Science Scams

Director: Alice Nelson
DoP: Ian Dodds
Production Designer: Max Berman
Animation: Alan Brown
Sound Design & Original Composition: Zoe Irvine
Editor: Tadhg O’Sullivan

A creative documentary series Science Scams combines drama reconstruction and animation to reveal some of the greatest but lesser known scientific frauds from history.
The five episodes include: Beringer’s Lying Stones, the story of one man’s ill-fated search for scientific proof of divine creation; Meinertzhagen: Undercover Ornithologist, chronicling the extraordinary life of a WWI hero with a dangerous ambition for scientific fame; Elizalde’s Lost Eden, the unbelievable story of a stone age tribe discovered deep in the Philippine jungle in the 1970’s; Kempelen’s Chess Playing Automaton, the story of a mysterious technological marvel of the 19th century; and Redheffer’s Perpetual Motion Machine, how one man gifted the holy grail of engineering to the world, or did he?
Science Scams was commissioned for Channel 4 Daytime and was first screened in February 2007 with repeats throughout 2007 and 2008.
Meinertzhagen: Undercover Ornithologist was nominated in the Scottish Short Film Awards 2007

I created the title music, score and sound design.
Like many of Alice Nelson’s films these use narration rather than dialogue with no sound from the shoot being used. This created great scope for creatively working with the sound design musically and atmospherically help create the world of the film. For Kempelan’s Chess playing automata, ‘The Turk’ I sampled lots of musical boxes, wind up toys and creaky bits of wood and metal while the taxidermy sequence in – involved a fun foley session squeazing frozen peas and playing with zips.

With the score I worked with lush strings together for the title theme and other quirkier sound making objects – wood blocks, an Indonesian flute, samples from an array of old 78s, and my usual sound library of samples recorded from falling apart instruments poorly played…

© 2024
Zoë Irvine