PhD Movie: Kickstarter for a sequel

Do you know! If you don’t, you should definitely check it out. If you already know it, you know how awesome and sometimes scarily acurate they can be.

In 2011, they did an independent movie based on the comics. “The PHD Movie, based on Piled Higher and Deeper (, featured real grad students and scientists in many of the lead roles (including producer and director), and was screened at over 500 Universities and Research Centers worldwide (including Antarctica!) during its release.”

In the beginning of this month, its creator Jorge Cham, announced that they were starting a kickstarter campaign in order to found a sequel: The PHD Movie 2: Still in Grad School. And I think that it’s a brilliant idea, and for the first time ever contributed to a campaign.


During this month, you can watch the first movie free on their website: phdmovie.

If you’re a grad student or part of academia somehow, you can relate to some or most of the topics in this movie, here are some key points:

  • Some subjects are tabu: “So, how’s research going? Don’t you know you’re never supposed to ask a grad student that question? It’s just rude!” “How’s your thesis going?” “Come on, why don’t you ask her weight and age while you’re at it! Gosh!!!”
  • You’ll sometimes feel like an imposter: “I’ll let you in on a little secret: around here, everyone is an imposter”
  • It’s OK to have no idea what to do afterwards: “I mean, what happens when I graduate? I can’t get a professor job anywhere. These jobs only open up when someone dies.” “I can’t go into industry. What have I been working all this time for? I’d be selling out, like… like…” “Like a regular person?”

  • “You don’t get credit for having a life.” – You should still try to have one and not feels guilty all the time.
  • You might think that you failed your professor, but remember… “he probably doesn’t think about you that much.”

  • You publish or you perish… “You ever wonder what the point is?” “Eh. Not really.” “I mean about this research we do. We publish so that people can give us more money so that we can do more research so that we can publish more! Ad infinitum!” “Ad nauseum.” “See, I thought that I was gonna be working on big problems, but it seems like I’m just working on a subproblem of a subproblem of a subproblem.” “We’re all just research tools.” “I don’t wanna be here forever, like…, like…” “Me?”

  • Cynicism is key! “Nobody believes anything in academia. That’s the whole point. Evidence is king. The only thing you take for granted is that there’ll be another grant.” 
  • You’re there because you want to! “Life is tough. And then you graduate. Everybody’s here because they want to be here. There’s nothing reasonable about pursuing a life of reason.”

  • You are NOT ALONE! “It’s easy in research to get tunnel vision. You feel isolated, like you’re the only person with your problem. But the truth is” “you’re not alone. But whenever I get stressed I just ask myself the question:” “Do I really care?” “Would I rather be doing anything else? You’re not a machine. You have to embrace the things you’re passionate about.” “Every great idea, every great moment of “Eureka!”, came when It was least expected. Google,” “Facebook, Newton and gravity, Einstein and relativity, all of these things happened when they weren’t doing what they were supposed to be doing. When they were following their passion.” “Procrastinating.”

  • In which 50% do you wanna be? “Are you guys graduate students? This is for my thesis. I’m studying why there’s a fifty percent dropout rate amongst PhD students. That means that two out of every four graduate students will never graduate. But I know that there’re a lot of issues that I should be really concerned about, especially as a graduate student, because, you know, no one’s really going to be you advocate. So. How’s Research?”