Conceptual Genesis

What inspired the initial idea for “Protocol 7”? Was there a specific event or piece of literature that sparked your imagination?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been curious about where we’re heading as a society, especially with our rapid advancements in technology. “Protocol 7” is really close to my heart; it’s a story that intertwines ethical dilemmas, identity crises, and the future of human consciousness—themes that I find both fascinating and critically important. Through the characters’ stories, I explore what happens when the lines between life, technology, and morality start to blur, questioning the consequences of our pursuit to push past natural human limits. Writing this screenplay has been an incredible journey, aiming not only to entertain but also to provoke thought and inspire discussions about our collective future and the ethical boundaries we may face.

Ethical Dilemmas

The story deals heavily with ethical issues surrounding technology and consciousness. How did you approach these complex topics, and what kind of research did you do to ensure their portrayal was both accurate and thought-provoking?

I focused on the controversies surrounding emerging technologies like Neuralink and AI, reading numerous real-world case studies and researching the technologies involved. My experience building Vengo AI, which helps people create and deploy AI identities, provided valuable insights. Additionally, I explored philosophical theories to ground the narrative in relatable issues, ensuring my characters remained realistic, even a thousand years in the future.

Character Development

Gossen, the counselors, and the Omegas each have unique and intricate arcs. Can you elaborate on how you developed these characters and their personal struggles? How do their journeys reflect the overarching themes of the narrative?

Without giving away too many spoilers about “Protocol 7”, I delved deeply into their backgrounds and struggles, ensuring each had a unique and intricate arc that tied into the overarching themes of the narrative. Gossen’s journey, centered on the struggle between duty and personal conscience, mirrors the story’s exploration of technology and morality. The counselors represent diverse societal and ethical perspectives on technology, with their personal struggles highlighting the complexity of ethical governance. The Omegas focus on identity and autonomy, exploring the implications of controlled consciousness. By interweaving these arcs, I aimed to create a rich, multi-dimensional narrative that resonates with the ethical and philosophical questions posed by emerging technologies.

Technological Transcendence

The consciousness reconstruction project is central to the plot. How did you envision this technology, and what ethical boundaries did you consider when creating the rules and limitations for its use in the story?

This will be really tough to answer without revealing the plot of the story. What I can say is that I was inspired and influenced by sci-fi novels, shows, and movies that I’ve read and watched over the decades. I had never seen the type of technology that I came up with, and so I felt compelled to write it. It’s probably a variation on other ideas that have come out over the years, but that brings a bit of familiarity with it, which I really liked. As for the ethical boundaries, well that boils down to the protocols, and you’ll have to read the script or hopefully see the movie one day to see how each protocol affects the Omegas.

Humanity and Identity

The narrative explores what it means to be truly alive and the essence of human identity. How do you believe technological advancements will challenge our understanding of these concepts in the future?

My goal with the story was to push the limits of what humans can achieve to ensure survival for thousands of years, surpassing extinction. Given the current challenges of climate change, natural disasters, resource depletion, war, financial stress, and inequality, I believe radical solutions are inevitable. The technological advancements in the story don’t eliminate these problems; they merely demonstrate one potential option to save humanity and explore the true essence of what it means to be alive and human.

Setting and World-Building

The space colony setting is crucial to the story’s atmosphere. How did you go about designing this world, and what were the main challenges in making it feel realistic and immersive?

Designing the space colony setting for “Protocol 7” was an intricate process aimed at creating a realistic and immersive atmosphere. I began by extensively researching existing space exploration technologies and architectural concepts for living in extreme environments. Balancing futuristic elements with a sense of familiarity was crucial to make the world relatable, so I incorporated details of daily life, social structures, economic systems, and recreational activities to ensure the colony felt lived-in. Addressing the technical and logistical aspects of sustaining life in space, such as resource management, environmental control, and the psychological effects of long-term space habitation, was another challenge. By thoughtfully integrating these elements, I aimed to create a setting that was both believable and enriched the narrative’s depth and authenticity.

Moral Complexity

The story culminates in a profound resolution with significant moral implications. What message do you hope the audience takes away from this conclusion, and how do you want them to reflect on the ethical limits of scientific advancement?

I hope the audience takes away the message that while technological progress can offer incredible solutions to humanity’s greatest challenges, it must be pursued with careful consideration of the ethical boundaries involved. I want viewers to reflect on the responsibility that comes with such power and the importance of maintaining our humanity amidst rapid scientific advancements. Ultimately, the story seeks to provoke thought about the balance between innovation and ethical integrity, encouraging a future where progress is guided by compassion and moral responsibility.

Personal Connection

You’ve mentioned that “Protocol 7” is close to your heart. How has your personal journey and curiosity about societal advancements influenced the writing of this script?

My fascination with emerging technologies and their potential to shape our future has deeply influenced the writing of this script. Throughout my life, I’ve been captivated by the possibilities that scientific progress offers, but also mindful of the ethical dilemmas it presents. This duality has driven me to explore themes of humanity, identity, and moral complexity in my storytelling. My experiences and observations of the world around me, particularly the challenges we face today, have fueled my desire to create a narrative that not only entertains but also provokes meaningful reflection on the impact of technological advancements on our lives.

Influences and Inspirations for “Protocol 7”

Are there any specific works of science fiction or philosophical texts that influenced the themes and tone of “Protocol 7”? How did they shape your storytelling?

“Protocol 7” was influenced by a blend of classic and contemporary works of science fiction, as well as philosophical texts. Isaac Asimov’s works, particularly “I, Robot” and “Bicentennial Man,” were significant inspirations, providing a foundation for exploring themes of artificial intelligence and ethical dilemmas. Films like “Passengers,” “Voyagers,” and “2001: A Space Odyssey” also shaped the narrative, contributing to the tone and atmosphere of the space colony setting. Additionally, I drew inspiration from Philip K. Dick’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” and Arthur C. Clarke’s “Childhood’s End” for their profound exploration of human identity and technological transcendence. The philosophical ideas in texts like Ray Kurzweil’s “The Singularity is Near” and Yuval Noah Harari’s “Homo Deus” helped ground the story’s futuristic concepts in contemporary ethical debates.

Audience Reaction

What kind of reactions are you hoping to evoke in your audience? Do you aim for them to leave with more questions than answers, and how important is it for you to inspire dialogue about the future of humanity?

I aim for the audience to leave the script (or one day the film) feeling shocked, satisfied, and contemplative. While I dislike films that leave too many unanswered questions, I ensured that the story provides clear resolutions. Without revealing spoilers, my intention was to spark conversations about the implications of the narrative. I want viewers to reflect on and discuss the ethical and societal impacts of technological advancements, inspiring meaningful dialogue about the future of humanity.

Impact of AI and Consciousness Studies

How do you see current developments in AI and consciousness studies influencing the themes and relevance of “Protocol 7”? Do you think we are close to facing the dilemmas portrayed in your story?

The story takes place well over 1,000 years in the future, making it challenging to predict what AI will look like then. I aimed to portray what seemed plausible in the future, based on today’s technology. For instance, ChatGPT has shown us a glimpse of a world where AI assists in making our lives easier, more productive, and more creative by handling tedious tasks. Interestingly, I wrote the story before ChatGPT was released, so it didn’t heavily influence the narrative. While I don’t believe we are close to facing the dilemmas presented in the story, I think future generations will likely encounter these issues or something similar to them.

Future Prospects

Given the themes of “Protocol 7,” do you have any ideas for sequels or related projects that continue to explore the intersection of technology and humanity?

When writing the story, I realized early on that I was foreshadowing a potential prequel. By the end of the story, it became clear that there could be a sequel to the prequel, as well as a continuation of the present story. This narrative flexibility could even lend itself to a TV series format. Either way, I intentionally left many elements open to allow for future cinematic world-building, continuing to explore the intersection of technology and humanity in greater depth.

Writing Process for “Protocol 7”

Everyone has their own process when they write. Can you describe your writing process for “Protocol 7”?

My writing process started with a detailed outline, incorporating extensive research and links to sources. I then created a beat sheet and used index cards to outline scenes on a whiteboard, repeatedly refining the structure. To visualize the world and characters, I used Midjourney for storyboarding, which was incredibly helpful since I can’t draw. This AI tool allowed me to vividly describe the world I was building. Next, I wrote the screenplay as a spec script, focusing on minimal details and basic dialogue to get the

Being a Finalist

What did it feel like when you found out you were a finalist for the Filmmatic Inroads Fellowship screenwriting competition?

When I found out, I was beyond excited. It felt like complete validation for all the time I spent researching, outlining, writing, rewriting, and fine-tuning this script. Screenwriting can be a very solitary job (or hobby, in my case), but it’s also incredibly fulfilling and rewarding. Being a finalist means that out of 15,000 scripts, the judges found mine to be among the top-ranked. I’ve written eight screenplays since 2007, three of which I produced and directed into award-winning films. “Protocol 7” is, in my opinion, my best-written script, so being a finalist in this contest means more than words can express.

Screenwriting Advice

What advice do you have for new writers who are looking to write their first screenplay?

For new writers looking to write their first screenplay, my advice is to be passionate about your subject matter, but also stay informed about current market trends. If vampires are trending, it might not be the best time to write about aliens, and vice versa. Start with a detailed outline and do thorough research. The more prep work you do, the smoother the writing process will be. Use index cards on a board to visualize your 40 scenes; this helps in structuring your story effectively. Don’t stress about your first draft—just get it onto paper and out of your head. You’ll have plenty of time to rewrite and refine it later. Take a break after your first draft and return to it with fresh eyes; this always works for me. Lastly, aim to write a script that could be shot on a low budget. Producers are more likely to buy a script that is feasible to produce. A character-driven story set in a few locations, without special effects or a large cast, will attract more attention and might even give you the chance to shoot it yourself one day, just like I did.

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