Category Archives: My screenplays-DADT-conscripted

More notes on the drafts of my screenplays

Recently there has been some interest in seeing a copy  of one of my (not yet published) screenplay drafts, that is, “Do Ask, Do Tell: Ephiphany”.

I posted a brief summary of the plot here on February 3, 2016.

Right now, I no longer post my screenplay scripts online for free viewing.  There are some legacy scripts at this location on my legacy site.

The draft (PDF from Final Draft, as well as treatment summary) of the 2004 short film script “The Sub” was removed in April 2006 before I took another job with Fairfax County Public Schools, inasmuch as there had been an incident regarding that script being found online (documentation).

However, the existence of the screenplay and its aftermath are worked into the script of “Epiphany” as a backstory.

Likewise, the sequence of my expulsion from William and Mary in November 1961, followed by my “hospitalization” at NIH in the fall of 1962 (overlaying the Cuban Missile Crisis) and eventual Army service as a draftee from 1968-1970 is also embedded as a backstory closer to the end of the script.

One aspect of this part of the narrative that could use more attention would be how my parents felt over that Thanksgiving weekend 1961 as they had to anticipate the idea that, as an only child, I might give them no lineage.  But it turns out, ironically, that “Bill” does so in the last scene of the screenplay, as a qualification for getting to go on the “angel ship” to a new planet.

I may later place this script (as well as two others: “Titanium” and “69 Minutes to Titan” in its original form) available for FTP download with password if there is interest.  It is also possible to place the Final Draft documents online for similar download.  But the user would not be able to open these without a licensed copy of Final Draft 10 on her own computer.  It doesn’t appear that you can open Final Draft directly through http;  you have to FTP and download first.  Other products, like Celtx, which I do not personally have, might work.

With a layered screenplay like “Epiphany”, which incorporates narrative across all three “Do Ask Do Tell: books as backstories, t is difficult to understand the flow well from a PDF of the screenplay (as it would be typed in the past) alone.  The analytics in Final Draft. Besides offering script notes, character lists, scene numbers and titles and summaries, offer a Color Code which can be correlated to the “reality layer” of a particular scene.  It may, for example, be a truthful backstory known to one character, or a presumed backstory believed by a character (see posting here Jan. 23, 2016).

I am not aware that screenwriting is taught in high schools in AP English classes.  It would be a good topic.  A screenplay draft by itself does not fully convey a story the way a novel might, but with the analytics from Final Draft or similar products it comes closer to suggesting what the filmgoer will see,  Television writing is quite a bit more structured than film, since episode components have to be of such exact lengths.

(Posted: Friday, July 21, 2017 at 3:15 PM EDT)

New “DuoSkin”, artificial epidermic for temporary tattoos, can server as smartphone interface, maybe fodder for sci-fi rituals

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There’s a bizarre new technology, “DuoSkin”, which can be “pasted” onto human skin, and then be used as a smart phone interface, even as a trackball.  It can even glow.

So people will use it as a temporary tattoo, decoratively.  Most of the videos about it show the users as women.  With Caucasian men, other than bikers and swimmers, care would need to be exercised in placing it.

I can imagine adding a ritual to my screenplay “Do Ask, Do Tell: Ephiphany” near the end, where one of the “angel candidate” characters has the skin applied as part of a ritual, to be “survived”.

Microsoft is supporting this product with research; not sure how they find willing subjects.

Here’s an article on the subject on Geekwire.

CNN has a more expansive story on the aesthetics of the technology here.

There are known issues as to whether wrist tattoos  (especially in some men) interfere with “smart-watch” functions, but that’s a different issue.

Related posting earlier on Notes blog.

(Published: Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016 at 10 AM EDT)

Pimping out my own DADT books at Outwrite DC today.

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I did set up an exhibit at the Outwrite DC in Washington DC today at the DC Center for the LGBT Community, in the atrium at 2000 14th St. NW (ha, ha, only about 5 miles from Nationals Park, a half-mile from Town DC and 930 Club, and Atlantic Plumbing, for that matter).

So I got to do a good interview.  I covered the narrative of my own William and Mary expansion, my own getting drafted during Vietnam, how that mixed with the debate on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and led to my first book in 1997, and how 9/11 complicated my proposals for a “Bill of Rights II”, leading to the second book in 2002, and how freedom of speech and the Internet led to the substance of the third book in 2014.  I did mention “open access”.  I mentioned that I have a draft screenplay for how you might film it.

The interviewer did get the idea that external pressures matter, and that even with a fight for liberation and equality (and the tension between those two concepts), individual moral compass, in reacting to the needs of others in any group one belongs to, matters.  That’s kind of paradox of identity politics.

I got three clips.  The people filming me were unfamiliar with my camera, so the sound is hard to hear,

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(Posted: Saturday: August 6, 2016 at 6 PM EDT)

Update: Aug. 10

Here are a few more videos (other than the QA for “Queer Brown Voices” which is here).

A “simple song” video

Introduction 1

Introduction 2

Introduction 3

Introduction 4

“Do Ask, Do Tell: Epiphany”, detailed outline and screenplay structure

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I have recently completed a shooting script for “Do Ask, Do Tell: Epiphany” (formerly, “Conscripted”). It is quite detailed except for the secondary backstory flash scenes. The script notes in Final Draft 9 are quite helpful with tracking the details.  I had explained this on Blogger Dec. 30 here.

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Although the July 30 post is still a fairly accurate overview of the story, I have changed some significant deals in how the story progresses.  There is only one visit to each of the “ashrams” until near the end, so the physical journey around the space colony has been simplified.

I think it’s useful to review Mchael Hauge’s “Screenplay structure: Five Key Turning Points” link and map the screenplay onto his outline.

Introduction: Setup:

Scene 1, Page 1

Bill (me) gradually regains consciousness in a dark room in bed, and feels like he is in a “paralysis of sleep” state.

Two other young men, both tall, Brutus and Randy, watch through a one-way window and try viewers (similar to the idea in “Strange Days” (1995, Kathryn Bigelow). .  Elmo, the geek arrives, and does some shell scripting on an older-looking computer terminal to set up “remote viewing” levels for the other arrivals in the space station.  The other young men don’t exactly know where they are either, but can look out on a landscape that resembles Titan, a moon of Saturn.  Gradually, some other young men from Bill’s life arrive, including “Tompom” and Aaron.

Bill relives his own fictitious screenplay, called “The Sub”, where a precocious student comes on to him (when he is teaching), and where he sinks into legal trouble.  The fiction is shown in black and white. Past real incidents that fit the screenplay occur in color.  Bill momentarily experiences a fleeting memory “before anesthesia” of returning home from a party and concert (Elmo had been there) and being surprised to find his mother returned from hospice, before getting a mystery email and leaving the house. But the memory disappears, like a dream that is hard to remember.  The other guys, especially Randy and Brutus, practice reading Bill’s fictitious mind/

The Turning Point  (Scene 39, page 21) occurs when Nolan arrives (“Opportunity”).  Though he resembles the other young men, he seems to be in charge, and is regarded as an “angel”.  As Bill completely regains consciousness, Nolan escorts Bill underground through some chambers to a subway system called the “Mobius”.

The Opportunity (Scene 63, page 29) first shows Randy checking into a hotel, having trouble checking his social media, but looking up a former mentor, Tobey, on line, and learning it takes time for posts and messages to process.  He has dinner with the other men, who have similar experiences.

Bill checks into barracks of what are called “Ashram 3”, with technology of about 1900.  He meets Tovina, who looks about 40 but who hints he dated her in the past and took her to the Senators’s last baseball game. Bill has to learn the housekeeping and cooking chores, sees an unusual garden. He finds a piano that doesn’t work on more modern compositions.  He plays some yard and board games with the kids and finds gravity is a bit weird.

Bill meets Richie, about 50, an old nemesis from his social life years ago in the City.  Richie continues to “domesticate” or “feminize” Bill. Randy arrives, and explains the rules for using the Mobius Metro.  Other college kids “Wechsler” and “Kip” arrive. Wechsler stays “overnight” in the Ashram to monitor Bill, who starts noticing the days seem like a perpetual twilight, like summer at the North Pole.

Bill travels by Mobius to Ashram 4, which looks colonial, mid 1700s.  He learns piano tuning and glassblowing, and finds out that he can’t even play Mozart on the “fortepiano”.  He meets (“Change in Plans”) a former music chum from his days at William and Mary, “Jonesboro”, with whom he refreshes his memory of how he got into music (which got “into his blood”).

In the “Progress” stage (Scene 81, page 43), Tompom, Kip amd Wechsler set up a stage play at Ashram 1 (based on year 2001) after traveling from Ashram 3.  Then they put on the play, showing what went on behind the scenes to get Bill “fired” when he was subbing after the school found out about his screenplay.

Bill visits the low-gravity softball field and plays some workup, and has chest discomfort.

In the “Point of No Return” (Scene 93, Page 51)  Bill gets a keyhole heart treatment, which will not be disruptive, in the “City” near the hotel, under normal gravity.  Then Sydney (also from William and Mary) visits him.  Elon trains Bill in managing the software that controls the access others have to his own “telepathic broadcast” which more or less replaces social media.

Bill is recovered enough to visit Ashram 5, which shows a village as it might have looked at the time of Christ. He learns how “money” works in the ashram, and among angels (where there is a galactic “bitcoin system”). He interacts with Sydney, who confronts Bill about what used to make him tick. Bill learns he will choose a “messiah” among the other young men there.

At “Ashram 2” (1960) Bill helps build a recital hall where his music will be performed.

In “Higher Stakes”  (Chapter 106, page 71) Bill travels back to the City, gets a nanobot injection to help with his memory, and sees the setup: much of the colony is set up as a cylindrical rama with artificial gravity, perpendicular to Titan, so when on it there is a Coriolis effect.

He returns back to Ashram 3 and gets some practice in “just living” before the young men assemble and trade stories as to how they got there. The travel together by “train” to Ashram 1 to re-enact the story of Bill’s 1960 expulsion (although that could have fit Ashram 2 better!)

They travel to Ashram 2 (now!) to do the concert.  As a Setback, some of the music still doesn’t work. But the Nanobots start to work, and Bill finally remembers how they got there

In the “final push” (Chapter 141, page 97) Bill plays his music (with Elmo’s help), and the “tribunal” ritual (“Climax”, quite literally) starts.  Brutus stimulates Bill, who impregnates Tovina.  The ritual poses the question, what in people really should matter?

(Aftermath):  Bill returns to the world, which has been placed in upheaval by repeated power grid failures, while accepting that UFO’s are real because they have been seen publicly.  After Tovina gives birth to Bill’s child, he can return to the spaceship and join on a journey with the angels to other planets.

The people on Earth will rebuild, another cycle of history, but for the next couple hundred years, doomsday preppers (like “Survival Mom” on Facebook) will take over.  History will have many up and down cycles before man is ready to move to the Stars.  Only the chosen few seem to go now.  Oh, please, how do you deserve to be “chosen”?

Update: July 20, 2017

The “fiction” screenplay, which would be shown in black in white, which “Bill” relives in his mind starts on Scene 3,  p. 1 and runs through Scene 55, p. 23

The “stage play” (put on by “students” at the Ashrams, “Hamlet” style, play-within-play ) showing what must have happened behind the scenes at the high school where “Bill” had been subbing run from Scene 81, p. 43 to Scene 89, p. 48.

The account of Bill’s William and Mary Expulsion, running through Army service, runs from scene 113 page 73 to Scene 134 page 90.

Bill speaks to an audience in the “2001 Ashram 4” and some of it is again acted out by student “dancers” on a stage.

(Return to original post)

The “City” on Titan should look like the art work in this video of Alexander Scriabin’s Symphony #1 in E, with the “famous” choral conclusion.

Play the grandiose ending!

(Published Wednesday, February 3, 2016 at 10:30 PM EST)

PBS Digital Studios: “What’s the Most Realistic Artificial Gravity in Sci-Fi?”

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PBS Digital Studios offers a series of 10-15 minute “science teacher” monologues about various topics in sci-fi and possible future space travel.

One of these is “What’s the Most Realistic Artificial Gravity in Sci-Fi?”

The 11-minute short discusses the artificial gravity of “2001: A Space Odyssey”, “Ringworld”,  “Halo” (game), and “Babylon 5” (a sci-fi series from the 1990s).

Most of the problems in science fiction have to do with the Coriolis Effect.

A small space station would have to rotate quickly to achieve enough “force”.

The film considers “Halo” to have the most realistic idea.  But that depicts a ring about 4/5 the diameter of Earth.  The ring could be expanded to a cylinder.  In my “Epiphany” screenplay, you could imagine an alien civilization (maybe from Tabby’s Star and a possible Dyson Sphere 1450 light years away) being deposited near Titan, but eventually NASA would detect it.  My setting is more like that of Babylon 5.   Since it is a cylinder mounted on Titan, the gravity of Titan (1/7 that of Earth) would add to  Coriolis problems.

Artificial gravity from “centrifugal” and “centripetal” force does not have the “benefit” of the gravitational field of a nearby body of much larger mass than oneself (that is, a planet).  Maybe gravity plates with some sort of neutron-star stuff could be constructed by an alien civilization.

Here’s a sample “Game Movie” from Halo that may convey an idea of what this world could look like (it’s long).

And here’s a doc about the making of “Babylon 5” which might convey the feel of that world.

On June 1, 2016, CNN ran an article by Thomas Page, “Space Oddity: NASA’s Guide to Future Living“, the “Cylindrical Colony”

(Published Tuesday Jan. 26, 2016 at 11 AM EST)

Some notes about film color, value, saturation, and hue, as might apply to my own work

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Back in the 1998-2003 period when I was living in Minneapolis, IFPMSP held many forums on filmmaking technology, including film stock.

I wanted to give a few links about concepts regarding image color and focus, because they would become relevant to filming my “Do Ask, Do Tell: Epiphany”.

Of course, people pay tuition and get degrees from film schools to learn these things.

Leighcotnoir has some valuable links.

Look at this explanation of hue, saturation, and value, particularly the 3-D cone near the bottom of the page that gives an example based on “red”.

It’s also important to study the concept of “primary colors”, as explained here, along with color wheels.  Note how primary “additive” colors (red, green, blue) work, where as “subtractive pigments” (Yellow, magenta, cyan) work in tandem, because when paints are mixed, the light wavelengths that may be reflected are “subtracted”.

There is also the “hue-saturation grayscale”, as explained here.

And “Filmschoolonline”  explains the “attributes of the visual image”, including Brightness, Contrast,  Quality of Light, Focus, perspective.  Here, color is explained in terms of saturation, hue, and emphasis.

There is also the opportunity for 3-D without glasses, “autostereoscopy“, a kind of holography, as explained in Sciecemag,

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I do want to discuss the color scheme for the “flashbacks” or “backstories” of my Epiphany screenplay.

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The Final Draft document shows several color modes:

White — Black and white presentation (the embedded screenplay “The Sub”).

Blue — scenes at ashram, in mild color-blindness called green-weak deuteranomaly  (see a color blindness “simulator“).

Red — backstories in full color as they would appear in nature  (moderate value and saturation)

Orange– backstories known to and told by characters other than Bill, higher saturation.

Green — historical narrative told to characters other than Bill (higher value)

Purple — immediate, quick flashbacks (higher value and saturation)

Yellow — acted historical narrative (treat as red)

Gray — historical relative to “Sub” screenplay, black and white

Some directors change aspect ratio for different kinds of backstory.  I think this creates problems, because different theaters handle cropping different (in many auditoriums, 2.35:1 is accomplished by vertical cropping, so presenting some backstories in smaller aspect can require more cropping). I would prefer 2.35:1 for all scenes, but use different color schemes.

Much of the action takes place in an “ashram” which is envisioned as the inner surface of most of a cylinder mounted near the space station on Titan, about 2 miles in diameter and 10 miles long, rotation for artificial gravity, that  is, a “rama”.

I’ve talked about Clarke’s novel here before, but it seems that there have been few movies about societies of people raising generations while on an evacuation ark (like “Evacuate Earth“).  These situations certainly could explore the idea of “social capital”.

(Published Saturday Jan. 23, 2016 at 7 PM EST)

 

 

Regarding debating diversity at the Oscars: for my scripts, not all casting can work if race-blind

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There has been some “whining” about the supposed lack of racial diversity in Oscar nominations, as in this Washington Post Style article by Lonnae O’Neal, “Only role reversals will end all-white Oscars lists” — online, it’s “Maybe Hollywood’s not racist; it just has a processing disorder”.

Later MLK Day, in fact, Spike Lee (and maybe others) announced boycotting the Oscars under the “Oscars so White” (#Oscarsowhite) hashtag on twitter.

My own experience at the movies (and with television mini-series) is that I see plenty of black actors in favorable roles — especially as police detectives, politicians (especially presidents), athletes, and physicians.  No one would quarrel with Viola Davis’s effectivness as a  law professor in “How to Get Away with Murder“.  It would have been well to nominate Will Smith for his role in “Concussion“, no argument there. I recall Morgan Freeman’s role in David Fincher’s “Se7en” (1995) alongside Brad Pitt  (remember the “chest shaving” scene before they both wear a wire for the climax).  And, by the way remember the climax, “What’s in the box?” (maybe an inspiration for Richard Kelly’s “The Box”), with Kevin Spacey as the satanic villain.

There is a problem, however, in my own mind, with some scripts.  Suppose I get my novel “Angel’s Brother” published and it gets interest, or I get some traction for my “Do Ask, Do Tell: Epiphany” screenplay.

In both of these, it’s important that some of the leading characters be attractive young white males, for what I have presented as “gay sexual tension” (however stereotyped and potentially prejudicial) to work.  I wonder if films like “Judas Kiss” or “The Dark Place” could have worked with African-American young actors in at least one leading role, for the same reason.

“Epiphany” particularly has some supporting characters in the “ashram” scenes where the characters can be cast in a race-blind way.  And, for example, in “Angel’s Brother”, the leading characters (Randy, about 40 and Sal, about 21) are conceived as white, the CIA chief could very well be cast as African American (Morgan Freeman would be perfect).

Don’t forget, by the way, that Morgan Freeman has been trying to produce “Rendezvous with Rama”.

(Published: Monday, January 18, 2015, 10:45 AM EDT)

Two other books with “special” narratives in the LGBT area, by Bazhe and Baker; why they matter to my writing now

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In the screenplay “Do Ask, Do Tell: Epiphany” which I am about half-way through rewriting (as a shooting script) in a modern Final Draft 9 (which has a lot more facilities for identifying scenes and making notes), I presume that a character, Bill Ldzet, like me finds he has been abducted and is living in an ashram inside a large space station (part of it on a huge centrifuge to increase gravity) created by “angels”.  He undergoes a certain amount of “re-education”, maybe with a slight amount of Maoist purification.

One problem is identifying all the other characters, and tracing their past association with Bill on Earth, and how that creates tensions among them.  Then, there is the question, why is “Bill” special enough to get all this attention?  What about the life narratives of everyone else there?

Part of the answer is that there are not that many other senior citizens on the ashram, who would have a life narrative as long and convoluted as mine.  (The movie “Youth“, for example, as a point of comparison, presents Michael Caine playing a conductor/composer at a spa, retired and apathetic, gradually getting the back stories of a couple other seniors there, especially an aging film director/screenwriter (Harvey Keitel) and an aging actress (Jane Fonda).)

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In fact, I do believe my own life story, through age 72, is indeed very unusual.  That’s one reason I remain “stuck” on mining it for more ironies, rather than getting hired to write other peoples’.  But there are a couple of books, both self-published and from iUniverse, that tell stories of comparable complexity.

One of the best is “Damages“, by B. K. Bazhe (2002).  The author (from the Balkans) tells a complex story of eldercare, dealing with communism and Islam, military service, sexual orientation, and even some cross-dressing requiring “depilation”.  I have a detailed review on a legacy site here.  I met Bazhe in Minneapolis in the summer of 2003 when he was on a speaking tour, shortly before I moved back to the DC area to start looking after my own mother myself.  Don’t confuse the title with “Dispatches” which is an HBO-Channel4 (Britain) film about anti-gay discrimination in Russia.  The books was well reviewed in Minneapolis gay papers in early 2003, as a story that needed to be told, maybe even filmed.

Another such book is “The Sound of One Horse Dancing“, an autobiographical novel by Tom Baker, reviewed by me in 2012 on Blogger here.  Baker was caught up in an incident at the College of William and Mary in the fall of 1963, two years after I was expelled from there in the fall of 1961, but he would eventually graduate and has been active with William and Mary GALA (I met him first at a book fair in New York City in March 2012).   I’m not sure how much of the “novel” is “true” but it presents rejection by family, a lot of conformist social pressures to compete in conventional ways to get business, a job firing, and then making a living as a hustler in the days just before Stonewall.  Baker has authored at least two other books.

I suppose these narratives would deserve “special” status in the plot logic behind the “ashram”.  But the way the screenplay is set up, some sort of effort would have been set up on the space station in advance to receive anyone chosen as “special” enough.

I’ll add that I talked to the William and Mary libraries (Gregg Swem and Law School (Marshall-Wythe) by phone last week.  The Law School has my first “Do Ask, Do Tell” book (don’t know if it is the original 1997 printing, or the 2000 iUniverse which is expanded, more durable, and has some typo  fixes).   The 1997 printing it completely out of stock (and a collector’s item).  The library also has my little 98 page 1998 booklet “Our Fundamental Rights and How We Can Reclaim Them: A Psychological Approach” (original printing only, no POD).  I did encourage the LS library to purchase the next two in my DADT series and to check to see if it has Baker’s book (since Baker graduated from WM).  I would echo the encouragement for Bazhe’s book, which is a complex narrative relating sexual orientation and gender  identity to other social issues (like inherited family responsibility for elders) and political issues in an international context — even more critical today given what happens in Russia, Africa, and the Islamic world.

 

 

Arthur C. Clarke’s “Childhood’s End” and (especially) “Rendezvous with Rama”

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Two particular science fiction novels by Arthur C. Clarke need to be noted on this blog.

Childhood’s End” (1953), will soon be aired as a 6-hour, 3 part series on the SyFy Channel starting Dec. 14, 2015 (link).   I read the novel in 1969, while in the Army at Ft. Eustis.  I recall the arrival of the Overllords, the leader Karellen (who was depicted as looking like an eagle but capable of looking human), and the period of peace and prosperity for Earth (as the Cold War with the Soviet Union was getting going more after Eisenhower took office).  Then a gifted star child is born, and, as I recall, his charisma spreads to other kids, who finally become a group-mind, leading to a ritualistic apocalypse on the final page.

I did watch the series and reviewed it here.

Rendezvous with Rama” (1972) is relevant to my own “Do Ask,, Do Tell: Epiphany” screenwriting project.  There has long been a film project involving Morgan Freeman which Wikipedia describes as being in “development hell”.  It would be possible to imagine crowdfunding, given the popularity of the novel.

The story starts in 2077, when an asteroid hit causes huge casualties and damage on Earth, coming close to permanent extinction.  60 years later, in 2037, Earth has set up better early warning systems, and sends out a space party to examine the approaching craft, which turns out to be a 50-km-long cylinder, rotating to create artificial gravity on the inside surface, and with interesting landscapes and cities inside, divided into two “hemi-cylinders” by a “cylindrical sea”.

There is a scene where an astronaut jumps off a cliff in this world.  My understanding is that artificial gravity requires contact with the inner surface to work, so that the actual surface presses on you and creates “weight” from your mass;  there is no “field” to pull on you without contact (that requires mass, which “Star Trek” gets around with super dense (like neutron-star material) gravity plates underneath).


In my own screenplay, there is a an alien “angels'” space station on Titan, which has 1/7 Earth’s gravity, so the “ashram” (with the “abductees”, so to speak) is built on the inside of a Rama cylinder that sits perpendicular to the surface.  (Of, if NASA has seen it, they just won’t tell us!) But the pull of Titan would still distort the sense of gravity, producing a sense of tilting, and could pull a person (at a velocity of the square root of 1/7 Earth’s) toward a “wall” if he jumped off the group, so people would need magnetic shoes until they got used to the environment.  I’ve wondered how you could really jog inside a rotating space station depending on centrifugal effects for gravity.

(Published: Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, at 1:30 PM EST)