We’re celebrating our new Horror Award with a series of articles about our favorite films and TV shows in horror. Find out what scares us the most… and what we’re looking for from a horror script! Next up: ALIEN… (more…)
INSIGHTS: Nothing dates faster than the future, part 2 – How to get the details right in your sci-fi script
ALIENS fired imaginations in 1986, and remains a touchstone for screenwriting. So why does it look a bit dated now, and what lessons does that reveal for writers today? Ian Kennedy looks at how to get the details right in your sci-fi script.
So really, as we saw in my last article, most sci-fi is just fantasy, in a different setting, where we pretend that technology and scientific possibilities (rather than magic) are the reasons why things work differently from how they do in our world. And that’s fine by me. I’m writing this article to help writers avoid future-writing which is already suspect, and very unlikely to look plausible in the real future. Let’s start with ALIENS – which was directed with great vision by James Cameron, after all, building on excellent work by Ridley Scott and the team of the first ALIEN film. These filmmakers stand the test of time, and their stories too. So where did its details go wrong for me now from a modern point of view?
- The screens. There a lot of very analogue screens in ALIENS. It’s always tempting for filmmakers to load their future-visions with the best technology that the present has to offer. But there’s a lot that’s already very dated about these screens themselves. We see them close-up. A lot. They are split into very analogue patterns and none are remotely High Definition, never mind Retina quality. Pretty dated already. How many centuries in the future are we supposed to be? Nope. We’re three decades back in time here.
- Then there’s the stuff that’s on the screens. Nearly all of it is flat. And monotone in colour. Some of the photos are even black and white. Very little is moving. And the video feeds show the kinds of interference and distortion and low quality that nobody has experienced since DVD replaced VHS. When digital signals cut off, you get nothing, not static. The blueprint-like maps that the Corps use in ALIENS are also flat and two-dimensional – which even in the movie turns out to be woefully inadequate, when the aliens are able to get above and below them to breach their security. So again, in ALIENS we’re 30 years ago, not even now.
- There are the haircuts. Not much vision of the future going on there. I’m not in any way ruling out a lengthy revival in all-80s haircuts in future centuries. It could happen. But let’s be honest. It won’t. (In 1991, the original KNIGHT RIDER was forward-tracked for a TV movie set almost 20 years after the original series – KNIGHT RIDER 2000. But all the haircuts and moustaches don’t even belong in the 1990s, let alone the 2000s. We’ll amuse ourselves with some of its other errors later.)
- The tech used by the (apparently elite) Corps of marines in ALIENS also looks pretty suspect. Sure, the human soldiers are teched up by helmet cameras and gyro-stabilised machine guns, and other stuff. The cameras and other kit in the film look pretty clunky now, and Ripley even uses duct tape to bind guns together at one point, but all this we can OK for the time being; manufacturing standards are gonna be different in hostile deep space territories, and 3D printing and nanotechnology aren’t fully proven alternatives just yet. Mainly I’m bothered that these marines are still using their own actual bodies – not even under protective clothing on their faces and arms – to do most of the work. I don’t know about you, but I think the public horror whenever US troops get killed abroad, and the growing significance of air strikes and drone warfare, in our own time, is all pointing in a different direction. There’s no way human beings will be directly fighting our own battles unshielded, even in the medium term, let alone the distant future. Ethically and legally, this creates plenty of issues, but compared to having actual people actually die (and their relatives sue the government), it’s clear that non-human combat is going to be the future of warfare. (If our next major war doesn’t bomb us all back to the Stone Age in the meantime.) ALIENS even has a ready-made answer to this, in the creepily competent androids it gives other roles to. An android medic? While the humans go to war and die horribly? Who signed off on that?
I could go on endlessly about other visions of the distant future and how kitsch they look in hindsight, but FUTURAMA has basically done all that for me. Clever and deliberately backdated in its detailing, this funny show imagines that the year 3000 might have more in common with the kitsch, dated sides of the 20th century, than anything else. It’s no sillier a vision of the future than the ones it endlessly satirizes, and at least it knows it.
NEXT UP – WRITING THE NEAR FUTURE (AND THE FUTURISTIC PRESENT DAY)! Check out part one here: https://writemovies.com/insights-nothing-dates-faster-future-wheres-going-next/
© WriteMovies 2017. Exclusive to WriteMovies – To syndicate this content for your own publication, contact ian (at) writemovies dot-com.
We have an exclusive Habib Zargarpour interview coming soon all about his work on BLADE RUNNER 2049. Habib also reveals how his teams achieved such awesome effects in A PERFECT STORM, TWISTER, STAR TREK: GENERATIONS and many other films!
Our Director of World Wide Development, Ian Kennedy, has been speaking with the VFX expert, Habib Zargarpour. Keep reading to learn about his experience on the BLADE RUNNER sequel, working on the same project as Ridley Scott, his previous work and becoming a writer-director on his next film THE SQUADRON.
Ian and Habib talk about everything BLADE RUNNER – the sequel, Ridley Scott vs Denis Villeneuve, whether this is the most anticipated sequel ever, if Deckard is a replicant, and the art of VFX… and how yogurt holds the key. Habib has also worked on movies for STAR TREK, STAR WARS, BOURNE, A PERFECT STORM, JUMANJI, THE MASK and so many more – you don’t wanna miss this!
Check out Habib’s IMDb page and learn more about him HERE.
Exclusive to WriteMovies – To syndicate this content for your own publication, contact ian (at) writemovies dot-com.
© WriteMovies 2017
Our pick of the web for April and May 2017 – From the @WriteMovies Twitter Feed!
Our @WriteMovies Twitter feed has been sharing lots of exciting things giving our tips of the best new articles, insights and offers for screenwriters and producers on the web. And in case you’ve missed anything there, here is our pick for April and May 2017…
- Shrek 5 script is complete – http://www.denofgeek.com/uk/movies/shrek/48433/shrek-5-script-is-complete
- Ridley Scott Reveals His Original, Brutal Ending To ‘Alien’ – http://theplaylist.net/ridley-scott-reveals-original-brutal-ending-alien-20170404/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter
- Get Out Surpasses Blair Witch as Highest-Grossing Debut for Original Screenplay – http://io9.gizmodo.com/get-out-surpasses-blair-witch-as-highest-grossing-debut-1793937038
- Avatar 2 Script Is “Amazing” And Will Begin Filming This Fall, Star Says – https://www.gamespot.com/articles/avatar-2-script-is-amazing-and-will-begin-filming-/1100-6449163/
- April Featured Script of the Month winner – THE CHERRY ROOM by Christine Stevens DeLorenzo – https://writemovies.com/april-featured-script-month-winner-cherry-room-christine-stevens-delorenzo/
- Meet our Winter 2016 Screenwriting Contest Third Placed Winners: IN THE SHADOW OF FREEDOM by Elliott Riebman and Michael Gozzard – https://writemovies.com/winter-2016-screenwriting-contest-third-placed-winner-in-the-shadow-of-freedom/
- Bilingual in English-French or English-German? Love movies and writing? Get in touch! – https://writemovies.com/relaunch-opportunity-for-english-french-german-bilinguals/
- The ‘Star Wars: Episode IX’ script has been completed – http://www.nme.com/news/film/star-wars-9-script-completed-2037816#g9UeAjASBjMuQild.99
- How “Prison Break” Helped Wentworth Miller Break Into Screenwriting – https://www.fastcompany.com/3058437/wentworth-miller
- Meet our Winter 2016 Screenwriting Contest Second Placed Winner: THE ARENA by Belinda Whitney – https://writemovies.com/meet-our-winter-2016-screenwriting-contest-second-placed-winner/
- Screenwriters to Watch, Class of 2016: Where Are They Now? Checking in With Seven of Last Year’s Picks – https://www.moviemaker.com/archives/moviemaking/screenwriting/screenwriters-to-watch-class-of-2016-where-are-they-now/
- Review: Final Draft 10, the Mac app that aims to make light work of screenplay writing – https://9to5mac.com/2017/04/21/final-draft-10-review-mac-ipad-screenplay-app/
- Meet our Winter 2016 Screenwriting Contest Grand Prize Winner: BLACKOUT.COM by Ruben Bush III – https://writemovies.com/meet-winter-2016-screenwriting-contest-grand-prize-winner-blackout-com-ruben-bush-iii/
- ‘Game of Thrones’ bosses have tightened script security – http://ewn.co.za/2017/05/01/game-of-thrones-bosses-have-tightened-script-security
- Titans: Geoff Johns Already Working on Live-Action Series Script – http://screenrant.com/teen-titans-geoff-johns-tv-series-script/?utm_source=SR-TW&utm_medium=Social-Distribution&utm_campaign=SR-TW&view=list
- Example Studio Consulting: GONE GIRL Script – https://writemovies.com/example-studio-consulting-gone-girl-script/
- May Featured Script of the Month winner – IDLE OF MAN by Joseph Campbell – https://writemovies.com/may-featured-script-month-winner-idle-man-joseph-campbell/
- 5 Types of Loglines That Don’t Work – https://www.inktip.com/article_single.php?a_id=177
- How we represent and sell YOUR SCRIPT through Talent Scout International Management… – https://writemovies.com/about/represent-sell-script-talent-scout-international-management/
- WriteMovies Writing Tips: Writing Beyond the First Page – https://writemovies.com/writemovies-writing-tips-writing-beyond-first-page/
“The reversal towards the end, when Ripley believes she has killed the alien, is very effective as it is extremely close to the end of the script… ” Extracts from a script report by our trainee Jamie White, based on a reading of the script ALIEN found online at Horrorlair: CLICK HERE (more…)
“The script revolves around a fundamental desire to question our humanity, and to understand how we were made by our creator…” Extracts from a script report by our trainee Daniela Piper-Vegh, based on a reading of the script BLADE RUNNER: CLICK HERE to read the script. (more…)