Posted by: steveonfilm | May 23, 2012

So You Like To Write Sci-Fi?

I’ll admit, I’m not the biggest sci-fi fan. I think I’ve mentioned this before. When it comes to writing ideas, the sci-fi genre is typically the last thing that pops up in my head. I’m not saying I don’t like sci-fi, or have a problem with it, it’s just that so little of it seems original anymore.

I mean, when I was growing up I had stuff to watch like Aliens, Blade Runner, The Terminator and Terminator 2, E.T., the original Star Wars trilogy, RoboCop, Back to the Future, Total Recall… the list goes on. It’s just seemed that since the end of the 90s, the quality just sort of dropped off. We got the original Matrix and The 5th Element, and poof, everything else sort of disappeared.

Gems still show up from time to time. I loved Inception (despite it’s flaws). Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was really creative and unique. Children of Men was an excellent drama. And Moon was simply a fantastic character study and possibly the best hard sci-fi film of all time. But really, the choices have been rather drab for the last decade or so.

That likely played into why I’ve sort of lost interest in the genre. Sci-fi can be expensive to produce. A lot of the times the genre involves futuristic technology, and sets that you just can’t cheap out on. And while Moon, Children of Men, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind all were done with relatively modest budgets, and took advantage of the sci-fi genre instead of being beholden to it, I’d venture to guess that when most people think sci-fi, those aren’t the first movies that pop into their heads. They think space ships, robots, aliens, lasers, and technology, which usually means tent pole films. And as of late, the sci-fi tent pole films have been, shall we say, “meh.”

That is, until a little gem called Prometheus started to rear it’s ugly head. Finally, something that sci-fi fans can get excited about. What’s that? An R rating? You mean they’re not going to cheap out on the adult content (and I don’t mean ‘teh sexay time’ stuff)? Ridley Scott directing? And it takes place in the same universe as the Alien movies? Hell yeah, count me in!

So when my buddy Peter sent me an article interviewing Prometheus screenwriter Jon Spaihts, I immediately gave it a read. Jon covers a lot of ground in how to properly write sci-fi (hint: it’s not all about lasers, robots, and aliens), how central character is to any story, and how perspective and scale can really impact the message of a story. But, bottom line, it’s just really fun to read about Jon talking about movies, writing, and sci-fi in general.

It’s a really solid read for anyone who likes to write sci-fi. And hey, any time “they” want to give a serious stab at adapting the Universal Century Gundam universe into script form, please let me know. I’d be more than willing to deep dive the sci-fi genre and give that story a go.

Keep writing,


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