Creating a new screenplay from scratch is a process. While I have the latest installment of the “First World Universe” in title, logline and ending, coming up with a beginning and letting the characters “talk” to me while I create their world is not easy. But as I just passed the page 15 mark, the story is starting to nicely unfold.
This story takes place a year after the events in First Signal and a year before the events in First Launch. What I’m already seeing in the story is just how interwoven all these characters are in society. Although President Colton and General Reager are larger than life figures, their respective humanity comes through to understand why they do what they do. Likewise, we will see what truly drives this reporter. It’s not just to get a story. Then we see how an alien presence on Earth just actually does integrate itself among the population.
From a production point of view, this story will be larger than First Signal but smaller in scope than First Launch (which truly does require a multi-million-dollar budget). I’m writing this particular story with the aim of producing it myself. It will mean securing the right locations for believability and impact but having been down this route with two features and other projects I know it’s doable.
What’s exciting from a writing perspective, because I’ve seen certain of these characters come to life in First Signal, it does make it easier to write them as their motivations have largely already been seen. But then there are always those areas of character that have yet to be explored and discovered. I’m molding the Reporter character from a few real-life reporters I have known personally. One is obsessed at getting the story and will literally call and knock on every door to get it. Another is more methodical. To achieve their goal, each step is well thought out, researched and investigated. Finally, there is the one that is looking for fame—hopefully with a strong set of ethics as a guiding hand.
After so many years of work the “First World Universe” is no longer a dream, it’s a reality with the launch of First Signal this past March. As First Signal continues its distribution and marketing plan, another story unfolds.
“These, whatever they are, started at the G-7 last year. Her daily intelligence meetings are well documented along with other state matters. But these blocks of time just aren’t explained.” Kate Cloverton, The Washington Herald
With the trailer edited and scored, we are in the rollout phase as the color grading commences. As each day passes we are rolling closer and closer to the day when the trailer for First Signal is released. I don’t think I’ve prepared nearly as much for the release of any of my film projects. Yes, Justice Is Mind was obviously important to me, but with First Signal being my first feature film in the “First World Universe,” I want to make sure I reach who I need to reach.
When I was talking to an acting friend this past week, we started to talk about certain sci-fi series and movies and what we do and don’t like. For me, I’m not so much into spectacle but story. I’d rather watch a solid story than things getting blown up. Yes, sometimes you need to blow something up, but I feel it should be done within the context of the story, not just for show and tell.
Last weekend we had First Signal’s ADR session. Watching these talented actors bring their characters back was nice to see. It was also an opportunity to show them the trailer and opening credits. Aside from some stills, they haven’t had the chance to see anything since we wrapped last July. I know when I’m part of a project as an actor I anxiously await to see what the product will look like.
With audio complete, the provisional score nearly done, VFX being built and the film close to a lock, I can almost see the light at the end of the post-production tunnel. But this is where all the details come up. From polishing the edit and score, finishing the VFX, sound mixing and color grading, creating a film is an arduous task and all about project management.
One of my favorite “TV” series these past few years has been The Man in the High Castle on Amazon. The entire production on both sides of the camera was first rate. When I started to write the sequel to First Signal it dawned on me the character of Major Sampson could parallel Juliana Crain. In High Castle, Crain was instrumental in the resistance movement and played all sides to achieve her goals. In the sequel to First Signal, Sampson finds herself torn between three worlds – the President of the United States, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Cedric Yonah the Premier of the Synedrion Council. As of this morning I just hit the sixty-page mark and I think I know how I want it to end. I think!
As for films that have a military storyline, I saw 1917 last weekend. I can’t say enough great things about this film. From filming the entire story in one continuous shot, to the production values and acting, 1917 was truly a delight. The cinematography alone is reason enough to see this film. I can only imagine the pre-production planning!
I was reading an email newsletter this morning and the author talked about having to love the journey not only as a writer but as it pertained to sales. As a screenwriter, there is that moment when you feel these characters talking back to you as you type their dialogue and action their elements. When you’re filming your screenplay, you see these characters come to life. When you’re watching your story on the silver screen or your TV, you know you’ve made a sale. There is something immensely satisfying being in the lobby of a theatre when someone asks to buy a ticket to your film. Equally when you get notice that your film has been streamed.
The journey is a long one, with many highways and exits ahead. But it’s a journey that I have loved since I wrote my first screenplay in grade school.
Stay the course.