About this project
Help us reach our stretch goal of $125,000. The additional funding will give us the budget we need to film time-lapse of mycelium, giving the perspective of lifting up the forest floor to reveal the mysteries of this underground network.
An all-star team of artists, scientists, doctors and explorers are joining forces to create a life-affirming, mind-bending film about the mushroom and its mysterious root-like structure: mycelium. What they reveal will blow your mind, and possibly save the planet. Join us in this Year of Soils (as declared by the United Nations) to learn more about this critical solution for climate change.
Here's Louie Schwartzberg and Paul Stamets discussing the film:
Fantastic Fungi is an important scientific exploration and visual journey through the exotic, little-known realm of fungi, directed by Louie Schwartzberg, an award-winning master of nature imagery, special-effects cinematography and storytelling that is both informative and inspiring.
We begin with our cameras exploring a vast and startling realm. We discover fungi’s enormity; the largest organism on the planet is a 2,200+ acre mycelium fungal mat more than two thousand years old! We experience their beauty; our cameras capture jewel-like mushrooms in countless shapes and in brilliant colors, from pink and yellow to turquoise. And, ultimately, we realize fungi’s potential; the film takes us on a journey that reveals mycelium as the key to the regeneration of our living planet.
Mesmerizing time-lapse imagery reveals their remarkable toughness, as mushrooms power up through dead wood and stone-hard asphalt. As we watch fungi turn solid rock into soil, we grasp a key mechanism of life on Earth: fungi are not just decomposers, but composers continually producing the ingredients of new life, sustaining our ecosystem.
But these small, mighty miracles don’t stop there. The complex chemistry of mycelium produces antibiotics powerful enough to prevent many diseases and to stop pandemics, even an E.coli or smallpox attack by terrorists. Legendary researcher Paul Stamets explains, “Our strongest existing antibiotics come from fungi. They fight off the same microbes we do with defenses we can use.”
Paul goes on to explain that expanding fungi-generated soils around the world could absorb vast amounts of carbon dioxide and help control climate change. These organisms can be fantastic allies in our efforts to protect ourselves and to rejuvenate our entire ecosphere.
YES! An artistically-shot, scientifically-sound, life-affirming film about mycelium: the incredible, intelligent network under our feet that has the proven ability to restore our ecosystem, repair our health, and resurrect our symbiotic relationship to nature. Fantastic Fungi aspires to be an educational, inspirational, and ultimately critical film that explores the uses and benefits of fungi in three critical areas.
First, we uncover the research that shows mycelium as a viable alternative to western pharmacology, including treatment for breast cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and PTSD. Second, we reveal studies that point to mycelium as a solution to our gravest environmental challenges, such as toxic oil spills and colony collapse disorder. Finally, we marvel at mycelium's proven benefit on shifting consciousness and aiding in deep personal transformation. The research, discoveries, and anecdotal evidence we've gathered is astounding, particularly when shared through Louie’s visual storytelling.
Here's a sneak peak of our movie poster. Special thank you to Marianna Armata's photography. (Ooohhhh and aaaaahs are totally appropriate):
You’re a filmmaker and you have a Hollywood producer? Why are you doing a Kickstarter campaign?
Simply put, big studios won’t make the film that needs to be made, can’t tell the story that needs to be told and aren't bold enough to create the change necessary to shift our climate and consciousness. Through Kickstarter, we can reach engaged citizens like you who are motivated to create meaningful change and who want to be a part of this revolution. When you vote with your dollar, you send a message about what you value. This is how we ignite meaningful change.
Mushrooms are mighty miracles that deserve a mighty film - a film that can only be told from the front lines, from the doctors, scientists, and artists who have learned the language of nature. Together we can create the shift in consciousness needed to restore our planet.
Louie Schwartzberg (Director, Cinematographer), brought you Wings of Life, a Disneynature film about pollination narrated by Meryl Streep, the 3D IMAX Mysteries of the Unseen World currently playing worldwide in collaboration with National Geographic and narrated by Forest Whitaker, and the ground-breaking Ultra HD nature series, Moving Art, on Netflix. Louie is a master at making the invisible visible, unveiling the mysteries that are beyond human vision. He’s the recipient of two Clio Awards for Environmental PSA, an Emmy Nomination for Best Cinematography, The NAACP Pollinator Protector Award, the Jackson Hole Media Science Award for Best Immersive Cinema for Mysteries of the Unseen World, Best Theatrical Film for Wings of Life at the Jackson Hole Science Media Awards, Best Moving Picture Award from the Heartland Film Festival for America’s Heart & Soul, and Best Film Inspiration at the Ocean Film Festival for Gratitude. He was recognized as one of the "Top 70 Cinematographers" for the Kodak On Film Salute Series. He has wowed audiences on stages across the globe including TED, Bioneers, NASA and Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. Louie directed and Lyn Lear produced What’s Possible to open the UN Climate Summit in New York, and A World of Solutions for the UN climate Summit in Lima. His three TED talks have been viewed over 45MM times worldwide.
Paul Stamets (Authority), the leading mycologist in his field, has discovered and coauthored several new species of mushrooms and pioneered countless techniques in the field of mushroom cultivation. Recipient of the Bioneers Award, the Founder of a New Northwest Award and National Geographic Adventure Magazine's Green-Novator and the Argosy Foundation's E-chievement Awards. He was also named one of Utne Reader's "50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World”. In 2014, Paul was chosen to be an "Invention Ambassador" by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the largest and most prestigious scientific organization in the world.
Here's Paul talking about his hat, made 100% from mushrooms:
Lyn Davis Lear (Producer) is an activist, philanthropist and president of L&L Media.
Ms. Lear co-founded the Environmental Media Association (EMA) in 1989 to bring awareness to the public about global environmental issues through multimedia platforms. She is on the board of The Sundance Institute, the Los Angeles County Museum of the Arts and The Norman Lear Center at USC, among others. Ms. Lear has been given many awards, most recently, along with the honorable Al Gore, the UCLA IoES recognition for Environmental Excellence.
Ms. Lear has produced and executive produced several documentaries, including Cesar's Last Fast, which was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Working with director Louie Schwartzberg, she produced What's Possible, the opening film for the 2014 UN Climate Summit in NYC for Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. Together they created a second film, A World of Solutions, shown at the Lima, Peru climate summit in December. Both were simulcast around the world in six languages. Ms. Lear has a Ph.D in Clinical Psychology, is married to producer Norman Lear and has three children.
Dr. Andrew Weil (Contributor) is a doctor, teacher, best selling author and pioneer in alternative medicine. He is founder, professor, and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona and is widely credited for establishing the field of integrative medicine.
Our Tribe also includes best-selling author and activist Michael Pollan, food author Eugenia Bone, permaculturist Michael Judd, educator Christine Fischer, Philosoforager Alan Muskat, Professor of Ecology Suzanne Simard, and others.
We are asking for $100K to push us towards the finish line for this film. $100K is only a fraction of what it takes to make a film, but we have incredible angel investors who have committed to matching our Kickstarter fundraiser up to $1MM! Your investment will be doubled by committed eco-warriors who believe in this film as much as you do.
Kickstarter is all or nothing. If we raise our minimum amount of $100K, we promise to make an incredible film that will change the way we view nature.
*We’re offering a special reward for the first 100 backers of $100 or more. Help us spread this message and build awareness about the power of nature to restore our planet.
Every penny (minus the fees paid to Kickstarter) will go directly to the “Fantastic Fungi”movie budget - i.e. your money goes directly to the making of this film.
Want to read more about our cast or simply learn more about the mighty miracle that is the mushroom? Visit fantasticfungi.com or visit us on social media:
When will the movie be made?
We’ve begun filming Fantastic Fungi, but have paused in order to raise more funds. As soon as we successfully raise the next round of funding through generous eco-warriors like you, we will proceed and complete the filming in the fall of 2015.
When will it be released?
Fingers crossed, we’d like to release the film in January 2016 at Sundance.
If you have a non-speaking walk on role or receive a cast credit, you must be a US citizen or have a US work visa, and not be a member of SAG/AFTRA. Extras must also be over 18. Location to be determined.
You must be over 18 or accompanied by a parent or legal guardian (who will count as your plus one) to attend the premiere or visit the set.
If you are appearing in the film, you will have to sign a release.
Risks and challenges
As seasoned filmmakers and movie producers, we have collectively created dozens of successful films, so there’s little risk involved once we procure the funds to finish this film. We have great relationships with the heads of major distribution companies, the technical know-how, understand the ins-and-outs of the film industry and most importantly, are driven by a purposeful passion to bring this life-affirming story to the masses. Any other challenges we face are par for the course, like coordinating shoot schedules and locations with our very busy cast and crew, for example.
The risk lies in NOT creating this film. We believe (and have scientific backup to support this belief) that a shift in awareness about our environment and health is absolutely critical. The time is now. If we wait for big business and government to take initiative, it will be too late. We must come together as conscious citizens and support the initiatives that will make positive, lasting change for our planet for generations to come. The research on mycelium is astounding, and we must make it common knowledge and give more power back to the people to make better decisions.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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