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A Brief History of Time Travel

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A Brief History of Time Travel
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The dream of traveling to the past or future has been with us since the beginning of our existence. Yet over the past decades, there has been an influx of time travel appearing in movies, and books, becoming a part of pop culture today. Is this merely the next Hollywood fad, or does our fascination with voyaging through time go deeper? A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME TRAVEL explores the history and connection between time travel and humanity and how this idea has influenced some of the most prominent thinkers and creators in the 21st century.







A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME TRAVEL searches for answers as to why time travel has inspired humans across borders and generations. Long before the theory of relativity, time travel peppered myths and epics around the world. Hundreds of years later, it remains one of the most compelling narratives we know, most recently in a new wave of films, books and scientific research.


But it isn’t merely a diversion for the mind or a form of entertainment. Time travel pits scientists against each other in debate, angers governments, shapes the computer technology of tomorrow, inspires fanatics and youth alike. In a society that worships progress forward, one deceptively simple idea invites us to indulge nostalgia, rewrite history and evade mortality.


A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME TRAVEL chases this idea from ancient India to the streets of L.A., discovering why it is so powerful and how far we will go to make it a reality. For people of all ages and backgrounds—especially science fiction fans—it is an odyssey through the imagination and a discovery of kindred spirits.




We are fiscally sponsored by Artspire, New York Foundation of the Arts, meaning that we are tax-exempt as a 501(c)(3) organization, and charitable donations to this film from individual donors tax-deductible.


From in-kind to monetary donations, all contributions help us bring this film to completion. All contributors receive an immediate letter of confirmation and thanks, a special mention in the film credits, updates and invitations to screenings and events, and a DVD copy of the completed film.


Donors of $1000 or more become Associate Producers on the film, and receive frequent updates on  production, works-in-progress cuts, and exclusive conversations with the filmmakers, as well as free access to any screenings.


Donors of $5000 or more become Co-Producers on the film. In addition to receiving all the benefits of an Associate Producer, Co-Producers are part of monthly check-ins with the director, producer and editor where they may add their input and lend their creative direction to the work in progress.


Donors of $10,000 or more become Executive Producers on the film. In addition to receiving top billing in the credits and poster of the film, Executive Producers share creative control of the film with the director and producer at all times, are invited to attend all meetings with the cast and crew as well as interviews and film shoots.



Director Gisella Bustillos is a graduate of the Film and Television program at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she studied abroad in Habana, Cuba through the renowned ICIAC Film Program. Her films have screened at the L'Connu Film Festival in Paris and the Wallabout Film Festival in New York, and in 2013 she produced a short film accepted to the Cannes Shorts Festival.


Producer Wanda Bertram is a graduate of the University of Washington, where she co-founded the newest student film society and edited the journal of science fiction. She has worked with the Northwest Film Forum and Seattle International Film Festival since 2010, and in several positions in media promotions and grant writing. Wanda received the 2014 Bonderman Fellowship to observe time and narrative through travel.


Below are just a few of the characters that we follow in A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME TRAVEL.


Fascinated with space and the universe as a child, Seth Shostak grew up to be one of the world’s most well-known researchers of extraterrestrial life, working today at the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute. Shostak explains the debates about time travel currently taking place at SETI. The organization has blurred the line between scientific inquiry and science fiction, inciting both ridicule and admiration from other researchers, while thriving on donations from wealthy fans of time travel and alien life.


Until he was asked to speak at the MIT Time Traveler Convention in 2005, renowned MIT professor Erik Demaine had never consciously given time travel much thought. But as a mathematician and computer scientist, Demaine’s work is strongly influenced by his own intuitions about time travel: today he is pioneering Retroactive Data Structures, a model that allows operations to be performed on data structures in the past, and which he explains as “sort of like the ‘Back to the Future’ model.” Demaine’s work demonstrates how, since Einstein, humans have perceived time travel not just as something that happens to us, but as something we can control through technology.


A renowned scholar of Vedic philosophy and scriptures, Dr. Satyanarayana Dasa subscribes to a different philosophy of the physics of time. “Time does not move; it is matter which transforms it,” he explains--with huge implications for how humans experience the world. “By the process of yoga,” he claims, “you can actually transcend time.” Dr. Dasa traces this philosophy all the way back to the Mahabharata, the world’s most ancient written text, where time travel made its first known appearance.


The Time Travel Mart is a one-stop shop for “everything you need before you take a roadtrip through the fourth dimension”--including Victorian ipods (mechanical music boxes) and time machine parts. It’s also a front for 826LA, an acclaimed nonprofit that mentors young people in creative writing. Taking us on a tour of the store’s inventory, Lauren Rock, coordinator at 826LA, explains how the idea of a time travel mart came about, and how the idea of time travel inspires students of all backgrounds to think and write inventively.


“Galaxy Quest says it perfectly,” says Michael Nixon, the director and creator of the webseries Geek Crash Course, a weekly geek educational primer. “There is a line about what is good about travelling back in time about 13 seconds? Well, you can fix a single mistake.” Michael shares with us his knowledge about time travel movies, as well as his thought on time travel and its influence on pop culture today and whether it is merely a plot device or something more.


This project is currently in the final stages of production. We plan to wrap up shooting by the end of September and are currently seeking funding for post production. We aim to have the film completed by spring 2015.



While this documentary has the disciplinary breadth to cater to a general audience, our key target demographic is science fiction enthusiasts and young students. Reaching this audience will be most effective via science fiction conventions, internet forums, blogs, meetups, exhibits and film festivals. To reach a younger audience in an academic setting, we also plan on distributing this documentary to educational institutions via professors and curators. The appeal of this film will also extend to audiences outside the U.S., as time travel enthusiasts hail from a range of countries and have developed social networks across borders – in particular Germany and China.


This type of documentary is a great fit for online distribution, which caters towards a core audience that spends considerable time online and actively seeks out time-travel-related entertainment material. International promotions will also be simpler with online distribution. Using platforms such as Redux and VHX, along with independent distribution platforms such as Hulu and Netflix, will allow our fans to stream and download the documentary directly onto their living room TV, laptop, phone or tablet. We also plan on using PayPal to allow fans to buy DVDs directly from our official website.

Our festival distribution plan includes science- and documentary-themed festivals such as DOXA, Silverdocs, True/False, and Imagine Science; as well as sci fi conventions such as San Diego’s International Comic Con, where our core audience lies.

Finally, we are in the process of contacting research institutions and communities with a demonstrated interest in the subject matter, partnering with them to arrange screenings at schools, libraries and museums in order to reach young students.

Supplementing the film’s direct promotional and social media campaigns, we are selling exclusive t-shirts, soundtrack music, free downloadable posters, time-travel-themed calendars and other merchandise. Additionally, our website will soon include a game app and ebook with more information about the history of time travel.




In September 2014, a series of themed fundraising parties will coincide with our Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to cover post-production costs. As we prepare to launch this campaign we are also reaching out to interested scientific communities to help with direct funding or other support (e.g. the American Physical Society, National Society of Black Physicists, Theoretical Physics Society, Latin American Physicist Society, and Max Planck Society).

We are fiscally sponsored by Artspire,  New York Foundation of the Arts, meaning that we are not-for-profit and tax-exempt as a 501(c)(3) organization. This gives us more opportunities to apply for grants from foundations or corporate funders that are usually restricted to 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations. As an added benefit, charitable donations from individual donors to fiscally sponsored artists are tax-deductible. individual donors who support a fiscally sponsored artist or organization enjoy the tax incentives of making a charitable donation.


OFFICIAL WEBSITE: timetraveldocumentary.com
TUMBLR: timetraveldoc.tumblr.com
TWITTER: twitter.com/timetraveldoc
FACEBOOK: facebook.com/timetraveldoc
INSTAGRAM: @timetraveldoc


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