Although I wrote First Launch, the sequel to First Signal in 2021, I always felt there was a story between the two. With First Signal set in the year 2014 and First Launch in 2016, I started to wonder what happened in the year 2015. It was when I was at First Signal’s last screening in July at the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center that the idea came to me. I am therefore pleased to announce:
A reporter’s discovery of a secret meeting between three world leaders could spell the end of life as we know it with the revelation of an alien power on Earth.
I must have subconsciously planted the idea in First Signal, because that’s where it came from. At the beginning of the film, Elisabeth Seward, the President’s National Security Advisor, makes the following observation to Major Ellen Sampson:
When I first mentioned the idea to a few of the actors in First Signal, at first it was going to be a short film —a simple bridge between First Signal and First Launch. But as I started to write it, I soon realized there was more story here than I thought.
While First Report revolves around Kate Cloverton’s investigation into the President’s schedule that leads to the discovery of secret meeting between three world leaders, it’s the actions of those in her orbit that gives the story the gravitas it needs to propel Cloverton’s story.
In First Report we see the President caught between the balance of terrestrial and extraterrestrial affairs, while General Reager’s Operation Troy is still getting a handle on who and what this alien presence on Earth is all about. But we then learn more about this alien power through James Griffin and the real-world issue and fears it’s creating for Major Sampson. In effect, the idea for a short story turned into a two-continent epic.
First Report is probably the most ambitious, intense and detailed story I have ever written. Taking six months to research and write, First Report is a political thriller backgrounded in science fiction. The crux of the plot surrounds itself with the very issues and questions we ask ourselves every day – are we alone in the universe and if not, is the government keeping us in the dark. If the latter, how is it being done and who is involved.
Developing a new science fiction franchise from scratch is no easy task. For me it’s constantly telling myself to “be original” and to pay homage where it makes sense to do so. I endeavor to continuously twist and turn a story as the narrative highway is being built. As Kate Cloverton says in First Report when she is walking down a dirt road to face the truth of her investigation, “Not exactly yellow brick is it.”
With First Signal produced and First Report and First Launch completed as screenplays, my efforts will start to turn towards development. At 193 pages, First Report is either two films or a limited series. The series route does seem to be where things are trending in the streaming world. Of course, only time will tell where the First World Universe will ultimately go.
While this year is coming to a close, this was the first year that my concept for a new sci-fi franchise was realized with the release of First Signal. This time last year I stated on this blog that I was going to start planning for the theatrical and VOD release of First Signal. I didn’t wait for permission or public consensus, I just set the goals accordingly and executed the plan. The result was the world premiere at the Greenfield Garden Cinemas on March 26, 2021 followed by our VOD release through Indie Rights on April 26, 2021. Like an icebreaker charting unknown Arctic waters, moving forward was the only course.
With six theatrical/event screenings along with a multi-platform VOD release, 2021 worked out well for First Signal. With over 17 film festival awards and an estimated 500,000 views, I could not be more pleased with First Signal’s results to date. Although I was hopeful when I set out to create First Signal, there are so many unknowns when making a film never mind releasing one. Yes, there is a captain at the helm of a film, but without a dedicated cast, crew and audience, a project will just sit in port. If there is one thing I learned throughout this process, it’s about continuing to market and promote after the initial release.
As for continuing, when I was at First Signal’s screening at the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center in July, I mentioned to a few in attendance my idea for a sequel. I had already written First Launch that was set two years after the events in First Signal. However, I always felt there was a story in between those years.
With the idea now in mind, I started to write. What I thought was going to be a relatively simple storyline, turned into a multi-faceted political thriller that transcends two continents. While the story is a large one, I did write it with an eye to produce it. Having produced Justice Is Mind (with a sizable cast and multiple locations), and First Signal (a tight story with a handful of actors), this next installment in the First World Universe involves a bit of both production techniques. Look for an announcement on title and logline shortly.
This past year introduced SOS United States to the film festival circuit. With over 10 awards to date, SOS is receiving some wonderful attention from the industry. SOS is one of those projects that I would simply love to see come to life on the silver screen. Of course there’s the story itself, but for me it’s seeing the return of the Concorde and SS United States in all their grandeur. There was a moment in time when we had a choice to travel by supersonic air or in transatlantic luxury by sea. Thankfully, with Cunard Line, the latter is still with us.
One thing I enjoyed the most this past year was the theatrical and event screenings we had for First Signal. While those have been challenging since last year, I’m proud to say that they were accomplished. Seeing those that helped bring First Signal to life and meeting audiences that came to support the film, meant the world to me. While I have sadly learned that one the theaters that has screened most of my films is closing, I will forever remember the wonderful memories of those events. Thankfully, they are immortalized in pictures.
I think we can all agree that these last two years have been challenging. But the world has faced challenges before and has come through brighter than ever. They say there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Well, another thing I’ve learned over the last couple of years, is that there are many lights in the tunnel if we just take the time to look. Remember,
“The business of life is the acquisition of memories,” Mr. Carson, Downton Abbey
A New Year