The Good Reactor
Up until the mid 1970s, research into thorium - a silvery-white metal - as an energy source in Molten Salt Reactors, was carried out by the US government. The initiative was shelved however, in favour of uranium due in part to the politics of the Cold War and uranium’s potential for weaponization. Today, there is a growing body of scientists and environmentalists seeking to resurrect this technology, believing that it is the solution that the world has been waiting for – a way to generate clean, safe, green energy.
For the last two years we have poured every penny we have into travelling around Europe and North America to speak to the people involved in this project, and their opponents, to try to uncover the truth about thorium: whether it is, as many believe, the solution to the energy crisis. To finish this documentary we need your help.
How can you help produce this documentary?
The goal of this campaign is to raise £40,000 – none of this money will go to us; it will all go into producing the documentary. We love the exhilaration of working with a small budget but we’ve stretched it as far as we can. If this film is going to be taken seriously it needs to look good, it needs to sound good, and we need to explain concepts to people that they likely have never encountered before. We need a professional editor, talented animators, stock footage, sound mastering, grading and distribution. This is what will make the difference between a lecture relevant to a few hundred people and a feature documentary, watched by thousands.
If you’ve decided to help you can contribute whatever you choose in exchange for rewards (HD downloads of the film, your name in the credits etc.) – take a look at the column on the right to see what’s available. The more you pledge, the better the rewards and the closer we are to producing this documentary.
If we hit our target by the deadline, your credit card is charged – nothing will be taken until then. If we don’t make our target, you get charged nothing, and the world will never hear what we have discovered about the possibilities inherent in this remarkable metal.
Please also share our campaign with your colleagues, family and friends - anyone who you think might be interested in seeing this documentary. Getting the word out is impossible without your help.
The story so far
Anyone who finds out about the coming energy crisis feels the same mixture of shock and disbelief: everything that we call civilisation is dependent on a rapidly diminishing supply of fuel that took nature hundreds of millions of years to make? Surely someone must be doing something about this? Why don't more people talk about it?
We know each other since college and have had this conversation many times. We assumed nuclear fusion would be the solution but lost confidence after constant news of imminent breakthroughs that never seemed to come. We thought renewables like wind and solar power would be the solution but lost confidence after we learned that power grids are dependant on a baseload of power that renewables don't seem capable of supplying in its entirety. We had come to the grim conclusion that uranium-based nuclear power would be the source of this baseload with gas-fired plants stepping in (and spewing carbon dioxide) when demand was high.
Against this sombre backdrop, it's difficult to describe the excitement we felt when we learned of the potential of thorium for the first time. It's an excitement we still feel today. We decided that instead of assuming that "someone" was doing something about the energy crisis, we should find a way to get more people talking about the promise of thorium reactors. With Frankie's background in film-making and Des's background in physics, a documentary was the natural choice. We feel like we backed a winner: many more people are talking about thorium today than when we started making the documentary. More people are talking, but it's still not enough. We aim to bring the debate about thorium out of the world of energy blogs and science journals and to the dinner table, bar and cafe.
Check out a promo we made back in 2011. We've come a long way since then!
During our interviews we were told that the disaster at Fukushima couldn't have happened with one of these reactors, despite the earthquake and tsunami. We heard that they can burn up existing stockpiles of nuclear waste. We found a small but growing group of environmentalists that have changed their stance on nuclear energy based on the promise of this technology - hinting that it could bridge the chasm that has separated pro- and anti-nuclear groups for decades. We've also talked to people who think that any nuclear is bad nuclear, no matter how safe or green it claims to be, and who say that we can power the planet using nothing but renewable energy.
So, who is right? Why do so few people know about this technology? What is so special about this type of nuclear power that it can change people’s stance on atomic energy? Why don't we just use renewable resources like wind and solar power? These are the questions that we are going to answer.
Will it be any good?
Yes! We are lucky enough to have most of the risks inherent in making a film behind us already. We've secured interviews from all the key people on both sides of the debate. We've made rough cuts that confirm we haven't missed any crucial footage. We've transported this precious footage to safe, triply-backed up locations.
In terms of actually making the film, we have collaborated with professional filmmakers, cameramen, award-winning colourists, sound engineers and designers. Rather than use just one cameraman we've incorporated the skills and judgement of many to give the documentary a fluid feel. The subject matter is quite dense at times, so we plan to make use of animations and archive footage to explain complex concepts. We have a contact in Getty Images who has already started selecting gorgeous archive footage for us. We have found a fantastic editor who has dedicated the next few months to finish this film. We’ve even secured an original score composed by artists involved with groups like The Cinematic Orchestra and Bonobo.
Apart from the news footage, every clip you see in the promotional video below was recorded by us on a tiny budget. We owe so much to so many people who volunteered their time or offered special discount rates for the chance to participate in a movie on such a fascinating and relevant topic. We are so close to finishing this amazing film. What you see in the promo video is just a glimpse of what’s to come.
Our goal in this is to make a documentary that will make the grade for film festivals. We want this film to have a global reach and be accessible to everyone from nuclear physicists to schoolchildren. We didn't start making this to make money and have stated from the beginning that releasing on YouTube will be our fall-back option. We need this funding to make this documentary great.
We will keep each and every backer updated on our progress - both the highs and the lows. Once you sign up and contribute, however much, you are a part of making this documentary.
We are lucky enough have exceptionally good advisers and friends within the industry to help us out. That help, combined with our sheer passion to finish this film, has brought us this far. This thing is our baby and there is no way we will not see it finished.
Feel free to ask any questions by using the "send message" link at the top of the page (there are also some answers in the FAQ section).
Thank you for your support!
Risks and challenges
We are lucky enough to have most of the risks inherent in making a film behind us. We've located and secured interviews from the key players. We've made rough cuts that confirm we haven't missed any crucial footage. We've transported this precious footage to safe, triply-backed up locations. However, the path to completion is not without danger and we want to be frank here about what might go wrong.
So frankly, the biggest risk from our perspective is that despite our passion and the talent we've managed to secure for post-production, the finished product may not be enough to make the grade for film festivals. We didn't start making this film to make money and have said from the beginning that releasing on YouTube will be our fallback option, but clearly we would like this film to have the biggest profile, and therefore the biggest audience, as possible.
The biggest potential risk from your perspective as a backer is that we might not have the commitment to finish this film. Unforeseen challenges are the nature of film-making in general, and we have already had plenty. We are lucky enough have exceptionally good advisers and friends within the industry to help us out. That help, combined with our sheer passion to finish this film, has helped us to get this far. This thing is our baby and there is no way we will not see it finished.
We plan to make active use of Kickstarter's messaging system to keep each and every backer updated of our progress - both the highs and the lows. You are helping make this happen so we are obliged to keep you up to date with our progress. It really is that simple.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)