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NGS Leaders :: Putting Science on Screen: The Perfect 46

Putting Science on Screen: The Perfect 46

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 Editor’s Note: We are pleased to share a guest post submitted by Brett Bonowicz, Author and Director of "The Perfect 46". 

March 5, 2013 :  “The Perfect 46” is a film about the CEO of a personal genetics company and what happens when he creates a website that pairs individuals with their ideal genetic match for children. The CEO – Jesse Darden – bares some similarities to the brilliant game-changing innovators such as Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, and ties that entrepreneurial spirit to the fascinating world of direct-to-consumer (DTC) personal genomics. 

What would happen if a personality so tied to the identity of his company had the chance to change the nature of our relationships. What if facebook started telling us who we should be with? The script is written and is pretty good – of course, as the author, I’m a little biased. If we can raise enough money, we aim to start shooting this May and all going well, release the film later in 2013. 

As I begin to promote the film and raise funding, I have some trepidation about reaching out to the scientific community. Why should people that work incredibly hard to create the wonderful reality of tomorrow care about someone making fictional art?   

My best answer is that the reflection they might see of themselves in the film might spark debate. And perhaps not just within the scientific community, but with an entirely different audience that wouldn’t normally be engaged in such a discussion. theperfect46 

I started to think about where the film could go and where the two subjects – the genetics visionary and the social networking aspect -- might begin to overlap. As I began to formulate the film in my outline, I read a lot about the field of personal genomics. I found myself highlighting pages in books that came right out of my outline. Ideas that I thought might be science fiction were already becoming reality.

I seemed to be on the right track with the story, and every time I started to veer off into subject matter that was fantasy I would reign it back in because sticking closer to the reality was always more interesting. I discovered fascinating facts about eugenics and the very American history of how it began at the beginning of the 20th century.

By making the film as factually accurate as possible, the conversation that the film creates should, I think, spark something that a more futuristic, fantastic treatment perhaps cannot. The topics we cover in the film -- genetics, eugenics, the moral and ethical implications of a consumer genetics service, and the role of government vs. a DTC model -- are discussions that deserve to be out in the public. This is a film of the moment. We have an amazing opportunity to make something right on the cutting edge of what is possible in personal genetics.

Science is rarely, if ever, treated well in film. Outside the realm of documentaries, it is hard to find more than a handful of films that truly respect the scientific community. I am frustrated with that fact, and I cannot be alone in thinking that works like this have an audience and that they deserve to be made and to be seen.

I read the works of Arthur C. Clarke and I wonder why they never made it to the screen? I read the wonderful literature of George Dyson, and I can imagine a perfect film coming from the story of Project Orion. But where is it? Where are those films? If an audience can be found, I guarantee those films will start to crop up.

It’s been over 15 years since Andrew Niccol’s excellent, thought-provoking film Gattaca (tagline “There is no gene for the human spirit”) came to theatres. A lot of our perceptions about genetics have changed in those years. What we’re making can be looked at as a sort of prequel to Gattaca. We’re looking at the moment when society might begin to shift. We’re looking at the discussions and the realities of a service of this kind.

Please help us get the word out about this film. We are using the popular crowd-sourcing model via a website called Indiegogo to raise some modest funding to begin shooting the movie.

The fund-raising campaign is for 46 days, with the goal of raising $46 thousand. Please take a look at what we've been creating at: www.theperfect46.com 

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I-Study: Genomic Interpretation - Who Will Pay?
During this webinar, members of the study review team present preliminary findings of the I-Study, conducted at the Harvard Medical School's 2011 Personalized Medicine Conference.
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