Back in February I produced a short film as an entry in Sam Harris' "Project Reason" video contest. My original "The Fairy Scientist" (YouTube) starred my granddaughter, Lydia, as she attempted to employ the Scientific Method to discover if one of her favorite things in the world, Fairies, really exist.
Though the short was selected among nine finalists, unfortunately if was not selected among the top three winners. However, it did receive a lot of attention on the Internet and was featured on the MSNBC and Discovery Channel web sites, to name a few. And it got the attention of the Walt Disney Company!
I received a call from the promotional department at Disney about featuring Lydia as the Fairy Scientist in promoting their new film, "Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue" set to be released on DVD September 21st. The film is about Lizzie whose father is a scientist and fairy non-believer. Lizzie meets Tinkerbell and all manner of excitement and drama ensues between Lizzie and her scientist father.
My initial response was skeptical (no surprises there). I made it clear that we did not want to participate in anything that might convey the idea that fairies were in any way "real". My production company, Skeptical Media, is a fairly small operation; Disney, on the other hand, is a somewhat larger company. This was a first time experience for both companies, contracting with an independent producer for content not created within Disney's studio control.
Negotiations took several months to put together a contract. But due to the looming release date, we went ahead and began filming. We were under a non-disclosure agreement and a remarkable amount of behind-the-scenes regulatory and bureaucratic hurdles had to be cleared. For example, we needed to obtain a work permit for my 7-year old granddaughter to work in the film industry. Disney required assurances that all the legal hurdles were being cleared.
As was the case with our first Fairy Scientist video, the film was not scripted - captured are Lydia's own unique thoughts on how one would determine if fairies are real or not. She develops her hypothesis then searches for evidence while keeping a journal of her findings, much as Lizzie does in the Tinkerbell DVD.
We received great feedback from Walt Disney Entertainment and are proud that Lydia could participate in helping to promote enthusiasm about science among girls. Our short will be used by Disney on marketing and social networking sites to promote the release of "Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue".
Here is Lydia, The Fairy Scientist, in her latest video: