24 May Why Make A Film About Apollo? Because We Need It.
Since early 2015, I’ve run a startup production company in Los Angeles called Contact Light Films. From the get-go, the company’s mission has been to share stories about individuals and organizations making a positive impact on the world around them. I’ve met some incredible people on this journey: from students defying unthinkable odds to become the first in their families to attend college, to a teacher turned entrepreneur who left the classroom to share his passion for mathematics with a wider audience of online learners.
I like to think my time with each of them has made a difference. But, the truth is that their impact on me has been far greater and more meaningful. Like so many Americans who go unrecognized, they are the true heroes of our time. Their efforts are the ones worth emulating. Theirs are the stories that inspire and move us towards building bigger and better futures.
By now, you’re probably wondering what any of this has to do with making a film about the Apollo Space Program. The short answer is: everything. Long before Contact Light, or Los Angeles, college, high school, puberty (you get the idea), there was outer space. I remember watching the movie “The Right Stuff” when I was six, playing and rewinding—rewinding then playing—the same scenes over and over until the tape wore out. I remember being in the Young Astronauts club in second grade, too young to attend a field trip to the Kennedy Space Center but getting special permission from my school and parents to go. I remember squeezing myself into used cardboard boxes pretending they were space capsules, lying on my back in the dark—wondering what it would be like to really be up there.
As I got older, I realized my interest in space had less to do with exploring planets, moons and far-off galaxies, and more to do with the space program itself: the infrastructure we built, the technologies we developed, the history we made. I was fascinated by what the space program said about us—our ability to dream big and then execute on unprecedented levels of scope and scale. It’s hardly an original thought, but the space program is in many ways the perfect metaphor for accomplishing the impossible when we commit ourselves to the task at hand. And Apollo—the program that took us to the moon and back—is its standard-bearer.
While it’s not my intention to say something political, I would hope we could all agree that our world today seems to be rebelling against the philosophy that made Apollo possible: a philosophy that says we are better off when we work towards accomplishing common goals in the name of knowledge and progress, a philosophy that places a premium on fact and truth, a philosophy that envisions futures where humanity reaches its greatest potential.
These futures begin with a choice: a decision to go to the moon “and do the other things, not because they are easy but because they are hard. Because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills. Because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one that we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win.” These words, spoken by our 35th president, encapsulate the story of Apollo worth sharing. It’s a story about attitude. A story about everyday Americans committing themselves to an idea no one of them could achieve on their own. And it matters now more than ever.
For the next 18 months, my mission is to share this story with you. I invite you all to be active participants along the way: to share your questions, thoughts and feelings. To reminisce and reflect. To offer ideas, suggestions and insight. But most importantly, to reconnect with the accomplishments of our collective past in the hope that will inspire us to fight hard for a better future still within reach. The journey of Apollo awaits. I can’t wait to share it with you.