The Intersection

i-c395d838da4edf9aa79e66a6475b169e-sizzle1.pngAs if taking on evolution vs. intelligent design wasn’t controversial enough, how about finding humor in global warming? Marine ecologist turned filmmaker Randy Olson has. In a big and poignant way…

I was first introduced to Randy Olson’s work during Bob Steneck’s invertebrate zoology course in graduate school. He told us about his friend and colleague who left a tenured faculty position at UNH to pursue film believing there must be a better way to educate broad audiences about the significance of science. Olson’s decision to leave the comfort and stability of the ivory towers struck all of us as unusual… and his courage inspired me.

Five years later, Randy’s Shifting Baselines campaign has had enormous success. They have produced widely viewed mixed media on ocean health and even launched Jennifer and Josh’s blog. In 2006, his film Flock of Dodos changed the way many of us think about how we communicate the significance of our work. And now comes the release of Randy’s latest and much anticipated mockumentry Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy.

There are many layers to Sizzle. While at times I laughed out loud (especially when climate change skeptic and cameraman Marion was on screen), other moments are quite thought provoking, encouraging us to reexamine who has been educating society about climate change and how. Randy plays himself… well, sort of. The character ‘Randy Olson,’ is a scientist who wants to make a serious movie about global warming, but doesn’t understand the way to reach the public and suffers from being way out of touch with general audiences. Paired with two flamboyant and funny producers who can’t distinguish Darwin from Homer, Olson embarks on a journey to tell the climate change story. But he gets more than he bargained for when a production crew arrives with their own ideas that turn Randy’s vision upside down. I don’t want to give too much away, but I recommend a trip to the theater to check it out. While it’s comedy, the climate scientists (including Storm World’s Bill Gray), activists, and skeptics are real and by the end of the film, Olson hits the nail on the head about how we communicate. Sizzle is not just about saving the planet, it’s also about saving science… from itself.

Watch the trailer here. The film hits theaters July 19th and I encourage readers to post their own reviews in comments after the premiere.