Allow me to introduce you to: an argument for the efficacy of portrait filmmaking in science communication

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Arts & Architecture


Media influences how we perceive the world. Reductive portrayals of scientists in literature and motion pictures have contributed to negative connotations of scientists and scientific fields. In a culture of personality where a person's credentials are linked to their likability, breaking these connotations is crucial. If the goal of science communication in documentary is to inform the public about scientific principles, research, or new discoveries; using portrait filmmaking can assist in meeting that end. Effective use of portraiture filmmaking in science communication can help show that scientists are much more complex than some media have portrayed them. They are people, with real passion about the field they are exploring as well as for other aspects of life. When a filmmaker shows a scientist as a character with more depth than just their profession, they can create empathy and connection between viewers and scientists. If viewers can relate to the scientists, they may be more receptive to the field or the research the scientists are passionate about. In this paper, I suggest that the use of portraiture filmmaking in science communication is an effective tool to use in showing the public that scientists are relatable people, not reductive representations of their profession.


A happy distraction is a film that is part of the student's thesis project.



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