The Thoughtful Animal

The Thoughtful Animal

Exploring the evolution and architecture of the mind

Putting Science on Screen (A Tale Told In Tweets)


What responsibilities do filmmakers have in terms of scientific accuracy? Usually, I argue that filmmakers are storytellers first, and while scientific accuracy (or plausibility) can often support a narrative, the first responsibility of the filmmaker is to weave a captivating tale. But what happens when the film (or TV series) in question is overtly scientific in nature?

It might be a straightforward nature documentary like BBC's Planet Earth or National Geographic's Great Migrations, or it could be a docu-drama - a narrative derived from clever editing of thousands of hours of footage of wild animals paired with heart-tugging voiceovers - like March of the Penguins or Disney's Chimpanzee.

In these cases, filmmakers might have a higher obligation to get the science right, which poses a unique science communication challenge.

Yesterday, Cristina Russo wrote a post about some of these issues at the PLoS Blog Sci-Ed, which sparked a twitter conversation, which I've compiled into a storify. Add your own thoughts in the comments below, on twitter or on Google+.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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