Life imitates art

I swear I didn’t plan this, but it certainly adds a bit of believability to my script concept posted on Wednesday. An article appeared in the New York Times about a breakthrough in quantum entanglement:

The Delft researchers were able to entangle two electrons separated by a distance of 1.3 kilometers, slightly less than a mile, and then share information between them.

So they can transfer data. But can they skip spacetime to do it?

The distance — with detectors set on opposite sides of the campus — ensured that information could not be exchanged by conventional means within the time it takes to do the measurement.

I’ll collect my Nobel Prize on the way out, thanks.



bttf2Today is the future. October 21, 2015, the day Marty and Doc travel to in Back to the Future II. Like millions of kids my age, when I saw it in 1989 I imagined what life would be like 26 years later, and for the most part it turned out pretty close to reality. Except I’m way fatter.

It seems appropriate to use this day to share my ‘time travel’ feature script. I put time travel in quotes because in this story, no one zips through history or meets themselves in the past. That kind of time travel is pure fantasy. Objects, physical matter, anything that follows the standard model of physics, I believe simply cannot travel through time (except through relativity, but that’s a whole different jar of onions). Things can’t pop out of existence and reappear somewhere else in time, for a whole number of reasons. The earth wouldn’t be in the same position for one, so they’d be floating in space. Too many paradoxes are created, too many physical laws broken and too much energy is required for the universe to allow it to happen.

HOWEVER! Time does not simply flow one way. In fact, in the quantum world, time is hardly recognizable. It can flow forwards and backwards, and even both ways at the same time. Time in our world is limited by the speed of light, but quantum particles can ‘see ahead’ and react before an event happens. They can be entangled, meaning two particles are ‘twinned’ and become mirror images of each other. An entangled particle can spin clockwise, and the other will spin anti-clockwise, without distance being a factor. That is to say, they are entangled even lightyears apart. And THAT means they are bypassing time to make it happen.

Strange, but true. So that got me thinking – what if some clever Elon Musk-type person figured out a way to harness that? Could he or she make binary data out of the spinning of those particles? And if they could, could they connect them across time? Because if so, they would be able to send messages from any point in time after the technology was created, to any point before they sent it. I could send a text today and receive it yesterday. It breaks none of the laws of physics (it’s just information being transferred) and it’s using a process that already exist in the natural world.

So if it’s a given that a viable technology gets created, Entanglement is about what would happen immediately thereafter. The inventor would have detailed knowledge of every disaster yet to happen. If they knew of a catastrophe, would they try and stop it? Could they stop it? Another side effect would be the end to secrets. Thinking it through, a cover-up now is no use if a person can see 50, 100 years ahead, when events are fully understood. Something like that would not sit well with security forces or people in power. Finally, being able to predict the future (a false prophet) might raise the ire of religious groups. But hey, if it did, at least you’d be able to see it coming. So that’s what Entanglement is about.

Rather than give too much away, I invite you to give it a read and see what you think. And like Pepsi Perfect and power laces, I want to believe it will come true at some point, and someone will actually invent this. It would mess things up so much.


Genre: Sci-fi
When a physicist uses quantum entanglement to send data backwards in time, the entire future pours into his lab. Uncovering a string of major catastrophes – and his own death – he must use the technology to stay one step ahead of disaster.
101 pages

Download here: ENTANGLEMENT



sporkExtrasolar is a sci-fi feature script featuring the characters from my comic Crashlander, which was published in Edge magazine for five years. This particular story is set a few years later, with some characters having moved on and gotten a little older and wiser, so things are a little different.

This is firmly in the same genre of stories as Flight of the Navigator, Explorers, Labyrinth, The Last Starfighter, that kind of thing. We start off in suburbia, get transported to a fantastical world beyond our imagination, and end up back in suburbia again. Maybe the biggest influence is a French animated movie called Time Masters, about a small kid trapped on an alien planet. There is also a big theme running through it about believing in your destiny, and how dangerous that can be. Things don’t always turn out as you expect.


Genre: Sci-fi
When a 10-year-old girl is accidentally teleported to another planet, her Grandfather – a retired space adventurer – must rescue her from a dangerous alien world he thought he’d never see again.
101 pages

Download here: EXTRASOLAR


Blue Harvest

This script is my attempt to do for food what “A Nightmare on Elm Street” did for sleep. The idea originates from an old episode of a show in the UK called “Hammer House of Horror”, which was a super creepy anthology show like Tales of the Unexpected or The Twilight Zone. A family had moved in to a regular semi-detached house that just so happened to be haunted, and among other nightmarish business, in a dinner scene their food suddenly became riddled with maggots. That image stuck with me for years because it was so revolting.

I wanted to combine that primal fear with a supernatural character in the vein of Freddy Kruger or Pinhead, so I came up with the idea of The Harvester, a sort of throwback villain that never was. He’s emaciated and gross, and he either starves you to death or kills you. That’s basically it. How many ways can you be grossed out? It turns out, quite a few ways.

HORROR BEYOND IMAGINATION amirite? You can download the script below:


Genre: Horror
A supernatural cannibal – The Harvester – is awakened, unleashing a famine on the tenants of a run-down apartment tower. Faced with a series of grisly murders, a young medic must race to stop the killer before starvation takes his life.
94 pages.

Download here: BLUE HARVEST


The Augmented Geologist


This feature spec is a homage to H.G. Wells. He defined the concepts of time travel, alien invasion, anti-gravity and countless other ideas, but what if he took on nanotechnology?

What would that look like in a time where the word ‘robot’ hadn’t even been invented? What would the characters make of it? People wouldn’t have the terms to describe it, but science and progress were moving at such a rate anything seemed possible. Setting a story in a Victorian timeframe really lends events a strange believability, a feeling you would struggle to achieve if they were set in the modern day.

Some feedback I got early on was that it was way too violent. Turns out I’m a bad person, but I was only taking my cues from H.G. Wells. He tended to write fairly violent protagonists (The Invisible Man especially), but I still toned it down a bit in this draft.

This script got reviewed on Scriptshadow and was a finalist in the PAGE Awards.


Genre: Sci-fi
In Victorian England, a sickly Geologist has his life torn apart when he discovers a crystal artifact that grants him incredible powers.
95 pages



Homer’s Donut Allergy

homerHere is the first of the scripts I’m putting online, a Simpson’s spec called ‘Homer’s Donut Allergy’. I checked to see if the premise had been done, and I don’t *think* it has, but who the hell knows?

It owes a huge debt to ‘Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Baadasssss Song’ by Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein, which is packed with funny ideas. I ripped them off so hard.

Download the pdf here: HOMER’S DONUT ALLERGY


Releasing some work

coolI’ve been working on some writing projects for a few years now and it feels like time to let them out in the world. I’m going to post them up here with a short description and let anyone download them, should they want to.

Here’s what I got:

The Simpsons Spec script – “HOMER’S DONUT ALLERGY”
This is a full episode spec that got me a job writing on an animated series. It’s heavily influenced by a Bill Oakley treatment I found online for Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Baadasssss Song. If you want to see how a Simpsons script is formatted, you should grab this.

Sci-fi Feature Script – “THE AUGMENTED GEOLOGIST”
H.G. Wells is a huge inspiration and this is my take on his take on nanotechnology, if that makes sense. It was a finalist in the PAGE Awards and was a Scriptshadow Amateur Screenplay way back when. (This is the re-write.) It would need a huge budget to realize, I’m talking $100 million plus. That was a sensible decision.

Horror Feature Script – “BLUE HARVEST”
To maintain secrecy during the filming of Return of the Jedi, Lucasfilm pretended to be making a horror movie called ‘Blue Harvest’. It always fascinated me, so I went and wrote the real script for a fake movie. The aim was to create an iconic villain in the vein of Freddy Krueger. P.S. It’s really gross.

Animated Feature Script – “EXTRASOLAR”
I had an opportunity to show something to Rhythm & Hues (RIP) and I put the characters from my comic strip ‘Crashlander’ into a big sci-fi feature. It’s like a cross between Time Masters, The Wizard of Oz and Star Wars. It’s got a ten-year old protagonist. She’s kickass.

Sci-fi Thriller Feature Script – “ENTANGLEMENT”
This is based on the theory (that I made up) that you can use entangled photons to send data backwards in time. What would happen if someone like Elon Musk got that working? It would be insane. This was super complicated to put together, but it makes sense on the page. This was also a PAGE Awards finalist.

Yes. I edited ‘Episode I’ down to a mere 72 minutes. This isn’t just a ‘remove Jar Jar’ exercise, there are massive changes, right down to new subtitles, new alien voices, the pod race as an unbroken sequence and the third act playing out in a different order. They say you can’t polish a turd, but I buffed it a little.

iPhone Game – “DROPSHIP SAGA”
I’m working on this right now. It’s a game in which you land tiny marines on a tiny planet and hope they don’t get killed by tiny aliens. It’s done in a 16-bit pixel art style, including an absolutely massive mothership which took ages. It has the same never-ending structure as Desert Golfing and will be free. I hope people like it!

If you end up checking anything out and have a comment or feedback, I’d love to hear it. Reach me on twitter or email.


Flavor Jockey

My friend made this. There are no words.


5 Things to NOT do when you Pitch

fancyI had a string of meetings at the end of last year, and I got some insight on what works and what doesn’t. Obviously there’s more than one way to pitch something, but I thought it would be helpful to put a few common mistakes out there. Here’s some things to NOT do:


Lack of preparation is a huge red flag, it looks like you don’t care enough about your project. You might be good at discussing it, but you need make sure you’re concise and clearly getting your vision across. Simply reading from your document or inventing new characters in the room is not professional.


I have had to learn this the hard way. Execs like to ask a lot of questions, and that’s a good sign they’re interested. Some like to simply test out your knowledge. But inevitably there will be a question you can’t answer. If that happens, don’t start babbling about season arcs and power-ups (for example). Be honest – say ‘That’s a great question, I’ll have to give it some thought.’


Obviously you want to sell your pitch, you’re not just there for the cold water and warm handshakes. In order to make something happen, it’s tempting to pick up on what the exec wants and start pandering to that. DO NOT DO THIS. No matter what you do, stick to your vision. It’s YOUR ideas they want, not their own reflected back at them. Execs hate that. They will be disgusted with you.


Just relax, will you? This isn’t a job interview, it’s just a meeting. There are no wrong answers. The final decisions are out of your control, anyway. Be professional, but enjoy yourself. It will give the buyer confidence if you’re not stressing out. Be entertaining.


In rare cases, things can devolve into a shouting match, and chairs can get tipped over. If they are not seeing your project in the way you’d hoped, challenging the exec to a one-on-one fist fight on the top level of the parking structure is not going to help. Plus, you want to leave the door open to pitch new work.



ball_droidIt’s been, what, seven days since the trailer came out? We’ve had Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Terminator Thursday since then. Frankly, the world has changed and it’s taken me this long to gather my thoughts. So here goes.

I saw it on Friday morning at the El Capitan theater in LA. The theater is owned by Disney so it makes sense they’d have a ball with it there. It wasn’t exactly a packed house, and I doubt many of the audience were there specifically for the teaser, but it was ideal conditions to get some new Star Wars into my eyes. While the organist was busy bashing out some Frozen tunes on his organ, I starting thinking about what I was going to see. What exactly would the trailer show? Would we see Han, Luke and Leia? The Falcon? Tatooine? Would I be able to keep my shit together? All this and more swirled around my head as I was waiting. Eventually the organ dude sank into the ground and an usher came out to let us know the program. Here’s the rundown: we were going to see three regular Disney trailers first, and the fourth would be The Force Awakens teaser in 2D. Then it will run again, this time in 3D.  Then – a laser show with a live-action Baymax, followed by a short called Feast, then Big Hero 6, THEN, the teaser in 3D again. If you think this took a long time to explain, that’s what I was thinking while the usher was going through the list. I was never going to get out of there. With the scene set and the audience primed, the lights dimmed. Never have the trailers for Into the Woods, some Kevin Costner coach drama and Cinderella looked so- Oh shit, here we go.


It’s always surreal to watch new Star Wars stuff. I seem to have some powerful, almost out-of-body experience like I can’t believe it’s even happening, and then get tunnel vision on the screen. I need to get over that (in case someone tries to attack me from the side). Anyway, here’s what I thought: the teaser was oddly paced, but there’s exactly zero to get worried about, in fact, everything to look forward to. I love that John Boyega in a stormtrooper suit is the first thing you see. The ball droid is a wtf moment, which I’m hoping we get more of. Daisy Ridley’s character looks like she popped straight out of the Original Trilogy and the X-Wings and cross-shaped lightsaber guy were awesome to behold. Then there’s that shot of the Falcon. A little bit pre-vizzed for my liking, with both the camera and the ship looping upside down, but I’ll take it. Word on a Grantland article was that that was in fact a practical effect shot with a motion-controlled Falcon, which if true makes my mind explode with joy. THE GODDAMN FALCON, PEOPLE. Everything’s gonna be OK.


I’m glad it was dark and I had 3D glasses on because I was a mess up in the theater. And we didn’t even see any of the other characters, meaning there are clearly more freakouts like this to come. So this is The Force Awakens. I immediately tried piece the clues together about what I saw and the little I know about the plot and it all added up nicely. I’m excited, and the best thing about it for me it that I already like the new folks, especially Boyega who I’m a big fan of. The teaser contained more surprising things (to me) than I thought it would, but was 100% set in the Star Wars universe we’ve visited before. When I got home I watched it all again on iTunes, and while it had a different vibe to the big screen, it still got me hyped up for next December. Great way to spend a Friday morning.


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