When I set out to write First Signal in 2017 my goal was to simply write a prequel to First World. What I couldn’t have foreseen was the timeliness of the film when it was released in 2021. It was in 2017 when The New York Times suddenly released videos that purported to be UAPs (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena). Provided by Luis Elizondo, who was once the head of the Advanced Aerospace (or Aviation) Threat Identification Program, the videos sparked a media frenzy the world hasn’t seen in decades on this subject.
In early June the head of the U.S. intelligence community along with the secretary of state will be delivering to the U.S. Senate a report on the topic of UAPs also know as UFOs. What will be revealed in that report and what will be disclosed to the public, I’m fairly confident will be two different things. But one thing is certain, the questions on who or what is behind these videos simply will not stop. In fact, any concealment by the government will only further exacerbate the claim that the government is hiding something from the public.
I was about halfway through writing First Signal when these videos were released. While I wanted to include them in the story, I also wanted to broaden the “government coverup” aspect to not only include the central storyline of First Signal, but what the government may or may not do during such a crisis.
In one scene, General Reager states quite clearly that public doesn’t have the right to know the truth, “I call it protecting the people from themselves.” President Colton echoes his position when she states, “There are some matters of state that can’t be disclosed.” Do I believe that this may be the case with the upcoming June report? Who knows. But given present world events, I don’t think those of us that would frankly welcome an alien presence on Earth are going to be told much…if anything.
But putting aside my personal feelings on the matter of UFOs, the media around this subject is most certainly a boon for films like First Signal. As an independent filmmaker we do what we can with the resources we have to attract attention to our projects. Yet we always hope for some sort of outside influence to further propel our films forward. This happened with Justice Is Mind when suddenly “thought identification” technology was in the news during the time the film was released.
One does have to wonder if this report to Congress could create something on the order of an Operation Troy like we see in First Signal. Honestly, if the military knows about an alien presence on Earth or in our solar system, wouldn’t they use every conceivable method at their disposal to fully understand it? Of course they would along with, more than likely, linking with the militaries and intelligence agencies of other countries. They say knowledge is power, but sometimes one must also ask the question, “Do you really want the answers to the questions you seek?”
On a personal level, I do hope in my lifetime we definitively learn that we are not alone in the universe. I truly believe that this knowledge will benefit our planet not hinder it. As Cedric Yonah says in First Signal, “This is a time to study and investigate. Can you imagine what you could learn from them?”
With post-production on First Signal coming to an end, it seemed fitting that I finished a draft of the sequel early last week. Titled First Launch, the story picks up two years after events in First Signal. While First Signal introduced the First World Universe in a very contained environment, First Launch is entirely the opposite. With the majority of primary characters returning, the logline “The President faces a military coup and extrasolar war when a covertly built second generation space shuttle reveals a worldwide military destined to confront an alien presence on Earth,” sets the story shortly before the 2016 Presidential election.
While I’m glad to have finished a draft to the sequel of First Signal, my priority is to see that First Signal properly exits post-production as I plan for general marketing and distribution. As for distribution, this past week I was approached by a theater to have First Signal screen in July. While I normally would have jumped at the opportunity, I honestly can’t commit one way or another until we learn when restrictions are being lifted. I do know one thing, so long as mask requirements (something I vehemently disagree with) are order of the day there’s no point, or joy, in having a theatrical screening. While our governor may employ Orwellian powers in Massachusetts, he has no power or jurisdiction of its citizens outside this tiny state. Thus, I’m looking at screening opportunities outside of New England and the country.
I am, however, considering “attending” the virtual Cannes Marché du Film in June. As the fees are negligible, it certainly doesn’t hurt to try and see what comes of it. There’s no question that by the end of the summer, theaters worldwide will be open and the markets will endeavor to return to some sort of normalcy.
While the large theater chains can tap into a variety of reserves and credit lines, it’s the independent theaters that are most at risk during these perilous times. As their only source of revenue are ticket sales, the real concern in the industry is that some of them just won’t make it and that a vital link for independent films will simply disappear. Unless you have a robust concession, ticket sales alone just don’t carry theaters. Simply, the box office percentage that’s shared with the distributor just varies too greatly between films.
But with every economic upheaval, there is always a revelation of something new or in this case a return. How many of us remember drive-in movie theaters? I remember the days when we would all pile into the car, drive up to a parking spot, place a speaker on the side of the car and watch a film unfold on a giant screen. It’s no surprise, that moviegoers are starting to look at the drive-in as a solid alternative while the traditional theatrical experience is sorted.