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First Draft

The first draft of SOS United States is complete.

Last Thursday I finished the first draft of the novelization of SOS United States. At just over 80,000 words, the process of converting a screenplay to a novel has been an interesting, rewarding and challenging experience—but one that I look forward to doing again.

One thing I learned throughout this exercise is that you get much closer to the characters and the world they live in with a book. Instinctively I knew this of course, but it is different when you are the one writing it and exploring the story in this medium. While this first draft largely resembles the script, it did depart from some elements as I felt the story was taking me in some new directions.

As I was approaching the last several pages of the script, I realized I needed to expand the story and give it more gravitas. When I think about it, I believe I kept the original ending in the screenplay tight as I was thinking about the production budget. In outline, the book mirrors the screenplay, but I believe the expanded ending will give the reader a more satisfying conclusion to the story and characters (I hope!).

When I finished the first draft last week, I had to take a break from it for a few days before I started the editing process. Looking back at my notes, I’ve been writing nearly every day since November. To clear my creative slate, I need to step out of that world for a bit. But it’s an exciting time as I now have another project to complete, publish and market.

First Signal continues to soar.

Speaking of the market, Indie Rights, First Signal’s distributor, sent the 2022 4th quarter reports and royalty payments last weekend. To see First Signal still going strong two years after its release is beyond gratifying.

One thing that is now very clear to me is that First Signal, along with the First World Universe, has a sizable following that wants to see the next installment in the story. Over the course of any given week, we receive encouraging emails and comments across a wide spectrum of demographics.

Market research into any new product, particularly a film, is both time-consuming and expensive. Many independent films are passion projects with any hope of profit a distant thought. But First Signal has proven that it is possible to be both passionate and profitable.

With the warm weather approaching (albeit slowly here in New England), the Audrain Automobile Museum’s Cars & Coffee events in Newport have returned with over twenty events planned for the season. The variety of vehicles and enthusiasm among the enthusiasts make these gatherings a must attend. To learn more about the Audrain’s Car & Coffee events, please visit this link.

Finally, the world witnessed this week SpaceX’s Starship launch. At 400 feet fully stacked, Starship was about 40 stories tall. Watching a literal skyscraper take off from the launch pad to reach the heights it did was a technological feat and marvel all in one. While I was too young to fully appreciate the Apollo Missions, seeing the world’s largest rocket make history was a day mankind will never forget.

Another step.

SpaceX’s Starship launch

The Second Anniversary

In SOS United States the ocean liner SS Leviathan is modeled after the SS United States

It truly amazes me how fast time flies. I was reminded just over a week ago that First Signal’s second anniversary was on March 26. It was on that date in 2021 when First Signal had its world premiere at the Greenfield Garden Cinemas in Greenfield, MA.  The culmination of years of work premiered on that day. It was a proud day for all of us associated with the creation and production of First Signal.

Since the world premiere, I have been continuously marketing the film, and for good reason – it continues to make money. There was another reason as well, it’s about keeping the brand alive. On YouTube, First Signal has received over 1.3 million views with Tubi yielding over 3 million impressions. Since First Signal turned a profit, it makes sense to continue the marketing program. Particularly, as I’m hoping to put First Report into production soon.

I’m frequently asked by our enthusiastic followers on YouTube just when the next installment of “The First World Universe” will be put into production. If I had my druthers, it would have been last year, but there are so many things that go into the pre-production of a film – the budget being the primary factor followed by the securing of committed talent on both sides of the camera along with quality locations. The timing will certainly come, and I’ll be sure to to provide updates on this blog.

Last weekend I attended a new exhibition at the Audrain Auto Museum in Newport titled “Wonders in Wood, on Land & by Sea.” For so many of us of a certain age group, we fondly remember wooden-bodied station wagons and other vehicles. It was a time in the automotive industry when wood was synonymous with luxury.

While I grew up in the 1970s when the real wood bodied cars faded out in the prior decade, I’ll never forget our Caprice Classic Station Wagon with faux-wood paneling! If memory serves, you could seat nine in that block long beast. Of course, I’m exaggerating the length, but in those days cars were big, long, and very accommodating. It’s great to see museums like the Audrain keep the memory alive. I finally joined the museum as a member and look forward to bringing you reports from their Cars & Coffee events this season.

The novelization of SOS United States is just a few short screenplay pages away from completion. I was hoping to finish on the last day of March, but why push the creative word for a self-imposed deadline when it means a better story in the end (at least in my opinion!). In the novelization, I was able to explore the characters on a deeper level and build out some scenes that I believe make the story a stronger one.

As often happens when I’m nearing the completion of a story, a bit of sadness creeps into the final moments. As writers we live with these characters and the world they live in for so long we really don’t want it to come to an end. I believe it’s natural to see where they may go after the last word has been written. Who knows, if SOS United States is well received, there could be a sequel.

Last chapter.

The Second Anniversary of First Signal was on March 26, 2023