Planet Earth Symphony Film

Saugerties, Ulster County | Film Feature

Experimental, Global Celebration

Dyan Machan

1 Campaigns | New York, United States

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This campaign raised $10,000 for production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

44 supporters | followers

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We are creating an environmental film that will be shown during live orchestral performances of "Symphony No. 3 Planet Earth" by Dutch composer Johan de Meij. The film depicts the earth's creation, how humans have mucked it up but who are also capable of getting us out of this mess.

About The Project

  • The Story
  • Wishlist
  • Updates
  • The Team
  • Community

Mission Statement

Our film embraces every inhabitant of the planet. We seek environmental video from around the world as our content. Our casting call sought: “all ethnicities.” Having a film to go with the symphony will naturally draw more people beyond regular concert goers.

The Story

I have been a business and finance journalist my entire working life.  By most people’s standards, I did well, becoming a top writer at Forbes, Smart Money, Barron's and The Wall Street Journal. Not much of it felt satisfying.  It was often difficult to see how my articles served a clear public good. 


Along comes Johan de Meij, a Dutch composer, who happened to write some of the most flat out gorgeous classical music this side of Giacomo Puccini. One can also hear strains of Leonard Bernstein, Gustav Mahler and Aaron Copland seeping in. I married him and not just because he was handsome and wrote beautiful music.  He can cook, too.


In 2005, he wrote his magnum opus, Symphony No. 3, Planet Earth.  It was meant as a sequel to Gustav Holst’s epic The Planets.  Holst wrote of our solar system, but left out one planet—our own.  De Meij’s symphony, an homage to Planet Earth, would correct that oversight. It commences with a bang that launches audience members into the cosmos and the earth’s creation.


The cosmic noise gives way to a reverent paean to the planet as listeners visualize the melodic richness of vast landscapes darkened with flocks of birds, undulating meadow grass, the sun rising above water.


Like The Planets, Planet Earth uses a female choir.  In the final movement,  the choir sings “a Hymn to Gaia,” or Mother Earth, in the original Greek written by Homer (770 BC):  “She feeds all creatures in the world.” 


Could this have been a prophetic warning from 3,000 years ago to protect what we had?


As symphonies go, it was a hit. It has been performed hundreds of times under the baton of myriad conductors on five continents. Yet, to me  it wasn’t coming near its potential.


What if this incredible score had a film that could open up the classical music experience to an entirely new group of people? What if a film, as dazzling and visually stunning as the symphony could also carry the weight of a powerful message:  to protect our planet. And what if such a film could be free to community music groups worldwide to help them draw bigger audiences?


Meanwhile, I couldn't bring myself to write another valentine to a major chief executive. I would take a sabbatical from journalism and live without paychecks for at least a year to tell the first story I cared deeply about.

The film would tell the story of our singular planet--assembled from film clips people would take with their smart phones from every corner of the world.

Many documentarians have made important films on how humankind has wrecked the planet. We didn't need to go there. The music is uplifting. It soars.

So would the film. And I hold dearly the belief that we can turn the tide on our resource destruction.  But it will require unity, enlightened thinking and the relentless effort on all of our parts. We will need scientists who can ignore borders to figure out how we can best restore what we have seriously messed up. 


I cranked out press releases and made a social media campaign for nature lovers to send us their footage.  My husband Johan has a 25,000 fan base on his Facebook pages, a huge following of passionate music lovers. I braced myself for an avalanche of video clips. I  waited, and waited some more. 


Eventually I received a hunter’s low-res video of a bobcat and a deer carcass that was tied to a tree.  It was blurry.  The bobcat was cute. But it would be hard to tell this story with one blurry bobcat and a former deer. My great idea for editing crowd-sourced content ended up like the deer. 



I wasn’t going to get the footage I needed. I would need to purchase it and needed more funding to do so. And if the footage wasn’t available, I needed money to create the footage myself.


Another lesson:  Our story is told through the eyes of Gaia, the mythological mother of all life.  She figures in Homer’s hymn sung by the female choir. Initially we planned to use multiple images of women—an amalgam of female beauty to become one. But after experimenting with that concept, we decided that while artistic, most viewers would be confused. So taking a deep breath, I withdrew a big chunk of my own savings.  We plan to spend it having our own shoot and filming our own Gaia, or Mother Earth. We held a casting call for dancers of every ethnicity.  The fortunate result is that a preternaturally gifted,  20-year-old dancer named Mikayla Scaife answered our casting call to become our Gaia.


Gaia tells the story of our planet from its fiery creation, through its rocky evolution to the rise of a resource-gobbling species known more simply as ... us.



Then most unfortunately to the story, Gaia goes to sleep.


We touch on smoke stakes and deforestation but skip dire images like the drowning birds in oil.  Most of us are aware of the urgency. And we also know that more people are motivated to action when there is hope and that their efforts can really count.


This is when Gaia starts to wake up.



We focus on what we can do and what we might do.  Some of the most promising solutions may not have been invented yet but will be after someone in our audience comes up with the right idea. One hundred years ago, flying to the moon was unthinkable.


Now we have serious efforts afoot to make mankind a multi-planetary species and push earth-polluting factories to the moon.  A net of satellites could distribute particles to reverse or slow climate change. And yes, we can stop using plastic and making so much trash.  But it will take more than a village; it’s going to take a planet.


Our story concludes with how humankind can protect and preserve our stunning, life-giving planet.  How the ingenuity and innovation that brought us important breakthroughs like the industrial revolution and big agriculture, can be harnessed to fix some of consequences of that progress.


We don’t have all the answers but we know we need them now. Gaia, who represents all of us, wakes up in blinding light as the music climaxes in a spectacular finale. She is finally alert and focused.  There is hope.


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Cash Pledge

Costs $0

Magical effects

Costs $2,000

Post Production is the difference between meh and wow. See the difference made in Bjork' below.

Stock video footage

Costs $3,000

We need this budget to pay for high-quality stock video footage. Exploding eyes don't come cheap.

About This Team

Our team was selected for excellence in their respective fields, not for geographical convenience. Our supervising director/editor Jed Parker lives outside of Rome, Italy so that when he isn't working he is able to live in a painting. He's made many stellar films for PBS along with independent films and documentaries.  The renowned Dutch composer Johan de Meij's brilliant music speaks for itself; though Dutch, he travels so much he could be considered truly global.  New York’s Tracy Christian is an award-winning documentary filmmaker but she was so enthusiastic about the project she's been willing to fill in myriad roles as needed, among them: producer, director and co-conspirator. Emanuele Michetti, Brooklyn, N.Y. is our Italian-born director and producer hired for the filming of our narrator, Gaia, the creator of all living things. Michetti has exquisite skill for capturing achingly sensitive moments.  Michetti also found us Japan-born Koshi Kiyokawa, as our stalwart DP who often works in Tokyo on high-end assignments. We appreciated his joining our group at less than his normal rates. He exceeded expectations when it came to his cinematography and now I know what a Joker 400 is.  Professionally speaking, our voice-over man Steve Wood is a therapist, but he was still willing to lend his soothingly raspy yet mellifluous voice to our project. Kaylo Jo also accepted a lower rate from her regular hair and makeup artist assignments to work on a film that we hope will compel people to protect our planet. Mikayla Scaife, a student at Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, shared her otherworldly beauty to become our dancing Gaia in the film. Natasha Scully and Scott Meuller lent their respective cinematographic and sound talents to capturing the maestro and his muse for our video.

Current Team