Having ill-advisedly decided to pursue a career as a filmmaker and with no one apparently standing in my way, I have begun to consider many aspects of my future/potential career. How do I get started? Should I go to film school? How many years will I have to be abysmally poor (the answer is of course several)? Will I have to move to the US or will I be able to get my start in Canada? All valid and reasonable concerns for someone about to take the risky step from the relative security of university life into a particularly competitive industry where success depends largely on my hard work, skill and ingenuity. But it’s not all fear mongering and stress induced peptic ulcers. Sometimes I get to ask myself fun questions which play to my creative side (see: inability to do math). My creativity, my love of writing and predilection for geekery is what first thrust me onto this path in the first place, why not exploit it. So in between panic attacks I like to ask myself: If you do become a filmmaker and are a success, what projects would you do if someone offered you the budget? Ladies and gentlemen I offer you a handful of my dream projects! Let me provide a brief preface before I continue. All the ensuing projects are self-generated or adaptations. It is more than likely if I were to become a successful filmmaker, I would have access to other people’s scripts that I would enjoy equally if not more. At this point I don’t, so tough luck. Bear with me. Also some of these ideas may be far more vague than others. Obviously the ideas I came up with are far less detailed than potential adaptations, so forgive me. I also decided to leave off documentaries though I am very interested in possibly doing them as well.
For those of you unfamiliar with this title, it was a series of comic books, graphic novels and even a short-lived show under the title Cadillacs And Dinosaurs, all of which came out between the late 80s and early 90s. While the show was white-washed beyond all repair, the original source material is lewd, crude and unbelievably fun. A bizarre mixture of post apocalyptic madness, pulp adventure and Jurassic Park. The story goes roughly like this; in the future mankind’s excesses have ravaged all but the most remote corners of the world. Facing a harsh existence on a dying world, much of mankind flees into specially built underground cities where they stay for over six hundred years. After this time has passed humans, whose society has decayed while underground, return to the surface where they find an inexplicably wild world full of dangerous creatures, including scores of life-forms thought to once be extinct. Most notably dinosaurs. In this savage new world those who retain the skills necessary to build and run machines command enormous respect and are of great value to the various human city states vying for power. The story follows Jack Tenrec, an engineer and adventurer as he braves the wilds and mankind alike trying to stop corrupt businessmen, vicious marauders and the occasional rogue carnivore alongside a fiery female diplomat, Tenrec’s best friend and his pet Cutter (the new word for an Allosaur) named Hermes. All in all an insane and frantic story which has yet to receive a decent adaptation.
What do you get when an Ex-Samurai turned Wild West Gunslinger, an 19 year old girl/French Resistance member, a present day IT tech, his ten year old self and Robert the Bruce team up to take down Fear-itself and his minions in a bizarre parallel world? Well I’m not quite sure but I’ve given it the horrible placeholder title Dreamtime, even though it has nothing to do with the mythology of the Aboriginal Australians.
In 1965 the British Empire was dissolving bit by bit. With opposition and debt at home, nationalist movements in the remaining colonies and growing global antipathy towards colonialism, the world’s mightiest empire was no more. But the process of decolonisation was not always ceremonies and flag raising. In the African colony of Rhodesia, the white settlers refused to leave the Empire on the Government’s terms. Most importantly they refused to share power with the native African population who outnumbered them by roughly 1,750,000. Under their prime minister Ian Smith, the Rhodesian colony illegally declared themselves independent. This action resulted in every other country in the world (except fellow white-minority regime South Africa), turning their collective backs on the new country, forcing Smith’s regime to battle simultaneous native uprisings and enforce what I have termed the “forgotten Apartheid”. I’d like to explore the events leading up to and immediately after the Unilateral Declaration of Independence from three vantage points. An assistant inside the Prime Minister’s office, a white farmer and a black political activist.
MechWarrior: Trial By Combat
In 1992 I first made the acquaintance of a wonderfully expansive science fiction mythos known as BattleTech. My introduction was of course through the computer game MechWarrior 2 and the details of this have already been covered in a previous post. Now I enjoyed that game immensely and I made particular note of the relatively simple but nonetheless effective storyline. Two rival factions within the same army engaging in a blood feud set against the backdrop of the Clan invasions of the Inner Sphere. With a serviceable storyline already in place, all that is needed now is some characters and dialogue which can be weaved effectively into the larger mythos. Plus to see giant mechs smashing each other to bits in pitch battles on the big screen would just kick ass!
The Great Coffee Shop Revolt
My tribute to the thin line between transcendent glory and soul-crushing despair that many people walk daily in this mixed up world of ours. The story and premise are simple. A man in a mind numbing clerical job dealing with growing personal problems and considerable stress is bizarrely pushed to the breaking point by a relatively minor slight at a chain coffee shop. Spiralling out of control he sets off on an imagined quasi-arthurian quest to defeat his tormentor. Quickly loosing his grip on reality, medieval imagery begins to appear bit by bit in the “knight’s” suburban landscape, until the two worlds blend and what is real and what isn’t is impossible to distinguish. As this shift is occurring the costume, camera angles and music will mirror the change. While mundane and restrained at the beginning, by the end the costumes will be a hybrid of business wear/medieval peasant, the music will be bombastic and the camera style sweeping (mimicking epic adventure films) despite the fact the whole thing is clearly set in a modern city. This is actually the first project I want to tackle and I have been devising ways to do it with minimal cost. I want it to have a shoddy thrown together feel despite the epic pretensions, to highlight the surreality.
Those people who know me, may occasionally hear me make reference to a “story” or “project” that I have been developing off and on for the last three years or so. Though I usually remain cryptic on specific details, I have alluded that it is a Sci-Fi story of reasonably epic proportions and surprising thematic complexity. I have even hopefully referred to it as “my Dune”. Outer Spiral is said story. The plot is long but I shall try to encapsulate the planned setting and basic story arc. The story is set in a region of the milky way closer to the more heavily planeted (is that even a word?) galactic core. A society of humans, once slaves for generations but now long free and cut off from their home planet, are forced to establish a position among a community of other races. Many of which are radically different in form, social organization and values. The humans have also been forced to radically change their society in order to survive and maintain cohesion. Set against this backdrop the seven-part story would follow the evolution of the human society within this context, from minor renegade state to important galactic player and finally a part of a larger inter species community. With a large cast of characters centered around several generations of the same human family, you will be able to see how immense wars, politics, religion, revolutions, interaction, culture and even inter species breeding change the values and beliefs of whole societies. A huge project best suited for a miniseries or at the very least a limited series. Either way, Outer Spiral is my baby and I shall guard her zealously from the Dingos Of Doubt.
Ecco The Dolphin
Nowadays SEGA is a software manufacturer who sell their programming services to Nintendo, Microsoft, Sony and anyone else who will have them. But those of us who remember the days before Xbox and Playstation, will recall that SEGA was once a colossus in the world of gaming. A looming giant with a zealous following. Quite rightly to. In their habitual battle against rival Nintendo for video game supremacy, the company routinely produced innovative games of superb quality. Even years later many of these games are remembered fondly, though they may seem a bit primitive compared to present offerings. One game I continue to hold dearly in my heart, largely thanks to its storyline, is ECCO the Dolphin. Born out of the early nineties fascination with the environment (it happens every eleven years or so) and the surprising intelligence of several Dolphin species, the game posits that said love able cetaceans are in fact as sentient as human beings. Though their value system seems to be a bit different, the dolphins of Ecco’s world do share the same basic emotions as humanity. Most notably love for family as the titular dolphin hero finds himself on a desperate quest to rescue them after they are taken from the sea by a mysterious force. The sequel displayed Ecco’s human like altruism as he journeys across the tides of time to save the Earth from the mysterious enemy he battled before. This time travelling concept was later expanded by David Brin (author of the superb uplift series which also features sentient dolphins in an alliance with man) who re-imagined the world of Ecco (for a PS2 game) as set in a future where mankind and cetacean alike are joined in a peaceful alliance and are busy exploring the stars. In doing this they manage to accidentally piss off a powerful alien race which follows them back to Earth. Luckily the Earthlings manage to battle them to a stalemate which forces the invaders to alter history in order to emerge victorious. With Ecco the only one remembering the way things should be, he must brave several nightmarish versions of his world in order to right what is wrong, restore Earth’s future and defeat the fiendish invader. I really enjoyed Brin’s treatment of the concept (even if it resembled his Startide Rising) and I would love to see someone put together a serious treatment of it. Probably be better as an animated film aimed at adults (similar to Princess Mononoke). However failing that I would love to do an adaptation of David Brin’s Startide Rising. Put that on the list as well.
Pretty straight forward. A restrained and historically accurate adaptation of Xenophon’s epic Anabasis. The story of a 10,000 strong Greek mercenary army stuck in hostile Persia. Forced to fight their way back home across thousands of miles of enemy soil the story of these men is one of the seminal pieces of European culture. I wish to capture not only the scope of the enterprise but the humanity of the men and reality of the world at the time in history (401 BC), not hyper-stylize the story ala 300.
Love And Long Underwear
See next post….