Another Tomekeepers Short coming up!

Hi folks,

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!


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.”

“Then Siddiq…?”

“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.”

“No Basim.”


“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…”

“No Basim.”

“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.”

“Yes Basim?”

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


Another short character backstory…


It’s 2:30pm. The second hand clacks loudly every few seconds as it lurches forwards against the clock-face on the wall of the 3D nano-printing lab. Students wait impatiently as their work-pieces are being printed.


The printers hum quietly as they carve tiny channels into a plastic substrate, then fill those channels with a silvery fluid.


One student coughs nervously, causing the others to turn to her and scowl disapprovingly.


Students look at their tablet displays tensely watching the progress of their creations.


Bronwyn Gallagher grins with relief as the print head rounds a tricky bend without creating a crack in any of the adjacent channels. The channels themselves are tens of atoms thick.


Orville Braithwaite scratches his head and yawns.


Bronwyn stretches her arms back behind her back – her lean gymnast’s muscles stretched taut.


Orville is tall to Bronwyn’s spry short frame but he is seated, while she stands. He exhales sharply as Bronwyn whips her arms – still stretched behind her back – around to clock him gently on the back of the head.


“Show-off” she says as she gazes at his tablet screen. The channels on his substrate are crossing each other. Still cooling metallic deposition trails cross each other and catch. She marvels at the simplicity of his woven design.


“Ssh.” He says – distractedly waving a protective arm behind him to defend himself from further attacks. His eyes don’t leave the screen of his tablet.


The purpose of his printed prototype is becoming clear to Bronwyn now. It’s a long, looped net, somewhat like a Chinese finger trap – but at molecular scale.


Orville looks relieved and peeks at Bronwyn’s tablet. There are no connections in her design, no welds in the thin metal trail like his own workpiece has. It has a regular geometric design however, sharp, reinforced corners all pre-loaded with a specific angular tension. “Ooooh,” he says as he realizes the genius of her design. It’s also a net, but is also a spring that will snap fast around sufficiently massive molecule that touches it.


“Hey Bron… Nice work! That’s super efficient design!”


“Thanks! I didn’t realise we could weld the strands, so I came at it from a different angle.” She blushes at the praise.


“Cool,” he responds, genuine in his appreciation. Distracted now, his arm has fallen below his waist. She clocks him again.


“What was that for!?”

“Making me blush.”

She twists her torso counter-clockwise, then flips her torso back around and clocks him again.


The lab supervisor scowls at them. Orville starts sketching a different design on his tablet, partially replacing the unprinted paths in his design with quick additions.


Fascinated, Bronwyn watches his deft strokes with the stylus. “What…?”


Another student looks over curiously. It’s Alvin Chang, a friend of Orville’s from his computer science class, who Orville convinced to take molecular engineering as an extra credit class. “What the…?”


Orville smiles bashfully as his work-piece nears completion. He has added a number of long, angular, jointed strands to the bottom of his net – similar to the single long pre-stressed strand that Bronwyn designed.


Other students start wandering over to see what fuss is about.


Bronwyn has unhooked her hands behind behind her back and is preparing to punch her boyfriend for stealing her design, then realises what his additions are for.


“No way!”

“Get out…”


Other students are starting to grok what Orville’s workpiece will do.

“Okay… Get back to your own benches.” It’s Professor Wendt, shooing the other students away.


A weak organic acid begins to dissolve the substrate and Orville and Bronwyn’s workpieces come free from their plastic prison.


As the other students return to their own workstations, Wendt whispers to them both: “Braithwaite, Gallagher… Nice work!”


The workpieces finally fall free of the plastic and are teased away by microscopic machine actuated tweezers.


Each workpiece is dropped into a small dish of water. Bronwyn wants to punch Orville but all eyes are on the pair now. Professor Wendt’s praise is not easily earned.


Everyone brings their floating workpieces to the front of the class, where the Professor asks each student to explain their workpiece while viewing it on a microscope attached to a large monitor. There are three slinky springs, five students who have inscribed their signatures, two who have created criss-crossing strata of metal layers that model the paths of a semi-conductor and four woven metal cables.

Left to last, Wendt asks Orville and Bronwyn to explain the form or function of their workpieces.

Bronwyn yanks a single hair from her head and drops it into the field of the microscope. When the hair touches her workpiece, the spring is triggered and the metal twists shut into a tight sphere – bending the hair as it does so, snagging it into a tight spherical bundle just atoms in diameter.

“It’s basically a spring-loaded molecular trap,” she says – a little nervous at the attention. “I figure that at a slightly smaller scale, you could use it to snag and effectively imprison something like a virus or bacterial cell.”

Wendt nods, impressed. He pats her gently on the back and leans close to her as she prepares to step back to where her classmates are watching. “You need to patent that,” he whispers. Her eyes widen, and she turns to him for confirmation of what she just heard. He nods fervently to drive the point home as she steps away.

“And your creation, Mister Braithwaite?”

Orville grins and pulls a hair of his own from his head and drops it into the solution where his work-piece waits. The long pre-tensioned tentacles of his nano-device snag against the hair and pull it up into the base of the net, which then clamps shut around it, shredding it into tiny pieces. By way of explanation, he simply says “Virus shredder.”

The other students look at Orville in surprise and admiration. Professor Wendt tries not to smile too broadly, and ends up just smirking at his new star student. “You, miss Gallagher and I are going to have a chat about your future Mister Braithwaite. You are both going to do some exciting things in nanotechnology.”


 (C) Jeremy Huppatz 15/04/2015

The Good Soldier

What follows is the first of a number of short prose vignettes that I’m using as a means of recharging the creative batteries. This is raw, unedited, fresh off the press – and will probably stay that way. I hope people enjoy these as I start making progress on rewiring the Tomekeepers Project in a more realistic light.

The Good Soldier

It was a cool winter’s day. Yellow sunlight burned its way through the damp haze that hung in the air. Jack’s friends had just left after offering their assistance and support. Even Kevin Priest, who could barely stand and stared forlornly at the stump where his left hand had been. They were all unflinchingly sincere in their sadness and their support. Their troop commander Bob Hastings gave us a flag signed by all the men, and left us at the doorstep saying “Anything you need…”
Exhausted by their visit, I sat on the couch while Ally set to drawing with the art set Jack’s friends had brought her.

“Mummy – when do we go to say ‘thank you and goodbye’ to Daddy?”

The question astonished me. Ally had just been given the news that her father had died while serving in Afghanistan. For all that she was a precocious child, this seemed like a question and a statement that seemed even beyond her seven-going-on-thirty years. I choked back a sob.

“Ally, sweetheart. Sometimes you amaze me. Daddy’s funeral service will be on Thursday.”
Ally counted. “Today is Monday? So… three sleeps?”
“That’s right. But if you want to thank him, you can do it any time. Was there something in particular you wanted to thank him for?”
“Oh Mummy! It’s to say thank you for going overseas to help other people when it would be so much easier to stay here and help you make the bed or do the dishes… Or mow the lawns… Or put the bins out!” She finally ran out of chores to list off.

She had a point. Since the news of his passing while on patrol in Oruzgan Province, I had been cursing his selfishness – abandoning us so he could go and play soldier. But I should have known better. He was there because he believed in the mission. He believed he was making a difference to the lives of the civilians who were being subjected to all manner of horrors – economic, cultural and societal – by Taliban extremists. He believed he was doing the right thing in helping the local people of Oruzgan decide for themselves whether their society should be dragged back to the “glory days” of the 12th century. Jack certainly wasn’t a missionary… but he definitely had a mission.

I shook myself out of my reverie and looked wanly at Ally. “Would you like me to tell you one of Daddy’s stories?”
“That’s okay Mummy. I think I remember them. But I do have a question.”
“Oh? What’s that?”
“Where did Daddy learn to love other people so much?”

That threw me. I knew he had a big heart from the first day I met him. We were on a singles wine-tour in the Barossa Valley and the bus clipped a dog. The bus driver was torn between his duty to keep to his itinerary on behalf of his passengers, and the concern he had for the struck animal. Jack said he would leave the tour to make sure the dog was looked after. I left the tour as well – intrigued by the kind-heartedness on display. Jack bundled up the dog – a kelpie/border collie cross – in his jacket, and we chatted while waiting for a taxi to take us to the local vet hospital.

“Oh – it wasn’t just people, Ally. He loves – loved – animals and places and things too.” I sniffed.
Ally stepped over to me and took my hand. “He loved us very much Mummy. He loved you very much.”
“I know, baby girl. He loved you very much too.”
“I know.” She smiled cheerfully. “Do you think we could go visit some of his favourite places?”
“No… silly Mummy. I mean later. Once we have said goodbye.”
“Oh. Of course! Is there any place in particular you wanted to go to?”
“I’d like to go see Max and Uncle Reg and Auntie Jean!”

Reg and Jean Ashton were the owners of Max – the dog that Jack and I took care of the day we met. The vet hospital had called them in and they invited us to stay with them for the balance of the weekend in thanks for looking after Max. A few years older than Jack and I, they were working at one of the big wineries in Angaston. Reg was a junior winemaker, and Jean worked in the cellar door. After that weekend, Jack and I had become a part of not only their family, but of each other’s. They now ran their own winery, and any time Jack was home on furlough, we’d head up to the Barossa to see them.

“I’d like that very much too.” A tear ran down my face as I sniffled.
“Don’t cry Mummy. I’ll look after you just like Daddy asked me to.”
“He asked you to look after me?”
“Of course. Just like he would have asked you to look after me. I’m just a little girl after all.”
“But – w-what – w-w-when…?” I stammered.
“The night before he went to Afghanistan he said that I was a big girl, and that I had to look after you if he didn’t come home. But he also said I had to listen to you, and help with the dishes and the gardening if you asked me. And keep my room tidy and clean. And to eat my greens, even if I don’t really like them. Although broccoli is green, and I like that!”

Until that day, I had thought that I had been Ally’s primary caregiver, with Jack away so often – first in Iraq, then in Afghanistan. But at that point, I knew that she was his daughter first and foremost. She had his brave and honest love, and his big heart. She would be fine. She would become a resilient, open-hearted and caring young woman. And with that, I resolved that I would match her bravery and love with my own. That day, I rescued my own injured dog on the roadside – took responsibility for it, and sought to live up to the standard that Jack – the good soldier – had set for us both.

© Jeremy Huppatz, 27/7/2014

Why so quiet?

Hi folks,

I owe you all an apology and an explanation as to why things have gone dark for a while. I thought I had a job which was going to go some way towards making it possible to invest some of my own earnings into producing the first episode or two. Unfortunately that job fell through, and took a big chunk of my self-esteem with it. I have since been in a pretty serious funk from which I am only now starting to drag myself upwards and out.

It hasn’t helped that most of the people who had offered to help out with the writing have been going through their own crises or moved on to other projects, but the ball ultimately stops with me, so mea culpa – I’m sorry I dropped the ball. There are a few logistical issues which are making the possibility of a full 10 episode run an unlikely goal. As such, I’ll be looking to consolidate the first two episodes into a feature-length production which we can shoot more feasibly and present to networks as a sample of what we’re capable of.

For those who have made donations via the IndieGoGo campaign, I’m happy to provide refunds. However, if you’re willing to be patient, I’m still committed to the Tomekeepers Project – the only thing that will change is the number of shooting scripts and the delivery dates for the rewards purchased.

Touch base with me via facebook PM if you’re one of the people this applies to and I’ll sort out the details with you. :)

Again – sorry for the lack of communication over the last few weeks. Look forward to more timeley updates in the not too distant future.

Episode Scripts in progress!

Hi folks,

A quick update… I’ve finished the synopsis for Season 0 Episode 1 (S0E1) and will start turning that into a script as of tomorrow night. :)

I’ve also given some guidance to the other guys on the writing team about what I need from them, and we’ll hopefully be setting up regular chin-wags to pitch ideas about plotting out our season 0 and 1 in more detail. Anyone wanting to join the writing team should do so soon. Jump over to and let us know you’re interested ASAP. :)

Preview Video – it’s UP!!!

Hi folks

It’s been a while since I’ve posted in here.  I’ve had a couple of busy weeks with my day job (including quite a bit of after hours work) and had to let the body recover from the rigours of preparing for OzComicCon.  (Apparently I’m not a teenager with inexhaustible stamina any more…)  A big thank you to everyone who chatted to us at OzComicCon – we had a great time telling you what we’re trying to achieve, and some of the feedback we received is going into shaping the project further.

Over the last few days/nights, I’ve been trying to get the finishing touches completed on our “Before the Tome” preview/teaser video.  Sorry it’s taken so long to get these videos up – I told people it would be up earlier than this, but between a few software crashes and quite a bit of rework (and the aforementioned day job) it’s finally done. Clearly my computer isn’t quite as powerful as I thought… all the green screen stuff bogged it down no end. Still… it’s done, and I’m proud of what our cast and crew have achieved, basically for zero cost.

Hopefully the end product serves to intrigue our viewers and make them wonder about what happens next. While this effort is exposition heavy, we’re hoping to drive the story forward through our characters and the great cast who will play them.

Next step – back to the writing room to script Episode 0.1. It’s outlined, and in progress. :)

For future reference, the links are as follows:

Vimeo 1080p (Full HD):
Vimeo 720p (SD):
YouTube 1080p (Full HD):
YouTube 720p (SD):

Anyone wanting a copy on a USB device who lives in Adelaide, touch base with us and we’ll see what we can do.