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'PLANETARY' Documentary Gives Astronaut's-Eye View of Fragile Earth

The new film "PLANETARY," which comes out April 22, urges viewers to take an astronaut's-eye view of their home planet. (Image credit: Planetary Collective)

Fifteen years ago, a teenage Guy Reid was so passionate about the environment that he was handing out books about it to his friends. The trouble was, nobody wanted to read about the troubles facing the planet.

Reid's answer was to produce documentaries about the environment and space, with a helping hand from former NASA astronauts Ron Garan and Mae Jemison.

Reid's latest release, called "PLANETARY," launches on Earth Day (Wednesday, April 22). The film urges viewers to reduce the fast pace of their technologically driven lives and embrace the slower rhythms of nature. [Exclusive Clip: Astronaut Ron Garan Recalls Fragile Earth in 'PLANETARY']

"When an astronaut looks out the window, they don't see the economy — they can see the biosphere," Reid said. "We found them to be complementary with our perspectives."

Astronaut executive producer

Making "PLANETARY" was a global journey for its participants. The work was filmed in 30 different countries and 65 cities, and looked at people from different philosophical, religious and cultural traditions worldwide. A large theme that emerged from this work was the interconnectedness and interdependence of people and the environment, Reid said.

The film will stream on the video-sharing website Vimeo and will also be shown in select theaters across the United States and internationally. More information is available at

"PLANETARY" follows on from a 2012 short film called "OVERVIEW," which featured a famous picture of Earth taken during NASA's Apollo 17 moon mission. "OVERVIEW" now has more than 6 million views online.

This fall, while promotion for "PLANETARY" continues, Reid's group will embark on its next project, "Orbital," with Garan serving as executive producer. Garan co-founded the website Fragile Oasis, which features NASA astronauts talking about the environment.

"'Orbital'is a portrait of the human journey from East Africa to the International Space Station, a 200,000-year portrait," Reid said. "It's a story about human collaboration and looking at the space station as this incredible new type of internationalism and collaboration, and how we should apply some of those principles to what we face on planet Earth."

Successful Kickstarter

Two other films are planned in the next five years to follow up on "PLANETARY," but their content is still being sketched out.

"PLANETARY"would not have been possible without crowdfunding, Reid said. More than 1,400 people contributed money to the new documentary. (It was first called "CONTINUUM," but the title was dropped after a Canadian television series came out with the same name.)

The project's Kickstarter campaign raised $86,519, which the filmmakers used to shoot more interviews and to do post-production.

Other people interviewed in the film include cosmologist and philosopher Brian Swimme, economist Charles Eisenstein, and National Geographic fellow Elizabeth Kapu'uwailani Lindsey.

Theaters showing "PLANETARY":

"PLANETARY" is available on Vimeo for $12.99. For more information about the documentary, visit:

Follow Elizabeth Howell @howellspace, or @Spacedotcom. We're also on Facebook and Google+. Originally published on

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Elizabeth Howell

Elizabeth Howell is a contributing writer for who is one of the few Canadian journalists to report regularly on space exploration. She is the author or co-author of several books on space exploration. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. from the University of North Dakota in Space Studies, and an M.Sc. from the same department. She also holds a bachelor of journalism degree from Carleton University in Canada, where she began her space-writing career in 2004. Besides writing, Elizabeth teaches communications at the university and community college level, and for government training schools. To see her latest projects, follow Elizabeth on Twitter at @howellspace.