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Time travel is nothing but talk.

But there sure has been a lot of it.

“We as human beings are obsessed with time in general,” said Gisella Bustillos. We plan. We worry. “We’re not in the present.”

Gisella Bustillos
Gisella Bustillos

Bustillos, 25, is the director of “A Brief History of Time Travel,” a documentary that digs into pop culture, science and science fiction to ask why we’re so hooked on the idea of going back and forth through time.

She’s interviewed people like Bill Nye the Science Guy, game designer Tim Schafer of Double Fine Productions and MIT professor Erik Demaine, and gathered all kinds of archival footage to illustrate just how long we’ve thought about this.

The oldest known reference to time travel? It’s in a story about a king in an ancient Hindu text called the Mahabharata from the 8th Century B.C.

Now it’s time to stitch the movie together, and for that, Bustillos needs help. Along with producer Wanda Bertram, editor Dani Creech and other collaborators, she’s set up a Kickstarter that’s raised $24,104 of its $35,000 goal with 9 days left in the campaign.

Perks for funders include Dr. Who inspired art, tickets to the Emerald City ComiCon and a ride in the “Back to the Future” DeLorean.

Bustillos, who grew up watching all the Star Trek series with her dad, would bet on interstellar wormholes over cars or phone booths to make time travel possible.

But that’s the beauty of the concept: We don’t have to know how we’d do it to geek out over what we’d do if we could.

Even people with little familiarity with science and no interest in science fiction can dwell on the question: If I had a time machine, where would I go?

Bustillos doesn’t hesitate. She’d go to the future. About 100 years, in fact. Long enough for things to be interesting, but not so long, she hopes, that society has gone too far for her to follow.

The past is interesting, too, but there are all those pesky paradoxes. Then again, what if you could do something over, and do it better?

Time travel “brings out all these human emotions in us,” Bustillos said. Like regret, nostalgia, and the glazed look of the dreamer.

It’s the real final frontier. The one natural phenomenon we can’t break.


Producer Wanda Bertram and director Gisella Bustillos bust out of a Dr. Who TARDIS to promote their time travel documentary. (Screenshot: Kickstarter video)
Producer Wanda Bertram and director Gisella Bustillos bust out of a Dr. Who TARDIS to promote their time travel documentary. (Screenshot: Kickstarter video)

Bustillos said she’s indebted to Seattle’s local film scene for helping accelerate the project in the last several months. She connected with editor Dani Creech at the Seattle Film and Music Office’s happy hour — a popular monthly mixer that’s helped a lot of local artists develop their work right here in the Northwest.

Our region has plenty to add to the time travel topic, too. Bustillos was headed to the Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum after our chat Tuesday to get b-roll for her film from the props in the Terminator films. She’d already interviewed museum curator Brooks Peck.

The crew aims to finish the film in 2015 and feature it at festivals and science fiction conventions, some of which have already said they’d like to show it.

Bustillos will be at GeekGirlCon this weekend, talking it up.

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