Shortly after I completed First Report, I knew it was time for a holiday. After six months of intense research and writing, it was time for a reset! No sooner did a finish my last blog post than I found myself on Expedia booking a trip to Tampa, Florida. While I love the ocean, I’ve never been someone that can plant themselves on a beach all day looking longingly at the horizon for the answers to life. No, I need a holiday that inspires me (I also have family in the region that I was looking forward to visiting).
Suffice to say I found plenty of inspiration with my visit to the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg. This is a museum that I’ve been wanting to see for some time. When I visited the region last year, I simply couldn’t get tickets as they were sold out weeks in advance. But the wait was well worth it.
The surrealism around Dali’s work is nearly impossible to explain as each work yields numerous messages, meanings and emotions. They way he looked at life and transposed those thoughts to art is really something to see. While I’ve toured many museums, this is the first time that I made three trips around the galleries to take in the collection. One thing not to miss are the student artists that study surrealism at the museum. Their work is a must see and wonderfully on par with the world of Dali.
Whenever I travel to a new destination, I always look to see what museums might exist around World War II. The American Victory Ship and Museum answered that search. This was my second visit to this storied vessel that saw service in the Pacific Theater at the end of World War II along with the Korean and Vietnam war. What’s unique about the American Victory is that she is a fully operational seaworthy vessel that still sails a couple of times a year.
We’ve all heard about the famed Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. But while the “Greatest Show on Earth” looks like it’s being retooled for a 2023 comeback, a visit to the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art “The Ringling” is a must see if you are in the region. From the history of the circus world, to the galleries of European paintings, the Ca’ d’Zan (the winter residence of John Ringling), the grounds themselves and so much more – plan for a full and exciting day.
My final destination on this trip was something I was looking forward to since my first visit last year – Kennedy Space Center. The moment you walk onto the campus inspiration is everywhere. On arrival you’re greeted with a waterfall monument with words from President Kennedy – “For the eyes of the world look into space, to the moon and the planets beyond….” It’s fitting that such words are framed with the Space Shuttle external tank and solid rocket boosters in the distance.
Seeing the Space Shuttle Atlantis displayed as if she’s in orbit conducting a mission and then a complete Apollo/Saturn V rocket just reminds me of the wonders that NASA has brought to humanity over the decades. These are people that imagined the impossible and then made it possible. We can only imagine what wonders lie ahead.
But the highlight of my entire holiday was the add-on enhancement I purchased with my ticket – Chat with an Astronaut. This casual get-together consisted of approximately ten enthusiasts like me having a group conversation with an astronaut. It was truly an honor to meet Brian Duffy. A veteran of four space flights, he piloted STS-45 Atlantis and STS-57 Endeavour along with commanding STS-72 Endeavour and STS-92 Discovery. This opportunity to meet an astronaut that offered his insight, experience and enthusiasm for the space program, and all its benefits to Earth, is truly an experience I will never forget.
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?”