Director of Oscar-Winning ‘My Octopus Teacher’ To Make a Docuseries on Dallas-Based Colossal Biosciences

Colossal Biosciences and production partner Teton Ridge Entertainment have signed with James Reed, director of the Oscar-winning Netflix documentary "My Octopus Teacher," and his company Underdog Films, to produce the docuseries.

A multi-year docuseries will be produced following the groundbreaking work of Colossal Biosciences, the world’s first de-extinction company.

Dallas-based Colossal and production partner Teton Ridge Entertainment have signed with James Reed, director of the Oscar-winning Netflix documentary “My Octopus Teacher,” and his company Underdog Films, to produce the docuseries.

“Transparency is core to Colossal’s mission and goals, so working with the right filmmakers to chronicle our journey was incredibly important,” Ben Lamm, Colossal co-founder and CEO, said in a statement.

“James is at the forefront of nature-focused filmmaking and there’s no one better to lead the undertaking,” he added. “Given his impressive track record, James was the right filmmaker to cover our complex, dynamic, and novel story.”

From de-extinction projects to cutting-edge conservation tech

Colossal Biosciences co-founders Ben Lamm and George Church. [Photo: Colossal]

Reed and producing partner Matt Houghton will executive produce for Underdog, along with Jillian Share for Teton Ridge Entertainment. Michael Dougherty will also executive produce. Specialist observational filmmaker Sophie Todd (“Formula 1: Drive to Survive”) has joined as showrunner, Teton Ridge said.

Teton Ridge said the series will have exclusive access to follow Colossal as it works to bring back iconic extinct species—including the woolly mammoth, the Tasmanian tiger, and the dodo bird—and strives to rewild them into their natural habitats.

The docuseries will have behind-the-scenes access to Colossal’s whole process, from its groundbreaking work on ancient DNA and genetic engineering to documenting the lives of animals which haven’t roamed the earth in thousands of years.

Along with the de-extinction projects, the series will reveal the company’s cutting-edge conservation technologies that focus on protecting existing endangered species, including working to cure EEHV in elephants, engineering in genetic diversity to save the Northern white rhinos, and leveraging artificial intelligence to better understand animal behavior and rewilding impacts.

The Tasmanian tiger went extinct due to human hunting nearly 100 years ago. Now Dallas-based Colossal Biosciences aims to bring it back with the help of “marsupial biobanking.” [Image: Colossal Biosciences]

More on the team behind the docuseries

Teton Ridge noted that Reed achieved worldwide acclaim with the Netflix 2020 doc “My Octopus Teacher,” about a South African filmmaker who forges an unexpected friendship with an octopus. It won the Best Documentary Feature award at the Oscars.

Reed directed and produced the critically acclaimed Netflix docuseries “Chimp Empire” and was a director and creative consultant at the BBC Studios Natural History Unit, where he made “Frozen Planet 2: Our Frozen Planet.” Reed’s past credits also include the multi-award-winning features “Jago: A Life Underwater” and “Rise of the Warrior Apes.”

“After these past few months with Colossal, I’m more excited than ever by the extraordinary work they are doing and what will become an incredible turning point in our history,” Reed said. “Their work in de-extinction is fascinating and what’s coming up is unbelievable. I feel very privileged that we have the opportunity to bring this story to the world.”

Executive Producer Michael Dougherty was screenwriter/director of “Trick ‘r Treat,” “Krampus,” and “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.”

“Our world is about to change forever. Extinct species, some of which haven’t walked the earth in thousands of years, are about to return,” Dougherty said. “The thin line between science and science fiction has been erased, and I couldn’t be happier to work with Colossal, Underdog Films, and Teton Ridge Entertainment to tell the stories of the brilliant minds behind this astounding accomplishment.”

Colossal is also aiming to de-extinct the famously extinct dodo bird. Left: Pink Pigeon [Photo: Mauritius Wildlife Foundation]; Right: Dodo Bird [Photo: Colossal Biosciences]

A boost to Colossal’s work

Led by Share, newly formed Teton Ridge Entertainment produces films, TV series, podcasts, and new media, both scripted and unscripted.

“Colossal’s trailblazing mission to de-extinct animals embodies the pioneering spirit that Teton Ridge Entertainment aims to celebrate. Through the lens of James’s emotional, engrossing storytelling, we are excited to give audiences a front row seat to Colossal’s fascinating scientific discoveries,” Share said.

Colossal co-founder and serial biotech entrepreneur George Church said the project will boost Colossal’s work.

“It’s terrific to have such a nature-focused, esteemed, and thoughtful team capturing Colossal’s journey to help endangered species via ancient genetic diversity, environmental restoration and conservation,” Church said.

Colossal was founded by Lamm and Church. It creates disruptive technologies for extinct species restoration, critically endangered species protection, and the repopulation of critical ecosystems that support the continuation of life on Earth.

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