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.
The Final Third
Last week I started on the final third in the novelization of SOS United States. At this point, I don’t see anything getting in the way of my goal to complete a draft by the end of March.
I will say turning a screenplay into a novel, isn’t as easy as it sounds. In a screenplay the entire process is visual. Of course, there are numerous methods in cinema to ascertain what a character is thinking. But in a novel, it can be described in detail along with their surroundings. When I immerse myself in these fictional worlds, I want the audience to experience what I’m thinking. Case in point, the bunker the President and Prime Minister find themselves in. Both the screenplay and novel were inspired by this real-world property in the Adirondacks.
Writing this novel has been a wonderful exercise to really understand the story, the characters and the world they live in. While I still believe the screenplay holds its own, the novelization of the story has grown both in character development and world building. Had the screenplay not done well in the festival circuit, I would probably be revisiting it a bit. But as it did win a variety of awards, I don’t want to tinker with it beyond contemporary updates to technology, etc. There is such a thing in this creative writing process as over analysis and self-doubt. It’s taken some time to learn as a writer, but at some point, you just need to literally put the idea to bed as a completed screenplay or book.
I wrote the screenplay for SOS United States nearly a decade ago. Unlike the screenplays and films in the First World Universe or Justice Is Mind and the sequel In Mind We Trust, SOS United States was a standalone. I’m not exactly sure where the original idea came from, but it does combine my interest in espionage, spies and intrigue in governments and multi-national corporations. I look forward to the day when the book and movie are released to the world.
Speaking of the First World Universe, I’m delighted to report that First Signal has garnered over 1.3 million views on YouTube! The film continues to spark all kinds of conversations on the VOD platforms and social media channels. While the range of interest (or non-interest) is all over the place, the bottom line is that nearly two years after its release, First Signal is still being talked about. Whether viewers love it, hate it or fall somewhere in between, all a filmmaker (or author) can hope for, is that the work is talked about.
I believe part of the driving force behind First Signal is the continuous reporting on UFOs, UAPs, mystery balloons and other atmospheric and aerospace anomalies, that are crossing every news service and social media platform. It also doesn’t hurt that the U.S. Department of Defense is publicly involved in the identification of this ‘phenomena’ and have set up an internal office to address it. Who knows, maybe elements of First Signal are true!
In closing, I took some time this week to revisit my first feature film Justice Is Mind. I was preparing some writing samples for a presentation and came across a variety of things linked with this project. When I found the filmmaking seminar presentation I did on Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth in 2014, it brought a smile to my face. I was reminded about the challenges I had to get Justice Is Mind off the ground and then realized that if you work hard enough, stay focused and stay determined anything is possible.
“The difficult we do immediately; the impossible takes a little longer.” – George Santayana