We were back. Driving our rental car through Sunnyvale on our way to Bernardo Avenue where the SETI Institute is located. Now it was all about getting closer and developing the storylines. We had shown the material from our first filming trip to the Swedish film commissioner and was granted more founding to be able to continue the filming. We had gotten great feedback on the project and felt ready to continue the journey. When we arrived at the parking lot at the Institute we were  surprised. In a beautiful order Jill, Seth and Douglas car was parked with their license plate in the following order ”SETI”, ”SETIGUY” and ”ASETI”.


Douglas Vakoch licence plate - Active SETI.

Seth Shostak explains why you should not see yourself as a miracle and why it probably is aliens out there!

One time at the Allen Telescope Array we were watching one of all the Star Trek films you can find in the library at the location together with Jon Richards who are working there. It was a surreal feeling to hear Captain Kirks voice sound at the location where an alien signal could be detected. When we went outside later in the evening we thought a lot about how sci-fi and science often blends together. What if we actually detect an other intelligent civilization out there? That was the discussion we kept having over some wine with Jon and Rob during the late night. The exploration with SETI really opens up the imitation in i similar way to to what Sci-fi could do. We started to think a lot about what happens when sci-fi meets reality and that we really found the perfect subject and people to tell that kind of story.

Text: Part of the film library at ATA.

Up the mountains to see the ATA at a distance.

Late night discussion with Jon and Rob.

We were at the ATA when a big upgrade of the array was taking place. Jill Tarter, super focused on her work let us film during the 3 day installation. We all celebrated with a nice barbecue in the end.

A nice gathering of the team. Also the new CEO of SETI Institute visited ATA for the first time.

There were three hot and dusty days. Jill and the team struggled to upgrade the antennas.

Director Alexander climbed high to get a nice angle.

In Sweden our work with this film started to consist a lot about reading about this subject. Collecting articles, reading books, listening to sounds and music that could inspire. We had a weird combination with also doing a different documentary film i Sweden that focused around a small community in the south part of Sweden. Really different from this subject and we spent a lot of time in the deep forest of the place. A lot of discussions taking place in the small local coffee place, where we loudly were talking about the hunt for an alien signal and the next minute being in a forest filming cows that had been running away.

Coffee and inspiration is a good combination to boost your creativity.

Cows in the deep forests of Sweden.

There had been worldwide news - reaching all the way to the Swedish biggest newspaper of a discussion about Active SETI led by Douglas Vakoch and Seth Shostak. A controversial question to start broadcasting signals from Earth to be detected by other intelligent civilization in the Universe. As Douglas sees it - we need both to listen for signals but also send intentional signals of our own for other intelligent civilization to pic up. What if everybody out there is listening? Maybe we need to take the first initiative? We went to different locations with Douglas - driving around in his ”ASETI” car (stands for Active SETI).  He explained why he thinks its a good idea and why people like Steven Hawking is strongly against it. We have been leaking signals out into space ever since we started broadcasting radio - so if the Aliens want to make us any harm they already know we are here, Douglas explained. We found this an interesting topic for the film because it was a sensitive and controversial topic even within the SETI community. But also because  this task puts up a big mirror for us here on earth, and what we see in that reflection.

Douglas decided to leave the Institute and start his own organization, METI International. A big meeting and a start for his journey with the new organization takes place in Puerto Rico where we follow him closely. More about that in the next blog post.

Douglas Vakoch at his office at SETI Institute - Steven Hawking is a genius but he cant predict the future, Douglas said.

Notes: Questions we and the film were struggling with:
Should we really start broadcasting intentional signals from earth?
How come this people are so dedicated even if they know that they might not find an answer to the question during their lifetime?



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