Award-winning writer and producer David Elisco has been named director of development for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s new film production unit. Elisco has more than 20 years of experience creating science and natural history documentaries for National Geographic Television, the Discovery Channel, and the Public Broadcasting System, as well as films focused on science education.
HHMI launched the five-year, $60 million film production unit in February 2011 to produce science content for broadcast, theatrical release, and digital distribution. “There is a real hunger among documentary film producers and broadcasters for the kind of programming we’re going to champion, and HHMI has provided an infusion of vision and resources to make it possible,” says Elisco, who will work at HHMI headquarters in Chevy Chase, Maryland. “I’m excited to be a part of this bold effort.”
“There is a real hunger among documentary film producers and broadcasters for the kind of programming we’re going to champion, and HHMI has provided an infusion of vision and resources to make it possible”
The film production unit will focus on creating high-quality, compelling television programs in all areas of science, from astronomy to paleontology to biomedicine, HHMI’s traditional research area. “David is a creative film maker with a talent for communicating science,” says Michael Rosenfeld, HHMI’s head of film and television. “I can’t think of anyone better to take on this new challenge.”
Before coming to HHMI, Elisco was vice president of creative affairs for Sea Studios Foundation in Monterey, Calif., where he produced two high-profiles series and broadcast projects that pushed the storytelling envelope. A highlight for him was his work as a series producer for Strange Days on Planet Earth, a groundbreaking conservation science series for PBS.
As director of development, Elisco will report to Rosenfeld and work with him and the rest of HHMI’s film team to generate original ideas and develop content with outside producers. The team will also collaborate with HHMI’s Educational Resources division on related science education content. “I’ve worked on programs spanning the science genera, from inception through production and post finishing,” Elisco says. “This really is the perfect opportunity to contribute.”
Elisco is already working on ideas for the group’s first projects. “There are a lot of producers who want to make films that are thoughtful and tell us something about the world,” he says. “We’d like them to think of us as the place to come to with their ideas.”
For more information about HHMI’s film production unit, www.hhmi.org/films.
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute plays a powerful role in advancing scientific research and education in the United States. Its scientists, located across the country and around the world, have made important discoveries that advance both human health and our fundamental understanding of biology. The Institute also aims to transform science education into a creative, interdisciplinary endeavor that reflects the excitement of real research. For more information, visit www.hhmi.org.