About the Filmmakers
Timothy Ferris has made two prior PBS specials—The Creation of the Universe and Life Beyond Earth. They aired back-to-back in 1999, making Ferris one of the few nonfiction filmmakers to have an entire night of prime-time network programming devoted to his work. In addition to producing, writing, and narrating Seeing in the Dark, Ferris shot several of its time-lapse sequences, made field recordings for its soundtrack, and designed its special effects. Ferris’ ten books include the one on which the film is based, Seeing in the Dark, named by The New York Times as one of the ten best books published 2002. He produced the Voyager phonograph record, an artifact of human civilization launched aboard the twin Voyager interstellar spacecraft and now exiting the outer reaches of the solar system, and was among the journalists selected as candidates to fly aboard the Space Shuttle in 1986. Called "the best popular science writer in the English language" by The Christian Science Monitor and "the best science writer of his generation" by The Washington Post, Ferris is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has taught astronomy, English, history, journalism, and philosophy at four universities, and is emeritus professor at the University of California, Berkeley.
Director Nigel Ashcroft has been making award-winning television films for thirty years. He started as an editor, cutting twenty episodes of the BBC's Natural World and Wildlife as well as Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer," the most awarded music video of all time. His natural history and science programs include Saving the Tiger, Wild India, Crater of the Rain God, and Journey to the Center of the Earth.
Mark Knopfler and Guy Fletcher first joined forces in the rock band Dire Straits, which has sold over seventy millions records, and have since continued working together on Mark's solo albums and on the scores for films such as Cal, Last Exit to Brooklyn, and The Princess Bride.
Director of Photography Francis Kenny shot Timothy Ferris' first film, The Creation of the Universe, as well as other television documentaries including Francis Ford Coppola's Dark Angel and Nicolas Roeg's Sweet Bird of Youth. His feature film credits include the Academy Award winning He Makes Me Feel Like Dancin', How High, Finder's Fee, Scary Movie, A Thin Line between Love and Hate, New Jack City, and Heathers. A still photographer as well as cinematographer, Francis shot two of the timelapse sequences employed in Seeing in the Dark.
Editor Lisa Day cut Timothy Ferris' prior films Life Beyond Earth and The Creation of the Universe. Her many other film credits include Noises Off, White Fang, A Vision Shared, Raw, Home of the Brave, and Stop Making Sense.
Production Designer and Executive Producer Cal Zecca, although best known as a painter, also served as production designer on The Creation of the Universe and photo editor of Ferris' 1984 book SpaceShots. Cal is a Trustee of the Tricycle Foundation and of the San Francisco based Swig Foundation.
Special Effects Artist Don Davis is recognized as one of the world's foremost astronomical illustrators. He did the effects for Timothy Ferris' Life Beyond Earth and has worked on many other documentary and feature films, among them Infinite Voyage, Cosmos, and Ghost In The Machine.
Sound Designer Kate Hopkins has created the aural soundscapes for more than sixty documentary and feature films, including episodes of the acclaimed BBC series Planet Earth and its predecessors Blue Planet and Deep Blue.
Sound Mixer and Narration Producer Walter Murch received an unprecedented double Oscar for both film editing and sound mixing on The English Patient, plus another Oscar for his sound mixing on Apocalypse Now. A pioneer in sound design, Murch helped introduce nonlinear sound and picture editing to the film industry. Walter's avocations include studies in the science of human perception, cosmology and the history of science, including recent work on a reinterpretation of the Titius-Bode Law of planetary spacing using data from the Voyager Probe, the Hubble telescope, and recent discoveries of exoplanets orbiting distant stars.
Associate Producer Mark Andrews is a documentary filmmaker with a special interest in science and nature. He produced, directed, and edited Signs of Life, a film about Mars exploration which won the Best Science Documentary Award at the Rocky Mountain Science and Natural History Film Festival. Mark holds a B.A. from Amherst College with a major in geology, and studied science and natural history filmmaking at Montana State University. He fell in love with the night sky as a boy and learned the constellations with the help of his father and his favorite childhood book, Finding the Constellations, by H. A. Rey.
Educational Outreach Director Andrew Fraknoi chairs the astronomy department at Foothill College near San Francisco and was formerly Executive Director of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. His many publications include the bestselling textbooks Exploration of the Universe and Voyages Through the Universe, as well as a new book for children, Disney's Wonderful World of Space. He is also co-editor of the online journal Astronomy Education Review and appears regularly on local and national radio explaining astronomical developments in everyday language. The International Astronomical Union named Asteroid 4859 Asteroid Fraknoi in honor of his contributions to the public understanding of astronomy.