Facing up to uncertainty and big decisions is a challenge that pretty much everyone has had to face on some level in the past 18 months. Where is this all heading? How much longer will this go on? Should I stay on the same path or take a leap into the unknown? IS THERE ANYBODY OUT THERE?
Those sorts of questions underpin a unique new film and science project that’s emerged from London called The Uncertainty Experts (which Time Out is happy to be supporting as a media partner having been given a sneak preview of the project at pilot stage earlier this year). The Uncertainty Experts is an experimental film event, but it’s also a live science project designed in tandem with scientists at UCL to test and stretch each of our abilities to withstand uncertainty in our lives. If it has a mission, it’s to turn uncertainty into a positive rather than something which stops us sleeping well at night.
The Uncertainty Experts will be screening online over three Tuesdays this November, and everyone taking part is expected to watch all three episodes and to get involved by taking part in digital surveys and virtual tasks. It’s a tough project to explain, but as someone who took part in the project’s pilot earlier this year along with 500 others, I can tell you that it’s a challenging and surprising experience. It’s in one way a bold live film event and, in others, it’s a community wellness project. It’s hectic and invigorating. It challenges you to ask some hard and rewarding questions about yourself and your attitudes towards risk-taking.
The live documentary element means that the project’s host, South London-based author and speaker Sam Conniff (who wrote the book Be More Pirate in 2018), appears live in each episode, directing the audience through various interactive research elements (including answering surveys on the spot). Conniff also introduces segments of interviews with guests whose life experiences cause you to reflect on your own. In the pilot episodes, these guests included an RAF pilot who was shot down in the first Iraq War and a former gang leader turned activist.
The science bit of The Uncertainty Experts is integrated throughout the screening of the live documentary. The audience is invited to answer many questions online and take part in a number of pointed experiments. After three weeks and three episodes, each audience member receives a summary relating to themselves and their tolerance for uncertainty before and after taking part. Unlike watching a regular documentary, it’s highly personalised and you come away feeling like you’ve been drawn out of your comfort zone in a good way.
Perhaps one of the most striking elements of the project is feeling that you’re part of a community while watching the film and tackling the tasks you’re set. Throughout the screenings you have access to a live message board where you can see the reactions of other participants, and over the three weeks you get a strong cumulative sense of how others have been reacting to the project. It’s a project that takes some faith and is suited to people who are willing to take a chance on an initiative whose real value only becomes clear when you’ve spent some good time with it. The case studies of uncertainty are alone worth your time and the price of the ticket, but it’s possible you’ll learn things about yourself you really weren’t expecting.
The Uncertainty Experts will screen online for a limited number of ticket holders on Tuesdays November 9, 16 and 23, with three screenings daily so you can choose a screening best suited to your schedule and timezone.
Time Out is a media partner of The Uncertainty Experts and has arranged a discount on tickets with the organisers. Go to uncertaintyexperts.com and use the discount code TIMEOUT to access £39 tickets which give you access to the full project and all three screenings (full-price tickets are £149).