The Film

Looking Up, Way Up! The Burt Rutan Story is feature-length documentary spanning Burt Rutan’s life, career and legendary contributions to the field of aviation and beyond.

Few industrial designers have been as prolific or audacious as Rutan. His 45-year body of work reads like science fiction and encompasses 45-flown designs, including Voyager, the first aircraft to circle the globe without refueling. In the early 1970s Rutan’s revolutionary home-built plans made it possible to build a remarkable airplane in your living room with a set of step-by-step instructions. He went on to launch the age of space tourism with SpaceShipOne, the first suborbital craft designed to take ordinary people into space.

Burt’s creating yet another groundbreaking aircraft — in his garage.

Today Burt Rutan is building yet another aircraft with the potential to push the boundaries of what’s possible — in his garage. Through footage never seen before and candid interviews with Rutan, his family, colleagues, and adversaries as well as those he’s inspired, the documentary will explore what drives his relentless creativity.

Looking Up, Way Up! The Burt Rutan Story explores the life and career of the complex figure behind the simple innovations that have expanded the boundaries of aviation.

Award-winning makers of film and television formed antennaFILMS in 2000 with the goal of telling compelling stories that celebrate passion and obsession.

They first met Burt Rutan in 2004 when they were asked to produce, write and direct Black Sky: the Race for Space and Black Sky: Winning the X-prize for Vulcan Productions and Discovery Channel. They continued to shoot with Burt over the years and started to film him specifically for this documentary in 2012.

Honored with Peabody Awards, EMMYs, and a Cine Golden Eagle, their work has been featured in international film festivals like Sundance, New York and Berlin and in retrospectives at the Whitney Museum and the Museum of Modern Art.

Dramatic stories from real life.

Their television work includes the Virgin Galactic series about the creation of the world’s first spaceline, the National Geographic series Delta Divers exploring the high-stakes, high-risk world of deep sea diving. Twin City Bridge: After the Collapse, conveys the emotional recovery after the fatal collapse of a major interstate bridge. The Lifetime Original Movie Karaoke Superstars tells of four obsessed young women. Recent projects include a six-part series Loredana, Esq. on Sundance TV, American Haunting for A&E, and commercial work for Land Rover and Grey Goose.  View the Team »

The Team

Patricia Bischetti (Producer) has produced and supervised documentary projects and series for cable and television networks including PBS, WNET, WGBH, Discovery, TBS, TNT, TCM, CNN, American Masters, Lifetime, Starz, Encore and Showtime. A sampling of these include the Emmy Award-winning American Masters Mel Brooks: Make a Noise; the Sundance Film Festival selection and Academy Award-nominated The Last Days in Vietnam; Peabody Award-winning and Emmy-nominated series Craft in America; the Peabody Award-winning Black Sky: the Race for Space.

Bonnie Benjamin-Phariss (Advisor) brings three decades of experience as an award-winning production executive with a proven track record of using storytelling to change opinions and lead people to action. She has worked with the film industry’s greatest brands and creative leaders, including Disney, CNN, HBO, PBS and National Geographic. Bonnie oversaw documentary projects for 14 years at Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Productions, noted for telling powerful stories that help audiences understand the world around them, respond to challenges and bring about lasting change.

Mark Greenberg (Co-Producer) is an award-winning photojournalist, editor and best-selling author. In 1987 he was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for feature photography for his coverage of the Rutan-designed and built round-the-world Voyager aircraft. Mark co-produced the award-winning BBC documentary, Voyager: the World's Longest Flight. Since 1988 Mark has worked with the Virgin Group of companies and Virgin's founder, Sir Richard Branson. He is project photographer for Virgin Galactic, Branson's endeavor to take paying passengers to space.

Aaron Howell (Associate Producer) started in television in 2006 logging for Lifetime’s MERGE and the PBS series Craft in America before moving into research for an installment of the American Masters series. He created a documentary short about activism in New York and earned a Master of Arts degree in news and documentary production at New York University. He survived a season in Antarctica with the Sea Shepards for Animal Planet’s Whale Wars and has worked with antennaFILMS for the past four years on the Virgin Galactic and other projects.

Burt Rutan

From Burt Rutan’s childhood building and competing model airplanes to the inclusion of five of his full-scale designs on permanent display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, his passion, fearless obsession and the conviction to follow his own compass have repeatedly pushed him to achieve what very few thought was even possible.

Burt’s story has the power to inspire a new generation of creative inventors, designers and technologists.

Rutan’s designs are grounded in simplicity as well as science, in the delight of actually making things and the challenge of seemingly unsolvable problems. Each project that he takes on starts as a dream of something that he has yet to see in the world. Not everything he has done has been a total success, but what’s remarkable is his willingness if not drive to keep trying new ways of looking at things.

It’s his nature to question conventional thinking, a trait he shares with some of history’s greatest innovators. His relentless creativity continues to draw other, like-minded people to him. Like most great innovators, Burt surrounded himself with and inspired a remarkable group of collaborators. His gift is to give others some of his sense of wonder and joy in facing the most difficult challenges.