I was a consultant on a National Geographic Channel special on DARPA called America’s Secret Weapon Lab that premiers tonight. Show time is at 9:00 p.m. If you miss it, it’s also on this Saturday, December 6 at 11:00 a.m., and Thursday, December 11 at 2:00 p.m.
I got the production team in the door at DARPA, and me at the same time, by pitching myself to DARPA director Tony Tether as one-stop shopping for good publicity for the agency. Tether gave me acccess to interviews and programs at the agency, and he got not just a book about DARPA, but a TV show as well.
Until the production team, Terra Nova Television, established its own relationships at DARPA, I acted as go-between. I also advised on good projects to shoot, suggested directions the show should go in and the tone it should take, provided some research help, and advised on the script.
It’s a good show, and I think it represents the agency well. The focus, naturally for a television production, is on DARPA projects that are photogenic, including hypsersonic aircraft, exoskeletons, a novel swim flipper called Power Swim, and a rocket powered grenade stopper called Iron Curtain, among others.
In addition to some great footage of all that, the show includes interviews with DARPA director Tony Tether and many of the agency’s program managers.
One piece of Tether’s interview that did not make it into the final cut, though I pushed for it, was a wonderful moment when Tether asked anyone who had an idea for a DARPA project to email him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. He promised he would make sure any ideas sent to him would be considered. Great stuff, and a perfect summation of what the agency is all about.