One of the guiding principles of this project is that it to be by the sci-fi community and for the sci-fi community. With that in mind, I have a quick question for you all. Are there any conventions of note that you’d like us to have a presence at? Now that there’s a few people out there who are engaging on a regular basis, we want to make sure that you’re getting the information you want, when you want it. As alternatives to conventions, what would be the level of interest in a semi-regular Google+ Hangout or Hang With session? At what point of pre-production or production would you like us to start this level of engagement?
Tags: Asclepius, Background, Orville Braithwaite, Solutions, Theme, Think
A minor digression from the usual updates on where the writing’s at, character bios, short stories, etc. Today I want to share some thoughts about the intellectual basis for the Tomekepeers Project. One of the core themes of this project is the attitudes different factions have towards information: how it’s valued; how it’s distributed; and how it’s gathered. While I’ve written about Factor 46 and Asclepius, I haven’t really talked much about the process of how both came to be. I’m not going to give away any spoilers here, but I am going to talk about the greatest enabler for Asclepius.
The single most powerful thing that any human being can do is to think for themselves. However, that’s also a brave thing to do. To see a problem, think about it and come up with a solution is hard.
In Australia, the USA, the UK and other nations around the world, our most important institutions are trying to tell us that we should be afraid; that we should trust their lead; that we should not make a fuss; that we should accept their truth as our truth. There is a trend towards the doctrine that there is greater value in “simple” answers that can be consumed in the form of a sound bite, a pithy sermon, a news report that presents conjecture as fact. That kind of trend is dangerous for our democracy. It’s dangerous because it gets us used to a pattern of thinking that stops us thinking about and solving problems of genuine importance.
Orville Braithwaite is able to create Asclepius because he’s unshackled by the kind of thinking that says the problems of our world are too hard or too complex to be solved. The problem of providing universal healthcare to all of mankind is complex, but not insurmountable. Orville also has some other ideas about problems to be solved. Poverty. Hunger. Access to education. Scarcity of potable water. Housing. Reforestation and climate change. Computing resources and internet connectivity for the billions of people who can’t afford a computer or a mobile phone, but have no less need for the resources on the internet to survive and thrive. He’s not focused on how tragic these things are. He’s focused on how to fix them.
We need more people in our society who say “Can do.” We need more people in our society who are unafraid not only to speak up against inequality and injustice, but also to take positive action to defeating the forces that create them. We need to stop framing the debate in terms of how much things cost, but in terms of how much our nations and our civilization as a whole benefits when we fix the problems in front of us. We need to stop talking about risk in terms of what we could lose, and start talking about risk in terms of what we might not gain. At some point, we just need to hook in and start getting these big jobs done.
In the Tomekeepers, forces who act to advance complacency in the broader population will be those who suffer the most ignominious defeats. Institutions that fail to keep driving the human race forward will be replaced by ones that will, or renewed from within by people who are worthy of that trust. In short, the Tomekeepers is not just a story that I want to tell, but a personal mission statement.
The call to action from this post is simple. Think. Research. Gather your own knowledge. Don’t take other people’s word for things. Don’t take the easy options and challenge your decisions. Take action to advance not only your personal status but that of everyone around you. Be a citizen of the world, not just a citizen of your own nation. Dream. Share. Live. Love. Be true to the moment, and true to your role as a sentient being in a world where a lot is going wrong.
For those of you who are interested, the piece I’m currently writing is part of the TV series canon, but is not strictly speaking part of the TV series itself. I do have a place in the series 1 outline where I could tell this story, splitting into 2 or 3 episodes – or even interspersing a couple of scenes per episode through the first season of the TV series, but I think it needs to be created and scripted as a standalone feature-length movie.
The basic idea of the story (without too many spoilers) is that it outlines the history of the co-founders of Braithwaite Bio-Med (genius nano-technologist Orville Braithwaite, supported by Mike Sherwood on the money side) through the first public release of Asclepius, then diverges into a Faustian bargain in which a young journalist is offered her greatest desire. When the devil comes a-knocking, Orville helps her turn the situation around and puts her back in control of her own destiny.
Core themes are the use and abuse of nano-technology and new models of capitalism being used with world-changing results.
I’ve just updated the “About” page with some more contemporary information about the Tomekeepers project. It should give you a good idea of where we’re at right now and where we now think we’re headed.
Tags: Feature, Screenplay, Update, Writing
Cue the Beatles tune…
Well this has been a productive night! I set myself a target of 10 pages worth of screenplay writing and I’ve hit the mark nicely. The beat that I wanted to hit has been clubbed well and good, and I have a nice little cliff-hanger for myself to think about for the next day or two before I put fingers on the keyboard again. The total word-count for the screen play is up to around 11,100, and I’m up to a total of 50 pages of actual script (i.e. doesn’t include the title page). Yes – there may have been a few rounds of Battlefield 4 between the first five pages and the next five, but sometimes the creative juices need some dopamine inhibition to really start flowing.
Tags: Thanks!, Update, video, writers
Just a few quick updates for you all.
Firstly – I’m about 45 pages into a feature-length screenplay for “Chameleons” – originally a standalone story and now a “Prequel” for the Tomekeepers milieu, which might get split into a couple of episodes of TV. That puts me at roughly half to a third of the way through. With the story beats still to go, it’s probably closer to a third.
Secondly – a huge thank you to those of you who have already voted for our entry in the MyRodeReel 2015 People’s Choice awards. For those of you who haven’t voted yet, PLEASE DO SO NOW! If you believe in what we’re trying to do here, please also consider asking your friends and family to check out this blog, like/share our page on Facebook and go cast their own votes for us on MyRodeReel.
Finally – I’d like to invite anyone interested in writing on this project to step forward. Sadly, I can’t dedicate my efforts to this project full-time, so I need some other people around me who can work collaboratively to build out the Tomekeeper’s milieu and populate it with fully realised characters and action.
Episode themes and outlines will be provided, and as long as people are willing to stick to the premise of the show, I’m not likely to be too heavily critical of whatever people produce as long as it’s in an appropriate screenplay format and can be shot on what passes for a budget in our project (which currently amounts to a lot of goodwill and an occasional pizza). On the upside, the deadlines for this work will be pretty flexible – typically up to 2 months per script, which is a lot more than writers would get on a fully-fledged TV show.
I also reserve the right to do some editing and polishing on the final product, but the primary credit for the script will go to the person who writes it. If (and hopefully when) we do get picked up for a network/streaming production deal, I’ll make sure people are recompensed accordingly.
To be clear, I’m primarily looking for screen-writers. The “show-runner’s bible” is in progress and already has a lot of meat on the bones. However, good suggestions that enhance rather than redirect the direction of the show will always be considered. What this show is NOT about:
- Vampires/Werewolves/Marvel-style Mutants
- Teen romance/adventure – we’re producing a show for an adult audience that some teens might find watchable, not a teen show that adults might enjoy
- Aliens, alien invasions, alien contact – that’s a shark we’re not yet ready to jump.
What this show IS about:
- The human and organisational relationships between politics, media and technology
- Examining in a meaningful way how a post-pandemic society can go from surviving to thriving
- Considering different attitudes to value and access to information
- Exploring group dynamics and conflicts in an interesting and thoughtful way
- Following the lives of a group of young adult (20s) survivors in a frontier world full of modern technologies.
- Exploring the impacts of emergent nanotechnology and its implications if not properly governed
If that sounds like something you’d be interested in helping out with, sign up on the Tomekeepers Supports Group on Facebook and post a message to that effect.
That’s all for now! Thanks for reading.
Tags: Adelaide, MyRodeReel, Nerdelaide, Preview, Radelaide, Short Film, south australia, Tomekeepers, Tomekeepers:Nightfall
Our entry has been officially accepted into MyRodeReel. Please activate your networks of flying monkeys and use your powers of persuasion, coercion or telempathy to make them click the VOTE button at the link below! Voting closes on July 3rd, and IP addresses are logged (1 vote per household, in other words) – but the people’s choice award is worth the effort, so please spread the word!
The most recent Tomekeepers short video has been shot, edited and flung into the etherwebs for your viewing pleasure, hilarity and/or ridicule. Enjoy!
Tomekeepers: Nightfall (Behind the scenes)
Tomekeepers: Nightfall (Behind the scenes)
Tags: Call-to-Action, Get-Involved, Helping-Hands, MyRodeReel, News, Rode, Script, shooting, Short Film
Just a quick bit of news – I’ve dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s on a new Tomekeepers script – just a 3 minute short for submission to the ever-expanding (and incredibly generous) MyRodeReel short film competition. For any amateur film-makers out there, I can’t recommend this competition enough. Last year there were four prize categories and $70K worth of gear given away. This year it’s more like $200K of prizes over 19 categories. If we happen to be good enough to win a major prize, it throws the team’s production capabilities forward a long way! Like they say – you’ve got to be in it to win it, so wish us luck! On a separate note,
There’s a people’s choice category, so once our video is up, we’ll be asking you to vote up our entry. I want to offer a huge shout out to Rode Microphones for their generosity in supporting film-makers in this way. Their contribution to making production-quality gear available to mass markets has a huge impact on the ability of film-makers that don’t have huge studio budgets to make good quality content at an affordable price. And they’re an Australian company to boot!
But in the meantime, please engage with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter or on the main production blog, tell us what you want to know more about and generally get involved. I’m still working on back-story short stories, but the ideas for the Chameleons feature are starting to flow again. I’m not making any promises on production/release dates at this point, as the script is still in progress and I’m working full time… but other distractions are starting to take a back seat and the creative juices (which taste a little like raspberry, if truth be told) are gushing forth in quantity!
One final request… if any of you know anyone in Adelaide who can hook us up with some unoccupied warehouse or retail space which we could use for standing sets, or would be willing to host an occasional bit of filming in a residential space, please reach out and let me know. Thanks in advance!
Tags: Siddiq al-Mehri; Backstory; Tomekeepers; Characters;
More backstory goodness. Enjoy!
Itzak Goldhirsch loves flying. Today, as he soars above the south-western borders of his homeland in an F-15I Ra’am attack jet, he has a special sense of exhilaration. The savages in the Gaza strip have been firing their home-made katyushas at his home town of Ashkelon since early in the morning, and to top it off, this is the day his father died in the first Palestinian intifada. His squadron has been on standby while others have flown sorties over northern Gaza, but now he’s airborne and armed to the teeth. Today he will be settling some old scores.
Clouds of dust rain down from cracks in the ceiling of the hospital’s emergency intake area. Nurses shrouded in hujub bustle about efficiently, while orderlies and doctors work together to shuffle incoming patients into different triage areas. The patients arriving in a steady stream are suffering burns, contusions and a mix of wounds from flying masonry, car parts and shrapnel.
The hospital vibrates with the shock of another volley of missiles rains down from the Israeli jets strafing Hamas Katyusha launch sites. Undoubtedly, some of the men – some merely boys – coming into the hospital are Hamas militants. The Israelis will claim these people are responsible for the current carnage, but to Issa al-Shafi and his staff, there is no difference between jihadi and civilian – they are all simply patients.
Basim al-Mehri is one of the doctors helping with the triage process. He is a talented young physician who received his medical training in Montreal. This morning, he has seen forty-seven patients. Three have been relatives of his, but he has shown no favouritism – two had minor cuts and bruises and were bandaged up and sent home. One had a concussion and was dispatched to an observation bed in a corridor. In the meantime, eight people were dispatched directly to surgical teams.
It’s now twenty-five past eight in the evening, and Basim has been on shift for eighteen hours. He’s had a crappy day by anyone’s standards, but it’s about to get worse.
Siddiq gets excited every time the rocket men get set up. He loves watching the rockets fizzing skyward, smoke trails almost solid as they leave the ground, but becoming ghost like over time. He thinks of the smoke as the tails of venomous snakes as the rockets fly towards the homes of his jailors. He has no fear of guns, but is quietly terrified of the thick soled military boots worn by Israeli soldiers as they barge around the Gaza Strip. The green uniforms are also troubling, but it’s definitely the boots that he fears.
Today he sits in his favourite spot for watching the smoke snakes. The balcony he lurks in overlooks one of the places often used by the rocket-men. He is just big enough to peek over the railings of a stair-way, and his favourite spot is about five stories above the ground. His aunt Maysan lives in one of the flats adjacent to the stair case. She often looks after him after school when his mother and father are both working at the hospital.
The launch area is a rectangular playground flanked by a tall apartment complex on three sides, and overlooked by a smaller two-story building on the fourth. The rockets have sufficient clearance to clear the roof of the smaller building, but the rocketeers are protected from Israeli jets by the densely populated apartment blocks. The Hamas men cheer as each volley of rockets launches into the sky. They wave their rifles in the air, but the safeties are on. They do not want to risk hurting the local residents. An unusually large pile of rockets sits ready to rack and fire.
Siddiq remembers one of the older neighbourhood boys saying something about an anniversary of something that happened before he was born. His eyes furrow as he tries to remember. He wants to remember why there were so many rockets when he gets older. It was about his people – the Palestinians – and what was the word? Something to do with water? Ah… Intifada. Flood. He smiles cheerfully now that he remembers.
Siddiq’s aunt Maysan hasn’t arrived at her flat yet. She is normally here by now if Mama and Baba are working. Maybe something is wrong. It’s fun watching the smoke snakes, but he’s starting to think perhaps he shouldn’t be where he is. But where to go? Home? There’ll be nobody there. Aunt Maysan’s work in the souq? He’s not supposed to go in there without an adult, though. The hospital maybe? He might get into trouble with Mama and Baba for interrupting them while they’re busy, but it’s better than sitting alone waiting for aunt Maysan. The hospital it is then. Siddiq steps away from the rail of the stairwell, then everything around him goes red, then black.
Amreen al-Mehri sits next to her husband on a bench in an atrium within the hospital complex. They are both weary to the bone and need a break from the seemingly endless human carnage that has crossed their path since they were called into work. Amreen nestles into her husband’s shoulder, and Basim leans his own head gently against the head of his wife. They relax for a moment: breathing in the cool night air and try to forget the horrors of their day.
After a couple of minutes, Amreen stirs.
“We should call Maysan and say goodnight to Siddiq.”
“Siddiq…” Basim starts.
“What?” Amreen asks warily, dread starting to filter through her mental and physical fatigue.
“I saw Maysan this afternoon. She had a concussion. She should still be here – there was nobody to stay with her if she went home.”
“I… I don’t know.”
“Siddiq!” Amreen yells, leaping to her feet. “We have to find him!”
Basim sees that his wife is close to panic. He lays his hands firmly on her shoulders to calm her and locks his gaze on her eyes – challenging her to look at him.
“You go to Maysan’s place, I’ll head home and see if he’s there.”
Amreen composes herself, nodding. She reminds herself that she is one of the best trauma surgeons in Gaza, and flips into work mode. Internally, she is shrieking her son’s name, but nobody looking at her would know. She strides back into the hospital arm in arm with Basim, ignoring the disapproving looks from some of the older and more conservative Gazans.
Dim echoes reach slowly into Siddiq’s consciousness. He cannot see, he cannot move. There is pressure on his neck and… not pressure on his forehead. He tries to move his fingers, remembering watching his parents working with patients at the hospital. He manages to touch his right thumb and fore-finger together and feels… dust? He doesn’t remember being somewhere dusty. Where is he? He feels like he is being moved. He senses acceleration and deceleration as excruciation. Pain? What happened? Why is there pressure on his neck?
Amreen and Basim have changed out of their scrubs. They know better than to go into Gaza looking like doctors on a heavy casualty day. Finding their son is more important than getting dragged away at gun-point to “treat” some hysterical person’s already dead relatives. They’re leaving via the main entrance. The glass doors are boarded up, but the doors are still functional.
At the threshold of the hospital they look at each other, each deeply conscious of the battle the other is fighting to remain calm; but looking around at the others coming and going, they realise they now look like most other Gaza residents on a day like today: tired; worried; wrung out; traumatised. Basim has his hand on the door – about to open it for his wife – when the Emergency Department’s adminstrator, Omeed Akram bustles up anxiously with a clipboard.
“Omeed, please. We told you earlier, we need to go find Siddiq,” says Basim.
“Take the clipboard Basim.” Akram locks eyes with Basim, challenging him to try not taking the clipboard. Basim glares back, and Akram buckles.
“Please Basim. It’s your son.”
Basim snatches the clipboard, scans its contents. As he does so, Akram looks to both Basim and Amreen, saying “He lives, by the grace of God.”
Stricken, Basim passes the clip-board to his panicked spouse.
“I’m sorry my sweet, but we both need to get ready for surgery.”
“That’s what I said. We are both too tired, and too emotionally involved to be of any use. Omeed will find the best person for the job. Won’t you Omeed?” she finished, wheeling on Akram and flashing him a grim smile.
“But how do we kn…”
“Basim, my love.”
“They might make a mis…”
“What if they miss some…”
“They won’t. But we might.”
Resigned, Basim al-Mehri slumps to the ground. His wife sits next to him and embraces him. It is taking all her will not to run screaming to the operating theatre where her son is being treated, but she knows that she and her husband must be parents in this moment, not doctors.
Omeed Akram puts a hand on the shoulder of his two best doctors, then wearily bends to pick up the clipboard. “Siddiq will be fine if God wills it. Come. You can at least be ready to see him when he comes out of surgery.”
Alan MacArthur steps into the corridor outside the operating theatre. He is an Australian doctor who has come to Gaza with Medecins sans Frontiers. He spots Basim and Amreen and stalks over to them. “Siddiq will live.”
“Thanks be to God!” Basim whispers. “Thank you Alan. What state is he in?”
“He’s still not out of the woods, but he’s stable and comfortable.”
“Is he awake?” asks Amreen.
“No. We had to put him in a medically induced coma to deal with the bleeding. He had a subdural haematoma against the cerebral cortex which was suppressing his vision and causing a lot of pain, but we were able to pull it out before it caused any other issues. The front of his skull took a bad knock – we think it was a flying chunk of brick based on the shape of the crush zone. He’ll have some pretty serious rehab in front of him, but he’ll be able to get back to something pretty close to normal.”
“Thank you Alan. Was there anything else?”
“A couple of fractured ribs, a hairline fracture on a couple of fingers – it looks like he managed to get his hand up in front of the brick before it hit him. Nothing that would stop a kid back home from playing footy for more than three to four weeks.”
Amreen raises an eye at that, ever the protective mother, but understood the point. Her time with Basim in Canada meant that she was fully familiar with what boys will tolerate when it comes to full-contact sports like Ice Hockey and American Football. Basim seems less perturbed by the Australian’s cavalier attitude, and has other questions.
“How long will you need to maintain the coma for, Alan?”
“Not long – probably two to three days at most for clinical reasons, but we might think about giving him a few extra days to recover without being aware of the pain.”
“And the skull fracture?”
“We had to replace the damaged bone with a titanium plate. He’ll have a few small scars, but we tried to keep the cut and screw holes behind the hair line as much as possible. Don’t worry – he’s a good looking kid, and you’ll still recognize him when he wakes up.”
“One final question Alan.”
Basim pulls Amreen close to him and wraps an arm around her shoulders.
“How do we go about emigrating to Australia? Gaza has been home to our families for dozens of generations, but if staying here puts our boy at risk, then it is time to go.”
(c) Copyright Jeremy Huppatz, 21/04/2015, All Rights Reserved