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Posts tagged “privacy

National Security

Justice Is Mind will have its Second Anniversary screening on August 18 at Cinemagic in Sturbridge.

Justice Is Mind will have its Second Anniversary screening on August 18 at Cinemagic in Sturbridge.

In preparation for the second anniversary screening of Justice Is Mind on August 18, I’m going to Cinemagic tomorrow to give them the film. They’ll have our theatrical DVD and a DCP (Digital Cinema Package). The DCP was created for us by the Chatham Theatre. Sometime next week they’ll run the DCP test. Out of all the theatres which have screened the film, it looked and sounded the best in this theatre. While I know what the DVDs are capable of, I am looking forward to seeing the film in its highest possible resolution.

Since my last post, art is starting to imitate life. In SOS United States a Cyber Pearl Harbor by China takes out the United States power grid and military satellite communications.  Last week the United States strongly believes that China is behind a cyber-attack that compromised millions of Americans. These weren’t just any Americans, the agencies targeted were the Office of Personal Management (OPM) and the Interior Department.

From the concept trailer of SOS United States. Now working on a concept trailer for In Mind We Trust.

From the concept trailer of SOS United States. Now working on a concept trailer for In Mind We Trust.

As part of the development process of SOS United States, I reached out to the media relations office of the National Security Agency a couple of weeks ago. This is the same process I did for First World when I contacted the Secret Service and the various universities and law schools for Justice Is Mind. For me, as a filmmaker and screenwriter, it’s important to get as many facts straight as possible. I believe adding  reality brings believability and plausibility to a movie.

On a personal note, I have no problem with the work the NSA does. Unless you live under a rock and off the grid, we live in a very complicated world. A world that needs to be monitored for the safety of its citizens. As General Blair says in In Mind We Trust at a Congressional hearing, “Senator don’t talk to me about privacy when most of the planet posts their most intimate details voluntarily. You know as well as I that the next attack on the United States isn’t going to come over the pole as a nuclear device, it’s going to come from a computer.”

In the studio with Chris Denmead.

At WCUW 91.3 FM with Chris Denmead.

Speaking of In Mind We Trust, I am developing a concept trailer along with Justice Is Mind composer Daniel Elek-Diamanta. Originally, I was thinking it would be just about a minute long, but given the scope of the story we are expanding it to over two minutes. The first minute introduces elements in Justice Is Mind that propel the In Mind We Trust storyline.

Continuing with the development process, I was invited on Chris Denmead’s show Radio of Horror on WCUW 91.3 FM a couple of weeks ago. You can listen to the interview at this link where I talk about a wide variety of subjects around filmmaking. I met Chris when he participated in Justice Is Mind during the flashback wedding scene. As I’ve often said, this is an industry of networking and relationships.

Just as this week was coming to an end, I was alerted to this article in the Huffington Post stating “Scientists Can Read Your Mind Using These Images of the Brain”. It was great to read the latest news from Carnegie Mellon University’s research in this area and Dr. Marcel Just’s quotes. As some of you may know, I was inspired to write Justice Is Mind after seeing Dr. Just on a 60 Minutes story in 2009 that talked about ‘thought identification’. Justice Is Mind had the opportunity to screen at Carnegie last year.

Full Circle.

At the Sole Proprietor restaurant. Celebrating my 50th and my mother's 77th birthdays last weekend.

At the Sole Proprietor restaurant. Celebrating my 50th and my mother’s 77th birthdays last weekend.


The Senate

Margaret Miller's book plays a central role in the sequel to Justice Is Mind.

Margaret Miller’s book plays a central role in the sequel to Justice Is Mind.

Having completed up to page 41 on the sequel to Justice Is Mind this morning, I’m now at that point in act two where the characters are starting their journeys in earnest. What’s going to happen to Henri Miller? In the quest to save Henri, what will Margaret Miller find? What do Constance Smith and John Darrow reveal at the congressional hearings? And what has Judge Wagner been appointed to? And these are just the recurring characters from part one. Indeed, when I’m writing I try very hard to not go with the obvious but to present the subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, turns.  As Unsung Films said about Justice Is Mind, “And this is when the film changes gear for one last time, turning into a science fiction tale – unexpectedly and viciously.”

What I have learned with the sequel is that if I can imagine a fictional situation, scary, it seems to exist in some sort of preliminary form. From DNA memory sequencing to secret courts in the United States. Like it or not we now live in a world where technology, privacy and science are all part of our daily lives.  Growing up we yearned for a future of flying cars and a Jetson’s life. But in all actuality, do our homes and lives look any different from the early 1980s? But what has changed since then is how we personally interact on a daily basis. Between social media, the storage of our data and the electronic world we live in, privacy is all but gone (just ask Sony Pictures Entertainment). In the sequel to Justice Is Mind, one particular question will come to light – what’s your right to privacy?

What happens to the characters in the sequel to Justice Is Mind.

What happens to the characters in the sequel to Justice Is Mind.

So while I continue to write the sequel with its variety of twists and turns, this past week was also investor conversations and some interaction with the industry.  Let me just say this to filmmakers looking for funding – don’t be fooled by “bright and shiny” brochures and fancy looking websites with all kinds of claims. Unbelievably, a company that reached out to me last week claimed they invested millions in a slate films. Of course I asked the names of these films for my own due diligence. Sure, but not after I paid a retainer. Sorry, I don’t recall having the word idiot stamped on my forehead. I didn’t bother to tell them that a simple search on IMDB revealed zero listings for these people.

In a new article this week, it looks like the Royal Navy's HMS Queen Elizabeth may belong to the US Marines rather than Britain. In SOS United States, President and Prime Minister plan to merge their respective militaries.

In a new article this week, it looks like the Royal Navy’s HMS Queen Elizabeth may belong to the US Marines rather than Britain. In SOS United States, the President and Prime Minister plan to merge their respective militaries.

But on a more festive note (this is the season!), I have found it pretty straight forward to simply call the people you want to reach from investors to agents and production companies. Everyone is entitled to say no (we all do it), but I find the soft and brief phone pitch followed up by an email with more information can easily lead to some nice conversations.  Building relationships takes time and trust. Everyone in this industry, it doesn’t matter who, is looking for the next deal, connection, gig or whatever.

I did, however, have the opportunity to submit First World to an agency. In as much as I know the story inside out, I haven’t read the script in a couple of years. It is amazing what a fresh set of eyes can bring. While the script has been vetted, nominated for few awards, produced as a short film and is registered, there was always a brief interaction with the President and Secretary of State that I felt just didn’t click. Well, I think it came to me when I read the script on Friday and made the adjustment before I emailed it. It was just two lines of dialogue but to a writer, and indeed to an audience, they can make all the difference.

Act Two

This past week NASA successfully launched Orion. One step closer to the story in First World.

This past week NASA successfully launched Orion. One step closer to the story in First World.

 


Approach and Identify

Reincar Scientific's chief legal counsel watches the trial on TV.

Reincar Scientific’s chief legal counsel watches the trial on TV.

These past two weeks the entire world has been front and center on news surrounding the United States’ National Security Agency and a “whistleblower/traitor” that is now “residing” in Hong Kong. Whatever your opinion is on this matter one thing is certain—someone has pitched a story to a producer, a script is being written and a film will go into production by the end of this year.

In Justice Is Mind one of the tracks in the story is loss of privacy. Our primary character, Henri Miller, makes an elected choice to give up privacy with that decision secured by biometric signatures. Miller’s information is digitized, sent electronically to a foreign company and held in a central library of like “minded” information. Trapped by his own memories, he soon finds himself on trial. But in an age of social media and immediate news gathering, while the law may say “innocent until proven guilty”, let us not kid ourselves. Despite the democracies that we live in anyone charged is guilty first and only innocent after the public says so.

Henri Miller "signs" an authorization form with a hand print.

Henri Miller “signs” an authorization form with a hand print.

When it comes to marketing Justice Is Mind, I have been working closely with my entertainment attorney Arnold Peter. Sure, we are submitting to targeted film festivals and making presentations to sales agencies and distributors, but the major push for the film will be in the very democracies that have allowed us, the citizen, to sign away our rights of privacy by our own choice. Speaking of choices, I’d love to have Justice screen in Tehran (that probably just got me on a list).

One country that we will be having a presence in is India—the world’s largest democracy. This would not be my first foray into that country. My first short film First World was the only science fiction film to screen at India’s first national discussion on science fiction. It was an honor and a distinction that I will never forget. Presenting Justice Is Mind in India is just as important as the United States as the whole point is to establish discussion around key areas of the film—where does privacy start and stop?

The National Security Agency in Justice Is Mind.

The National Security Agency in Justice Is Mind.

In the digitized and social media world we live in the loss of privacy in the general sense must just be accepted. One of my favorite films, Gattaca, sequences DNA and decides your societal fate. In Justice Is Mind your memories decide your legal fate. Make no mistake, these sciences are largely here in the year 2013. Maybe not as developed as the films they are represented in, but like Star Trek literally invented the cell phone, fiction will be fact soon enough. Get used to it or live in a cave.

When it comes to writing, production and directing a film you want your audience to leave thinking. That’s how a film establishes a long shelf life. That’s how a film finds audiences long after its world premiere. That’s why films like Judgment at Nuremberg, 2001 and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner still resonate today. They had something to say and weren’t afraid to say it. Justice Is Mind is not politically correct. It is designed to elicit conversation and to remind us that our life is largely dictated by the choices we make. And in the case of Justice the choices of…sorry you’ll have to wait until the film is released for the end of that sentence.

Thankfully our democracies still give us the right of choice.  And like those that we elect to office to represent us in our respective governments, we want our films to also win in the court of public opinion. Because it really comes down to three words–

WE THE PEOPLE.

The Miller farm is shown in court while the police detective testifies.

The Miller farm is shown in court while the police detective testifies.