The Ugly Side of Everything (and proposal for a Saturn conference)

The blog has been silent for while, some due to life interference, but also, I’ve been pondering exactly what to say. Everything does seem to end up having an ugly side and the Cassini-Huygens mission is no exception.

I’ve not said anything directly here about one uncomfortable and unfortunately important issue although I have encountered a number of times since early in the film’s genesis. That issue is the lack of any official support, endorsement and support from the Cassini Imaging Team, including from the lead scientist, Carolyn Porco, but also the various other significant parties.

However, over at the Bad Astronomy blog, the issue has been discussed and “Outside In” named. Dr. Porco responds to the criticisms and there are links there if you want more details. Note that there are actually other Saturn/Cassini projects that Dr. Porco has declined to assist not mentioned here. After wrestling for some time on saying nothing, I finally felt something needed to be said as I do think there is a solution here that I’m going to propose.

I will leave it to you to draw your own conclusions but obviously, any public endorsement from any Cassini scientist for my film or for any other Saturn/Cassini project would be extremely helpful. I have attempted numerous times to get such, including flying out to Vegas in 2005 to see Dr. Porco speak as well as many emails to various groups and organizations to get other endorsements. Interestingly, the only organizations to endorse “Outside In” so far are independent groups like Mars Drive and the Canadian Space Society.

From my experience thus far with the various official organizations connected to Cassini’s mission, my initial stance of “the media is 100% to blame for Cassini being ignored” when I first started the film, it has become painfully clear that the combination of human foibles, egos, governmental policy and the lack of concerted team effort to spread the word about the Cassini-Huygens mission are a large part of the problem as well.

But the battle is not lost yet. I would hope that that some future events where Cassini-Huygens could be celebrated, would bring the various scientists, amatuer imagers, media, fans, artists, writers and anyone passionate about this incredible experience to meet and interact face to face would go a long way from the relative coldness of electronic discourse.

So that’s my proposal – a Cassini-Huygens conference to bring us together, celebrate the mission and some good heart-to-heart on how to achieve what we all want: This mission to go down in history as one of the great achievements in human exploration that just happened to bring us some of the most compelling imagery ever photographed.

Ironically, all this is very “Inside Out” so I suppose in some weird way it’s appropriate that “Outside In” has to overcome these kinds of obstacles to bring the larger perspective and context of the experience of exploring space to the screen.


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