'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 www.weareplanetary.com.

"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": http://weareplanetary.com/planetary-screenings/

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

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

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for Space.com for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace