Who really is the man behind the bow tie?
That is the question directors Jason Sussberg and David Alvarado have set out to answer with their latest project, The Bill Nye Film, which spotlights the beloved television host.
Affectionately referred to as Bill Nye the Science Guy by those who grew up in the ’90s (and those who ever took an elementary school science class), the former mechanical engineer has long been a source of inspiration for Sussberg and Alvarado.
The duo, who met as graduate film students at Stanford University, became fast friends thanks to a mutual interest in science and technology. Eventually Sussberg and Alvarado collaborated on the documentary The Immortalists, which focused on a scientist attempting to reverse the aging process. “We were fascinated,” Alvarado tells PEOPLE about making the film. “It grew into this whole thing where we realized ‘Wow, our main interest is sort of a place where science meets society.'”
When it came time to decide on their next project, Nye immediately came to mind, given the scientist’s proven impact on pop culture through the years (his recent reemergence following the Ken Ham evolution debate and a stint on Dancing with the Stars included).
The Bill Nye Film, currently in production and slated to premiere in 2017, has its own Kickstarter page. With less than two weeks to go, the directors are hoping to crowdsource a total of $650,000 before their Aug. 13 deadline. As of today, the duo have wrangled over 7,000 supporters who have pledged $365,019.
The men have two clear goals for their project: First and foremost, they want to give viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the charismatic “science guy”; secondly, they hope to carry on Nye’s mission (“to change the world with science”) of making important information – on climate change, for example – digestible to the masses.
“We want to take his message and put it on a loudspeaker,” Sussberg tells PEOPLE. “There’s a lot of people over the age of 40 who don’t know about Bill Nye, and there’s a whole generation of people that need access to his story.”
As for who the man behind the bow tie really is, the film’s directors assure us The Bill Nye Film will give fans an intimate look at Nye the science guy and the Washington, D.C., native who also happens to be a “big baseball fan.”
“For the most part, he really, truly is the man that you see on TV,” says Sussberg. “He is a man who is fascinated by the construction of a chair, but also really pumped about the way a coffee maker works or how contacts function. He really is a person who is in awe of life, the cosmos and everything.”