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Development   /  Lucy Maclaren

Carbon: an unauthorised biography

This is the ultimate biography of Carbon, the most talked about but least understood element on earth.


Impact areas



  • DIRECTOR Daniella Ortega

  • PRODUCER Sonya Pemberton



This is the ultimate biography of Carbon, the most talked about but least understood element on earth. Carbon in nature, industry, culture, war and love. Carbon’s life story is an epic journey from the death of a star to the birth of the modern world, towards an understanding of today’s most vital issues: energy, climate and survival. Told through intimate testimonials from those who know Carbon deeply, we also hear Carbon’s life story in her own words. As if unearthed from an ancient archive, Carbon finally has a voice. This story of life’s core element promises to transform how we think of Carbon, from maligned destroyer towards a powerful enabler. Carbon is not the enemy. Carbon is life.

The production budget for this film is complete, we are seeking funding for our impact campaign.

A sample scene is available on request from the production company.

Support this project

50.10% funded
  • $100,000.00

  • $50,100.00

  • December 2020

  • 3

Minimum amount is $ Maximum amount is $





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?

This film is designed to transform audiences understanding of carbon, and generate new, solution-focused conversations around climate change. Importantly, the film is targeted at broad audiences across the ideological spectrum. Using intimate character stories, stunning landscapes, beautiful archive and animation, it will excite wonder and curiosity about the natural world, delivering a powerful sense of connection, empowerment and agency.


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 with a spectacular, illuminating and revelatory story of our natural world.
To deliver a powerful sense of connection, empowerment and agency.
To encourage audiences to take meaningful action - personally, locally and nationally.

Additional outcomes include:
To help people understand the carbon cycle, and terms like carbon credits, carbon tax, carbon footprint.
To encourage innovation, employment and markets that support carbon in balance.
To inspire audiences with new ideas and new ways of approaching sustainable carbon.


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 partnerships include:
- CSIRO Climate Science Centre – inventions and innovation
- Monash University Climate Change Communication Research Hub
- ANU Climate Change Institute – Climate change psychology and communication in the arts.
- RMIT Centre for Urban Research
- Dr Rebecca Huntly – one of Australia's foremost researchers on social trends
- Cool Australia – Learning resources for Australian educators.
- Australian Teachers of Media (ATOM)
- Climate Council
- Beyond Zero Emissions
- Australian Youth Climate Coalition
- Greening Australia
- Australian Science Communicators
- Australian Science Week
- Australian Museums
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 (target, 1 million views in Australia)
website and social media interaction (target, 1 million engagements)
education reach (the film and related materials used in school curricula)
media engagement (press coverage, commercial TV coverage, online review)
triggering new national conversations around carbon, focused less on polarisation and more on solution-focused possibilities.