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This documentary is the handshake that links a famed actor and a legendary mathematician, creating history's lowest Erdős-Bacon number. Read more

New York, NY Documentary
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This project was successfully funded on August 20, 2014.

This documentary is the handshake that links a famed actor and a legendary mathematician, creating history's lowest Erdős-Bacon number.

New York, NY Documentary
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About this project

THANK YOU! We made it to our goal. We are humbled by everyone's effort. This film is being made by ALL of our backers!

The Small World Phenomenon predicts that we are less than six handshakes from anyone in the world. By examining this peculiarity, this documentary will track down Kevin Bacon and colleagues of Paul Erdős in order to explore connectivity.

From social networks, power grids, financial systems, to the connections in your brain, the mathematics discussed in the film can provide insight into its diverse importance in the world. In short, there’s more to math than meets the eye. But let's start the conversation in an enjoyable way - with two remarkable icons: Kevin Bacon and Paul Erdős.

We are exploring the Small World Phenomenon and connected networks through two lenses: a mathematical lens and the Hollywood lens. We have begun to explore all sides of this phenomenon, from the deep, global implications of networks to Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon – a game which traces actors to Kevin Bacon by film credits. Conceived in the early 90s by three college students -- Craig Fass, Brian Turtle, and Mike Ginelli -- they first shared the game with the world on The Jon Stewart Show. A series of media appearances, a book deal, a board game, and a VH1 show followed. It became and still is a staple of pop culture.

However, the math world had been playing the same game for several years. The Erdős Number placed the eccentric and brilliant mathematician Paul Erdős – a prolific academic who has collaborated and published more papers than anybody – at the center of the universe. Those who published a paper with Erdős received an Erdős Number of 1. Those who published a paper with somebody who published a paper with Erdős receive an Erdős Number of 2, and so on. 

Our world is not simply a single network, but rather a multitude of networks joined to other networks. Because of this, it’s no surprise that the Erdős Number and Bacon Number have culturally collided to form The Erdős-Bacon Number. Only a lucky few have obtained such prestige – as being both a published academic and an IMDB credited actor. Among them, Natalie Portman, Danica McKellar, Carl Sagan, and the best thus far: Barnard Professor Dave Bayer with an Erdős-Bacon number of 3. People have made, located, and written extensive documentation on those with low Erdős-Bacon numbers, which are officially listed on Wikipedia.

Our documentary will account the cultural obsession with the Erdős-Bacon metric and explore how two seemingly distant networks can, in fact, affect one another in a major way.

What exactly is the Erdős-Bacon Number?

The Erdős-Bacon Number is the sum of one's Erdős Number -- which is the collaborative distance between a person and Paul Erdős, as measured by authorship of mathematical papers -- and one's Bacon Number -- which is the number of links, through film credits, by which somebody is separated from Kevin Bacon. The lower the number, the closer the person is to Erdős and Bacon. 

YOUR SUPPORT

We have traveled to Budapest and across the United States to tell this story. We've interviewed over 30 mathematicians, authors, illustrators, and academics, all who have given us valuable insight into the world of Erdős, connected networks, and The Small World Phenomenon. Now it’s time to explore the Hollywood universe and finish this film. Your support is needed and greatly appreciated. Join Us. You will enable a project that is more than entertainment or the pursuit of an historically low Erdős-Bacon number. This documentary will be a tool for education and hopefully spark young people's interests in science and mathematics.

How will your donations help us?

Honestly, in so many ways! Up until now, it has been a passion project entirely financed out of pocket. Your donations will help us finish production and fund some of our post-production costs, including: Equipment rental, travel to Hollywood, editing/mixing, music, and archival footage costs.  While the money raised on Kickstarter will help us an enormous amount, we are also trying to raise the rest of the necessary budget through grants and other sources as well. 

Thanks for Supporting the Arts and Mathematics!

The team after meeting Prof. Strogatz.
The team after meeting Prof. Strogatz.

SHOOT LOCATIONS THUS FAR:

Budapest, Hungary - SXSW, Austin, TX - Ithaca, NY - New York, NY - Harrisonburg, VA

PARTIAL LIST of PEOPLE WE HAVE TALKED TO:

Interviewees (Clockwise from top left) Craig Fass, Brian Turtle, Mike Ginelli, Vera Sós, George Csicsery, Carl Pomerance, Jaroslav Nešetril, Ron Graham, Fan Chung, Joel Spencer, Brett Tjaden, Steven Strogatz, Béla Bollobás, Deborah Heiligman, Lásló Lovász
Interviewees (Clockwise from top left) Craig Fass, Brian Turtle, Mike Ginelli, Vera Sós, George Csicsery, Carl Pomerance, Jaroslav Nešetril, Ron Graham, Fan Chung, Joel Spencer, Brett Tjaden, Steven Strogatz, Béla Bollobás, Deborah Heiligman, Lásló Lovász

 Not Pictured Above: Glen Whitney, Will Trotter, Leuyen Pham, Tomasz Łuczak, and more...

PRESS:

The project has received exceptional support from the math, science, and film community. The project has been reported by the Math Association of AmericaFilm Drunk, and Indiewire.

KEY CREATIVE PERSONNEL:

Tyler H. Walk - Director/Editor - @tylerhwalk

A graduate of Penn State University and The Edit Center in New York City, Tyler is an award winning editor and director whose recent credits include David France’s Oscar nominated documentary “How to Survive a Plague,” and Jeremy Zerechak’s "Code 2600."

His Bacon number is 2.

Dr. Robert Hovden - Director/Writer - www.RobertHovden.com

Robert is a post-doctoral physicist at Cornell University. He has numerous scientific publications that include Nature Materials and Science and also authors articles surrounding the culture of science.

His Erdős number is 5.

Suzanne Hillner - Director of Photography - http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2399804/

Suzanne is a director of photography and visual effects artist whose recent projects include The Bourne Legacy, Men in Black III, and The Amazing Spiderman 2, as well as several independent documentary films, short narratives, and music videos. She is a graduate of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. 

Her Bacon number is 2.

Jacqueline Aude McBrien - Producer/Writer - @skyisalandfill

Jackie is a writer/producer who has worked on several commercial spots, music videos, and photo projects. She is currently a Senior Producer at Entertainment Weekly and was previously a producer at MTV Networks. Jackie is a graduate of Ithaca College with a degree in Journalism. 

Her Bacon number is infinity. 

>This project has also received valuable assistance from Mike Blaney, Candace Edwards, Paul Cueva, Csenge Gégöl, Emily McAllister, Dustin Walsh, Kevin McKenzie, and Matt O'Dowd.

Additional ways to support us:

- What's your Bacon Number? Do you know Kevin Bacon or somebody that knows him? Get in touch!

- Do you know a celebrity with a low Erdős-Bacon Number? If so, we'd love to find out who and find out more. Please reach out!

- Do have footage that you think is important to the film? Share it with us!

- Spread the word. Please feel free to share our film socially and by telling friends. We're talking connectivity after all -- let's connect!

Risks and challenges

The film will face all of the risks inherent to making a documentary. However, the dedication and professional experience of our crew will keep these risks to a minimum. We expect to complete this film in the proposed time frame.

We want this documentary to leverage the cultural connection between the math and film worlds to deliver deep, important concepts in mathematics to a broad audience. The tech and film demographics will be a natural audience. However, we hope this entertaining film can become an outreach tool educators of math and science.

After completing this Kickstarter we will approach institutional funders, such as public and private foundations to complete this film at its highest level.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

FAQ

Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.

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Funding period

- (34 days)