As I near the halfway mark on my first edit of SOS United States, I take the same process with the edit of a novel as I do with my screenplays. With the first draft of anything I write, I reread the copy at least twice so when I complete a project, it’s relatively clean—at least that’s the goal.
But sure enough, when I let a draft sit for a few days before I go back for a first edit, I pick up a variety of things that have been missed, don’t make sense, or just need to be reworked. But this, of course, is a good thing. Generally, my aim is to have a solid manuscript complete before it goes off to an editor.
I cannot stress the importance of retaining a good editor. This should be a person who is great at their craft, enthusiastic to read your work and will provide solid feedback (good, bad, or indifferent). Nothing is worse than reading a book, screenplay, or article that you can tell hasn’t been properly edited. Many years ago, I withdrew from an acting project as the filmmaker missed a glaring plot hole in his screenplay. When I brought it to his attention, he didn’t want to hear about it. It wasn’t worth being part of that project just for the sake of getting some footage for my reel.
Speaking of film, Facebook reminded me of a memory from my first feature film Justice Is Mind. In the movie, one of the primary characters states that “Thought Identification Procedure,” aka mind reading, was approved by Congress in 2023. Although Congress has yet to approve such a procedure, I must wonder just how far along this technology is from a science fact point of view.
When I do my weekly search on “mind reading technology” articles for Justice Is Mind’s Facebook page, it’s clear that this technology is pretty far along. Even if the video memory component isn’t as developed as it is in the film, it’s certainly moving in that direction. Perhaps, at some point, I will revisit with the experts researching this technology. The sequel to Justice Is Mind, In Mind We Trust, addresses numerous ethical issues that these present-day articles are reporting. But one thing is certain, we know that science fiction has often led to science fact.
Finally, while visiting Newport yesterday for a Cars & Coffee event, I found I had some extra time on my hands and visited a museum I’ve never been to before – The Newport Art Museum. This architectural gem with its variety of artwork in numerous mediums, is a must-see. I was particularly impressed with the Conflict and Remember exhibit along with galleries at the Cushing Memorial Gallery. Although I only had an hour to explore, plan to spend two.
There is something very satisfying about being at the near halfway mark in the novelization of SOS United States. First, this particular writing exercise has enabled me to not only get very close to this story but to enhance it accordingly. Some areas in the screenplay that I believe will work well on the silver screen, really needed to be expanded on in this forum.
One thing I have learned in a screenplay, versus a book, are the constraints of time. Generally, a screenplay is anywhere from 90-120 pages. I promise you there is no right or wrong length. Screenplays need what they need to tell a story. By example Justice Is Mind was 120 pages (2 hours/33 minutes) while First Signal was just 82 (1 hour/42 minutes).
While I’m not sure where the novelization of SOS United States will conclude page wise, it does seem to be moving in the right direction (as an aside, the associated screenplay is 120 pages). Of course, I have already thought about the marketing aspects of the book once the manuscript is completed. However, I have tabled any action on those elements for now as I don’t want the distraction. Simply, while I do have the script to keep the story on track, there are too many elements in SOS United States that warrant undivided creative attention.
On another front, First Signal continues to perform well in the VOD world. I can’t believe it will be two years in April that the film was released – four years since the film was produced! As the film is still performing financially, with Tubi receiving the most traffic, I still continue to market the title.
Sadly, I see so many filmmakers “forget” their past projects while working on something new. While I understand the need and want to move on to the next, it is the past that brought us to these points. Honestly, weekly social media posts and some paid advertising (if the revenues warrant it) are well worth it when the quarterly checks arrive from the distributor.
I am asked on a weekly basis by First Signal’s fans when I plan to put the sequel into production. This I can promise, once the first draft of SOS United States is completed, I can revisit the First World Universe and the sequel First Report. The key with First Report is that it is actually two films (Part 1 and 2) or a limited series (several episodes). Regardless of how/when it’s completed, it’s nice to know that there’s an audience waiting to see it. I just hope it doesn’t take as long as Avatar (15 years)!
There is an aspect of First Signal and the greater First World Universe that keeps this story front and center. That is the ever-increasing reports on UFOs, UAP’s and the like. Just two weeks ago the Pentagon released a long-awaited report about this phenomena that stated, according to Space.com, “171 reported UAP sightings remain “uncharacterized and unattributed.”
Just what makes up these 171 sightings? We aren’t talking about 1 or 2 or even a couple of dozen. At 171 there is every reason to believe that there is validity, not only to what I postulate in First Signal, but to other stories that revolve around the UFO universe. Two questions beg an answer.
Have extraterrestrials visited us? If they have, are they still here?