More Than Robots: FIRST Founder Dean Kamen On Merging Sports & Robots
More Than Robots made its debut at South By Southwest this week and dropped on Disney+ for all to see on Friday the 18th. We get to chance to see high school-age kids build robots to fight in competition, and we follow different teams around the world. What starts off as a normal-seeming documentary becomes something very different when you realize that we are watching something that takes place at the beginning of 2020. The creeping specter of COVID-19 begins to feel like a much more significant danger than the deadline these teams are racing against. We got the chance to speak to producer Jason Sterman and FIRST® Founder Dean Kamen about seeing COVID change the direction of the documentary so drastically. We also asked Kamen about bringing traditional sports elements to the FIRST® competitions and what advice he would give other industries looking to bridge that gap.
"I would say they should use a powerful example of what works," Kamen explained. "I would say they should go and look at what Gillian and Jason just put together. And considering it's Disney that's putting it out, they have a pretty big speaker, a pretty big spotlight. I think they will make this seen and make this heard around the world. And I'm hoping that after 30 years of FIRST growing at a phenomenally good rate, considering it was doing it grassroots from 20 some odd teams in year one to 80,000 teams this year with a million kids this year. I expect Disney will bring us to a billion kids. We should be in the hearts and minds of kids and parents and teachers and corporate leaders and government leaders around the world.
"By the time Disney has finished adding its magic to what we presented…" Kamen continued. "What we did not have until Disney came along was a way to amplify this thing and get it out there. I don't think there is an organization in this world that's bigger or better or more capable and more fitting to be a partner of FIRST. And to answer your question, anybody that watches this that's at all thinking is going to say not only is that a good idea for them, but to your point, why isn't there more coopertition around the world in every way? All you have to do is look at the national and international news now and realize how much we desperately need that."
Check out our full interview with Sterman and Kamen below and watch More Than Robots on Disney+ now.
Disney+ and Supper Club present "More than Robots," a feature-length documentary that follows four teams of teenagers from around the world as they prepare for the 2020 FIRST® Robotics Competition. Viewers will get to know teams from Los Angeles, Mexico City, and Chiba, Japan, as they work towards the goal of taking their unique designs all the way to the highly competitive global championships. Although they are faced with overcoming challenges along the way, such as having limited resources within their community or putting everything on hold because of a worldwide pandemic, the kids persevere and learn that there is a lot more to the competition than just robots. "More Than Robots" is directed by Gillian Jacobs in her feature-length documentary directorial debut. Award-winning Supper Club founders Jason Sterman, Brian McGinn, and David Gelb are the producers. Lucasfilm's Michael Garcia and Christine Beebe serve as executive producers, with Jacqui Lopez as co-executive producers.