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
After dealing with a massive snowstorm the day before, the first day back at the Naval Justice School went well. As this is my fifth time doing the program, these are like class reunions between the actors and staff. But with every new class, we have new actors join the program.
I can’t speak for other regions, but in New England the acting community really is about six degrees of separation. While I may not have worked directly with some of the new actors, the other actors have or are familiar with their work. What struck me interesting with one of the new actors was him telling me about a project of his own that he’s putting into production himself. Sound familiar?
While any actor, screenwriter, cinematographer, etc., wants to be hired, there’s nothing more satisfying than creating your own work. It truly is magical watching your performance, your words and your images come to life. But one does not magically snap their fingers to get a project off the ground. In the end it’s about partnering with good people that believe in bringing the project to life.
In addition to the casting notices going up this week for First Signal, location searches will also begin in earnest. As I mentioned to someone already involved in the project, the way I approach a location is to trade the opportunity to shoot with a mutual public relations and marketing plan. I’ve taken this approach with the films I’ve produced and, with the exception of $100 to shoot in church for Justice Is Mind, it has worked.
The last thing you do as an “independent” filmmaker is ask what their rate or how much they would charge. I promise you, you’ll get frustrated when you hear numbers that are impossible to meet. Worse, you meet them and go broke in the process. You want to work with people and companies that are excited about the project. But that excitement is not without responsibility.
On a set I am the first to arrive and the last to leave. Why? Because it’s my responsibility to insure that I leave a location the same way I found it. Case in point was the conference room we used in Serpentine. In the film, the location was at the FBI in Washington, D.C. In the real world that was the Aquarius board room at The Verve Crowne Plaza in Natick, MA.
That room worked out great in the film, but it needed to be dressed. I purchased Washington, D.C. images to cover up the posters on one wall and added The Brandenburg Gate during the Cold War era to highlight a certain moment in the story (it was also an Easter Egg for Justice Is Mind). How did the viewer know they were at the FBI? Stock footage the moment before that showed the exterior of the FBI. What’s interesting about that footage is that one of my favorite shows, Madam Secretary, has also used that same clip.
With the script breakdown for First Signal almost complete, look for a casting notice in the coming days. And that military exercise I mentioned last week? Looks like that contract is coming through.