Hello. I’m Jonathan Sanderson, general-purpose geek, freelance film-maker, photographer, writer, social entrepreneur. Or something like that. Since you voluntarily clicked a link that promised to tell you about me, I figure it’d be rude not to.
I spent a gap year at the fabulous Royal Institution in London, where I learned how to coax experiments into performing, and lost any fears I might have had about bulk mercury. Subsequently I did a physics degree at Cambridge, ending up as a philosopher of quantum mechanics. I spent altogether too much time agonising over the meaning of ‘large’.
On the grounds that I can fix bicycles I landed a job in TV, working on the early series of Adam Hart-Davis’ Local Heroes. A chance encounter in a pizzeria led to children’s science show, The Big Bang, which accidentally ran for nine series, exactly half of which were under my stewardship. No, that doesn’t add up, and yes, it is correct.
I also ended up producing How2, a series that was venerable, venerated, and incorrectly punctuated on Wikipedia. There’s lots that could be written about How — it was perhaps the perfect children’s factual format. I doubt we’ll ever see its like again, since British children’s TV effectively died in 2004 (modulo CBBC — discuss, 20 marks).
Aaaaanyway… I made a bunch of other stuff — some good, some bizarre, some utterly appallingly awful — but pretty much all of it was popular science and engineering programming.
In 2005 I wrote the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, and over the winter of 2006/7 I produced RTÉ’s science magazine series Scope. I still occasionally consult on TV projects, most recently on a Richard Hammond show, and may yet be tempted back. Never say never.
STEM Engagement, Planet SciCast
I’ve been involved in what used to be called ‘Public Understanding of Science’, is now known as ‘STEM Engagement’, and I wish was simply ‘informal science education’ since before my TV career: Vinay and I used to run the student section of the BA. Recently, I’ve found myself increasingly sucked into that world, mostly via the wonderful British Interactive Group, which lies somewhere between a trade lobby and group therapy.
In 2006 I approached NESTA with a project idea, the result of which is Planet SciCast. We’re trying to reboot public service children’s media and put inspiring ideas in front of kids across the country, by getting them filming themselves doing practical science. We collect the films at the SciCast website, to share as entertainment and as an educational resource.
After the breakneck pace of TV it’s been slow going, but we’re getting there. The first Awards event in April 2008 exceeded all expectations, and we’ve a whole bunch of new partners for 2009.
There’s a long-term plan and vision for SciCast or its descendants: you’ll catch glimpses of it in my musings at this site. Or just ask me, and I’ll likely tell you. If you’ve a passion for inspiring kids with science and a few bob to spare, I’ll definitely tell you.
Consulting, lecturing, & freelance work
SciCast takes about half of my time: I also consult on media projects and training, produce video material for clients, and, on occasion, teach.
Recent clients include the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute; the Science Communication Unit at the University of the West of England, Bristol; the Institute of Physics; The Science Council/Futuremorph; ECSITE-UK/Centre for Life, Newcastle; Glasgow Science Centre; Science Made Simple; NESTA (again — unrelated to SciCast!); the Scottish Ensemble; and RDF/The Comedy Unit.
For video, I can direct, shoot, edit, and deliver for DVD or web media, to the highest professional standards. Or I can engage others to do all those stages, and manage the project for schedule, budget, and editorial quality.
For consulting and training, I can help you do all of this yourself, but more importantly help you work out which parts are worth doing. I’ve been a ‘digital native’ (as the awful phrase goes) for long enough to remember Gopher ) with affection, and I’ve been blogging since 2001. I understand the differences between web and broadcast media.
Oh, and I can build websites, too. I just prefer not to, generally.
Drop me a line to jonathan[at]quernstone.com if you’d like to discuss what I can offer.