There’s a new documentary series in development called Artist Depiction about NASA artists and their visions for the future. Or, in many cases, their past visions of the future. And it all looks incredible.
The project is being directed by Brett Ryan Bonowicz, a man who’s captivated by how previous generations predicted the world of today. Bonowicz says his series will bring us behind the scenes as we learn about the work of artists like Don Davis, Charles Lindsay, and Rick Guidice—three people who have had a tremendous impact on the look of futurism and space travel. Each of the three artists will get a special episode dedicated just to them.
As a director, Bonowicz most recently set his sights on the Sunday comic strip Closer Than We Think, a truly revolutionary series that ran from 1958 to 1963. That documentary will be screened at the Sci-Fi London Film Festival on 4th May. But Bonowicz’s latest series is just as much a passion project as anything else he’s done.
Why is the work of these NASA artists important in 2018? Bonowicz explains that not only are these old space colony images still being used today to represent “the future,” they’ve also inspired so many of the designers that would come after them.
“Neill Blomkamp and Elysium. Christopher Nolan and Interstellar. Almost every day of our [crowdfunding] campaign someone mentions how ‘that artwork looks like Halo, man,’” Bonowicz told me over email.
“It’s important to have these first-hand accounts from the artists that were depicting Gerard O’Neill’s original ideas about these colonies. Without these films those accounts are lost.”
Illustration: A futuristic space colony, as imagined by NASA artist Rick Guidice in the 1970s (Rick Guidice/NASA)
The campaign has raised $2,646 (£1,919) of its $5,000 (£3,626) goal at the time of this writing. Bonowicz has already spent his own money to fund some of the interviews, but the crowdfunding money will go to elements like high-resolution scans of the artwork, sound mixing, and other post-production needs.
People who contribute to the crowdfunding campaign at IndieGoGo can get everything from a single episode of the series when they’re released ($10/£7.25), all three episodes ($20/£14.51), or even space colony posters ($60/£43.50). And if you’re really ambitious, you can even donate high-roller money to get a producer credit on the films.
“Since the campaign started we were invited by a film festival to debut all three films in December of this year,” said Bonowicz. “We’re going to debut streaming in January 2019.”
Illustration: A toroidal-shaped space colony of the future, as imagined by NASA-artist Don Davis in the 1970s (Don Davis/NASA)
But why three episodes instead of one single film, like the Closer Than We Think documentary?
“If we had made a single film, due to time constraints or editing transitions, you end up losing a lot as you find your way around,” Bonowicz tells me. “Breaking this series into three smaller films gave us the ability to really focus on the artist and their specific story.”
“It also allows us to continue the series at a later date with more interviews, which is something I’m excited about pursuing. A potential Series 2 could be all about artists who’ve done work for scifi book covers for instance... we wouldn’t be tied to just NASA art.”