements. But Paterson envisions this as a long-term project that will eventually become absorbed by “the internet.” Adding to the fun, an interesting “Mix Lab” has been added to the website that allows users to link to films by cracking the codes to their compounds.

It’s a fascinating project, just one of many that Paterson and his creative team have done, which is bound to create a subtle shift in the way that we view the origin and treatment of everything that makes up planet earth.

For more information and to catch a glimpse of a couple of films that have already been made, head over to 94 Elements and prepare to be moved by chemicals in a way that you’ve never been before. 

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