Tim Maupin’s Film, ‘The Last Generation to Die,’ to Explore Longevity and Life Extension

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The May issue of National Geographic boldly states, “This Baby Will Live to Be 120 (and It’s Not Just Hype)”; Pew Research published a poll on radical life extension in August; and in September, Google invested in a new company, Calico, to tackle aging.

Independent of all these developments, Chicago filmmaker, Tim Maupin, launched a Kickstarter for a short film titled, “The Last Generation to Die.” Maupin thinks now is a great time to start a conversation about life extension. And he’s right.

The idea that within decades a genetic fountain of youth may plausibly reverse the aging process, even indefinitely stave off death, seems to be rising up in pop culture.

Maupin’s Kickstarter has so far raised over $15,000—$6,000 more than its initial funding goal. Encouraged by the positive response, they’re dreaming bigger and hope to fund a stretch goal of $25,000 in the last 10 days of the campaign.

When I spoke to him, Maupin told me he’d been playing around with the idea of doing a film about a father and daughter set in the future for a few years. But the story didn’t click until he read about emerging medical technologies and the possibility of life extension in Michio Kaku’s book, Physics of the Future.

After reading Kaku’s book, he saw an intriguing angle on a familiar story. A topic that would resonate with folks right now, be based in plausible science, and yet feel unfamiliar and distinctly futuristic.

SH 192_#3The film is set in 2043. A main character works for fictional firm, Apeiron Life, the first company to commercialize life extension treatments. (Not inspired by Google and Calico—simply good timing.) She offers her father early treatments, but he soon stops coming, saying he’d rather let nature take its course.

Maupin told us, “I’m in my early thirties and my parents are getting to that age where I’m starting to think about [their mortality] a lot more. And if this technology were available now, I don’t think that they would opt to do it.”

Though he leans towards living indefinitely, Maupin said he’s still open minded. The film is meant to be a meditation and exploration of both beliefs. “It’s the most profound thing we have to deal with as part of the human experience, and to erase what we’ve thought for thousands of years is a pretty daunting thing for a lot of people.”

Maupin said about half of the people he talks to would opt in, while the other half prefer a natural death. His observation matches the 56% of Americans who say they wouldn’t undergo radical life extension treatments in a recent Pew Research poll.

Divergent beliefs on death and life extension may separate parents and children, but they may also split couples and friends of the same generation. What would it be like to watch loved ones elect to age and die, while you remain youthful and healthy?

Maupin hopes the film strikes a balance between realism and visually pleasing effects. Much may appear unchanged in the 2040s. The most powerful technology may be subtle and hidden. Depicting such a world is more complicated than introducing holographic displays and hand waving.

For example, he notes, “AI is going to be much better at that time. What would AI do when you walk into a room?"

SH 192_#4Recreating the cascade of automated processes kicked off by the mere presence of humans may serve to draw viewers into 2043. Or cell towers didn't exist thirty years ago—what new infrastructure might sit on the horizon thirty years from now?

That said, compelling visual effects will also be central. Maupin believes effects are most effective when "practical and digital" are mixed. The team plans to shoot in settings with a futuristic look, and then add subtle, powerful effects in post-production.

The Kickstarter campaign has already exceeded its $9,000 funding goal—the bare minimum needed to make a good film, in Maupin’s estimation. At that level, the crew would largely work for free, and they’d need to call in favors and find equipment on the cheap. To make the film even better, they set a stretch goal of $25,000.

Asked what difference that might make, Maupin told me, they are seriously pursuing the possibility of adding a celebrity to the project, and $25,000 is the minimum they'd need to do that. But they can also consider a few more intriguing locations and afford to pay the crew. Already, there’s a little breathing room at the current $15,000 funding level. But Maupin says, “We really hope to hit $25K and maybe even go a little further.”

Lower pledges get a variety of rewards and either a DVD, BluRay, or private link to the film. Those at the $125 level and from St. Loius, Chicago, LA, or New York get a thumb drive with the movie and a piece of the set stashed somewhere in the city. (You'll need a GPS-enabled smartphone to receive the prize's coordinates.) Higher pledges will be in the movie or credited as an associate producer or producer.

Once complete, likely sometime next summer, the project's supporters will be first to see the film. After that, Maupin hopes to play some festivals. And who knows, he said, if it's a popular concept, there may be room to make a feature film—but such an endeavor yet remains firmly in the future.

Image Credit: The Last Generation to Die Kickstarter

Jason Dorrier

Jason is managing editor of Singularity Hub. He cut his teeth doing research and writing about finance and economics before moving on to science, technology, and the future. He is curious about pretty much everything, and sad he'll only ever know a tiny fraction of it all.

Discussion — 4 Responses

  • frankiebishop September 27, 2013 on 2:07 pm

    – The study and practice of Life Extension is called Gerontology. It has been around for decades. A very controversial topic, there are primarily natural substances which can delay and even reverse the aging process. The aging process itself consists primarily of two effects. 1.) Free radical damage at the cellular level from the body’s exposure to oxidation, thus…why nutrients are often referred to as ‘anti-oxidants’. 2.) The body’s exposure to toxins from processed food, tainted water, chemicals and radiation.

    I believe the breakthrough in reversing the aging process has already been discovered, or…we’re very close. It most definitely is not something which is going to take decades. Mass media tells you it will to suppress the progress and hinder accessibility of breakthroughs for the public. Such as with suppressed free energy technology and ET disclosure.

    The greatest threat to Life Extension technology is an elite who suppresses it and the tainting of the food chain, via processing and genetic modification, to expand profits for corporations. Many natural food products are high in nutritional composition to prevent and reverse aging. And, many are used in supplements in concentrated forms.

  • dobermanmacleod September 27, 2013 on 2:31 pm

    This is an epic project, because the paradigm of “human senescence as a part of nature,” to is changing to “human senescence as a disease.” Therefore, you ought to solicit a celebrity via the revolutionary nature of the film, not based solely upon salary. What is critical is that about 150k people die each DAY from old age – if you evaluate that through the prism of “human senescence as a disease,” then that is humanities most pressing crisis. A community minded celebrity ought to jump on board a project with that magnitude of importance.

    One side note: the argument usually made by people first exposed to RLE (radical life extension) philosophy is “that would lead to an over-population problem.”

    The answer is very simple: among the minds that are saved by RLE technology are builders that will add more to our wealth than supporting all the additional people will cost. Besides, Malthusianism is immoral, and we are about to enter an era of abundance (I suggest you read the book Abundance for a development of this thesis). In the next few decades we will start routinely escaping the Earth’s gravity well, which means a new frontier will open up with a virtual infinite demand for settlers and the resources for exponential production.

    Did you know that the first 3D printer THAT CAN PRINT ANOTHER 3D PRINTER (!) already exists. There is a moral imperative to expose people to the RLE paradigm change ASAP.

    • Ali Kasali dobermanmacleod September 27, 2013 on 4:31 pm

      why not using William Shatner as Celebrity? He is a transhumanist AFAIK.

  • FacebookUser10 October 22, 2013 on 7:27 pm


    1 child in 55 is now born with brain damage (autism)

    Fukushima, 2 years later is still spewing radioactive water and all physicists now how to do is put more water on it.

    The Earth is overheating

    We have a few thousand nuclear weapons pointed at each other

    We are one major solar storm away from a catastrophy of epic scale

    Physics has failed us up to this point.

    You can talk science fiction all you want