Those of you that follow this blog know my enthusiasm for all things Titanic. From my early introduction to the story of the famed liner by my mother, to visiting exhibitions in the United Kingdom and United States, to a visit to the Titanic Historical Society last year, I’m always on the lookout for a new experience about the ship and that time in history.
A few months ago I learned about “Titanic: The Exhibition” in New York City. Although I’ve attended traveling exhibitions before, this one was presented differently. From striking visuals to unique artifacts and touching stories of passengers and crew that I never knew; this exhibition took visitors from the concept of “Olympic Class Ships” to the aftermath of the sinking and discovery of the wreck. A well-presented audio guide takes visitors on the journey.
What I particularly enjoyed was the recreation of the Titanic’s interior, from a first-class hallway, the wireless room along with a first and third class cabin, each was meticulously recreated bringing the visitor back in time to experience it for themselves. Titanic: The Exhibition has extended its tour in New York. If you plan to visit, I highly recommend the VIP ticket. For an extra $10 you receive fast-track entry, complimentary use of the cloakroom along with a souvenir photograph (we also received a booklet).
Following on the theme of ocean liners, I am nearing the end in the novelization of SOS United States. I honestly have thoroughly enjoyed this writing experience. It not only has provided me the opportunity to get closer to the story, but has enabled me to expand it where it needed to go. Yes, it still follows the screenplay, but where I was able to take it while still staying on the original track, I did so. The first draft should be completed in a couple of weeks.
One thing I’m thankful for, and this wasn’t planned, was the recent books I’ve been reading helped with background and terminology. Raven Rock, Area 51 and Surprise, Kill, Vanish, all had elements that have made SOS United States a stronger story. From the continuity of government communications infrastructure to the Gold Codes of the President, to some other details of executive branch operations, the research that has gone into those books, will be properly referenced and thanked in SOS United States.
Speaking of the military and government, when I was in New York City for the Titanic exhibit, I had time to visit the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. For those of us that remember when those terrorist attacks took place, we also remember where we were and what they meant to us. It was a time when we came together as Americans to unite against a stateless foe that needed to be obliterated.
Walking through the memorial brought back such a feeling of dread and sadness for the victims of the tragedy and the devastation it took on our nation. But it also reminded me about the goodness, self-sacrifice and determination to move forward in the face of adversity that makes the United States one of the greatest countries on earth.
During my visit, I heard one of the docents mention that she was in one of the towers on that fateful day. I hesitated to ask her what it was like, but when I did her succinct steady and steadfast account from the moment tragedy struck to the minute she walked back into her apartment that evening, gave all of us that listened the knowledge that the will and strength of the American people is what drives this great nation.
We the People—will never forget.
I’ve never been one that subscribes to the “new year new me” mentality. You are either going to do something or you aren’t. If you lack motivation, no date on the calendar is going to change that. I simply use the beginning of any new year to start new projects along with matters of housekeeping.
Throughout any given year I tend to accumulate a variety of notes and related ideas to projects I’m working on or plan to work on. For me the week between Christmas and New Year’s is when I do a good amount of organizing. Some things I calendar to act on, others I archive for future reference—an idea I had yesterday, might not be for today but may be for a future tomorrow.
One project that is moving along nicely is the novelization of SOS United States. I’m presently just past the one third mark. In my view the story is transferring well from screenplay to novel. I do find that I’m able to nicely expand on certainly parts of the story that, for matter of running time, just can’t be fit into a feature film.
I can certainly understand the cry from audiences when a favorite book of theirs is transferred to the silver screen and is lacking key moments of plot and/or character development. Generally, the process goes novel first followed by the screenplay. In the case of SOS United States, it’s the opposite. When the draft is complete (still aiming for end of March), it will largely mirror the screenplay with some narrative enhancements.
But as I’ve done with the production of my films (and former publishing company), I’m not waiting forever for someone to publish. For those of us that call ourselves creatives, nothing is worse than the waiting game for acknowledgement. I’ve known actors that have been working at the craft for years and are still waiting for a breakout role. Similarly, I know screenwriters still pitching their scripts in the hope that someone will produce. The same of course is true for writers that want to see their book published.
This isn’t to say that you go broke and produce on your own. One does need some sort of recognition that their craft is worthy before investing your own dollars. In the case of my magazine publishing work, I was involved in figure skating for years and worked at a newsweekly. It was just a matter of the doing (and praying!). As for filmmaking, I had been around the craft through the production of direct response commercials for my publishing company along with my numerous on-camera appearances. Like most that venture into filmmaking, I started with short films before producing features. Even then, I had to make sure I could produce on what I could afford. Self-publishing a book is certainly not an issue. It’s about quality and, of course, distribution and marketing.
In all the aforementioned cases, there was experience and award recognition from festivals. If I didn’t have a combination of both, I don’t believe I would have pushed these ventures to reality. As creatives we certainly have an ego to satisfy. Any creative telling you otherwise, really isn’t speaking truthfully. But I do believe an ego needs to be checked to a degree. In the case of SOS United States the screenplay has been very fortunate to receive several awards and nominations. Now, it’s the process of transferring the story to a book.
Speaking of books, I just finished reading another one of Annie Jacobsen’s masterpieces – Area 51: An Uncensored History of America’s Top Secret Military Base. This is the second book of hers I’ve read (the first was Operation Paperclip). Jacobsen’s books are not only brilliantly written, but wonderfully investigated into a final piece of work that is both intelligent and approachable to those that want insight into the secret world of government cover-ups and intrigue.