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Creativity spotlight: Santa Barbara filmmaker co-produces new PBS documentary focused on innovators

MaaiaMark Productions
Documentary producers Levi Maaia and Noah Mark at work on their project Pathways to Invention, which is now available on PBS broadcast and streaming platforms.

Pathways to Invention looks at outside of the box innovators trying to tackle some of the problems and issues the world is facing.

A new documentary produced by a Santa Barbara filmmaker celebrates innovation and creativity, looking at how some people have tried to take on some of the issues facing the world.

"Pathways to Invention is a film that profiles ten different invention teams, and 12 different primary inventors, and the journey they took from identifying a problem early in their careers, and where that led, as far as a solution," said Levi Maaia. He and Noah Mark teamed up to produce the documentary, which premiered this month on PBS.

"One of the main themes of Pathways to Invention is embracing failure," said Mark. "It's a common theme of all the inventors who are profiled in the film. Levi and I thought that was really interesting in getting all of their stories of how they embraced failure, and learned from it."
Maaia said one of the innovative efforts spotlighted is how a 3D printer is used to replace part of a damaged eardrum, restoring hearing to people who've lost or in some cases didn't have it.

The filmmakers said the documentary is much more than a project showcasing innovative projects. They hope it serves as inspiration to all of us, to show what we can do if we work hard on a project, and aren’t afraid of failure.

Mark said we can all be problem solvers. "Everyone has a dream, something they would like to achieve. In telling the individual stories of each inventor, you can tell a much bigger picture about human ingenuity and perseverance," said Mark. He said in the film, some of the innovators met obstacles or failures. That changes the question to how you get around it.

Maaia and Mark are hoping the documentary may open the door to a series under the Pathways to Invention banner.

It’s already aired on KQED, the public television station serving the Central Coast. It will air at 6 and 11 pm Tuesday on PBS SoCal World, and is available through the PBS website.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.