Open Sourcing the Brain

Filmmaker Q&A with Director Dan Hayes

Please provide a brief description of the work or organization featured in your video:

OpenBCI specializes in creating low-cost, high-quality biosensing hardware for brain computer interfacing. Their arduino compatible biosensing boards provide high resolution imaging and recording of EMG, ECG, and EEG signals. Their devices have been used by researchers, makers, and hobbyists in over 60+ countries as brain computer interfaces to power machines and map brain activity.


What motivated you to make this film?

My motivation to make this video was, in part, to help people understand the power of open sourcing. At a time when technology is rapidly progressing, the OpenBCI team is helping to create tools that everyone can use. That’s powerful.


Please list key points that should be covered in a post-screening discussion:

What’s the point of this video?
What did you learn?
Did it make you think about the topic in a new way? How?


Please provide information on any recent developments regarding the issue or subjects of the film. How have things changed or not changed?

OpenBCI has had an additional successful kickstarter campaign and they’re continuing to develop new products for supporters. They regularly attend conferences around the world to share their insights and products.


What opportunities are available for those interested in getting further involved?

To discover more stories like this, sign up at To learn more about OpenBCI visit:


Please provide any additional resources (websites, links to additional videos, forms, articles, etc.):,,


Is there a particular documentary film or filmmaker that had a major influence on your career?

The Maysles Brothers and their pioneering cinema verite work had a profound impact on my approach to filmmaking. The foundation of a good piece starts with respecting your subject for who they are.


Please tell us what camera(s) you shot with primarily – and any other special equipment that you used and why you used it.

We use the Sony PXW-FS7 and do a lot of pre-production for our stories.


Please share a personal story about your experience making this film.

Loved how Joel’s dog worked himself into this piece.


Please tell us about any special styles or techniques that you used during the production of your film to help tell your story.

We use extensive pre-interviews and put together a Script and Storyboard before we arrive to help our production team understand the vision for a piece. This allows us to help our subjects speak in an authentic voice but also helps us focus before we start editing.


How did your story evolve from day one, to the very last day in post? Is your story what you thought it would be?

Pretty close! We decided to send another shooter to a conference that we didn’t originally plan for. We thought it was important to see the guys out in the field, engaging with others passionate about their technology.


Please describe the most rewarding experience you had while making this film. 

Interacting with Conor and Joel was great – they are kinda nerdy but super thoughtful and our interview was wide ranging. It was a great experience.


What advice can you give to other impact filmmakers?

Give yourself a deadline and make stuff! When I started, I did a lot of slideshows with music, short wedding videos and entered contests. All these things helped me build my skills.


What’s your favorite part about the filmmaking process and why?

Interacting with the people we are profiling. Everyone has an interesting story and being a filmmaker allows me to meet new and interesting people with different passions. Basically it’s a dream job.


What’s the one item you always take with you when working out in the field and why? 

I always bring my iPhone which has a meditation app called Headspace on it. Every evening before a shoot, I iron my clothes and lay them out, I print all my questions and release forms and the next morning, I wake up early and meditate to get myself in the right mindset. I feel like this helps me stay calm and present with the people I’m interacting with.


What have you learned about the value and impact of the project?

Human beings have an incredible ability to find new solutions and drive progress. It’s made so crystal clear by the people in these stories. It is a privilege for us to be able to capture that.



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