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Film Completed   /  Lucy Maclaren

Carbon: the unauthorised biography

The spectacular and surprisingly unorthodox biography of Carbon, the most misunderstood element on Earth.


Impact areas



  • DIRECTOR Daniella Ortega

  • PRODUCER Sonya Pemberton



With Carbon in the news every day, you might think you know everything about her. But you’d be wrong. This spectacular and surprisingly unorthodox documentary reveals the paradoxical story of the element that builds all life, and yet may end it all. Narrated in first person by Sarah Snook (Succession), Carbon tells of her birth in the violent core of an exploding star and of turbulent sagas through the fabric of our evolving Earth. Accompanied by celebrated scientists, unique animations and a stunning orchestral score, Carbon reminds us of our humble participation in the most extraordinary story in the universe.  

We are seeking support to enable us to deliver an education, impact and outreach campaign for documentary film Carbon, screening nationally in 2022 (in cinemas and broadcast on ABC Television).
We aim to build partnerships with organisations such as charities, not-for-profits, education, and research institutions working in the climate, environment, STEM, and education spaces.
We plan to share our media materials with confirmed partners to be used as a resource to enhance or bolster their advocacy and messaging around climate change, science, environmentalism, and natural environments. These partners would support the project through expertise, access to networks to expand audience reach, special partner and education screenings, and by using the film and its resources in their work and education delivery.

Carbon has clear curriculum relevance that will attract teachers from secondary schools. In collaboration with Australian Teachers of Media (ATOM) we seek to develop online learning assets for both teachers and students, to enhance the impact of the film’s messaging on climate change, environmentalism, natural history, and sciences.

Support this project

60.15% funded
  • $100,000.00

  • $60,150.00

  • December 2021

  • 5

Minimum amount is $ Maximum amount is $





Sharlene Dadd $50.00
Finkel Foundation $10,000.00
Offline Donation - Film Victoria $25,000.00
Lord Mayor's Charitable Foundation $25,000.00
Susan Mathews $100.00

Issue Summary

A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing

Climate change is one of the most significant challenges facing humanity and yet it has become a divisive and polarising issue. Where some people are alarmed or concerned, others are cautious, disengaged or doubtful, and still others are dismissive. Productive dialogue has become almost impossible across the ideological divide. This film aims to break down the barriers by exploring Carbon as an element, and as a character, giving people a neutral space to reopen the discussion. The audience (regardless of their positions on climate change) will come to better understand our role in harnessing and attempting to control Carbon, and a new conversation can begin.


What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?

To transform audiences understanding of carbon, leading to new, solution-focused conversations around climate change, and to engage young people with climate science, environmentalism, and natural history, introducing them to Carbon and its key role in our natural world and its future.
We wish to elevate the voices and representation of women in science. Half of our on-camera scientists and experts are women, by highlighting their work, we hope they can serve as role models for girls in STEM.


What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?

The key outcomes we seek to achieve:
• To enable audiences to understand carbon’s fundamental role in the most vital issues of our time – energy, climate and survival.
• To captivate audiences across the ideological spectrum
• To deliver a powerful sense of connection, empowerment and agency and to encourage audiences to take meaningful action - personally, locally and nationally.

Additional outcomes:
• To help people understand the carbon cycle, and terms like carbon capture, carbon credits, carbon tax, carbon footprint, decarbonisation.
• To encourage innovation, employment and markets that support carbon in balance.
• To inspire audiences with new ideas and new ways of approaching sustainable carbon.
• Highlighting and championing women in STEM through our on-camera scientists and experts, providing important role models for young girls in (or wanting to participate in) STEM education.


How will this documentary achieve its outcomes?

The film is designed to be distributed via different platforms. As well as cinema, television and streaming services, there will be an impact and outreach campaign (including a shareable digital toolkit), and the development of education modules for Australian schools.

We would look to engage an Impact Producer to develop and drive the Australian-focused campaign, part-time over 12-months. They would be responsible for building relationships with organisations and institutions working in the climate, environment, and education space. These partners and collaborators will provide important knowledge-sharing opportunities, access to their wider networks to increase audience share, potential in-kind support, or strengthen their own work through using our digital toolkit. In addition, the Impact Producer would create and distribute content for the film’s outreach and educational campaign. We would also seek to secure wide media coverage, via print, radio, online and commercial media.


How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?

Proposed Outreach Partnerships and Collaborations include:
Climate Visuals, Project Drawdown, Women and girls in STEM NFP organisations, CSIRO Climate Science Centre, Monash University Climate Change Communication Research Hub, ANU Climate Change Institute, Climate Action Network Australia, Climate Council, Beyond Zero Emissions, SEED Mob, Australian Youth Climate Coalition, Greening Australia, Australian Science Communicators, Australian Science Week, and Museums Australia.

Genepool would also seek to extend our ongoing collaborations with major online science communities, including I Fucking Love Science (25 million followers, Science Alert (9 million followers), and Veritasium (7 million subscribers) to reach younger, mostly online audiences.

Audience Engagement and Social Impact

What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?

The film is designed to promote a powerful sense of connection, empowerment and agency and to encourage audiences to take meaningful action - personally, locally and nationally.

Key actions we hope viewers would take:
Responding to the call to action, by visiting the website to discover how they can make a difference.
Engaging in fresh, solution-focused conversations around carbon and climate change.
Sharing the video clips, memes, artwork and information materials provided.
Supporting innovation, policies, employment and markets that aim to deliver carbon in balance.
Exploring new ideas and new ways of approaching sustainable carbon.

Measurement and Evaluation

What is the projects indicators for success?

Indicators of success include:
Audience reach:
Theatrical cinema release (30 screens, Australia wide, expected 100k viewers)
Television screening, streaming Australia (ABC TV & iView, expected 1.5M viewers over 1 year)
Targeted screenings to Government policy and decision makers (2 screenings)

Partnerships and Education:
Education modules and digital toolkit for the Australian and curriculum
Targeted screening programme for Australian secondary students and educators
Partnerships with like-minded organisations in the climate, environment, and STEM spaces (aim to secure 10 in Australia) Including targeted partner screenings

Website and social media engagement:
website and social media interaction (target, 1 million engagements)

Behavioural change:
Triggering new national conversations around carbon, focused less on polarisation and more on solution-focused possibilities.
Increased interaction with partner organisation websites via Carbon's “hub” website