Q: So, what is Fantastic Fungi all about?

A: So glad you asked. Fantastic Fungi started as a short film created by two eco-warriors and long-time friends, Louie Schwartzberg and Dr. Paul Stamets.

Louie is the only filmmaker who has been shooting time-lapse of nature for over 30 years, and Paul is the leading mycologist in his field, studying fungi for nearly half a century. They joined forces with a pioneer in alternative medicine, Dr. Andrew Weil, to create an inspirational and educational short to shift our perception and understanding of fungi.

After launching the short, we quickly realized there was a global community of passionate Mycophiles who wanted to know more about the astounding possibilities inherent in mycelium. From foodies to foragers, from scientists to seekers, our small following “mushroomed” into a full-fledged community of fungi fanatics. So, we decided to keep creating.

Fantastic Fungi has evolved into this community site, which will be a rich resource of content and thought leadership for all things fungi, and the vehicle for the launch of our Kickstarter Campaign (coming in October 2014) to produce a full-length feature film.

Q: A movie about mushrooms?

A: YES! An artistically-shot, scientifically-sound, life-affirming film about mycelium, the incredible, intelligent network at our feet that has the proven ability to restore our ecosystem, repair our health and resurrect our symbiotic relationship to nature. Fantastic Fungi aspires to be an educational, inspirational and ultimately critical film that explores the uses and benefits of fungi as alternatives to allopathic medicine, as a solution to our gravest environmental challenges, and as a tool for consciousness expansion. The research, discoveries and antidotal evidence we’ve gathered is astounding, particularly when shared through Louie’s lens.

Q: How can mushrooms help heal our environment and our health?

The state of our soil and the state of our health are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they are intrinsically linked.

Mycelium is an intelligent life force – an underground network that transfers the right nutrients to the right plants to ensure optimal vitality and nutrient density.The Mycelium network is a superhighway of vital “information” between the natural world and it helps detoxify, purify and recycle soil to ensure plants can grow in the most nutrient-rich conditions. When the life activity of mycelium is compromised – perhaps over farming, pesticide poisoning, drought, or other environmental conditions – this negatively impacts the health of the soil, which effects the nutrient density of our food. Over time, this has negative implications for our health. As we lose biodiversity, especially with fungi, we begin to unravel the very food networks that have given us life. If we repair the soil, we will improve the nutrient quality of our food supply, leading to improved health.

Q: Why are you doing a Kickstarter Campaign instead of going through a major studio?

Kickstarter has proven to be a viable platform to raise awareness and galvanize people at a grass-roots level. It also gives us important, real-time insights into market research that will help our marketing team, producers and editors make decisions to ensure the success of the film. Through crowd-sourced funding, we are able to maintain creative control while empowering citizens to “vote with their dollar” for the kind of art they want to see in the world. There is symbolism in this approach: Like fungi itself, it’s an experiment that connects us all, gives autonomy to the creator and power to the community.

Q: So, how can I help? What can I do today to make a positive impact using mushrooms?

1. Become aware. Sit in nature and explore the ground with your hands. Dig into the soil and unearth the fragrant mycelial lenses.

2. Become informed. Identify 10 edible mushrooms that you can name.

3. Share knowledge. Teach this new discovery to children. Go for a walk in the woods, and point out that mushrooms come from invisible network just below the surface of the soil and that these fungi create the very soil that give us life. Be sure to explain that some mushrooms are NOT safe to eat!

4. Be a mentor. Explain to a child the meaning of symbiosis, and how we live in a symbiotic relationship with nature.

5. Become a gourmand. Prepare and share a meal with wild, hand-picked mushrooms. Find a delicious recipe (start here) and surrender to the fragrant, mouth-watering culinary delight. Share your mushroom knowledge over dinner.

6. Grow your own. Buy a mushroom growing kit and create an edible landscape that enriches your soil.

7. Become an locavore. Shop at local farmer’s markets and support organic farming.

8. Become a naturalist. Visit your natural pharmacies, alternative healers and vitamin shops for natural alternatives to pharmaceuticals.

9. Become curious. Google “mycelium for the environment”, search TED.com, visit FungiPerfecti.com, and whet your appetite at Mycophilia.com, to name just a few. There’s no end to the amount of information you will discover if you’re curious.

10. Become Inspired. View mushrooms like you’ve never seen them before here and here.

Still have a burning question left unanswered?