THE TIME-TRAP: When the most dangerous man in America gets his hands on a time machine, an emotionally fragile FBI agent must go back through time after him, with the full knowledge that he can only return to the present by living his past all over again.
To describe THE TIME-TRAP as a thrilling ride would be an understatement. Partnering a great concept with high-octane action, this is a manhunt like we’ve never seen before. It kept us gripped from the first page to the last, coming through a highly competitive field to take first place. Congratulations to the writer of THE TIME-TRAP and the first ever winner of the WriteMovies Sci-Fi and Fantasy Award, Mark Flood!
As the WriteMovies Sci-Fi and Fantasy Award 2019 winner, Mark has won guaranteed pitching to industry, two sets of Development Note, and further advice on honing his script from our screenwriting experts. He’s also still in contention for our Spring 2019 Screenwriting Contest, which has a Grand Prize of $2000 and is open until June 16th. Click here if you want to enter the competition yourself!
Here’s a summary of THE TIME-TRAP:
Special Agent Sam Miller, a man haunted by the tragedy of his past, is the lead agent in the hunt for the FBI’s most wanted, Michael Barnton. After a dramatic chase across San Francisco Bay, Miller is successful in capturing Barnton, but instead of his mission coming to an end, he discovers it has only just begun.
Barnton escapes custody and stows away in a scientist’s car; a scientist who has succeeded in building a time machine which Barnton steals and uses to leap into the past, planning to change things in his favor. What Barnton doesn’t know is that although he can jump backwards multiple times, the only way to come forward to the present is to live all those days over again.
Realizing that he might be target in the past, Miller agrees to go after Barnton. Armed with a tracker and a second time machine, Miller embarks on an epic chase through time – with not just the chance to catch Barton, but also to right the pain from his past and discover that there might be more to Barnton’s crimes than it first seemed.
If you’re a producer interested in this project, email email@example.com today!
And here’s a quick bio of the writer of THE TIME-TRAP, Mark Flood:
Mark grew up in Northern Ireland and moved to Scotland to study at university. Because of his love of film and television, he decided to try his hand at screenwriting after university and even wrote a novel.
In recent years, Mark has continued to write for the screen. He is now writing with a better understanding of the process, a new love of the craft, and an appreciation of what his strengths are.
We first launched the WriteMovies Sci-Fi and Fantasy Award because we wanted to be transported to amazing, fantastical new worlds – and boy, did you guys deliver! Our entrants spanned the deepest reaches of space, magical lands, and all of time: past, present, and future!
The imagination is a writer’s most powerful weapon, and it was on full display here. Well done to everyone who entered; the quality was so consistently high that you made it extremely difficult for us to pick a winner!
Some of the things that helped us make our choice include:
- Originality of concept – giving us something truly unique instead of something we’ve seen before
- Depth and complexity of worldbuilding – making the universe of the story feel like a real, lived in place
- Impressive visual elements – taking full advantage of these genres’ strengths
- Great characters – ensuring that the human element doesn’t get lost!
So here it is… The first ever winner of the inaugural WriteMovies Sci-Fi and Fantasy Award is…
By Mark Flood
A big congratulations to Mark, who has won guaranteed pitching to industry, two sets of Development Notes, and continued script development from us! Well done also to all of our Honorable Mentions, who you can find listed below.
|OMEGA POINT, James Bingham
||ENDANGERED SPECIES, Mark Flood
||GODLESS SKIES, Joshua David Harris
|FABLE OF THE JADE TIGER, Jason Fisher
||SHIRO, Pascal Kulcsar
||THE LAST PRISON, Richard Geiwitz
|THE REVOLT OF THE WHALES, Michael Rhodes
||MARS GENESIS, Don Ternyila
||RACE MUSIC, Eric Weber
Writing a script is only half the work – getting it produced is the other half! To get that done, you need to get your work into the hands of key filmmakers – and that’s where we can help. WriteMovies is currently seeking scripts for two directors: Sean Hughes and Habib Zargarpour!
Sean is a director known for THE BARROW GANG – click here to take a look at a rough cut from the film! – and is currently on the search for scripts in the thriller/heist genre, along the lines of films like HEAT, THE USUAL SUSPECTS and L.A. CONFIDENTIAL.
If you’ve written a screenplay like this, submit to our Spring 2019 Screenwriting Contest and if we think it’s suitable for Sean, we’ll pass it along to him for his consideration – no matter how your work places within the contest itself!
A special effects expert, Habib is a two-time BAFTA winner and double Oscar nominee for his work on THE PERFECT STORM and TWISTER, with other credits including STAR WARS EPISODE I, BLADERUNNER 2049, and THE JUNGLE BOOK. He’s now looking for science-fiction based projects to direct, and with the recent launch of the WriteMovies Sci-Fi and Fantasy Award, this is the perfect chance to get your scripts to him!
Habib works closely with our founder Alex Ross who will give all suitable scripts consideration for them to develop and pitch to studios together.
Alternatively, if you’re a writer with an agent and want your script passed to either Habib or Sean, you can contact our partners at TalentScout International Management directly at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Click here to visit the page for our Spring 2019 Screenwriting Contest and get your script into Sean’s hands, or click here to visit the page for our Sci-Fi and Fantasy Award and get it to Habib!
Thanks for all your support during this contest cycle! This is where it gets exciting – first Winter 2019 Screenwriting Contest results and a chance to share our judging findings and reasons with you. Whether you submitted or not – this is worth reading on about. (more…)
Since it’s their results week too as we publish this, here’s a pic of Ian Kennedy, our Director of Worldwide Development, at BAFTA for a recent meeting with our founder Alex Ross!
Announcing results is the tough bit… especially at the Quarter-Final stage, where we have the most decisions to make, and the most people’s to disappoint about their writing submissions. At WriteMovies we make it our job to constantly open a door for writers and push their work to the next level, and take the ones that are ready into the international industry – but everyone is starting from a different place and whatever level a writer reaches they always have further steps to take to succeed and sustain themselves in the industry. To help you understand our logic and tips for how to make your work stand out to us, our Director Ian likes to write articles about “What Your Writing Has Been Telling Us” over this time. (more…)
In Ian’s previous articles, we’ve seen how technologies of the future (and present!) can quickly invalidate our future-writing efforts. But the easiest thing for writers to misjudge is how people themselves will be different, within the future worlds we create.
We may be very happy to accept any implausible or kitsch elements in your future-writing if they make for a more vivid and exciting world than our own – but if people (and the way they live) don’t seem to be changed, then you’re missing out on one of the massive appeals of writing the future: that it offers audiences a vision of how we could be different if we lived in such a different world, and how we could make different choices in life if they see life in that new light. The future is, ultimately, a place to play out our dreams of what life today really could, or should, look like, if only we had the chance. Future-writing creates a rare, neutral space in which to play out our conflicting visions, and fears, for the present and the future, all within the safety net of someone else’s story about a totally different world to our own.
If our technologies – or destructive tendencies – smash the way of life we know, then the post-apocalyptic visions of many popular future-stories (MAD MAX, THE BOOK OF ELI, etc etc) may prove a good guide – because people whose lives are a step backwards from ours, are likely to play out in ways that life and history can help us recognize today. So I’ll focus instead on how people are likely to change if that doesn’t happen, and if other historic trends continue instead. Here are some trends I’ve noticed which are extremely likely to continue to change our personalities and choices. If you’re looking for subjects to inspire your next script, the answer might be somewhere here!
- Ever-presents of human nature, like family bonds and tribalism and attraction, will continue to forge our key relationships and allegiances and priorities – far more than rational reasoning would like to admit. We will never actually want to be “one unified world community” – whatever we might tell ourselves, we’ll choose to keep dividing ourselves into tribes and sub-tribes. I’ll write about these in more detail another time.
- Almost every medical condition will become treatable, and most will be fully curable. People will develop ever-more-perfectionist expectations of themselves and others for their health, capacities and looks. Technologies will become better integrated within people’s bodies too, with far-reaching implications, first for treatments and then for enhancements. These trends will create losers as well as winners, mainly due to economic factors that give or limit people’s access to these treatments.
- Almost every conceivable aspect of life and the world will become connected to, or monitored by, our grand digital networks. Going ‘off the grid’ will get harder and harder, with important consequences for thriller stories in particular – many scripts we receive feel quite dated to me already with this in mind. The ‘internet of things’ will pose significant risks for privacy and security, with our everyday lives utterly interconnected with single networks that put us all at risk of having our lives invaded.
- The culture war of the 21st century will continue to be that between fundamentalism (of all kinds), against relativism and tolerance. Western countries may need to start reining in more of the free-for-alls that have risen since the 1960s – because if we can’t, fundamentalism may offer many people a much more reassuring vision than the issues that they perceive in the world around them. I notice that few sci-fi writers want to embrace religious believers into ‘their’ visions of the future. But those people will be there anyway – how will they feel about the world they’re living in? How many of those wonderful 1960s visions of the 21st century (THUNDERBIRDS, etc etc) predicted a global surge in religious fundamentalist terrorism? Perhaps, comparing modern trends to the worldview and expectations of religious fundamentalists, we should have seen it coming.
- War will also be designed to keep actual human beings (from our own country, anyway) completely remote and safe from the intrinsic dangers of the battlefield. This is already basically the case for headline conflicts, we just haven’t invented a way to occupy hostile territories without ground troops yet. I reckon the next major war between global powers will be won or lost by technology (such as cyberattack) within hours without a single bullet being fired. All this has big implications for action stories – where we want to see our heroes put their own lives on the line for the story, without getting immediately cut down by some drone-robot fly.
- Power and knowledge and the ‘moral high ground’ will continue to decentralize away from governments and religious institutions, through technology and the continued trend towards individualization of modern job roles. Improved technologies will also make it harder and harder for anyone to maintain lies and secrets (and foment conspiracies successfully). However, at the same time, we will all be relying on common technologies and platforms, such as the internet, ever more, and so the risks will grow that would-be tyrants and hostile powers will turn our powers and everyday devices upon us.
- Supposedly ‘ignorant’ patterns of thought and behaviour (from racism to superstition to religious bigotry) will continue to decline, but will keep persistently recurring in new forms in every generation, and the continued migration and tourism of people to other countries will ensure that old issues like these will never become ‘a thing of the past’ anywhere.
- Controversial cases that come to light in the news will continue to stiffen public opinion and the law against people who create injustices and avoidable suffering for other people (from our own culture or countries!). Proliferating devices like smartphones will continue to make it easier for victims and others to record and prove that these injustices are happening – albeit via networks and platforms that many governments and others may be demand to control.
- People will continue to intensively map, scan and explore any areas of life or the universe that could be described as ‘the unknown’. Fewer people will believe in the possibilities that rely upon it (such as magic, monsters, aliens and direct ‘divine intervention’) – though interest in stories about them might conversely rise as a result of their ‘otherness’! But people will continue to interpret things in the ways that feel most natural to themselves, so don’t expect religion and superstition to die off anytime soon.
- Automation and robotizing of all aspects of life will continue to render more and more job roles obsolete. The more this continues, growing numbers of people may lean towards anti-globalization movements, backward-looking politicians or authoritative voices. Meanwhile educated, versatile people may find themselves in a minority for remaining economically active and having a secure sense of their own identity and purpose in the world. Which impacts significantly upon my next point…
- While globalization will continue to make countries ever more interdependent, but sociopaths will continue to find ways to take power (click HERE to understand what I mean by ‘sociopath’ – it’s perhaps a much more widespread personality type than you realize). Pacifism will remain naïve in the face of this, and the proliferation of technologies that can empower them in new and ever-more-pervasive ways. But in economic terms, centralized nation-states will be unable to keep up with those that don’t try to maintain full control of all aspects of the economy.
- The environment everywhere will continue to be carved up and predominated by human activity at an escalating rate, until technological changes make it possible (and convenient) to live far more efficiently than people currently choose to. Changes of power and circumstance will keep upsetting whatever is agreed to protect the environment; people will have to innovate within their own spheres of influence instead, to make any difference, but this won’t change the overall direction of travel. Anything that environmentalists achieve can be easily reversed by breakdowns in international or local law and order, and crippling population pressures on resources, not to mention reverses of government policy.
Here are some things that could go either way, but won’t just stay the same.
- Our attitudes towards the suffering of other people (especially those we don’t have any connections to) and animals or nature. – Humans would mostly like to be compassionate, but they would also like to be able to take things for granted so they can get on with life uninterrupted. Economics and politics play a massive role here – and people who are struggling to maintain their way of life have a much less compassionate attitude towards outsiders and those whose inferiority makes their own way of life possible.
- The spread of decentralized media platforms such as the internet means new challenges for debate and decisionmaking. ‘Truth’ and ‘lies’/’fake news’ are heading for an interesting clash which may set in law what ‘truths’ or ‘accuracy’ can be stated or published, and what the punishments will be for those who go against that. This will be an interesting showdown between delusionals, tyrants, sociopaths and their allies (click HERE to see who I mean), and the institutions of the 20th century liberal West. It may have different results in different places, influencing the ideological wars of the century ahead.
Alright, so there’s my two cents. Hope it helps you future-proof your writing and keep clear of some of the mistakes that we see so often. Maybe you can even find the central question of your next script here! If so, let us know where you take it and how you get on…
Read more of Ian’s insights right here and check out the previous entries to this future proofing series…
© WriteMovies 2017. Exclusive to WriteMovies – To syndicate this content for your own publication, contact ian (at) writemovies dot-com.
Most sci-fi is just fantasy in a different setting. But when writing science fiction all writers need to pay attention to what’s really changing and happening now, if they want their writing to catch our imaginations and stand the test of time.
Watching ALIENS again after twenty years (it’s actually over 30 years old, but I was 4 then), I’m seeing all kinds of things that now look quite dated – the opposite of futuristic. Despite the fact I’ve always thought this was one of the most powerful films I’ve ever seen, and that it’s still a touchstone for screenwriting theories. The experience brought home something I’ve been saying for a while: that nothing dates faster than the future. As writers, the same things that make it such an attractive subject can also leave our works quickly stranded.
There are plenty of trends we need to recognize, if we want to write science fiction or show the present in a way that’s, well, future-proof. You’d be amazed how many ‘futuristic’ scripts we receive that feel outdated now, never mind soon. Even worse are the ones set so near in the future that by the time the film would make it to cinemas (a minimum of 18 months, realistically, for any mainstream production) they’d already be almost backdated. So much for making a long-term profit thanks to the ‘long tail’ life of DVD/Blu-Ray sales, TV screenings or streaming. And here’s what’s even worse – lots of the scripts we receive don’t even seem up-to-date now, never mind for a release date two years from now and a ‘long tail’.
What will the future look like, even ten years from now? We won’t know until it hits us. A lot of what happens now in the news feels like a surprise at the time – 9/11, Trump, Brexit etc – but wouldn’t be if we all had our ears to the ground more and faced up to reality a bit more honestly. These articles aim to help writers do that, to avoid getting left behind by reality, it’s only human nature to not want to face uncomfortable truths. Wherever possible I try to take a fully inclusive view and avoid bias, but hey, I’m only human – and not everybody will want to agree with the picture painted here, and that’s an important thing to reflect in your writing too.
Many future-proofing issues for writers aren’t so much about machines, technology and other advances – they’re about what people will be like in the times ahead. Writers should keep an ear out for changes and subtle long-term trends in all aspects of life – just to reflect the world as it already is, in fresh ways. That’s true even if you don’t have any need to envisage the future within your writing. After all, a huge part of making your writing sellable is about tapping into something that’s both fresh and convincing. All writers should listen out for changes that will influence our futures – because even historical or fantasy stories still have to anticipate what we’re about to become interested in, and our unconscious desires for the kinds of world we’d like our imaginations to occupy (to escape our dull realities).
A lot of the things that still bug me about future-writing are the same things that bugged me about sci-fi TV shows and films when I was a teenager, which inspired a lot of my own best writing. I studied science hard and tried to push whatever technology I included towards the absolute limits of what might eventually be possible within the laws of physics – but no further. In contrast, most future-writing doesn’t pay much attention to facts. It’s far more interested in creating a dream – or a nightmare. And that’s fine too, as long as it can convince us.
Science is much abused by the fiction that takes its name. I prefer the Italian word fantascienza – a dream or a fantasy of science. Because that’s what most sci-fi really gives us. When writing science fiction, the writers start with a dream of what a future (or alternate reality) could be like, and explore that vision rather than anything that corresponds to science or realism. Then they dress it up with silly science-lite technobabble to make it sound more plausible. While pretending that, for example, we can fly faster than light, and arrive at distant stars in a couple of minutes, rather than the many years it would do even then. (Our bored imaginations are yearning for space to become an intensive and exciting place, rather than the overwhelmingly vast, empty, and almost action-free reality revealed by astronomy.) Relativity has implied – for 100 years now! – that flying faster than light might mean travelling back in time anyway, even if it were possible to put more than 100% of the energy contained in our mass into propelling ourselves forward to make that possible. Ridiculous, and impossible, but STAR TREK and other franchises take this as their premise. Meanwhile, other SF has relied on parallel universes, or controllable ‘wormhole’ portals instead – both ideas that badly distort an obscure scientific speculation in order to imagine the kind of exciting universe we’d much prefer to the reality. But most sci-fi would be very dull and empty if we couldn’t let our imaginations fly away from reality. If we’re honest, that’s the main point of the genre. Scientific realism and caution is usually the opposite of what writers and audiences go to sci-fi for. We yearn for a flight of fancy, not a cautious science lecture. We want the ‘What if’, not the ‘but really’!
NEXT UP – ALIENS AND OTHER DATED VISIONS OF THE DISTANT FUTURE…
© WriteMovies 2017. Exclusive to WriteMovies – To syndicate this content for your own publication, contact ian (at) writemovies dot-com.