Microcosm: A Film Project by SUST Adjunct Professor Michele Hoffman Trotter

Hoffman portraitThis spring SUST faculty member Michele Hoffman Trotter (pictured at right) began a journey into documentary film-making in partnership with Annie Crawley and Dive Into Your Imagination. Their upcoming film Microcosm will take viewers on a ninety-minute journey into an unseen universe in the ocean through the lens of a microscope.  Along with a successful fundraising campaign on Kickstarter, research and development of the script began along with the filming of some what Hoffman Trotter calls “pretty neat micro-beasties” and interviews with researchers at the John G. Shedd Aquarium and Field Museum of Natural History.

Bay of Fundy - NOAAThis August, Hoffman Trotter will travel to Nova Scotia to film interviews with researchers at Dalhousie University engaged in cutting edge phytoplankton research, capture footage of the most extreme tidal exchange in the world at the Bay of Fundy in a time lapse sequence, cavort with megafauna whales as they feed on microfauna, and if time permits, pay homage to the victims of the Titanic disaster. Stay tuned for stories and images from the road, be sure to “like” Microcosm on Facebook, and visit the movie’s website at www.microcosmfilm.com.

The filmmakers will also be holding a raffle to support the film.  Some of the prizes include membership to Lincoln Park Zoo, four all-access tickets to the Shedd Aquarium, a Ravinia picnic package valued at $200, a one night stay at Hotel Dana and more. Tickets will cost $10.00 apiece or be available in packs of five for $40, and will go on sale August 1st. There will also be a silent art auction at Columbia College on October 17th to coincide with the raffle drawing and to otherwise support the film. For details on these events, check the official Microcosm film website.

Film Synopsis (from the film-makers)

What is Microcosm?

Microcosm will take viewers on a spectacular ninety-minute visual and intellectual journey of the micro-universe to explore the secrets of the unseen ocean world. The story begins with a glimpse at the astounding beauty of the micro-ocean and discovery of the diverse life that can be seen through the microscope. Many familiar life forms such as fish and crabs begin life as microplankton adrift on the great ocean highway. In fact, coral reefs large enough to be seen from outer space start out no bigger than the period at the end of this sentence. The film-makers join researchers from the John G. Shedd aquarium to learn why understanding the microplanktonic phase of coral is a critical first step toward rehabilitating damaged reefs globally.

PlanktonThe greatest oxygen production occurs in the ocean, facilitated by phytoplankton. As climate continues to shift, scientists at Dalhousie University in Canada will share their research that explores how these changes will impact critical plankton masses around the globe, and what this means with respect to the sustainability of fisheries, production of oxygen, and the broader human condition. In Washington and Alaska viewers will learn from leading researchers about how increasing amounts of carbon dioxide in the ocean is impacting water chemistry, and what this means for the microcosmic world.

Plankton 2This phenomenon, known as ocean acidification, is one of the least talked about byproducts of climate change, but potentially the most alarming of them all. With the conceivable power to decimate the delicate shells used by many sea creatures for structure and protection and the calcium carbonate base of coral reefs, ocean acidification has the potential to cause unparalleled harm to global seafood supplies.

Above all, Microcosm is a story of hope. Scientists from around the globe will discuss how their research is leading to new and innovative ways to restore clean water, substitute algae for many petroleum-based applications, and seek pharmaceutical development opportunities. A key focus of this film is to impress viewers with the powerful potential at our doorstep for a cleaner, healthier world.

This film will also shine a light on the role of corporate responsibility. By showcasing examples of companies that have chosen to invest in the health of the environment, it will become clearer that these actions serve both social and economic interests.  The story to be told is one of diversity, resilience, and hope — and the time to tell it is now.

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