Why Make This Documentary?

It’s been a couple of years working on this documentary, and
almost always the question I get from my interviewees, friends, or anyone I
talk to about the film is “So…why are you making a documentary about time


Calvin and Hobbes


I guess it goes all the way back to when I was a kid. Being
a child of the 90’s, some of my favorite books—Harry Potter, A Wrinkle in Time—featured trips through history. I
grew up reading Calvin and Hobbes, and my favorite parts were when Calvin and
Hobbes got into their cardboard box time machine to visit dinosaurs.
La Jetée (Chris Marker 1962)
But I didn’t really become absorbed with the idea of time
travel until, halfway through film school, I saw what would become my favorite
film of all time. La Jetée (1962) is a 30 minute featurette directed by Chris
Marker. Comprised of a series of black and white stills with narration, it
tells a post apocalyptic story of a man being sent to different eras in order
to rescue the present, and an image engrained in his mind, a memory when he was
a child, that haunts him.


Time travel was something that was a fun, adventurous thing
in books and movies, but Chris Marker’s version brought up ideas that were just
mind blowing to me- bringing up ideas of time, memory and mortality in
beautiful, stark imagery- and I was drawn to the whole idea of time and time
Doing a documentary on time travel was the perfect excuse to
jump wholeheartedly into a topic.
Originally, I wanted this film to pit the physicists
studying time travel—the “realists”—against the “fanatics” who thought time
travel was possible. My main question was: who was right? But then I realized a
couple things.


Documentaries exploring whether time travel is possible
are already out there, like Stephen Hawking’s Universe, or Through the
with Morgan Freeman.

There are a lot—and I mean a lot—of time travel conspiracies [I refer to this academic paper on
the subject: http://arxiv.org/abs/1312.7128].
And I didn’t want this film to be about conspiracies either.


What really inspired me when I was researching time travel
was how far back the idea of time travel has spanned, and what that meant: Eons
before H.G. Wells wrote The Time Machine,
there were stories about time travel, although they don’t appear like the
stories we see today, spanning across all cultures and myths. Humans are
fascinated with time travel and it’s not just limited to a genre in fiction.
Urashima Taro


A lot of people also ask if this is going to be a “nerdy
documentary” about Star Trek and Back to the Future…to which the answer
is yes, and no. I’m a nerd, for sure—but since time travel can be found
everywhere from the Bible to video games to Afrofuturist literature, my
nerd-dom is pretty wide-ranging at this point.


If you haven’t yet, check out the trailer for A Brief History of Time Travel, and I hope you can join me as I blog about my
experiences making this film!


Stephen Hawking threw a time traveler party in his TV Series to prove a point that there are no time travelers out there, but it was still cool!