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Meet the Science Producers WIFV Event

March 14, 2014

Who doesn’t love watching videos and television shows about space and science? (Lame people, that’s who!) It turns out that a lot of science content is produced right here in the nation’s capital. So, with the help of Women in Film and Video, I organized an event to showcase the abundance and wide variety of science-related media being produced in the DC metropolitan area, and to start a conversation and network between regional science media producers.

This sold-out “Meet the Science Producers” event at the Interface Media Group in downtown Washington, DC on March 5th, 2014 included five distinguished panelists:

  • Michael Rosenfeld, Head of Television and Film at Tangled Bank Studios, a production company of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute;

  • Jennifer Shoemaker, Director of Missions Media at National Geographic;

  • Wade Sisler, Executive Producer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center;

  • Rebecca Howland, Producer for Screenscope, Inc.’s PBS documentary series “Journey to Planet Earth”;

  • and Karin Heineman, Executive Producer for Inside Science TV, a video series by the American Institute for Physics.

Science Reporter and Producer Miles O’Brien was also slated as a panelist, but had to cancel last minute, because he was feeling particularly poorly that day and had a lot of doctor appointments. (You may have heard about his recent limb amputation. Oh Miles, excuses excuses.)

You can view the full event program and panelist bios here.

The five panelists each spoke about their organizations and showed video clips as examples of the work they produce.

Michael explained that the Howard Hughes Medical Institute created Tangled Bank Studios to “partner with outside producers and broadcasters and try to create projects on science for television,” and he showed a preview for their upcoming three-part PBS series titled “Your Inner Fish.”

Jennifer explained that unlike National Geographic Television, which produces a lot of content for the National Geographic Channel and PBS, Missions Media works directly with the NatGeo scientists and explorers to get their stories out to the public. She showed clips from National Geographic’s 125th anniversary, their Pristine Seas project, and their Change the Course campaign.

In describing the media created at NASA Goddard, Wade explained, “The tax-payers don’t want to pay for NASA documentaries – they want you guys to be making them. We try to make content available in as many different resolutions and standards as we can, so that it’s available for many different content producers.” Wade showed how Goddard’s multimedia team is comprised of science visualizers, animators, and video producers, who all work closely with science writers and the social media team.

Rebecca showed a preview of Screenscope, Inc.’s upcoming 13th “Journey to Planet Earth” episode, titled “Extreme Realities.” She explained that Screenscope took about a year to produce each episode, but this latest episode took a little over two years because of fundraising issues.

Karin explained that Inside Science TV produces eight 90-second science news stories a month that they distribute to local news stations across the country, because the majority of people who aren’t seeking out science stories get most of their science information from local TV news.

The panelists discussed several topics during the Q&A section, including:

  • How to deal with public controversy surrounding some science topics;

  • The need to have scientists with great communication skills;

  • How to incorporate social media into outreach and distribution strategies;

  • Creating and distributing content for K-12 educators;

  • How increasingly advanced technologies help tell complex science stories;

  • How the panelists got into the field of science media production

Over the next several weeks, I’ll write some more about each of those topics. In the meantime, you can read a transcript of the entire event here!

If you are a science media producer in the DC area or would like to stay up to date on DC science media topics, please send me an email or contact me through my website’s contact form.

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